Why the Philippines suits me
My first visit to the Philippines occurred in 2009. I was working in the Middle East and had a 3-week break. Having always been intrigued about the possibilities of visiting the Philippines, I took the plunge and booked a ticket.
Since that time, I have been back an additional 7 times. My trips have lasted anywhere from two weeks in length to two months. I guess you can say I have adopted the Philippines as a second home.
During my travels I have spent a lot of time in Manila but also traveled to other parts of the country as well. I have been to Puerto Galera, Bohol, Cebu, Palawan, and spent 10 days on Bantayan Island. In all my travels I have discovered one thing. The Philippines suits me, from the many friendly people I have met to the beautiful beaches, small towns and big city activities.
There were a few things to get adjusted to – one being Filipino time. Having spent time in the military, I am used to being on time. I learned long ago that when someone says to be somewhere at a certain time, I show up 10 minutes early. Not so in the Philippines. When someone in the Philippines says they will meet you at 6 pm, that might mean anywhere in a 4-hour window, or not at all. When you’re told something will be done on Tuesday that might mean this week or next. Things are a little more laid-back.
Traveling in the Philippines, like some other countries, might mean the electricity may be working and it may not. Or in some places the electricity might only work a few hours in the day. There are also some very beautiful island getaways where there is no hot water at all. I really need hot water for showers – I just can’t get used to cold showers; I don’t care what the outside temperature is.
I have overheard, on more than a few occasions, tourists complaining about the service, or the fact that things are not as efficient as it is in their country. To them I say, stay home. I mean, come on – you’re traveling in a foreign country to see and experience new things. If you want things to be the same, then stay home.
Some people say the food in the Philippines is disappointing. Nothing like the extraordinary and diversified food you get in Thailand, Singapore and other parts of Asia. For me that just isn’t true. One thing I like to do when traveling is to eat where the locals eat.
Sometimes that means the food doesn’t particularly suit me, but in a lot of cases I find great examples of local cuisine. (RELATED: A foreigner's response to 'I'd rather go hungry' girl)
I love the various nighttime food markets in Manila. Something I wish we had back in Texas, where I am from. When I am in Manila, I always look up the food markets that are scheduled for the week and make plans to visit them.
The Midnight Mercado in Bonifacio Global City is one of my favorites, along with the Banchetto and the Sunday market in Legazpi Village. I get to sample a wide range of foods and meet some great people. (RELATED: Why I'm proud of my Philippine passport)
I was warned to be careful as a foreigner walking around at night in Manila. Well maybe because I’m a big guy, 6’1, or maybe because I don’t get drunk and wander down dark alleys, I have never had any problems. The people I have met for the most part have all been friendly and helpful.
Maybe some of that is because I don’t treat everyone as inferior and as if they need to cater to me, like so many tourists expect. I try to speak to everyone I meet, say hi to the waiters, please and thank you, just normal manners I was brought up with. I figure, I am a guest in your house. (RELATED: German traveler's 20 reasons to fall in love with the Philippines)
The beaches are my favorite place. I have visited a few, and there are many more I want to see. I enjoy seeing the all the tourist sites but what I really enjoy is a laid-back beach where there are few tourists and I can sample the culture. The Philippines offers many beaches just like that.
There are many more places in the Philippines I want to visit and experience, and it seems I just never have enough time. I guess that means more trips in the future.
All in all I would say my decision in 2009 to visit the Philippines was a good idea. I seemed to have found a place that suits me. – Rappler.com
Bob Bales aka The Traveling Fool is a history buff, cigar-lover and enthusiast of different cultures and places. He has had the privilege of living, working and traveling all over the world. A proponent of getting off the "tourist path" and experiencing all that the culture and people have to offer. Happiest on a white sand beach in SE Asia or anywhere tropical. Check out his blog The Travelling Fool and follow on Twitter @thetravelfool