EXCLUSIVE: Austrian Travel Vloggers Mike & Nelly Of "Making It Happen" On Why They Settled Down In The Philippines
Drive south of Metro Manila and you’ll find a bounty of mother nature’s gift to our country. Drive north and catch a calm sunrise on top of a mountain or witness a beautiful sunset after a good surf. Explore any part of the Philippines—marvel at the natural wonders, talk to the locals, and sample Filipino dishes. It’s easy to fall in love more with the beauty of this country. For many Filipinos, it’s a surrounding we’ll never get tired of looking at. For many foreigners, seeing its beauty and experiencing what it has to offer make them want to come back for more—for some, they found enough reasons to even stay here for good.
Travel vloggers Mike Holaschke and Nelly Hrnic are popularly known on the vlogosphere as the duo behind Making It Happen. With their mutual love for travel, the Austrian couple met via a local social media platform back home. They fell in love, and made it their mission to travel the world together. They’ve been documenting their adventures since, flying to nearby countries until they eventually decided to go farther and head to Southeast Asia two years ago.
During the planning stage for their Southeast Asia trip, the two “were looking for inspiration online, discovered Palawan, and saw the beautiful beaches,” Mike shares.
“And we’re like, we have to go there. Right now,” Nelly says. It’s one of the best decisions they’ve made in their lives. The islands’ charm took their breath away. That's when their love for the Philippines began.
In an exclusive interview with Metro.Style, the two talked about their experiences traveling Luzon, Visayas, and Mindanao, what else they would like to discover in the country, and what they love most here that made them decide to call this place home for good.
Metro.Style: Can you tell us about your first time here in the Philippines?
Mike: "Our very first destination was actually Coron. We did a route with Coron, El Nido, down to Puerto Princesa, and then Boracay. That was the first trip."
Nelly: "We didn’t know much about the Philippines, so these were the tourist spots where we knew everybody goes. And then we came back for more to see a little bit of the country and its different areas. When we arrived in Coron, I told him, ‘Oh my God, everybody here is so joyful and happy. Everybody is smiling and this is so different than anywhere else. And I loved it. The landscape is different, food is different, and we slowly started to know the Philippines a little bit better."
MS: What made you decide to live in the Philippines for good?
M: "I’m gonna say, it’s just the way that the Filipinos embraced and welcomed us to their home. I think that’s the top point. From the moment we said we actually wanna stay and live here, everybody was like, 'Oh, welcome to your new home.'"
N: "Everybody just wants to help us. People would message us on Instagram, Facebook, and YouTube. Everybody would help and that’s so nice. It’s just a beautiful experience."
MS: What are your top Philippine destinations?
M: "I can break it down very easily. For me, number one is now Batanes, number two is Siargao, number three is the area north of Manila, number four is Boracay."
N: "Batanes is breathtaking. I definitely love Siargao as well. Coron is absolutely stunning, seeing islands like never before. I really like Siquijor as well. I love the tour of Camiguin. In the north, I think that’s the most surprising area because there’s so much more to explore."
M: "Baguio City is one of the most incredible cities that we’ve ever visited. We drive four hours up in the mountains and all of a sudden, you have this big city. It’s crazy."
N: "And you wake up to this beautiful view and it’s so colorful and stunning."
M: "And it’s a little bit cold. It’s like spring."
MS: What are your recommendations when visiting the Philippines?
M: "My top thing is to rent a scooter and go out and explore. Not just stick to the places recommended online. That’s when we discovered so many special things and had so many special moments."
N: "I would say definitely to try some new food. I think our first choice was in a carinderia, you just get the classical home-cooked food. I think one of my favorite experiences was eating in Siargao with the locals. It was really nice to just sit together and just grab your food and eat and enjoy each other’s company."
M: "And number three, I’d say, is go to the festivals. The Sinulog Festival is absolutely mindblowing."
N: "And Dinagyang!"
MS: What are some of the most adventurous things you did here?
M: "We scuba dived with sharks. We also did the longest zipline in Bicol."
N: "We did a mountain tour in Mt. Pinatubo which was an incredible experience.
M: "I actually want to go on a road trip where we go from the very north down to the very south on a motorbike. That would be a lot of fun."
MS: What is your favorite local food?
M: "Lechon. I love lechon."
N: "It tastes so different than anywhere else. It’s just so juicy and crispy."
M: "And the flavors are much, much better."
N: "I definitely love the seafood here as well. I remember when we were in Calaguas Island, the seafood we ate there was fresh from the market. We put it in the grill and just ate it with our hands with some rice and soy sauce and calamansi."
MS: What are the distinctly Filipino traits you can relate to the most from where you came from?
N: "I’m very emotional, and I realized that a lot of Filipinos are very emotional, too. Also, I see a lot of things like eating habits and being together with the family. There are so many little things that I can relate to—it reminds me a lot of my home."
M: "I’d say the singing and dancing. People love to sing and dance and just have a good time, smile and be happy."
MS: What other destinations in the Philippines are in your travel bucket list?
M: "We definitely want to dive deeper to Mindanao because so far, we’ve only been to Davao City, Camiguin, and Siargao. There’s so much more to explore in that area. And again, the whole area north of Manila."
MS: What do you love most about the Philippines?
N: "The people."
M: "The people, hundred percent! They have a very positive attitude towards life—always smiling and always happy. And the family spirit is so strong. We love that."
N: "I just love smiling faces and the small interactions between each other. Just look at somebody in the eye and they’ll smile back. And we just feel good. It’s definitely in the small things."
M: "And did I mention lechon?"
See some of Mike and Nelly's travel photos around the Philippines in the gallery below:
Produced by Kate Paras and Grace Libero-Cruz
Photography by Gian Escamillas
Shot on location at The Grid - 2/F Power Plant Mall