3 Valuable Lessons I’ve Learned in the Philippines

3 Valuable Lessons I’ve Learned in the Philippines

It’s been a while my friend and I apologize for being on hiatus. I’ve been doing a lot of thinking/planning for 2016 so that I can have a lot of exciting things coming your way!


If you didn’t know, I just came back from a 3-week trip to the Philippines for a family reunion. The last time I visited the country I was only 13 years old, so it has definitely been a while. I just always remember it to be frightening experience (aside from family time), being a third world country and all. There was this time a psycho pulled out a large pair of scissors from his backpack on a jeepney for no apparent reason… and if it weren’t a psycho on the street, it was the insane driving on the road where no one followed the traffic rules or the numerous lizards/bugs everywhere! However, this recent trip was different.


I’m pretty sure it’s due to the fact that I’m 13 years older, but I now have so much appreciation for my country. It’s always good to get in touch with your roots and learn the life your parents lived (if they are from another country). I wasn’t expecting to do any soul searching out there, but that’s what ended up happening. I just couldn’t help but notice the locals’ positive spirits and perspective on life. Their happiness really comes down to 3 things.


3 Valuable Lessons I’ve Learned in the Philippines:


3 Valuable Lessons I've Learned in the Philippines | Here & Air


We all know money can’t buy happiness and it’s very true. You can have all the money in the world, but you won’t feel whole if you don’t fulfill and manage basic aspects of your life.


I remember having a serious conversation with my 9-year old cousin one night. I had asked him what he wanted to do when he was older. His answer came from such an honest place, I can never forget it.
“I want to cook for my family like my older sister and become a pastor like my papa.”, he said.
I loved that answer so much. I am so used to the typical, “I want to be a doctor/engineer/basketball player/etc.” response, that I hadn’t expected that answer. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with any of those aspirations, but I felt my cousin’s response wasn’t influenced by anyone, a desire for fame, or most importantly money. It came from a desire to help people, something that gives him fulfillment.


In the Philippines, the people are happy even when they could barely afford to buy food for the night. Most people  wear basic teeshirts with random verbage because having the newest and coolest clothes isn’t important to them. It’s not about being the best tennis player in the world or making a ton of money as a businessman. As long as they have the necessities, they are happy.


The one thing I am extremely thankful for is having a big family. However, my family is dispersed in 10+ countries all over the world, so I barely get to speak to them and I barely know them.


After spending a few weeks in the Philippines, I got to have conversations with some relatives and not only learned a thing or two about them, but learned more about myself as well. It’s crazy how bloodlines work. I found similarities between my cousins I haven’t spoken to in years.


My grandparents have a big house in Manila, where my dad, aunt and uncles grew up. That house still serves as a main hub for my family. Everyday, family members will visit to either hang out or to help out around the house. I never knew what it felt like to have extended family around, but it feels nice.
Family is everything. They will give you support when you need it, love you unconditionally, and will always tell you how it is — even when it hurts. They give you a better understanding of who you are — your values, morals, and overall being. They shape who you are and are an extension of you, so love them while you can.
3 Valuable Lessons I've Learned in the Philippines | Here & Air


You’d think that because the Philippines is third-world country, where people struggle to make a living and where typhoons are constantly destroying the homes of thousands, people would be in a state of depression. But that’s actually far from what I’ve seen.


Most people are really happy. They never forget to make light of what’s right in front of them. They always know how to have a good time and enjoy the company of their friends and loved ones. They aren’t constantly worried about what they don’t have or what they can instantly lose.
In the Philippines, the people are content. They understand their situations and know that bad things can happen anytime, but that isn’t enough to bring them down. Instead, they focus on the positives and what they can appreciate in the moment.

I’ve had such a humbling experience in the Philippines, I can’t wait to come back next year (hopefully)!





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  • Kylorey
    Posted at 04:17h, 25 February Reply

    Love this.

  • Zita
    Posted at 20:23h, 28 January Reply

    While I haven’t been to the Philippines I have travelled through a bit through SE Asia and this is so true about the people in that area! So amazing and such an important reminded of what really matters in life!

    • Carmelisse
      Posted at 22:42h, 28 January Reply

      I’d love to travel through SE Asia! I’ve only been to a couple places. I wouldn’t doubt the people there are the same. Thanks for taking the time to read Zita! 🙂

  • Emma Hart | Paper Planes and Caramel Waffles
    Posted at 12:32h, 27 January Reply

    What a beautiful post Carmelisse! I’m very tempted to go to the Philippines later this year as TBEX is there in October and this has made me want to go even more. It’s so nice having a trip that makes you take a step back a bit, slow down and spend time with family. I’ve heard people in the Philippines are very friendly too and this post seems to prove it 🙂

    • Carmelisse
      Posted at 13:51h, 27 January Reply

      Aww thank you Emma! You should definitely try to visit the Philippines at least once in your life. Make TBEX all the reason to go this year! I wanna try to go to TBEX this year too. Thanks for reading. 🙂

  • LisaLDN
    Posted at 10:47h, 26 January Reply

    This is such a great post! I just got back from a few days in the Philippines and can truly vouch for all of these!

    Lovely to join you in the Girl vs Globe linkup! 🙂

    • Carmelisse
      Posted at 14:18h, 27 January Reply

      That’s awesome! Thanks for linking up 🙂

  • Katie
    Posted at 19:07h, 25 January Reply

    Beautiful post, Carmelisse! I’m headed to the Philippines soon — for a month!! — and I’m truly ecstatic. I’ve only heard the most beautiful things from travellers about the country and, most especially, the people. So happy to hear you were able to return and gain a fresh perspective on your roots. You grandparents’ home as a central hub sounds absolutely amazing — I don’t think I’ve ever known anything like that with my small family!

    • Carmelisse
      Posted at 08:07h, 26 January Reply

      Hey Katie! How awesome! I think you’ll love it there. You’re right about the people, they are kind and love to have a good time. But just like any other place, you can’t trust them all. There will be people who will try to steal your belongings so be smart and use common sense! I’ve only really known what it’s like having a small family because all my relatives are spread out, but it was such an amazing thing to experience. Have fun in the Philippines! Can’t wait to see your posts on them. 🙂

  • Nikki Camacho
    Posted at 00:14h, 21 January Reply

    This made me cry. I’am very much happy because you and your family enjoyed your vacation here in the Philippines. We are hoping for more memories to capture. We love you.

    • Carmelisse
      Posted at 08:02h, 21 January Reply

      Aww wow! That means so much to me. Thank you, we loved our trip and hope to be back very soon. Thank you Nikki! Love ya! <3

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