Monday, February 11, 2008

Don't think of coming to the Philippines if....

I was inspired to write this post after reading the travel blog of a woman from the UK about the Philippines. She was complaining about a lot of things! In Boracay, she complained of the lack of culture (you go there for the sand mainly), in Bantayan island, she complained of the people harassing her (we had been there and we were not harassed at all), then she went to chocolate hills late in the afternoon from Tagbilaran then complained of not having any transportation to go back (I would have asked around first for the transportation schedule), in Zamboanga she was afraid of terrorists (then she should have read first about Zamboanga before going) and lastly in Zamboanga she couldn't find accomodations but fortunately there was a Filipino family who took her in, she wrote that anyway she didn't feel so comfortable because there were 10 people in the house and there is really no space to sleep (the right attitude is gratitude). Of course, throughout her post she was complaining about the Filipino's love of Karaoke, how slow it is to travel by ferry and sex tourists.

So, please don't come to the Philippines if:

1. you are not open to new cultures and new ideas. We do things differently. You have to arrive in the Philippines without expectations and ready to be surprised. You cannot expect people to think the way you think and judge them wrongly if they don't think like you. Remember you are the foreigner, you have to adapt to the locals and not make the locals adapt to you;
2. you have not yet internalized that life in the Philippines is slow. You cannot expect to land in Manila by plane, go to the Banaue Rice Terraces, and then be on the beach in Pagudpud the same day. Yes, all these destinations are on the same island but we don't have a fast-train like the TGV that goes 300 km/hr. Mostly you will be on dirt roads riding a jeepney that will break down every few kilometers;
3. you do not own a travel guide telling you about bus schedules and ferry schedules. Even if you do, you have to double check anyway because maybe the schedule changed already. Take note that ferry schedules are typhoon-dependent;
4. you are not flexible regarding time. In the Philippines, we don't care about time. Relax, and cool down. Noone is running after you;
5. you will judge the country from a western point of view. In the beginning, my husband and I argued a lot about the Philippines because as a Swiss he thought that a lot of things could be done differently (like traffic management etc). He will get irritated about how things are done (or not done). I agree with him on some points but the big point is the Philippines cannot be like Switzerland because Filipinos will never be like the Swiss. =) We have other qualities =) that I will never trade for Swiss dependability. This goes in the same direction as this joke:
In Heaven: the cooks are French,
the policemen are English,
the mechanics are German,
the lovers are Italian,
and the bankers are Swiss.

In Hell: the cooks are English,
the policemen are German,
the mechanics are French,
the lovers are Swiss
and the bankers are Italian.
6. you are a pedophile;
7. you are sex tourist;
8. you have a penchant for complaining; and
9. you are expecting the Philippines to be like the countries of indo-china. I've read in many travel guides that the Philippines is a Latin American country lost in Asia. Indeed, we are very different from our neighbors because of our history. I have to say that I also feel more connected to the Latinos than the Thais. If you find no buddhist temples or spicy food, that doesn't mean we have no culture, all it means is that you didn't find the culture you were expecting. Maybe you should have read more about the Philippines before coming.

1 comment :

Caramoan Adventurer said...

nice post! i agree!

i felt sorry for her - she is not ready to travel, not ready for new experiences. a few inconveniences should have been understandable - and expected.