We are pleased to announce new homestays

Port Barton Bliss

We are pleased to add new homestays in Port Barton, Palawan and Loboc and Cabilao Island, Bohol. As promised our homestay network is expanding to include new locations. We continue to focus on “Off the Beaten track” spots to help travelers experience the true Filipino community spirit. The only way you will do this is to get out of the resorts and into Philippines provincial life. It doesn’t take much, sometimes our homestays are within 5 minutes of popular tourist areas but have a completely different atmosphere. You’ll be surprised how comfortable the families will make you feel – it is Filipino nature to accommodate guests with the utmost respect. So try it out!

We now have homestays in….

Anda, Bohol

Loboc, Bohol

Doljo, Panglao Island, Bohol

Balicasag Island, Bohol

Cabilao Island, Bohol

Malapascua Island

Bantayan Island

Union Bay near Boracay

Port Barton, Palawan

Cuyo Island, Palawan

What people are saying about us….

“We enjoyed staying with Camela and Abundio’s family, especially hanging out with their kids and meeting all their friends and extended family. They went out of their way to show us around and cooked great meals.” – Mary & Family, Australia

“A wonderful way to truly experience the Filipino way of life and culture. It was like a home away from home and I felt comfortable the moment I walked into my host’s house.” – Brian, UK

“Flipflops service was excellent throughout.”- Robin and Family, UK

“Hanging out with Nanay and Dhora was definitely a highlight of my trip. We snorkled a bit, but mostly just hung out at the beach with the other locals watching the boats and reading and sleeping. It was very chilled out. I would recommend a homestay to anyone visiting Philippines but especially solo travellers.” – Heather, NZ

“My friend and I really enjoyed living like a local of Bohol. Our hosts were very accommodating–we felt we’re part of the community.” – Karen, Philippines


More testimonials can be viewed on our previous blog….http://philippineshomestay.com/?p=820

Spotlight on Ati Jelma – Homestay in Port Barton, Palawan

Jelmas native style home, room includes double mattress on the floor with mosquito net, blanket, pillows, towels. Everything you need.

I wanted to write this blog to give you an idea of the type of families we have on our homestay register.  Jelma is the purok (small community) chair women, she works hard, for the community, but she has no job, no income.  At the time we visited Jelma she was busy working on the Purok Christmas tree. In Port Barton each Purok will make a large Christmas tree with RECYCLED decorations, using chip packets, plastic bottles and anything they can find. The best Christmas tree will win a prize, and Jelma really wanted her Purok to win.

Jelma has 3 sons, and one adopted daughter nicknamed Baby.  2 of the sons work in other parts of Palawan, and the other is a fisherman.  Sometimes he will catch enough fish to sell in the market, sometimes he won’t.  Baby works in Puerto Princessa and sends money to her mother for living costs.  Baby is half way through a computer course but the family ran out of money and so she must save to complete the course.  To complete the course she needs 6000PHP (around US$150).  She has been working for a year now trying to save money but she earns 270PHP/day and her living costs are around 200PHP/day. If she will send money to her mum then it is very hard to save any money to complete her course.  Basically she is no closer to her dream of completing her computer programming course, and working in something that she loves.

Jelmas exceptionally polite grandson near their house – Unfortunately Jelma and Baby were too shy to be photographed.

The family needs 6000P for Baby to finish the course.  Accommodation in Port Barton costs between 300P-1500P/night.  The family has a spare room in the house because Baby is working in Puerto.  Yes the house is basic, but when we were there we slept like logs, chatted to the family in the evenings, learned about their lives in Port Barton, laughed with them, and experienced their hardships with them.  The family cooked for us, and got us fish at local prices.  They helped us to find a good boat for island hopping, and we had an experience we could never have had in a beach resort.

Jelmas native style home, room includes double mattress on the floor with mosquito net, blanket, pillows, towels. Everything you need.

When we stayed at the house we gave the family 300P/night. We stayed 3 nights, and because the family had cooked some meals for us we gave them over 1000PHP at the end of our stay.  This is 1/6th of what is needed for Baby to continue her education.  If six more guests stay in the house for 2-3 nights instead of a beach resort then Baby will complete her education. So come on, homestay! You might be out of your comfort zone, but you will be helping the livelihood of the family, and handing over money will feel good.  You will experience the true Philippines, what it means to live in a community, and you might just discover that discomfort doesn’t always = dissatisfaction.  On the contrary being uncomfortable keeps us in touch with who we are.  Jelmas profile will be added to our network soon, but all families that we choose have similar stories.  Book your homestay now at www.philippineshomestay.com.

The sights of Port Barton – an added bonus of the homestay!

Terms and Conditions – November 2012 Competition

  1. Competition opens November 1st 2012 and closes December 15th 2012.
  2. Winner will be selected at random.
  3. Winner will be notified by December 20th 2012.
  4. $200US will be transferred via Paypal to the bank account of the winner.
  5. 2 weeks accommodation is subject to the availability of our homestay providers. There are 20 homestays to choose from.
  6. You will spend a week with two different families.
  7. Homestay accommodation must be claimed by April 20th 2013
  8. Prizes are nontransferable.
  9. Flip Flop Tours, Inc reserves the right to extend, or close the competition at its absolute discretion.

Musings on hotels in Bohol – Part Two


My last blog was a bit of a rant about how hotels don’t seem to benefit local areas in the a Philippines. It is a subject very close to my heart, and it makes me profoundly sad to see these monstrosities appear. The people who have lived on the land for many years are tossed aside so quickly. I think we have lost touch with what it means for some people to move from a bit of land that their family has been on for generations.


Before starting this business I tried to dissect whether travel is in fact a good thing. I always think of the impact it has had on my life, and am so grateful for what it has taught me. But do host countries benefit? I have come to the conclusion that they really do, but only if the travel is executed in such a way to put host and guest on the same level. If this is the case then the guest cannot expect facilities to be the same as their own country. Isn’t this why we travel in the first place? To experience another culture and way of life? To see something different to where we are living and embrace the world for all of it’s differences?


So what’s the answer to this? Homestays over hotels, immersion over separation, guest at the same level as host. This cultural exchange, between two humans, at the same level, can only be positive. We start to see similarities over differences. We are more unified.

Musings on hotels in Bohol – Part One


I live in a place called Bohol in the Philippines.  It is a relatively laid back place where people are friendly, communities look out for one another, and each person is the member of a barangay (community group).  In my observations around the world, this community atmosphere seems to be lost as development takes over.  Sure, friends and family are still treated with utmost respect, shop attendants courteous, and friendly people are everywhere.  It is hard to pinpoint exactly what part of community fades as we develop but I think it is the feeling of caring about everyone around oneself very deeply.  It is having the time and freedom to permit this deep level of care.


To have four generations living on one bit of land.
To have doors open and people stopping for a chat that lasts more than 2 minutes.
To have barangay meetings to solve issues in the community.
To have vegetable gardens for the community use which everyone helps to look after.
To drop a child with a neighbor and not have to pay for child care.
To help those around us in countless ways and to be helped by others in countless ways.
A world where money is not always the buyer or seller but goodwill often dominates.
A world where favors are given out and returned.


To me this world is the Philippines.  This is something that they do extremely well and something that I hope they continue to do very well.  Of course I am generalizing here – and not all developed countries are devoid of this, while not everyone in the Philippines lives in this manner, it is just based on my observations living in Bohol.


The other night I started to get really worked up about certain issues – sometimes I wish I could just park my thoughts, not care about it, and move on.  Unfortunately it is not in my nature.  I was reading an article about the new Bellevue hotel which is being built in an area very close to my heart – Doljo, Panglao.  The new resort is a 400+ room giant.  Some would call it a monstrosity; others would call it a beauty – depending on your point of view.  It will be the first five star hotel in Bohol, and it is a lot bigger than any of the resorts on the island.  From the water it is the first thing you notice when you come into the beach.  From the road small one bedroom nipa huts look out onto a wall of concrete.  It is being built in an area where people might go for 3 weeks without water to their house, and electricity brownouts are common.  The amount that people will pay per night in this hotel is equivalent to 6 months living for some of the local families.  The land where the hotel is built used to be owned by locals who had beach access to the sea, and survival.  Naturally, as these things go, all the local land owners traded it for financial security.  The offers from a big hotel chain easily satisfying their needs and fetching a higher price than they could get from others in the area.  For me seeing these vast inequalities right next to each other is hard to handle.  Naturally a luxury resort in the middle of Europe will not agitate me as much as a 5 star hotel next to a nipa hut.


I’m not mad at the people behind the hotel chain because they are really only fulfilling dreams that they have for the world.  They talk themselves into thinking that this development is good for the community and who knows maybe it is? The article I read painted a bright impression of the hotel and I know that many support this style of development.  Boholanos themselves will be proud to have something so lavish on their island.  Perpetual development is not just an aspiration of the west, but it seems the whole world.  Of all the people I have asked in Doljo about the project, not one replies to me with excitement. When I ask if they like it the majority say No!


I’m no fool – I realise that big 400 room hotels mean numerous jobs for people in the area and more money.  The hotel has also supported community projects and the article talks about this.  But hasn’t the hotel destroyed a community in the first place – a group of people living in the manner I discussed at the start of the article? I wonder apart from salaries of staff what sort of money will flow back into the community long term.  Discussions with people in the community tell me that most of the jobs are going to people outside of Doljo.  Even when the money flows, it seems like it will only fulfil things that used to be provided by the community.  Let’s say parents get great jobs in the hotel, but are working full time and can no longer look after their kids.  If everyone in the community is now working in money-earning jobs then they will have to pay others for childcare.  They won’t have as much time to look after community vegetable gardens so they will need to pay for veggies.  Grandparents who are cared for by members of the family will have to go elsewhere.  The money they earn will end up paying for things that used to get for free.  Their interactions with people in the area will be minimized into spending time with their collegues, and their family/friends on their days off.


I’m just hypothesizing here, but I’m also telling a story that has already been told.  A story that started long ago and looks like it will continue until it breaks.  The story of “development”.


I’m not anti-change, but for me, buildings like this, next to nipa huts like that, make me anti-development.  I’m not anti technology and I’m not anti using our human brains to further our lives.   What I am anti is the increasing inequality that we have within our world, and I don’t think it’s good enough.  I think it is something we need to deal with before we worry about developing.  Maybe living this community style lifestyle would make people reconsider the need for perpetual development.


So here I am sitting here wondering why the money always wins, and why development is paramount.  The reality is we often fit the following description from Nigel Marsh (TEDx, Sydney) – “There are thousands and thousands of people out there leading lives of quiet, screaming desperation, where they work long, hard hours at jobs they hate, to enable them to buy things they don’t need, to impress people they don’t like.”  We will pay a huge amount for a night in a hotel room when we could give this money to one person in the area and keep them living for 6 months.  But we don’t see that person as someone we should care about.  We can talk about policies for ending inequality and reducing poverty all day, but until the decisions we make, at a day to day level, reflect this desire it is just… Talk.


I don’t want to focus too much on the negatives.  The world is an amazing place, filled with potential for prosperity, abundance, joy, and love.  We have the bluest sparkling oceans to gaze at, stars that light our night sky, snow capped mountains, sunny days, friendly smiles, affection from our loved ones, and random acts of kindness from total strangers.  Life is an incredibly beautiful thing.


Community is about getting back to the point where we do care about the people living on the other side of the concrete wall.  Community is realizing that if we know about something in our world that we don’t think is right, then we have an obligation to try to change it.  Community is reaching out your circle of care beyond friends and family, to include all of humanity.  Community might just be the future so let’s work towards that.  Ask yourself every day. Are we living it right? Am I living it right?


Stay tuned for Part Two – Solutions!

A selection of Philippines Homestay Experiences


While we are working on a review section for our Philippines Homestay network (which will allow travelers to post feedback of their experience) we thought you might like to read some of our recent reviews.



“Stayed in Anda for 2 nights on my way to Camiguin. The area is lovely, almost no tourists whatsoever. White deserted beaches, waterfalls, caves, you name it, has it all. Lamanok island is a beautiful and mysterious place I recommend. Accommodation was cozy, homemade food was great, you really get the feel of how people live there. Efrena and Judito are sweet and helpful people, so is everyone in the village. In a nutshell : if you want to relax and explore, give it a try!”

Petar, Russia


“I really had a great experience at Mercia’s homestay. I wish I could stay for longer, not just one night. The family was very nice to us, we got the best room ever and had a lovely conversation with Mercia about many interesting topics, such as how children should be independent in life”

Alex, Slovakia


“After breakfast, some of the locals offered to take us to a nearby waterfall so that we could shower.  With no running water in the village the options were either the ever-torturous bucket shower or the more natural approach… we chose the latter.  After a half-hour motorbike ride up dirt tracks, past lush rice terraces, tropical jungle and wooden huts we arrived at the waterfall.  I was expecting a stream and a trickle where we could splash our faces – not Niagara Falls! In short the waterfall was spectacular.. There was no one other person at the site that would have been swarming with tourists and signposted to death in other parts of South East Asia.  It was only my second day (in the Philippines), but I could already see that this country had so much to offer.

Nikki, UK


“Thanks to Anna and Dhora for arranging our homestay in Anda Bohol. The homestay gives visitors a truly authentic Filipino experience. The hosts, Efrena and Judito could not have been more warm and welcoming. Their home is basic but comfortable and they went out of their way to show us what life is like for them in their village. Efrena cooked delightful meals with the freshest seafood we have ever eaten. Staying with them was both fun and educational.”

Debs and Matt, UK



Staying at Mercia’s home brought such good memories to my Panglao trip. Though the family is not related to me in any way, still me and my friend alex was treated like their own family member. It was the warm welcome that we received and the family’s care really makes my Panglao trip more memorable.

Jason, Philippines


“I had a really good tiime with Efrena. She and her family were so nice. And her cooking skills are amazing! I loved the food.”

Darko, Switzerland


“My head swirled with this level of simplicity. There I sat – at two o’clock in the afternoon by a waterfall, drinking coconut juice. I fit comfortably in my world of tech gadgets, innumerable tasks and deadlines, yet at that moment I wondered to what end?

Residents of Casica had enough rice and enough companionship. I thought about the numerous articles in North America that recount increasing numbers of loneliness and depression. Being virtually cut off from nature and large communities to attain material success seems empty, a hollow pursuit. Casica also had cell phones, televisions and stereos, yet these objects held a small place in daily life. It made me wonder why the same objects are so coveted where I come from – more valuable than human feelings, or even lives.”

Jeannie, North America



“International homestays is not a new invention.  According to the World Tourism Organization (WTO) over one billion tourists will step foot on foreign soil by 2012.  In the developing world, tourism is described as small enterprises, what travel aficionados refer to as the ‘local touch’, those flavors that charm us.  People of Anna Cleal’s caliber are doing more – by trying to uplift their standard of living in Bohol. For a private operation such as hers, it’s an admirable fight”

Jeannie, North America

You can read more about Jeannie’s Philippines Homestay Experience HERE to give you a really good idea of what our homestays are like.  We aim for you to get certain insights while staying with these families that you would not get staying at a beach resort.  Go on, take the plunge!


Yours sincerely

Anna Cleal


Philippines Homestay booking site launched


I arrived in the Philippines in 2008, a fresh faced 23 year old looking for adventure while working as a civil engineer on a hydroelectric site in Mindanao. Four years on, with a little more of a world view in my pocket, and a complete career shift – I’m still here.


As we launch our homestay booking website, I am constantly thinking of my reasons for why I am doing this. Why bury myself in the depths of Asia when I have family in New Zealand, and most of my friends living in London or Sydney? There are noble things I could say like I’m trying to get more money into Philippines communities. But in all honesty I know that for this project I cannot reach out to those who really truly NEED money. Those who are struggling daily to find food for their families. In all honesty my heart knows that it isn’t money/development we should be aspiring towards anyway.


So if this is not really fundamentally about getting tourism dollars into communities – then what is it about?


It is about YOU, the traveler and the experience you will have staying with a family. The observations you will make in a local area. It is about showing off this country for what it is to the rest of the world. And what is it?


The Philippines is community.
The Philippines has a spirit of sharing.
The Philippines gives as well as takes.
The Philippines is simple living.
The Philippines smiles.


To me the Philippines embodies some of the fundamental things we often forget about as we develop. The art of sharing – our homes, our possessions, and our time with others. The art of simplicity.


You really have to see it to understand it, but hopefully the homestays will put you in a place where you can. Beach resorts and big cities will give you one flavor of the Philippines, but you will come away feeling like you only saw the place, not that you were a part of it. Put yourself in a position where you can feel the heartbeat. Do this all over the world on your travels.



Yours sincerely,
Anna Cleal