First impressions of the Philippines, and why we were sad to leave

“You must to go to Philippines, you´ll love it!” – that was the advice Sabrina [Iovino, who wrote this article on Rappler] gave us. On the other side of the table, our friend Joy said: “And if you go there promise you will visit Bohol, my homeland is beautiful!"

The talk about the Philippines happened during a dinner in Chiang Mai, Thailand, and those two last sentences stayed in my mind for few days. When we left Brazil 11 months ago, my husband and I never thought about visiting Philippines. I don't know why, but the country wasn't in our bucket list. Silly, isn't it? 

After that dinner, we didn't think twice. We were so inspired by our friends’ stories and pictures that we decided to change our travels plans. We booked our flights to Manila and Boracay. On 13th of January we arrived in paradise, and I´m sure we made the right choice!

Before we traveled, many people advised us about how Boracay is crowded and touristy, so I was already prepared to hate the island. But thank God, they were wrong! Boracay hit us in a completely different way. It was love at first sight.

We have been traveling the world for almost a year, and as beach lovers we already visit some amazing coastlines. But Boracay… I don't have words to express the beauty of that island. 

Station 3 was our home, White Beach our garden, and Puka Shell my favorite spot. And it wasn´t just nature that enchanted us – the vibe of Boracay carved it a space in our hearts. We were super sad to leave.

We got so excited about Boracay that for the first time I wrote an article with more than 3,000 words. I forgot to say, I´m journalist and we are travel bloggers. Our love story with Boracay has a special place in our memories and on our blog too. As they say, time flies when we are having fun. After a week we had to leave the paradise. 

I promised my friend Joy that I would visit her hometown, so no doubt that Bohol was our second destination in Philippines. I was prepared to land in an island with beautiful beaches, Chocolate Hills and a quiet atmosphere. But Bohol was beyond my expectations. (READ: How travel still surprises me)

Most Brazilian travelers think that Philippines is just about beaches – actually, it’s much, much more. Bohol is the perfect example. There you can find stunning white sand beaches, lush green forests, symmetric hills, incredible underwater life. Bottom line: Bohol enchanted us, and Boracay became a summer affair.

Of course the nature in Bohol is stunning, the Chocolate Hills are delicious to look at and man-made Forest impressive. However, what really touched us was the people, the smile they give to you everyday. The kids that hug you on the streets and the delicious malunggay soup we ate almost everyday. 

I think only a traveler at heart can really understand what I´m saying, because some of my friends only ask me about the beaches. And I insist in answering them: You can come to Philippines for the beaches but what you'll get is so much more. 

People from Bohol are the biggest reason why we want to go back there (we are already thinking about it). One afternoon we went jogging, after my 5k, I stopped on the beach to do some stretching. In less than 2 minutes I was surrounded by 6 or 7 kids, all them doing the same exercises as me. We stayed there playing for almost half an hour until the beautiful sunset put an end to our fun. (READ: Bangon, Bohol: Vacationing in the post-disaster province)

I don't have pictures of that awesome moment. I never expected that could happen – but the memories of that day will stay forever in my heart. It doesn´t matter where you came from, or which language you speak. Friendship and smiles are universal and the Filipino kids know this!

Now do you understand why we fell in love with Philippines? 

We crossed so many kilometers to realize that nature and people are the best features of Philippines. You only know a place when you get to know the people who live there. 

Our trip to the Philippines ended in Bohol and I have to say that I regret not having more time to explore this magnificent country. The list of cities I want to visit in Philippines keep growing, and every time I talk to a Filipino they suggest me a new “un-missable” destination. (READ: German traveler's PH journey: Going off the beaten path)

Well, now I understand why Sabrina & Joy told us to travel to Philippines. There is something special and addictive about this country. Something that makes you want to come back and maybe stay there forever. – Rappler.com

All photos provided by Natalie Deduck