Road trips in the Philippines always have a charming appeal to it, because Pinoys never miss an opportunity to show off what their town has to offer – from in-season fruits, their incumbent politicians’ latest projects, to once-a-year feasts of their patron saint. The long drives are actually very enjoyable, assuming of course, that you take away the chokepoint traffic jams and aggressive drivers you typically come across everyday. Regardless of the town, there seems to be a common DNA thread, and you’ll find it amusing to find the following again and again and again.
Little makeshift huts on the farthest side of the road are always littered with tempting offerings of delicacies: from steaming hot bibingkas to just-out-of the boiler white Japanese corn, or fruits in season arranged in piles. If you’re a hungry traveller, these are life savers, and make excellent pasalubong too.
Luzviminda’s Sari Sari Store
For every 100 meters, say hello to about 4 different sari-sari stores each with their own patrons and respective signages co-labelled with Pepsi, Coke, Smart, or Globe. While the imported wholesale groceries are all the rage in the metro, the tingi principle is still king in the provinces. Really gets you thinking about the state of the economy and the disparity in income classes in the Philippines. But on a lighter note, watch out for all kinds of eye-catching (and occasionally pun-ny) sari-sari store names!
An SM for every town
They really do have it all for you – here, there, and everywhere. Though often cited as a cause of traffic, their malls’ presence can be a comforting proof of modernization in rural areas. Yay for automatic flushing toilets!
The rightmost lane equals parking
Road widening is a sought after project of most towns and municipalities, but unfortunately, too many Filipinos have yet to outgrow the bad habit of turning roads into parking slots. Beat the traffic jam this malpractice inevitably causes with lots of sweet and salty snacks, and good conversations. You never know, it might just be the opportunity to hot seat your friends on their darkest secrets!
Front seat row to farmlands
You can learn so much just by looking out your window. Get crackin’ and learn the different appearances of pineapple plantations, rice paddies, and corn fields so you can show off your newfound Kuya Kim nature knowledge when you hang out with the urban folks again.
Endless array of random mini family resorts
With the wealth of natural attractions in the Philippines, it’s no wonder many Filipinos have built up their livelihoods around the hospitality and tourism industry. It will take a lot of VLs and savings to tour all provinces in our beloved Pilipinas – so our top tip: better to get started now!
Surprise train tracks
Owing to many years of colonization and constantly shifting land planning, it seems that so many provincial roads are interspersed with train tracks that have no warnings or barricades whatsoever. Like they taught us in kindergarten, make sure to stop, look, and listen!
Christianity is central to our culture, and it is reflected by the incredible number of churches built throughout the country. Whether you are a person of faith or not, you won’t be able to help but admire these often colossal basilicas and shrines, and the humble but welcoming feel of small chapels.
Got any other Pinoy roadtrip observations you’d like to share? Sound off in the comments below!