The Traveling Hacker

Chronicles of an international programmer

My 6 months hacking in paradise

It is definitely more fun in the Philippines...

I was carrying out an exchange semester in Berlin, Germany, when out of nowhere, I received a job offer from the Philippines. It was winter in Europe at that time, and I was hibernating in my dorm room. After the first job interview, I looked out the window. It was snowing again. "Phili... what?" I opened Google and searched for "Philippines". The result was basically this:

Tempting, isn't it? But it was not in my plans to go to the Philippines, I was already applying for universities in China. However, I spent the next few weeks reading and doing some research about the Philippines and I started to change my mind... White beaches with cristal-clear water, beautiful women, waterfalls, the most friendly people on earth, beautiful women, perfect weather, cheap living costs, beautiful women, a decent tech scene. Oh, and did I mention the beautiful women?

I left Europe on the 9th of March 2015. Paris > Doha > Hong Kong > Cebu City, the best 6 months of my life were about to start...

When I arrived to my destination, the CEO of the company where I was going to work picked me up at the airport and welcomed me with a bro hug! Nice company, isn't it?

I am talking about engageSPARK, an awesome startup based in Cebu City, the Philippines. engageSPARK is a nonprofit organization looking to improve the lives of the poor around the world. We empower NGO's all around the world to launch SMS and Voice campaigns in minutes through our platform. I was going to work on the Python/Django part of the platform for the next 6 months. I will definitely write an article with more details about the projects I worked on at engageSPARK in the future, but in the mean time, if you are interested in joining a nonprofit organization and working on meaningful projects with an awesome group of talented people, feel free to get in touch at

For the next 6 months, I worked and learnt like a beast during week days, but I was enjoying of paradise during weekends. I still remember how on my second week there, my teammates invited me for scuba diving on a Saturday morning, but we had this huge firefighting at the office on Friday. The platform was down and we could not find out what was causing the issue. If we could not fix the problem, then none of us would be going to scuba dive! We fixed the issue at around 4am of Saturday. We basically went on an "after-work scuba diving"! And this was the result:

My first dive was so amazing, I don't have enough words to describe it. Seeing the underwater wildlife is something that everybody should experience at least once in a lifetime. It was definitely one of the best things I did in my life.

That was not even my first month in the Philippines and I was already falling in love with that country.

During the next months, I traveled around the Philippines, delighted my eyes with dreamt landscapes, met amazing people, locals and foreigners, ate delicious food, scuba dived, enjoyed my work to the fullest, improved my programming skills...

I mean, how can you not love the Philippines? Wherever you go, people will smile at you and welcome you. And you can find delicious fruit everywhere, I was picking up mangos from the floor on my way to the office every morning! Things like that make you smile, inside and outside...

And make no mistake about it, Cebu City is a great place for startups, entrepreneurs, software developers and basically everybody who wants to work in something related to IT. Cebu City is considered an alternative to the Sillicon Valley. It is way cheaper to start a company there than in western countries and the conditions are basically the same. Filipinos speak perfect English and you can find some talented developers there, and they won't ask for a 4000 $us salary!

After 6 months hacking in paradise, I left, even though I had the opportunity to stay. A traveling hacker is not a traveling hacker if he does not travel, right? Well, I decided to travel to a different country for the next 6 months. This might have been one of the hardest decisions of my life. I loved the Philippines, I loved Filipinos, I loved my job there and I will probably regret this decision, but what I will never regret, is having...

met Richard Matthew Stallman at the Univesity of the Philippines in Cebu City:

jumped of a cliff in Siquijor:

seen the Tarsiers and the Chocolate Hills in Bohol:

surfed in Siargao:

watched the Manny Pacquiao vs. Floyd Mayweather fight with the locals in Surigao:

swom with the Whale Sharks and visited the Tumalog Falls in Oslob:

got my SDI diving certification in Moalboal:

visited the wonder city of Vigan:

hiked through the Banaue Rice Terraces:

experienced some islandception/lakeception at the Taal Lake:

snorkeled with turtles in Apo Island:

geeked on a beach (GOAB) in Boracay during a typhoon:

visited the beautiful laggoons of El Nido, Palawan:

dove with thresher sharks, whitetip sharks and eagle rays in Malapascua:

survived the canyoneering at Kawasan falls:

Part of me will stay in the Philippines, and I will be looking forward to come back some day. After 6 months hacking in paradise, I can definitely say that "It is more fun in the Philippines"...


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