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Philippines

Community Development + Exploring

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Itinerary Options

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Discover the Philippines

1000's of tiny islands

The Philippines is a gloriously diverse country made up of over 7000 islands and numerous indigenous groups, stunning Spanish – Filipino architecture, emerald rice fields, smouldering volcanoes and the friendliest Filipino hospitality.

As you fly over marooned slicks of sand in the middle of the Western Pacific your initial feeling would be this is a beach bum's paradise and where’s Robinson Crusoe? Look a little closer and you’ll dip into sprawling mega-islands, pounding with industry and casinos and islands ready to serve up lashings of adrenaline - surfing, white water rafting, wake boarding, fishing, trekking and zip lines to test the bravest – so get ready.

Manila, the capital, is famous for its waterfront promenade, centuries-old Chinatown, Binondo and Intramuros, the walled city in colonial times, so get ready to walk, talk and explore.

Venture out to some of the remotest islands of the Philippines to explore and contribute whilst being immersed in the kindest of cultures.


Program Itinerary

Step way off the backpacker trail and into traditional, indigenous communities. Think reforestation, teaching and tropical islands. Frankly it doesn’t get much better.

The following is a sample itinerary.

Overview

Phillippines

Only 7000 Islands...

Spend four weeks here, exploring several of the remotest islands, whist living with local families to experience the remarkable Filipino culture first hand.

You’ll fly into the capital of Manila, before catching a short domestic flight onto Legazpi City, where you'll spend 2 days acclimatising and sightseeing before heading out to the small town of Bulusan in the Sorsogon Province on the Pacific coast.

Our program here aims to help local and international NGO’s with their development projects, which include reforestation, refurbishing community buildings and teaching English.


Accommodation

Backpackers guest house.

Food

3 meals a day are provided.

Wks 1 - 2

Bulusan Cultural Exchange

Cultural Exchange and Development

The small town of Bulusan is dominated by the active Bulusan Volcano, whose slopes are covered in virgin rainforest, crystal clear crater lakes, waterfalls, hot springs and rare, endemic animal species. Simply stunning.

Several local communities live here who’ve learned to live in harmony with nature and with whom you’ll work with throughout this phase. Nearby, the palm-fringed beach stretches for miles with no tourists in sight.

Projects

The Bulusan Volcano Natural Park has been fortunate to receive support from the United Nations Development Program (UNDP), Bantay Kalikasan, GIZ Germany, Oxford University, and The Foundation of the Philippine Environment. Together with the Local Government Units, they have helped with reforestation, farming and local enterprise and really value our support in the following areas:

  • Rice is the staple diet in the Philippines and there are 2 planting and harvesting seasons a year. Here you will help the farmers with the planting or harvesting depending on the season.
  • There are several local industries being supported in Bulusan helping provide livelihood to the local community. Depending on the ongoing product orders, you will help with the making of these local handicrafts (e.g. native mats).

Before leaving Bulusan, you will have 2 days R&R around Sorsogon where you can swim, trek, have local cooking lessons, and learn more about the history of the area.

Accommodation

Local homestay.

Food

3 meals a day provided.

Wks 3 - 4

Ticao Island + Mallipot Community Development

Community Development

Next stop - Ticao Island, an island community in the Masbate province. Approximately 1 hour by traditional motorized boat from the mainland.

The people of Ticao have learned to survive based on what the land and ocean can provide. Very little government support comes to this area and the main developments on the island are a result of donations and strategies from Ticao Island Resort.

On your time off, you’re perfectly placed to island hop around the islets of Ticao; around San Miguel and Udoc, which are rich in soft coral gardens, fish life, and macro critters.

Projects
Here you will help Ticao Island Resort with their development projects focused on the livelihood and education of the local community.

Projects will include:
Helping the fishermen with their day-to-day activities.
School development (for example making tables and chairs, paving the walkway, painting the school building, cleaning the grounds, etc).
Helping with ongoing training for the community-based tourism.

You will leave the islands and head to Malilipot - one of the 8 towns of the Albay province that surround the Mayon Volcano. The local government are keen for Leapers to help with their ongoing development projects which involves designing products made from local manila hemp.

Accommodation

Combination of a local homestay and staying in the nearby dive resort.

Food

3 meals a day are provided.

Program Details & Costs

We have three departures for The Philippines throughout the year: February, May and October where you can go for 4 weeks or less to accommodate your dates and budget. This program works well on its own or as an add on to Borneo. Just get in touch to discuss your options.

Depart February, May & October

2018: 15 Oct

2019: 14 Feb, 16 May, 17 Oct

Costs

4 Weeks
4 weeks Phillippines
2018: £16922019: £1692

Dates Don't Suit?

Don't worry - we can work around this, just get in touch and we'll chat through options more suited to you.

Social Life

Guaranteed. You will be part of a tight team of like minded volunteers, who will be on your journey from start to finish.

Cultural Exchange

Through living and working beside remote communities who will welcome you into their society.

Contrast

Combines the heights of Bulusan's volcanoes with the beaches and island paraside of Ticao.

Physical Challenge

A journey which mixes home-stay living with community development and beach recouperation.

Program Days

Expect to carry out project work 5 days a week for 6-8 hours per day however each phase will vary depending on the work ethic and culture of the community.

Free Days

Free days will be interspersed throughout the itinerary when you are free to explore.

Backpacker favourites:

  • Paragliding and parasailing
  • Banana boating
  • Snorkeling and scuba diving
  • Wildlife tours.

The Philippines is very well-connected to other countries like Indonesia and Singapore – all great add-ons if you plan to extend your stay in the region.

One of the Most Adventurous

Borneo and the Philippines requires an in-depth knowledge of Sabah, Sarawak and The Philippines as it's a big journey of exploration, adventure and contribution. Luckily, back in 2015 we met Tom Hewitt who had set up an expedition company called Adventure Alternative Borneo with his local business partner Danny Voon and so our plans became reality.

Tom first came to Borneo fourteen years ago as an expedition leader to explore the deepest backwaters. Through this he gained the trust of some amazing communities and partners including Donsol Eco Tours who manage the Philippines phase.

He has been the influential force in setting up the Lupa Masa eco jungle camp on the slopes of Mount Kinabalu and later the Lupa Masa Beach which organises traditional longhouse and camping options 5 minutes from a deserted beach near the tip of Borneo. Both Lupa Masa jungle camp and Lupa Masa Beach employ local staff and help to fund community driven projects.

Through his contacts you have access to "off the grid" communities where cultural exchange is just the tip of the iceberg. The feeling of being an intrepid explorer certainly stands true here.

Leaper's Highlights

Have a read of what our volunteers have been getting up to...

Living the Island Life in Ticao Ellie Walton

The current destination is rich in landscape and spectacular views. Ticao Island is providing us with great insight into local life and treating us with great customer experience within the resort.

The first few nights were spent in homestays with local families where we were immersed in the community by partaking in cooking meals, mending fishing nets with the fisherman and a celebratory dinner party for one of the hosts birthday. We certainly got a feel for island life throughout our stay in the village!

During our stay on Ticao, in addition to the excursions and relaxation time, we also took part in two projects. They consisted of a clean-up of the school before the commencement of term, followed by the making of a connection path that was safe for motorcyclists to use to cross the island. Luckily we had done similar projects in Borneo prior to this island visit, so we were ready to get stuck in!

Day to day structures would vary from working in the morning to taking a dip in the afternoon. Three members of our group were keen to take advantage of the surroundings and facilities at Ticao, as they dived on every opportunity that arose! The rest of us were able to snorkel around a few islands when we went island hopping, as this was Hannah's and Sacha's last day, we wanted to make the most of their remaining time in the Philippines. The water was so clear, we were lucky enough to see some black tip sharks roam around the coral. After one of my favourite days of the trip, the day arrived where we had to bid farewell to another two members of our Leap family, they'll both be missed greatly by the rest of the group!

Our little pocket of paradise Sadie Traylor

Melvin and his sister Madalyn – members of our new host family – stood to greet us as our boat slid up to shore on Ticao Island. He then took those of us staying with him down the beach a little way to his village. Along the way we picked up several children, all anxious to see what we were up to. They seemed to know only one English phrase: What’s your name? And they used it plenty!

This village sits right on the sea. Dinky fishing boats bob up-and-down in the water while anchored to shore; pigs oink from inside make-shift kennels; the men and older boys play pick-up games of basketball in the village square; women sell dried fish on the paths. The central location of our homestay allowed us to experience village life in its entirety.

We spent a few days at the local school taking on our latest construction project: paving a pathway into the entrance of the school. We’ve mastered cement mixing and laying by now, so everyone around was impressed by how quickly and skilfully we got the job done. But that’s not to say it wasn’t hard work. As always, mixing the cement – perfecting the ratio of concrete to sand to water – in the heat too, is no easy task. The prospect of giving the kids the ability to walk to school without having to stomp through mud is what kept us going.

The second portion of our time on Ticao Island had me wondering whether I’m taking a gap year or on vacation — or maybe dreaming. Having moved from our homestay into the resort with the beach in our front yard, hammocks hung between palm trees, mango smoothies ready to order — we were in for a treat.

The highlight of this time was a day-long snorkelling adventure. Yanking at the elastic on our mask to haul it over our heads and positioning our snorkel in our mouths, we couldn’t wait to see what sea life buzzed beneath us. Turns out there was lots: sea stars, urchins, sea snakes, clown fish, sea turtles, puffer fish, and even a few black-tip reef sharks.

Over our final meal on Ticao Island we brainstormed schemes that would allow us to stay. Needless to say, we’re going to miss it here…

Salt water crocs and cheeky monkeys Chloe Ring

After 3 buses and a short boat trip we arrived at Kinabatangan River. As soon as we got there we were taken off on a boat safari. We weren’t sure what to expect or how much we’d see but other than birds the first thing spotted was a salt water crocodile! As we continued we saw some monkeys high up in the trees, however the most beautiful aspect to this particular tour was the amazing sunset, the first we’d seen since arriving in Borneo!

We stayed in a group of lodges with a really quirky setup. They would sound the dong for meal times and whenever we needed to be ready. Everyone staying there would then come to the eating area to all have meals together which made the camp have a really nice atmosphere.

We then had the early morning boat safaris at 6am, it was very wet and foggy but this didn’t dampen our mood! Unfortunately, not many animals were out but we made up for this in the evening safari as we saw monkeys less than two metres away from us. There was even a baby clinging to its mother. We couldn’t believe how close we were to the wild animals! We also took a day hike through the forest on a nature walk.

The next day we had a couple of hours coach ride to Sepilok Orangutan Rehabilitation Centre. We stayed in a longhouse with very cool hammocks to chill in. The following day we went to the orangutan centre and saw the baby orphans feeding time in the nursery who were so cute and funny to watch!

In the afternoon, we visited the rainforest centre where we walked along a canopy skywalk, saw the botanical gardens and learnt more about the animals here in the discovery exhibition. Following this we saw the next feeding for the orangutan and even saw two parents with their baby. It was amazing to see these animals from just ten metres away, feeding on fruit as they would in the wild. It is the sanctuary’s aim to make the orangutan independent enough to be released back into the wild soon. Salt water crocs on safari and cheeky monkeys in the Sepilok Orangutan Rehabilitation Centre

10 days in Mentu Naomi Hughes

Two weeks into my trip to Borneo and already I know I will be sorry when it ends. The group and I have just returned to Kuching after 10 days in a small, remote village called Mentu. There we were immersed in the local culture which was quite a shock for most of us. Conditions there are very basic but the people there were amazingly friendly and always had a smile on their faces.

While in Mentu we undertook the construction of part of Auntie Sendi’s house. Both she and her husband are 78 and her husband has such severe asthma that he only leaves the house to go to their local clinic for check-ups and medication. The house was dusty and their wooden walls were barely standing. Our mission was to build proper concrete walls in replace of the old wooden ones. In addition, we levelled ground and cemented a drain so their small garden patch doesn’t get waterlogged during their frequent downpours. It was hard work. The cement we mixed by hand. Work in the heat for the first day was difficult but by the second or third day we had acclimatized and were cement mixing machines. Although it was hard work, it was rewarding. The thought that Auntie Sendi and Lungko couldn’t have done it without us makes me feel like I’ve truly touched someone’s life.

In our down time, we were able to swim in the river and one day we walked to have a BBQ picnic by a waterfall. The scenery was breath-taking but be prepared to get a bit muddy.

While I enjoyed my time in the village I am ready to get on the flight tomorrow to see the amazing Gunung Mulu national park and all of its beauty!

Until next time!

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