The Philippines has always been a country that I've been so curious about, and when I finally had the opportunity to go, I jumped at the chance. I arrived in Manila with no real plan, other than a general idea of the places I wanted to visit. But things quickly fell into place when I met a group of fellow content creators on Instagram. We connected over our shared love for adventure, and before I knew it, we were planning a trip together.
We started off our trip in Bohol, this was just me and my Portuguese friend Dario for now. We visited some gorgeous waterfalls and the iconic Chocolate Hills. We also met up with some Portuguese friends Daniel and Margarida who were around and gave us some insider tips on the best places to go. We barely knew each other at the time but this first week gave us the chance to really get to know each other and gain a sense of trust!
We headed to Palawan where we explored Coron and El Nido, where we did some incredible island-hopping. This time, our American friend Cher joined us and we connected immediately through our love of adventure and photography. The islands were absolutely stunning, with crystal-clear waters, beautiful coral reefs, and towering limestone cliffs. We spent our days swimming, snorkeling, and exploring the islands.
Our most awaited destination was Balabac, a group of islands located in the southernmost part of Palawan. This time we connected with the rest of the group, 9 people in total, all from different countries around the world! The journey to get there was not easy - we had to take a 10 hour drive from El Nido, and the roads were bumpy and unpaved, and then a boat ride.
But the moment we arrived, I knew it was all worth it. The beaches in Balabac are some of the most beautiful I've ever seen. The sand is white and powdery, and the water is so clear that you can see fish swimming even from the shore. We set up camp on a deserted island, and for the next few days, we had the entire place to ourselves. It was just us, the beach, and the stars above.
I was surprised by how much I enjoyed the lack of connectivity. Without internet or cell service, we had no choice but to disconnect from the outside world and fully immerse ourselves in the present moment. We spent our days exploring the islands, snorkeling, and swimming with sea turtles. At night, we cooked our meals over a bonfire and spent hours talking and getting to know each other.
Finally, we ended our trip in Siargao, which is a famous surf spot and a real paradise for beach lovers. But for us, we saw it as an opportunity to lay back and relax after a chaotic week in Balabac. We also caught up on a lot of work on our laptops mostly working from beautiful cafes and beaches.
We did still explore a little bit thought, we couldn’t miss on the beautiful palm trees and beaches Siargao has to offer!
One of the things I loved most about this trip was the people I met along the way. From other travelers to locals, everyone was incredibly welcoming and friendly. These experiences gave me a glimpse into the culture and way of life in the Philippines, and I felt grateful for the opportunity to connect with so many amazing people.
Leaving the Philippines was bittersweet. On one hand, I was sad to say goodbye to the friends I had made and the beautiful places I had seen. But on the other hand, I felt grateful for the experiences and memories that I will carry with me for a lifetime.
This trip taught me so much about myself, and I came away with a renewed sense of purpose and direction. I can't wait to see where my next adventure will take me next!