The Filipino-American actress describes her first journey to her mother’s home country as a “beautiful” and “eye-opening” experience.
Widely-known actress Vanessa Anne Hudgens has embarked on a meaningful trip to the Philippines to film a travel documentary about her heritage. Last March 31, the leading lady of Disney’s popular High School Musical trilogy attended a press conference to discuss her experiences throughout the journey. Just a day before that, she was officially named a global tourism ambassador for the Philippines.
READ ALSO: Honoring Tradition: The Oldest Living Mambabatok Graces The Latest Cover of Vogue Philippines—Which Receives International Recognition
Hudgens arrived in the country on March 25, along with her mother Gina and sister Stella. They explored the sights and sounds of Palawan, which the actress shared on her Instagram account. Her trip included swimming in the province’s lagoons, hiking, and enjoying a sunset cruise.
The actress is planning on visiting Cebu in the future, stating that she’s been inspired by the beautiful craftsmanship of its natural furniture and lighting elements.
“It’s always been on my list [visiting the Philippines], of course, but it never happened,” she shared during the press conference. “I feel like everything happens when it’s meant to, and I wouldn’t have it any other way. I get to come here with my mom and my sister. This is the hub for family and I get to be here with my family.”
Filipino At Heart
While the 34-year-old actress stated that she was “definitely raised very American,” she still has an inextricable connection to her mother’s home country. Although she grew up in the United States, she would often eat quintessentially Filipino food like rice, adobo, and pancit.
Now, after having spent some time in the archipelago, Hudgens shared that she discovered parts of herself that were always very Filipino. These include her tight family ties and her deep interest in the mystical.
“It’s been really interesting coming here, it’s beautiful and eye-opening […] All these things that have just been innately stuck within me, I realize come from my heritage,” she shared during the conference.
The actress also opened up about her inseparable relationship with her sister and mother. “I’ve always been so close to my mom and to my sister and we kind of roll as a pack all the time and that’s something from my heritage,” she explained.
In fact, Hudgens’ love for the concept of family is so strong, it served as the main impetus for her visit (besides the documentary itself).
When asked what inspired her to travel to the Philippines at this specific period in her life, she answered: “I’m in my 30s now [and] I’m thinking about raising a family. And I want to be able to know my heritage so I can bring that forth, so that my kids can know their background [and] they can know more about their own blood.”
Highlights of the Trip
Hudgens shared that she’s a big “nature” and “beach” girl, which is exactly why she loved Palawan’s beautiful seascapes. She also discussed her love for culture and the preservation of heritage. During her trip, she took a particular interest in the Filipino folk dance tinikling, which is typically accompanied by the rhythmic tapping of bamboo poles on the ground.
“I love culture and I love the past. I love things that are untouched by the current world that we live in, technology, everyone’s fighting to get ahead…” she shared.
Despite being a dedicated pescetarian, Hudgens was even willing to give up her diet for just one meal to get a taste of authentic Filipino cuisine.
“In Palawan I was sitting there and there was a plate of chicken adobo that was staring at me. And I said, you know, this is my first trip to the Philippines [and] this is as authentic as it’s gonna get. I’m eating chicken adobo,” she shared. “And I did, and it was so worth it, [but] I’m not eating chicken again anytime soon.”
Bringing Back a Piece of Home
Hudgens flew back to the U.S. shortly after the press conference. However, she made it clear that this wouldn’t be her last trip to the country. “I already can’t wait to come back. I feel like the time that I have spent here has been so incredible and so special, but I need more time,” she stated during the conference. “The country is so big and has so much to offer. […] There’s so much to do.”
Some things that the actress would like to accomplish during her next trip include going to a karaoke, visiting more beaches, shopping, and spending time with the country’s indigenous people.
When asked how she would describe the Philippines to those living in the U.S., Hudgens enthusiastically replied: “It’s a little bit of everything! It’s a lot of a bit of everything. It’s got paradise, it’s got metropolitan city. It’s got kindness. Everybody’s so warm, so friendly. The people here are very unique. Everyone is just so warm. I feel like I haven’t met anyone who seems to be having a bad day. The hospitality is unmatched. It’s got wonder and is really a magical place.”
Banner Photo via Instagram @vanessahudgens.