Saturday, June 2, 2012

Things to share with Foreigners about the Philippines

When foreigners ask about our country, we’ve got to be prepared. 

On a tour bus in Vietnam, I was seated beside tourists from France and Israel. One question they asked was, “Where’s the Philippines?”

After some explaining, I ended up drawing a silly map for them.  

The Israelis also asked which countries we shared the border with, which I had to explain that we don’t really share borders with anyone because we’re composed of many islands.

“How many?” they asked.

I wanted to borrow Charlene Gonzales’ famous line: “High tide or low tide?” But they might not get it.

My new friends seemed curious about the Philippines and wanted to know so much. I felt like a Miss Universe contestant during the interview portion. Grace under pressure!

After some time, I couldn’t think of anything decent to share. I felt bad because I started to doubt what I knew—as if common knowledge didn’t seem so common anymore.

For future small talk, I’ve come up with a list of basic and interesting things about the Philippines to share with foreigners:

1. The Philippines is composed of 7,107 islands and if they don’t know where it is, draw a map! Anyone can draw better than this:

Here's the rough sketch I drew on the bumpy bus ride. Haha!
I wonder if they got it.
I should start reviewing this again. Araling Panlipunan, much?
(Image from

2. Around 100 million people live in the Philippines, and we're pre-dominantly Catholic.

3. Some of the largest shopping malls in the world are in Manila, the capital of the Philippines.

SM North EDSA is largest mall in Southeast Asia. It's also the 3rd largest in the world.
(This is a correction from my posting a few hours ago stating that SM Mall of Asia was the third largest. Sorry!)
(Photo from
SM Mall of Asia is the second largest shopping mall in the Philippines.
It's the 10th largest in the world.
(Photo from
SM Megamall is the third largest shopping mall in the Philippines, ranking #13 in the world.
After renovation and expansion, it is envisioned to become the largest mall in the Philippines.
(Photo from

4. We're the texting and social networking capital of the world! (Updated June 2, 2012. Sources have been cited.)
According to GMA News, in 2009, the average Filipino mobile subscriber sent an average of 600 text messages per month—43 percent more than their US counterparts.

An article on 24/7 Wall St. states that 93.9% of Internet users in the Philippines are Facebook users. Check out figures vs other countries—even those for other social networking sites. No wonder we've been nicknamed the "Social Networking Capital of the World."

5. The prettiest women are here! If they like mestizas, chinitas, morenas, or exoticas, we've got it!

6. There’s a sachet for almost everything: shampoos, deodorants, toothpastes, even gin.

(Photo from

7. The Filipinos are happy and resilient. We've been through a lot and we keep a positive outlook.

8. Must-try food: Adobo, halo-halo, mangoes, etc.

9. Must-go places: Boracay, Palawan, Bohol, etc.

10. One syllable conversations exist in the Philippines! (Added on August 13, 2012)

"Bababa ba?" Going down?
"Bababa." Going down.
(Image from

11. It’s more fun in the Philippines! For "relevant" current events, some scenes from Bourne Legacy were shot here!

A late realization I had is that while traveling, we all become ambassadors of own countries. It may be deep and kinda scary but we become others’ impression of the Philippines.

I also think that it should be our initiative to share with others what the Philippines has to offer. And let’s not forget: It’s more fun in the Philippines (even if sometimes, it’s more fun outside).

If only I knew the lyrics to Tara Na, Biyahe Tayo, I would have sung it on the bus! That, would have been "prepared".

What other fun facts about the Philippines are worth sharing to foreigners? 

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