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Where are you from?


“Where are you from?”


It’s a question I’m always asked when I am abroad. And simply saying that, “I’m from the Philippines,” does not seem enough.


This beautiful archipelago of 7,641 islands with over 100 indigenous communities and about the same number of languages is a culturally rich, naturally bountiful nation that I am truly proud of. Centuries of colonial rule have shaped much of our history. But our diverse culture makes us truly unique and interesting.


Generally, Filipinos are known for being hospitable, hardworking, and resilient. Within the country, there are regional clusters and each of this group has their own culture, a common language with variations in provinces, distinct traits that make them recognizable from Filipinos in other regions—for instance, most Ilocanos are known to be frugal, Ilonggos are charming and soft-spoken, the Kapampangans are recognized as great cooks, Cebuanos are known for their creativity.


Cultural celebrations or fiestas are present in every province. These festivals not only highlight traditions and beliefs but also help strengthen cultural pride and sense of community. Many of these have also become constant tourist spectacles like the Dinagyang in Iloilo; Pahiyas in Lucban, Quezon; Kadayawan in Davao City; Ati-Atihan in Kalibo, Aklan; Sinulog in Cebu City; Panagbenga in Baguio City; among many, many others.


The Philippines is likewise abundant in natural resources. It’s one of the mega-biodiverse countries and is located at the apex of the Coral Triangle, which is considered a global center of marine biodiversity.


A thalassophile like me would easily fall in love with our stunning beaches in Palawan, Boracay, Bohol, Pagudpud, among many others. Those who love surfing can visit Siargao, La Union, and Baler, to name a few. Most of these have been cited as among the best in the world. In fact, the Philippines has been recognized by the World Travel Awards as the world’s leading beach and dive destination for several years now.


There are many other marvelous island paradise in the country that are equally stunning but more secluded like Palaui in Cagayan and Caramoan in Camarines Sur, which were both the location of several seasons of the American reality television series, Survivor.


Moreover, some of our natural and cultural wonders have been recognized for their outstanding universal value, making it to the UNESCO World Heritage List: the Rice Terraces of the Philippine Cordilleras; the Baroque Churches of the Philippines, which are the San Agustin Church in Paoay, Ilocos Norte, the Nuestra Señora de la Asuncion in Santa Maria, Ilocos Sur, the San Agustin Church in Manila, and the Santo Tomas de Villanueva Church in Miag-ao, Iloilo; the Historic City of Vigan in Ilocos Sur; the Puerto Princesa Subterranean River National Park and the Tubbataha Reefs Natural Park, both in Palawan; and the Mount Hamiguitan Range Wildlife Sanctuary in Davao Oriental.


I can go on and tell more about where I come from. We’re not even done with the food and delicacies, the various weaves that are distinct in every region, the cultural villages, heritage buildings, and other historical and natural sites. There is just so much to tell about the Philippines that an article would not suffice or even do justice for the many wonders it can offer.

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