Traveling The Philippines
What we loved…
The People – When traveling The Philippines you’ll quickly realize just how impoverished the country is, yet just how hapy the people are. The people have so little, yet they have so much to offer. Young, old, men, women, they are all so incredibly friendly, nice, welcoming, and let’s not forget…they’re all amazing singers and/or musicians. I mean the new lead singer of Journey is Filipino. You can’t help but be infected with their heartwarming smiles and laughter, and overwhelmed by their generosity (and musical prowess).
The Landscape – There are wondrous karst mountains wrapped in 2,000 year old terraced rice patties. They have endless gorgeous white sand beaches engulfed by dramatic jungle-clad volcanic cliffs. And let’s not forget the brilliant technicolor coral gardens lurking under its crystal blue waters. The Philippines is jam packed with stunning landscapes…and each Island has a little something different to offer.
The Prices – We spent 30 days full of scuba diving, island hopping, motorbiking, caving, etc. After a high-octane month, of doing any and everything we wanted, the total bill came to less than $1,300 each (for the whole month!!!). That wouldn’t even cover our basic monthly bills in our ‘normal lives’ back home.
What we didn’t love…
The Bathrooms – Yes, this is nothing more than a simple annoyance, but if we’re being honest, it’s one of the things we didn’t like about traveling The Philippines. No toilets have seats, even in hotel rooms. Flushing consists of pouring buckets of water until your business has been pushed through. Toilet paper is strictly BYO – everywhere. And good luck finding hot water, let alone a shower with water pressure anywhere.
The Travel – Albeit, all forms of transportation (jeepneys, bangkas, trikes) are beautifully decorated and unique to each region, but with little infrastructure, and piss-poor road conditions, it takes forever to get anywhere. Plus, the drivers take me back to my childhood favorite Disney attraction ‘Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride’ – passing trucks around blind curves and weaving in and out of traffic at insane speeds. They do offer their own due diligence though…an alarming amount of horn honking and rosary rubbing (as if that will save us).
The Poverty – As happy as everyone is, it still breaks my heart to see the state in which people are living. It’s hard to see dirty children sleeping in cardboard boxes on the side of a busy Manila boulevard while their parents hustle to survive. There are entire villages ravished by the 2013 typhoon that are still trying to recover. Multi-story aluminum siding, rotted wood, and exposed rebar squatter compounds lean in the shadows of luxury sky rises. Families of six commute on one motorbike. Hungry, stray dogs roam the streets. These are all far too common scenes while traveling The Philippines. It’s a sad and frustrating thought – How do we help? Where do we start?