What I think about the Philippines so far
Less than a week I’ve been in the Philippines, I have very complex opinions about this country. Since day 1, this country showed me extreme good and bad at the same time. I’m not sure how I feel about it in general, but I want to share the initial thoughts about the Philippines. (note: I’ve only been an extremely small portion of the country, and met a limited number of people. But, from my previous experience, the first impression turns out not too wrong.)
No doubt, my first impression of the Philippines was the temperature. As soon as I got off from the plane at Manila, the massive heat hit me with surprise. Seoul was quite cold when I left. It is officially flower blooming spring, but the weather has not been generous to us. I prepared myself with a light layer of clothes even if the temperature at the bus stop in 4:30am was harsh. However, my jeans felt so uncomfortable in the Philippines. I finally landed the land of tropical sun, and I love it.
People are very respectful
The body language of people at many of Asian countries (including Southeast and East Asia) are complex. They are naturally shy but quite aggressive on some occasions. A bus conductor even hit me (with a fist) in Vietnam because I was refusing to pay the money he wanted, which was three times more than the normal price. The bus was full, but no one gave a shit. He was a bully. People say respect is the greatest thing about Asia, but the respect comes with title and age, not from the heart.
On the other hand, people who I interacted so far in the Philippines were quite respectful to each other. I can see that they are nice because that’s who they are, not because they want the business. I couldn’t imagine this people scam me like the Vietnamese bus conductor did. To children, to elders, to women and to the customers, everyone’s nice to each other. No smoking in the public area. People say ‘excuse me’ all the time and try hard not to get in anyone’s way. Everyone says ‘good evening’ on the street. It was a huge difference between the Philippines and other Asian countries I’ve been so far.
They don’t really walk
Tricycle, motorbike, van, and Jeepneys; either they really like the idea of transportation by fossil fuel, or they just genuinely don’t like to walk. I’m not sure which. People wait 5 minutes in the tightly crammed Jeepney to get off at right in front of their house in 10 meters. The city is filled with fumes during the day due to the unaccountably many vehicles. I think it’s time to import the electric bike to the Philippines from China.
It’s not an easy destination for independent travelers
I started my journey from Kalibo. Our 16 days itinerary is simple: flying into Kalibo – Guimaras Island – Bantayan Island – Malapascua Island – flying out from Cebu City. It appeared to be quite an efficient plan, we thought.
From Kalibo to Guimaras resort where we are right now (and we didn’t even make it to the resort we wanted yet), it took 12 hours. It was supposed to a simple but long journey, but it turned out to be super long and difficult one. I’m fully aware of the ‘everything takes longer’ rule in travels like I always say, but it is quite severe here with a lot of unspoken rules. The most useful information I got about transportations was from fellow travel bloggers from the Philippines. We found out even the guidebook wasn’t that much helpful in this case.
My travel style has been the mixture of pre-research and on-location-information, but it needs a lot of pre-research to travel (or just fly between islands) in the Philippines especially if we’re going out of traveler’s route, such as ours at the moment.
Catholic was introduced to the Philippines in 1521 with the arrival of Magellan and now more than 90% of the populations are Christian, and about 80% belong to Roman Catholic Church. It is one of the two most predominantly Roman Catholic countries in Asia. It’s easy to spot catholic churches around the country. It reminded me of being in New Mexico’s adobe church.
San Migual rules
San Miguel rules in the Philippines. It usually costs around 30 – 35 pesos (USD 0.75+), and tasted decent.