A Trip to the Philippines


This is the mission group that I went with. There were ten girls, five guys, and four chaperones.

Makayla Faulk, MVC writer and photographer

This August I went to the Philippines for a mission trip. It was an amazing experience and I definitely think I will be going back at some point in my life. I went in mid-August, a couple of weeks after school started.
The Philippines is a beautiful and diverse country. It is a unique place because one can see both the Pacific Ocean and the mountains, such as Mt. Apo, at the same time. The Philippines is an archipelago, which means it is made up of more than 7,000 islands.
The Philippines has mountains and active and dormant volcanoes. It is one of the most disaster-stricken places in the world because of its geographical location. In just the short time we were there, there was an earthquake and a few torrential downpours which resulted in a lot of flooding. Part of the reason that the nation is so run down is that they do not have the infrastructure to keep all of the natural disasters from affecting them.
There are about 109.6 million people who live in the Philippines, which results in very tight living conditions. The population density of Manila, the capital of the Philippines, is about five times more than New York City. However, the city is very clean, which was surprising.
The people there are very unique. In the rural areas, many of them have never seen Americans. While America is a melting pot of religions and races, this is not the case in the Philippines. Most people look very similar and there is virtually no diversity in their culture. Everyone has the same color skin, straight black hair and most have brown eyes. When they saw Americans they acted as though we were celebrities. The Filipinos all wanted pictures with us.
Another part of their everyday life is pictures and social media. One cannot go anywhere without seeing people on Facebook Live or constantly posting things. They are very joyful, upbeat, and noisy people.
The entire dynamic is different in the Philippines. They have pesos instead of dollars. The government there is also very different from the United States. The federal government has all of the power and the local governments are essentially useless. The local governments cannot make rules or laws or do anything more than enforce what the federal government says.
The Philippines has very restrictive laws. They are very strict about things like masks and littering and jaywalking. If a mask is not worn properly people can be fined up to 560 pesos, which is roughly equivalent to 10 US dollars. There are security guards at every business, and people have to walk through a metal detector and have their bags searched in most public places.
A visit to the Philippines is truly an eye-opening experience. It is a beautiful country with even more beautiful people.

This is a traditional Filipino Boodle Fight. Food is laid out on a table and eaten with the hands, together with everyone. There are no plates and food is taken from where it is grouped together on the communal table.
This is the view from the Dusit Thani in Davao. There are beautiful mountains in the background. The sky is always clear because there is less city pollution due to the lack of factories.
This is Durian. It smells very bad, like sweaty gym socks, however, Filipinos consider it a great snack. They often like to give it to Americans to joke with them. It is soft, like papaya. It tastes as it smells.
This is Mangosteen. It is soft and sweet. People eat the white part and the red is a shell.
This is a backroad of Davao City. They do not have highways like the US does; most roads look like this. They have virtually no traffic laws and lane lines are completely optional.
This is the mission group that I went with. There were ten girls, five guys, and four chaperones.
This is a fruit called Rambutan. It has the consistency of a grape but it has a large seed in the middle that people have to eat around. It is very chewy.
This is called “halo-halo,” which translates to “mix-mix” in English. It is a typical breakfast food. There are beans, ube-flavored frozen yogurt, bread, milk, banana, and other dessert items.
This was one of the islands we stopped at. It was very tropical and dotted with little shacks that had both homes and beach shops in them.
The beach was not soft sand, but the water was very pretty. The beaches were actually very trashy which was sad, but the country is actively working to clean the ocean. They work hard to reduce single-use plastics and at stores and other places, there is often an additional charge if people do not bring their own bag to put their things in.