THE BLOG

Philippines: Modern, Historic, and Beautiful

04/20/2015 09:42 am ET | Updated Jun 16, 2015

The Philippines is the country to visit now. Flights are frequent to the major cites of the Philippines an after a restful night of sleep, a modern paradise awaits in this multi-island nation. The sunrise and sunset are at roughly the same time year round, and the weather nearly as predictable in its perfection. The Philippines is a unique and beautiful country where kindness and respect towards others is part of the culture, and all are willing to help you to have a wonderful experience in their country. The nation has endless natural beauty, yet also the skills and modern infrastructure to make it home to many of the word's largest companies. Stress is not as palpable in this country as in others, but rather it feels that there is balance among most. Work, family, and religion, are all present in the everyday and all three play an important part in achieving the sense of peace you feel here. The Filipino people are fast and intelligent and live well structured lives while at the same time preserving a calm and relaxing environment, making this nation a joy to visit.

The Philippines is surrounded by the South China Sea, Bohol Sea, and the Sibuyan Sea to name a few, all rising lush and green and in many parts dramatically steep and mountainous against the blue of the ocean. It is a unique blend of Asian, American, and Spanish influences that are unlike any other nation in the world. Traveling to the Philippines is a history immersion. From the Spanish explorers who came and left their influence with food and religion and cultures, to the colonial eras when the nation was ruled by other countries and the years during the great world wars in which this island nation played a significant roll in the Asia front, surviving the Japanese occupation of their houses and lands and their nation until the end of the second world war. This nation has withstood some of the world's most difficult transitions and has evolved into a beautiful mixture of cultures and traditions that are so strong that they bond together this breathtaking country of thousands of islands into one united land unwaveringly loyal and proud of their nation.

The Philippines is an easy country to visit. Manila's main airport is modern and clean, and the baggage and passport control moves swiftly and professionally. The Filipino language and its dialects are calming to the ear to hear, but it is worth noting that the school books in the Philippines are in English, so communicating here is with great ease. The main difficulty most visitors will face is time constraints. There are many different areas of the country to explore, but arriving into Manila and planning day trips from there is an excellent introduction into this country. Kindness, intelligence and efficiency are hallmarks of this nation, and so travel is much easier than one might expect. It is a peaceful land and there is a well respected law prohibiting the honking of horns, so even a rush hour in lines and rows of cars still seems somewhat peaceful without an angry word being spoken or a horn being blown.

Choosing a hotel in Manila varies between preference for location and price, but generally all are extremely modern, elegant, technologically advanced and well serviced. The Manila Hotel is the well preserved hallmark of the country's gilded age and impeccable service. First opened in 1912, it has from its inception been a favorite among dignitaries, historians and tourists alike. The Manila Hotel was born during the era of time when the Philippines was a colony of America, and so it was not until during the peacetime in between the world wars, when the hotel warmly welcomed the native Filipinos and the society of the time met in the marbled lobby and warm wooden surroundings, dressed in crisp traditional and finely embroidered shirts made of pina, from the Spanish word for pineapple, and its fabric is often made into formal barongs and long gowns with graceful designs and delicate sleeves, and it is there they would dance and talk until the night had disappeared. General MacArthur requested on the top floor of the hotel overlooking Manila Bay, and it is where he himself resided until the early 1940s when the Japanese invaded and they themselves took over MacArthur's suite.

Colonialism and both the World Wars had a major impact on how the country of the Philippines has evolved into its current state. From the times of Magellan and his Spanish fleet sailing to the Philippines, and the colonial era's and the wars throughout the centuries, there has been a clear influence in the cultures that have come to this country. The Philippines is an island nation well situated in Asia, but it is not a country that has existed untouched in isolation. It is a culmination of all those that have passed through it, that have changed this island into a multifaceted nation of Filipinos that embrace what others have brought to it. Spanish food such as paella is on menus and served at restaurants and parties everywhere. Likewise, the colonial era and wars have left this nation with a taste for all things American from hamburgers to sugared cereals and different foods of Asia from miso to sushi, yet the people and the nation still favor their own native delicious dishes from peanut based stews called kare- kare to noodle dishes filled with vegetable and chorizo called pansit and unique desserts such as biko, made from sweetened short grain rice and coconut and sugar that is baked until golden on top and then cut into sweet little squares.

Each town in this nation is unique and deserves its own visit, from the old city of Manila and its walled Ft. Santiago and Intramuros and Makati with its skyscrapers of banks and elite art and historical museums, to farther out to see the wondrous lake views from Tagaytay, and on to lands called the chocolate hills and south to the beautiful beaches of Boracay and Cebu and the countryside of Davao. There are endless options to see beautiful landscapes and understand more about the people that form this extremely proud nation. Pinoy pride is written and spoken everywhere. These words are genuine and no trip to the Philippines will leave you with any doubt that its people are proud of their nation. Complaints are rare to hear, Everyone in this country seems to focus on the daily improvements and positive aspects of this country, and every day will bring more joy and understanding to all that visit.