When visiting new countries, I love to learn more about the culture, whether through a city tour or a cooking class. By the time I arrived in El Nido, I’d been in the Philippines for over six weeks and hadn’t seen anything of the sort. Then I came across the Philippine Experience. It promised to be a day of fun Filipino experiences. I booked the tour through my hostel, Our Melting Point. Each tour requires a minimum of three people to run and in our case there were four people. The meeting point was outside Spyder Bar on the beach. Our tour guides introduced themselves to us and we headed to the market.
We took a tricycle to the market and the guides explained that Filipino families usually go to the market around 6am, so by 9am it shouldn’t be too busy. They were correct, it was clear that a lot of produce had already been bought. The guides told us what a regular weekly shop looks like and talked us through some of the items we may have found a little unusual in Europe. I enjoyed visiting the market, it was great to see fruit and vegetables of all shapes and sizes on sale instead of the uniform looking ones that are sold in the UK.
From the market we headed to the workshop, where we would be spending the rest of the day. To get there we did a mini trek through a forest. Our guide pointed out many different trees and plants which are useful in the Philippines. When we arrived at the village, we had fresh buko waiting for us, along with cold water and calamansi juice. The workshop area is spacious and has lots of information about the Philippines on the walls.
The guides had bought some fish from the market, so we were shown how to properly gut a fish and how to tell whether a fish is fresh. After, we went fishing. Only one of us was lucky enough to catch something – the vegan in the group. Typical.
We returned to dry land where we learned about coconuts. We cracked open some old coconuts, collected the juice, then grated the inside. The coconut shavings were then used to make coconut oil.
For lunch, we made chicken adobo. We were supposed to be having pork but the market had sold out because it was Easter weekend. The guides showed us how to make adobo and spoke about the different ways their families make it.
After lunch, we relaxed for 15 minutes before learning how to weave using coconut leaves. We made a couple of toys.
Once our lunch had settled, it was time to climb a coconut tree! There was a harness and helmet provided – an unusual feature in the Philippines. I didn’t climb the tree because I was in a lot of pain from falling off a motorbike the day before (more on that later!)
To end the afternoon we played some Filipino games and learned a traditional Filipino dance, topped off with some halo-halo, a Filipino dessert.
I had such a great time learning about Filipino culture. I wish I’d been able to do this, or something similar, at the beginning of my trip. The great thing about The Philippine Experience is that it’s suitable for any age group. Many thanks to Mark, Shay and the rest of the team!