The Boothie and the (Filipino) Beach

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Nicole Newman, Class of 2020

Magandáng umaga -  “Good morning!” While I attempted to memorize as many greetings in the Tagalog language as possible, I just couldn’t pronounce “good morning” with the right inflection. Luckily, when I arrived in the Philippines, the locals appreciated my gesture but quickly switched to over English. Phew!

Chicago Booth’s Spring Break to the Philippines attracted 45 students united by a common mission to soak up as much sun, culture, and nightlife as possible in a nine-day sprint. Fortunately, we had second-years Calvin Lim and Olivia Korostelina to lead the way!

After a 16 hour flight, our trip kicked off in Manila within the city’s financial district known as Makati. The area is filled with shopping malls, outdoor markets and Jollibee - referred to as the “McDonalds of the Philippines”. The next day, we took a walking tour through the Walled City of Intramuros in Old Manila. There were remnants of the Spanish, Chinese and American empires throughout the tour that collectively contributed to the Philippines’ multicultural society.

Boothies enjoy the pristine beaches of Boracay, Philippines

Boothies enjoy the pristine beaches of Boracay, Philippines

We then traveled to El Nido, Palawan located in the country’s western region. El Nido is known for its white-sand beaches, illuminating lagoons and picturesque coral reefs. We explored Nacpan Beach and huddled around an outdoor tiki bar. And just in time for island hopping season, we Boothies trekked from Secret Beach, to Snake Island, and to the infamous Hidden Beach. Our day of exploration culminated with a delicious lunch and siesta on a private island. In El Nido, I tried out lagoon kayaking and scuba diving for the first time. While I can’t say that I’m a professional just yet, it was awesome to step out of my comfort zone.

The group basks in the sun in El Nido

The group basks in the sun in El Nido

As if the trip couldn’t get any better, we made it to our final destination: Boracay. We were grateful to visit the tourist island, which was closed off from visitors until October 2018 due to environmental rehabilitation. The breathtaking beaches and beautiful palms provided the perfect backdrop for some rest and relaxation. I ended my trip in Boracay falling asleep under the sun, and waking up to painful sunburns.

On Day 9, I felt bittersweet knowing my spring break was winding down. Back in Manila, I rushed to check off what was left of my Philippines bucket list. I window shopped at the Mall of Asia, unsuccessfully gambled, and ate at Hawker Chan - the world's cheapest Michelin star restaurant - all in a 6-hour span.

My Spring Break in the Philippines was an incredible life experience that I hope to relive again.