The Philippine Experience is unlike anything else available in El Nido. The all day tour includes shopping, hiking, fishing, cooking, weaving, crafting, climbing, dancing, playing games, all in an idyllic oceanfront setting. If you want to learn how the locals live, work, and play all while having an incredibly fun-filled day, The Philippine Experience is a must-do!
The tour starts at the local wet market. Since we come here all the time as residents, we opted to watch this snake oil salesman while the rest of the group shopped. He certainly convinced the audience of snake oil’s properties as they were waving money at him trying to buy some!
From there we went on an easy 30 minute hike through lush forests and mangroves where we learned about the local flora and fauna.
The plant pictured left is a cashew, one of the biggest crops in Palawan, and the plant on the right closes its leaves when you touch it. I’ve since discovered they grow all around my house!
Once we got to their secret beach front location, we participated in a Philippines trivia contest (we were the only ex-pats and we lost!), then got in canoes and went fishing for our lunch.
They taught us the proper way to gut and clean a fish.
Many of the day’s events revolved around the incredibly versatile coconut that can be used in dozens of different ways! Our guides chopped coconuts in half with ease using a machete. Some of the coconuts had a baby coconut fruit inside which had a really interesting spongey texture to them and a very light, pleasant taste.
Then we used these special benches to shave off the inside of the coconut to make coconut oil. My kids loved this part of the day most!
We took some of the coconut shavings and fed them to local chickens, pigs, and dogs.
Then we boiled the coconut shavings until it separated into the most delicious smelling oil. My daughter said it smelled like cookies (macaroons!). Each of us received a bottle of extra virgin coconut oil to take home, and we used the fried bits as toppings for halo halo at the end of the day!
Next it was time for our traditional Filipino cooking lesson. We stoked our own fires with coconut shell charcoal and bamboo over these traditional local stoves made of an empty can of cooking oil and concrete. Then we cooked pork adobo with the ingredients they provided. There were three different tables, but one group undoubtedly had the most tender adobo (not our table!). My kids devoured the adobo. Lunch included several other dishes besides the adobo we cooked, and it was plentiful and delicious. I even stole one of the vegetarian munggo bean recipes and have made it to rave reviews!
There were several crafts throughout the day including weaving fish out of leaves…
And decorating our own bamboo shotglasses.
Coconut tree climbing for the brave!
Towards the end of the day they taught us several traditional Filipino games and dances, which everyone of all ages really enjoyed.
The staff is wonderfully warm, knowledgeable and enthusiastic and really added to an already excellent tour. Though the tour is best for older children (8+) because it involves a 30 minute hike each way, our 4 and 6 year old enjoyed the entire day (and they both promptly passed out in the tricycle on the way home!).
There were so many other surprises throughout the day and I don’t want to give everything away, but I’m absolutely certain that you will love this unique tour. Read more rave reviews on Tripadvisor here!