Find Matt Wilkie on YouTube

Due to being so busy lately between time with the family and traveling between the UK and Spain on a regular basis I am doing a lot more with YouTube. Main reason by its far easier to make a video on the move than it is to write a blog post. This coupled with having some issues with my eyes recently I try to limit my time I spend sat in front of a computer screen.

Although on a positive side I do find video medium interesting to work with and the quality of the videos is slowly improving. If you want to visit the video channel please go to :-

There is a blend of topics although one of the most popular ones still remains discussions around life in the Philippines.

Tropical Penpals is it still alive and kicking?

Matt Wilkie from Tropical Penpals

Matt Wilkie

Tropical Penpals blog isn’t going anywhere soon. What has happened in my spare time is I have begun cleaning up articles which I think are out of date and now irrelevant. We posted things like rugby games in Cebu but with things going back as far as 2007 we have over 5,000 articles. I am hoping to simply filter out the stuff we don’t want anymore and leave a much leaner blog site.

This isn’t the end though its simply a transition period of too much going on to talk as much as I would like. I am currently in the UK and preparing for the big move of the family to Europe. Business is still ticking over but until the move is done I am preoccupied until everyone is in the new home. But there is still plenty going on in the Philippines such as the windows going in as you may have noticed.

The upper floor of the new building we are still deciding to make it a school or a three bedroom apartment. The store is still ticking over and even there we have dropped a window in to cut down on road dust. As you may have guessed already this isn’t an abandonment of the Philippines but simply a timeout. By next year Spain will be settled and things will continue to develop in the Philippines as its our main home.

What I care most about is family and although still in good health and a young 40 year old I am aware the kids are hitting school year this year and as such the move has to happen. As the future is not based on what I want for myself but being able to rest easier knowing whatever happens my wife and kids are safe and have a future.

Family pretty much means everything to me and I am happy that this year I have had time to make the changes to make everything happen and along the way had time with my daughter in the UK. As simply that is life for me knowing that my family are content.

Top 10 tropical fruits in the Philippines

The Philippines has a tropical maritime climate and is usually hot and humid thus producing delicious and mouthwatering fruits in different areas. Some of these fruits are seasonal and some are regular. These fruits can be found fresh in the local market and a few have been exported which is a good sign of market trading.

1. Philippine Mangoes (Mangga). This is claimed to be the world’s sweetest fruit base on the World Guinness Book of Records recorded in 1995. This is the national fruit of the Philippines. Places like Zambales and Guimaras in Iloilo harvests the sweetest mangoes. This is also one of the major exporting product of the Philippines which is rich in Vitamins A&C.


2. Lanzones. This is generally grown for fruits. It also contains vitamin B1, B2 and a little of vitamin C. The best known spot for sweetest lanzones is at Camiguin. The place is known for it’s annual lanzones festival where tourists have come to witness and experience the event.


3. Durian. This fruit is known for it’s unique aroma. When you smell it, you don’t want to taste it for it really has a bad odor but contradicting to it’s odor is the taste of the King of All Tropical Fruits. The province of Davao is where we find this. Some considered this as an aphrodisiac. There has been different products made from this such as durian candies, cakes and ice creams.


4. Jackfruit (Langka). This fruit is so sweet not only in taste but also the odor when ripe. This is also one of the ingredients when cooking turon and ginataan. This can also be cooked as kinalaw if it’s not ripe.


5. Sugar Apple (Atis). This is also called sweet sop. This is a yellowish-green fruit with sweet edible pulp that has a sweet-smelling fragrance when ripe. It is somewhat effortful when eating this since this has a lot of small seeds. Unlike other fruits, this can be found anywhere in the country and often grown in rural areas.


6. Rambutan. This is a unique hairy fruit which is sweet and juicy when fresh. This is an energy giving fruit and grows mostly in tropical countries. This fruit is usually produced in the provinces of Laguna, Batangas, Nueva Vizcaya, Mindoro, Panay Island and parts of Mindanao.


7. Avocado (Alligator Pear). This is very invigorating as fruit shake. This helps lower cholesterol levels and is said as the World’s Healthiest Food. This is found anywhere in the region but major producers are in the provinces of Cordillera Autonomous Region and Region II. You can buy this in local markets with a very affordable price.


8. Santol. This a sweet-sour mouthwatering fruit that puts your taste glands into a frenzy mode. This has a sour to sweet taste that Filipinos loved especially living in rural areas. This is a very productive tree that can produce fruits five to seven years after planting. This tree is vigorous and can thrive even a prolonged dry season.


9. Chico (Sapodilla). The fruit has a sweet, dessert-like flavor which is a delicious tropical fruit. This is also used in folk medicine as a cure for diarrhea by boiling the young fruits. This replenishes energy and revitalizes the body instantly because of the minerals and vitamins present in it.


10. Kaimito (Star Apple). The fruit gets its name from the star pattern that can be seen by slicing through the fruit horizontally. This comes with two colors, green and violet. Both are having a sweet delicious taste. You can also pair this with condensed milk, put it in a freezer and once frozen it’s like an ice candy star apple flavor. This is also used in folk medicine as a remedy for diarrhea same goes with chico.



Survey results from 50 respondents

  • LECHON       -30%
  • LARANG        -20%
  • BUWAD         -15%
  • GINABOT/PONGKO2X     -11%            
  • 16% OTHERS

Considered as the National Dish in the Philippines. A local favorite of all ages, serve during special holidays, fiestas, birthdays and other big celebrations.
Lechon or Roasted Pig, is carefully cooked and seasoned using various herbs and spices, consisting lemongrass, onion, peppercorns, garlic, salt and pepper. The pig is skewered on a large bamboo pole and is attached to turn into a rotisserie over the charcoal pit. It is roasted on all sides for several hours until it’s done. The cooking process involves basting constantly resulting to a crispy pork skin. Cebu’s lechon was dubbed by American TV personality and Chef Anthony Bourdain as the Best Pig In Asia.


This is somewhat like a cross-section of the already famous “tinowa and sinigang” but with coconut milk. This Cebuano favorite is made of white meat fish, parrot fish, stingray or whatever you fancy. Start off with sautéing in oil the minced ginger, onions, garlic, green finger chilies and spring onions. Then the tomato wedges, kamias or tamarind is added until they soften and season with salt and pepper. The fish is added and is simmered for a few minutes. You can add hot water depending on how sloppy you wanted. Then the coconut milk is added and here you can adjust seasoning according to your preference. This is popular along the streets across Crown Regency in Jones Avenue.



Cebu, the Queen City of the South is arguably best known for its “BUWAD” tasty dried/salted fishes and squids of all sorts, shapes and colors. Bantayan Island Northern part of Cebu is the dried fish Capital.


4) GINABOT (porcine internal organs) or referred to as “chicharong bulaklak” in Luzon.  But a lot of misconception where most people think it as intestines, they are technically called “mesentery.” They are a kind of connective tissues between the intestines and other internal organs, read more details in Wikipedia. The top four contender, the so called Pongko2x menu, a particular favorite amongst university students. Who wouldn’t say no to ngohiong, lumpia na tawgi, longganiza etc.



siomaihumbaaaadobo and sinugba

Among other favorites that made up the 16% were the following:
”    POCHERO   
”    SA-ANG
”    DUGO2X
”    TALONG (torta/kilaw)

You can’t change the Philippines but you can change your standards.

I am guilty like many other expats of grumbling at some of the fundamental problems in the Philippines but the longer your there the longer your realise things aren’t going to change.

My recent grumblings of Manila airport won’t change how the government opens and closes its doors and PAL won’t change its meal service. Fact is they are well aware of how things are and are not going to look to change things.

The same goes for pretty much everything, reality is if your not happy lower your standards became a recent joke. But for a peaceful life its the best solution to all the problems. Things will be the same way they are for some time to come.

My wife mentioned long ago about the fact of not expecting anything to happen and I think that hits the nail on the head. Not relying on anything as its very likely to not happen unless your happy to constantly complain about shortcomings.

Why would I give up on hassling failed services? Reality of it is I have better things to do and that people are happy to waste some else’s time. To the point April has a friend who actually does queuing for other people as a small business. Sounds like a joke but even for virtual assistants its a task people are undertaking for others. Bad internet service, changing power provider etc. etc. virtual assistants around the globe do this as a daily task. For me its often easier to do without or find a working solution than expect a repair or something to be undertaken to change things.

For an easy life in the Philippines expect it, but more importantly learn to adapt to it and find solutions instead of letting it irritate you.

Top 10 tourist attractions in Cebu

Cebu, the Queen City of the South and is the oldest city in the Philippines which forms part of the Cebu Metropolitan Area together with four neighboring cities. It is said to be one of the most developed provinces in the Philippines. Cebu City is the center of trade, commerce and even education in the Visayas area. In addition to this, there are a lot of tourist attractions that the place can offer leading to it’s rapid economy growth. Here are the top tourist attractions I consider.

1. Basilica Minore del Santo Niño. It is a minor basilica in Cebu City in the Philippines that was founded in the 16th century. It is the oldest Roman Catholic church established in the country that was built on the spot where the image of the Santo Niño de Cebu, a statue depicting the Holy Child Jesus was found in 1565 by Spanish explorers led by Miguel Lopez de Legazpi. Now, the church bell tower is under construction after a 7.2 magnitude earthquake hit the place.


2. Sinulog Festival. It is an annual festival held on the third Sunday of January in Cebu City. The biggest festival in the place where it commemorates the Filipino people’s pagan origin, and their acceptance of Roman Catholicism. A lot of people from different places come to witness this marvelous celebration that lasted for nine days. This year, it was indeed another successful event despite the many tragedies that happened within the past few months. It made Cebuano’s faith even tighter.

sinulog festival

3. Magellan’s Cross. It is a Christian cross planted by Portuguese, and Spanish explorers as ordered by Ferdinand Magellan upon arriving in Cebu in the Philippines. For protection the original cross is encased inside the wooden cross that is found in the center of the chapel but some believe that it is only a replica and that the original one was destroyed after Magellan’s death.


4. Lapu-lapu Shrine. This is located in Punta Engano, Lapu-lapu City. The statue was built in honor of Lapu-Lapu, a native leader who defeated Spanish soldiers led by the Portuguese explorer Ferdinand Magellan.


5. Malapascua Island. This island has an amazing beaches as well where you can also enjoy fantastic diving experience. This little island off Cebu’s northern tip has been growing steadily more famous over the years for its long, white beaches, great food and low-key approach to tourism.


6. Bantayan Island. This place provides a great relaxation except during Holy Week that transforms the island into a crowded tent city. The beautiful white beaches and the clear waters contributes the whole attraction of the place.


7. Kawasan Falls. It has the finest and most popular falls in Cebu. This is located in the Southern part of Cebu which is in Badian. The falls consist of three layers where the first one is the biggest and is more crowded.


8. Osmeña Peak. This is where you can clearly see the best views in Cebu. You can see Negros and Bohol on each side. It is a fun place to do mountain climbing or hiking with friends and witness the beautiful sunset. Osmeña Peak is known to be the highest point of elevation in the island of Cebu.

osmena peak

9. Oslob white whale sharks. This place is known for it’s white whale sharks where you can closely see, touch and feed them for a remarkable experience. But due to numerous and uncontrollable people visiting and feeding the sharks, the municipality of Oslob is now controlling whale shark watching. The amended ordinance provides for measures for protection and conservation of marine wild life, particularly whale sharks. There are new regulations and guidelines supported by fees, fines and penalties for violations. On the other hand, the white sand beaches and aquamarine hues also catches the attention of the many tourists visiting the place.


10. Olango Wildlife Sanctuary. The Olango Wildlife Sanctuary supports the largest concentration of migratory birds found so far in the Philippines. A place where you can see different kinds of birds from different location resting in the area due to the cold weather in the place where they came from and then travels back if the temperature is back to normal.


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