Then Super Typhoon Haiyan hit the islands last November and the article not only got postponed, but it took on an entirely different approach.
When we spoke again we agreed that it would be wonderful to know how including the Philippines in your travel itinerary at this point in time could benefit the islands in their recovery.
Here is a heartwarming peek into Filipino culture and how they’re slowly moving past the disaster.
The Philippines: Culture, recovery, tourism and the future of a breathtaking island nation
The Philippines is a hidden gem amidst the crystal blue waters of the South Pacific, thousands of uniquely formed majestic islands.
In November 2013, the largest storm in the history of the world ravaged across the central region of those precious islands, killing thousands, destroying many more homes, and leaving millions in devastation.
In the after math, the nation is faced with the enormous task of rebuilding the lives of all those affected and restoring the beauty that once attracted tourists to the region, as well as make up for the economic losses sustained there.
How Filipinos deal with tragedy
Filipino culture strongly emphasizes resilience and optimism, the people are not easily shaken by life’s challenges; these characteristics have been the nation’s saving grace in the wake of the disaster.
The locals hardly left any time for mourning and sorrow, and instead they have pushed forward with unbelievable courage and strength, fighting to regain the lives they once had.
Hours after the storm individuals began rebuilding their homes, washing their clothes strewn about the streets, and preparing food to provide them with the energy to search the city for surviving friends and family.
Despite an overwhelmingly apparent level of shock among the faces of survivors hours after the storm, there was, and still is, and air of progress and hope; a great desire to move forward and overcome the numerous losses.
Individuals, families, and communities have bound together, working hard to provide one another with the necessities and the ability to survive each day.
Families living in homes with lesser damage welcomed those who had lost everything. Strangers helped those with injuries travel to the hospital for essential treatments.
Even the smallest amount of food was shared among many, distributing the burden of unknown future supplies.
Rebuilding a nation
Things have changed drastically since the typhoon in November 2013, but the islanders are still in need of a great deal of help to fully rebuild and recover.
The typhoon was incredible is size and strength, yet the majority of the Philippines’ islands remain untouched.
Individuals from these areas came in flocks during the first month, bringing essential goods and supplies, seeking out surviving relatives and friends, and eventually trying to organize large scale relief efforts.
They shared valuable information from the outside world with survivors, settling their curious, confused minds by enlightening them on the true scale of the storm and the pending relief efforts.
Two months later, the same individuals that flocked to the region are now able to return to their normal lives, though they continue to assist survivors by contributing to the nation’s economy and attempting to launch their own regional fundraising and donation collections.
How travel can help the Philippines
In this same way travelers can contribute greatly to rebuilding the nation by venturing to one of the naturally wonderful islands that are still very much present across the nation.
The islands welcome travelers from around the world to bask in the golden rays of sun while peacefully melting into the white sand beaches and hospitable culture of the Philippines.
Tourism can help the Philippines rebuild from this tragic storm, by bringing in much needed revenue while at the same time introducing internationals to the exquisite splendor of the Philippines.
Each island offers travelers something different, hosting a variety of geographical features.
Visitors can spend the morning sailing the Pacific Ocean or cliff jumping into crystal clear, aqua waters, and spend the afternoon getting a massage within inches of soothing waves on the shore.
Remote islands offer visitors complete seclusion from the outside world, a place to disconnect from all worldly complications and enjoy nature at its finest (just ask a local and they will be able to share all the secret getaway islands).
Traveling to the Philippines, specifically, has many added bonuses too, affordability, a genuinely hospitable, friendly culture, consistently pleasant weather, and convenient forms of transportation from one place to the next.
Before you go to the Philippines
There are a few things foreigners should know before coming to the Philippines:
1. Everything and everyone runs on “Filipino Time”, so remember patience is a virtue, expect everything to come as it may because promptness is NOT a virtue in the Philippines.
2. Filipinos love to eat, and subsequently you will love to eat Filipino cuisine. Staple dishes always include a touch of garlic, soy sauce, onion, and vinegar, homemade cooking is a must.
3. Honesty and helpfulness are engrained at birth in the Philippines, expect the utmost level of assistance when you are in need of anything from anyone (and remember it really is honest help so no need for wariness).
4. Locals never take life too seriously, so enjoy it, don’t fight it!
5. Foreigners are intriguing to many Filipinos, so don’t be surprised if children call out to you shouting “hello!” or asking you your name.
Volunteering in the Philippines
Once introduced to the fun-loving Filipino culture, it is more than likely that visitors will also feel compelled to give back to the Philippines by donating some of their precious time to survivors of Typhoon Haiyan or volunteering in other needy regions of the country.
There are relief operations all around the country, but volunteering on the island of Leyte, which was most greatly destroyed in the storm, will surely provide individuals with plenty of ways to help the nation recover.
In the Philippines, hard work and leisure mix perfectly.
The city where she chose to relocate was at the center of Super-Typhoon Haiyan’s destruction, so she is in fact a survivor herself.
Elsa works as Content Manager of GoAbroad.com‘s Asia Office and spends her free time managing her community center through a local NGO and helping people rebuild their lives.
Definitely Philippines is an incredible place to visit, and now it is even more poignant to get there, learn from their culture and help them rebuild their home.
Now I want to hear from you: What is one aspect of Filipino culture you wish your own culture had?
Have you ever been to the Philippines before? What struck you the most?
Share your comments in the field below or join us in Facebook!