If you’ve been following along on the Miss Foodie Problems journey from the beginning or even just in the last year, you’ve seen a lot of change. My instagram account started out as nothing more than a feed full of food photos, lacking a true identity. I can’t remember the exact day I decided I wanted to change things up and start posting photos of myself, but I do remember consciously making that decision. I knew that if I wanted to differentiate myself from the crowd, I had to do something. I was nervous, and knew it was possible I could lose some of my audience, but the moment I realized it didn’t really matter, everything shifted. Don’t get me wrong, I do this for my audience because the continued support has helped get me to where I am. There’s also a point when I realized I needed to make certain decisions for yourself, because when it’s all boiled down, this is my life and if someone decides to stop following along, that’s their decision and out of my control. I mean this happens throughout life with people. We’re all working to transition into our most authentic selves and sometimes friends you used to see always being in your life no longer fit. Life is about change. In all honestly, this really isn’t about food. The thing that brings me the most joy is when someone says that I inspired them to do something or to change some aspect of their life. It’s quite funny how afraid of change we can be at times. I think, because the process is likely painful, but the joy that comes after is worth it. I personally think its worse to stay stagnant than mess up a bit in the process and figure it out along the way.
As I sit here typing this out, I’m thinking about how this was supposed to be my Philippines trip recap, which I’ve been putting off since I got back in March. For many reasons: overwhelmed at combing through all the beautiful content I shot over the 11 days we were there, trying to sum it all up into one post, and just life.
This is definitely turning into more of a cleansing experience for myself. Honestly the last year has been unlike anything I could have ever dreamed up, full of amazing experiences I’ve been able to take part in because of the brand I have created for myself. It also has been a struggle of actually being present in those moments, while thinking about all of the other things I need to finish, people I want to spend time with, and life I want to create for myself. I’m still working on the balance. Here’s to figuring out balance, saying YES to valuable experiences, and saying no when you can no longer say yes (and to all the things that do not serve you). It is all a process.
All of that aside, I have a lot to say about Instagram since the algorithm shift and how frustrating of a platform it has been since. I’ve shared bits and pieces on various instagram posts and had conversations with my fellow creatives, but alas social media is ever changing, just like us. I’m mostly frustrated by the people who want success so badly that they cheat the system, but that’s for a whole other post. Let’s keep on keeping on.
The purpose of even sharing any of the above was to say that before 2017 begun, I really only laid out one goal for myself. It was not much more formal than realizing it one day and throwing it out into the universe. This goal: TRAVEL MORE IN 2017. After throwing that out there, I got invited to Amelia Island in Florida to the opening of the Lobby Bar at the Ritz-Carlton.
After the Amelia Island trip, I thanked the universe for the awesome trip but then informed it that I was thinking about more international travel. 😉 Maybe 4 days later, I was in bed looking at emails before going to sleep (I know, I need to get rid of this habit) and I saw an email about a potential Philippines trip. Slightly skeptical, but with nothing to lose, I emailed the person back and then spoke to them on the phone soon after. It sounded legit and ended up being real life. Basically I was asked to be the only food blogger on a media trip with about 7 other influencers: from a photographer, to a couple youtubers, an ANTM model, producer of a show, and more. It was a really smart way to organize a well-rounded trip, getting content from so many different angles.
Basically I’m just saying, DREAM BIG. Throw all of it out into the universe, but be specific. Write those dreams down, revise them, keep them current. YOU are in control of what your life will become. YES, there are things that will happen that are out of your control and will throw you off track, but it is up to you to get back on track and work hard at it.
On to the Philippines trip!
LAX to Manila
The flight to Manila was a long one, but thankfully we got to fly in business class on Philippine Airlines. The seats recline all the way down so you can sleep soundly for as much of the flight as you’d like. I killed some time by watching a movie and eating the inflight meals, but mostly sleeping, since I knew once we landed we were hitting the ground running with all of the activities Mango Tours had in store for us!
Once we landed in Manila, we took a bus to breakfast then did a brief city tour. Pictured below is a mode of public transportation in the Philippines called Jeepkneys. People pack into these things like a sardine can! They originated from American jeeps left over after WWII and the “knee” part is because people sit facing each other, knee-to-knee, as you can see below! Boy is traffic in Manila awful, maybe even worse than back home in Los Angeles.
We briefly explored the city of Manila before transferring to Puerto Princesa where we would stay for a couple days.
Puerto Princesa, Palawan
Hotel: Astoria Palawan.
We checked into our hotel with a warm welcome from the locals and a gorgeous sunset.
I was a fan of the lobby decor of the hotel and also the glowy pool at night!
After dinner we turned in for the night, but woke up early to head to the Underground River Tour.
Before taking a boat to the tour we grabbed some local grub. This “dirty ice cream” and taho were a couple of my favorite food items from the trip, super simple but delicious and refreshing!
The river tour is filled with stalactite and stalagmite formations as well as a ton of bats. The natural beauty was a lot to take in! After exiting the tour we were able to explore the beach a bit before heading back on the boat.
After the river tour we headed to a hole in the wall restaurant where we were treated to the freshest of seafood and I tried tamilok, which is a woodworm but tasted like an oyster to me. I’ve got video of this. If I end up posting it to my instagram I will link it here.
Off we went to Karst Mountain, Elephant Cave (apparently it was featured on the Amazing Race, fun fact: I would totally love to go on that show) It was obviously stunning!
After exploring a bit more, a few of us went into town to try some local cuisine and check out the shops. We decided to try crocodile, which basically just “tastes like chicken”.
One of my favorite stops on the trip was Bakers Hill, because as some of you may know, I love pastries. I tried hopia for the first time here. OMG I was hooked. This is also a beautiful space with art installations, stunning flowers and views.
As the sun was setting we headed to our Hotel for the next couple days. This was definitely my favorite one of the trip. I mean check out the infinity pool! Each room ended up being a private villa with a pool and outdoor jacuzzi tub!
Hotel: Eskaya Resort and Spa
We ate lechon a couple of time on this trip. It’s a whole pig situation. The skin is so crispy and the meat is so tender!
One of my favorite meals of the trip was this breakfast. Milkfish (or bangus) marinated in vinegar, garlic, salt, and pepper. Also, you have to eat all the fruit while you’re in the Philippines because it’s so fresh and sweet.
After breakfast we headed to the Chocolate Hills, they’re supposed to look like Hershey’s kisses but at the time of year we were traveling they were quite green, but still gorgeous!
Next up: Stand Up Paddle Boarding on the Loboc River
This was my first time SUP boarding and I absolutely loved it. What a peaceful river to float along! We also jumped into the river off of a rope. Oh and you can see my love for fresh coconuts on this trip.
Off to see the tarsiers! These little guys are so adorable. This place was so crowded but well worth it. Just try to get there when there aren’t a million other people trying to get the same photo.
Can we pause and talk about the amount of baggage our group had. LOL.
Before dinner I attempted wakeboarding for the first time and was pretty unsuccessful, but I only ended up having about 15 minutes to attempt. I have faith next time I’ll be a pro 😉
We had dinner at Azure Beach Club at the resort. Everything was delicious, but the scallops were to die for!
The next day we headed to Kawasan Falls, which is a bit of a walk from where you part, but it is stunning and well worth the trek. The day we went it was quite crowded, but you can definitely be strategic and get the instagrammable photo you want. 😉
After snapping some photos and riding on the raft under the waterfall (holy moly that water is powerful, they call it a “massage”), it was obviously time to eat. We took part in a boodle fight. Traditionally this is a meal that military men ate together with no regards to rank. All the food is poured out onto banana leaves and eaten by hand. This was so delicious! Also, shoutout to these awesome individuals I got to meet because of this trip!
The whale shark expedition was a bit chaotic, but I’m happy I got to experience it!
Hotel: Astoria Boracay
Next up, our last stop, but my very favorite. We took a boat to the island.
Puka Shell Beach was picturesque, lined with adorable shops (I ended up buying a really beautiful sea shell wall hanging) and there was even a little beach shack that blended up fruity alcoholic drinks of your choice.
The main beachfront strip that our hotel was on has a ton of adorable shops, restaurants and bars! I found some gorgeous macrame pieces (a purse and dreamcatcher) for super cheap. Wish I could have purchased a bunch to bring back to the states with me!
Oh and the sunsets were stunning.
We pretty much had free reign while we were in Boracay, nothing much on the agenda, so a few of us decided to get a boat and hire a crew for the day. I highly recommend this. It is super affordable and an experience like no other. Our crew took us to Magic Island, where there was cliff jumping! They even put up with our photoshoots, stopping and turning the boat so we could get the right light as the sun was slowly setting.
One of my favorite food items in Boracay were these kalamansi muffins from Real Coffee and Tea Cafe.
In the evening we were entertained by fire dancers and I tried Balut, which didn’t end of being as terrifying as I thought it would be (will link video once it is live on instagram).
Back to Manila we went for the last leg of our trip!
Hotel: Manila Hotel
Every dish we tried at this restaurant was so on point! These nachos were my favorite though.
The Tour company team brought these boxes of donuts to one of our last meals together because they had been talking about them since the beginning of the trip and insisted I try them! They have some really interesting and delicious flavors!
By the end of the trip, I’m pretty sure most of us were ready for American food. The burgers, brews, and wings were definitely perfect. Of course I had to get the burger with the egg yolk baked into the bun!
Our last meal before the plane ride back to LA was an extravagant buffet at Manila Hotel!
Manila – LAX
This trip was a sign that I really accomplish everything I dream up! I found that I thrive off of being adventurous and trying things that not everyone is willing to (ie: eating balut / crocodile / woodworm, jumping off a cliff, wakeboarding). I am open to all the amazing experiences to come and that are already in the works.
To all of you who may feel a little lost or unsure about what you want to do in your career: try things and if you don’t like something, don’t continue doing it. When you find something that truly brings you joy, keep doing it. It doesn’t mean you have to do that one thing forever. It could very well be a stepping stone to another place you’re meant to be.
Happy Traveling and Adventuring,
Corey, Miss Foodie Problems