Reasons why I love the Philippines…

I’ll be adding to this list over the next few months, so feel free to check back in, but here are some reasons why I love the Philippines so far:

#1 – The incredibly welcoming, smiley, upbeat, optimistic, helpful, friendly, immensely resilient people.

#2 – The fact that they don’t really seem to have a word for “hello”. The closest they have is “Have you eaten yet?” (Kama-in Kannaa?). A people after my own heart.

#3 – The fact that they eat 5 or 6 times a day and take snacktime very seriously.

#4 – The fact that when I jokingly complained about missing snacktime during a 4-hour car journey, I was informed (in a very serious tone) “Well actually Maya, it’s dinner time now, not snacktime. But you can have two desserts because you missed your snack.”

#5 – Sea crabs cooked in sprite.

#6 – The fact that somewhere in Cebu City there is apparently a reggae-themed seafood restaurant called Bob Marlin. My new mission in life is to find it….

#7 – This headline: P1100657 #8 – Having a warm bucket shower at the village well in the pouring rain, using basketballs as buckets….

#9 – 75th anniversary cans of Spam

#10 – The Jeepney (it’s like a bus, but cooler cos it’s a brightly-coloured stretch jeep type thing) jeepney jeepney 2 #11 – Attempting to make 50 + beneficiary registration forms without any power of the ability to photocopy – and being told “there’s always carbon copy paper, but that’s pretty old school.” Old school but awesome.

#12 – Brandy & Lime cordial

#13 – Sitting out under a blanket of stars listening to a Filipino neighbour play “Annie’s song” on his guitar.

#14 – The fact that there’s a fast food restaurant called “Chowabunga”

#15 – This power socket on the ceiling of a hotel room for no apparent reason….. socket #16 – Surprisingly good pizza (with one notable exception, see #17)

#17 – The restaurant menu that bravely described itself as “Emotion masquerading as food”. I later decided that the emotions evoked from finding both broccolli and cauliflower on your pizza are not of a positive ilk.

#18 – This beer-drinking Santa. I assume even Santa likes an ice-cold San Miguel after a hard day’s gift distribution. P1110044 #19 – The Adult Diaper aisle of the supermarket. P1100898 #20 – The awesome names of some of our drivers: P1110853 #21 – These fantastic signs in the bathrooms: P1110854 P1110914 #22 – This hilariously unfortunate name for a college: P1130492 #23 – This beautiful sunset over Cebu city P1130412 #24 – The main office was locked on Sunday morning so a colleague and I had a “meeting” in the new office annex/meeting room in Tacloban… P1120895 #25 – The entire nation’s obsession with basketball. I think it just might be the perfect metaphor for the endless optimism of the Filipino people.

Filipino people are as a rule, a teeny, tiny bit height-challenged – not exactly 7-foot amazons…. and yet they adore basketball, a sport which is traditionally played by very very tall people. Gotta love that tenacious spirit! 🙂

#26 – This woman’s incredibly infectious smile: P1130987 #27 – The fact that you can order the following food items in the local market:

  • A helmet (chicken’s whole head)
  • An Addidas (chicken’s foot)

And, (wait for it…..)

  • A Betamax. That would be blood sausage (like black pudding) but instead of fried and compressed into a sausage shape, it is fried and pressed into the shape of a Betamax cassette. Too awesome for words.

#28 – This amazing carwash in Tacloban (it’s near Robinson’s mall in case you want to see it for yourself…) 10610559_10153220286603294_1421890962664279856_n   #29 TURTLES! I saw a real life turtle! It was freaking awesome! 🙂 OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

#30 – The fact that a complete stranger on the jeepney insisted on paying my bus fare for no reason whatsoever. I couldn’t convince her to take the 8 pesos from me, she just smiled and said the ride was on her – a classic example of how kind-hearted, sweet, and wonderful Filipino people are….

#31 – This unbelievably awesome video, which only illustrates exactly how amazing and upbeat Filipinos are in the face of disaster. And it makes me smile every time I watch it. It never gets old.

#32 – Mango Shakes. And Mango Floats. And fresh mangoes. Pretty much anything mango-related.

Things I don’t like about the Philippines:

#1 – Can’t get a decent cup of tea. A small but significant issue….

#2 – This unnecessarily terrifying clown…. P1100856 #3 – SNAKE IN THE POOL!!! JUST OUTSIDE OUR OFFICE!!! APPARENTLY ITS POISONOUS!! CAN’T SEEM TO BRING MY VOICE LOWER THAN A VERY HIGH SQUEAK!!! BLEARGH!!!! P1030652 It’s dead now, but still.

#4 – While we’re on the subject of terrifying reptiles, I am also not a huge fan of Lolong, the world’s most enormous Crocodile, who also lives in the Philippines… He’s also dead now, but still.

#5 Another snake sighting less than 50 yards from my room… This one was bigger, but less poisonous than the last one. I’m not sure which is worse actually… 10714677_10152363998288671_1719708362_n 10705342_10152363998273671_384335846_n   #6 Sea Snakes – also spotted while snorkelling. Very pretty to look at until you realise they are highly poisonous and also fairly aggressive creatures. download


#7 Halo-Halo – a Filipino dessert. It’s a nauseating concoction involving milk, sweetcorn, jelly, tapioca, fruit, nuts, yam-flavoured ice-cream, sometimes cheese, sweet beans, coconut, flan, and more… Just looking at it turns my stomach a little bit. But then in fairness I once tried to explain Trifle to someone from outside the UK, and was met with a similar reaction…. (Trifle of course being a completely delicious dessert made of fruit, jelly, cake, cream, custard, alcohol and so on….)


18 thoughts on “Reasons why I love the Philippines…

  1. Hahaha – you make a good point Andy, Mango shakes are delicious. They don’t quite make up for the lack of decent tea though. Although I have discovered that Kalamansi juice goes quite well with gin if you can’t find any tonic water…

  2. I think you must having so much fun and have enjoyed your stay, you even read the comfort room signage word by word… he he he…

  3. Pingback: Things I love about Kurdistan… | Had we but world enough and time…

  4. Your points well-made and taken. You’ve discovered what makes the Filipino tick.The only thing I disagree with is the Halo-Halo issue. I am a native Filipina and grew up eating it. And yes, I don’t care much for Trifle either, nor do I understand the point to that. With halo-halo the combination of the ingredients mIx-mix, (English for halo-halo) with crushed ice and milk brings out our best antidote for the overheated days.

  5. There are so many concoctions of halo-halo. Dont try the ones from the food store chains. Go out and try those from pampanga and other places in the provinces. You have not mentioned anything about our beaches, rice cakes nor our churches. You have to go out more and explore!

  6. Hi there!

    The Bob Marlin restaurant in Cebu is a franchise of the original restaurant here in Naga City, Bicol.

    If you can make to Naga and Bicol, we’d be more than happy to treat you to dinner there. Don’t worry, they don’t serve halo-halo. 😉

  7. A nice list, I enjoyed reading, except for 1 point, No6 on the dont likes. The Black and White banded Sea Crete is in fact very poisonous, however they are not in the slightest bit aggressive. Ive dived with them all over the country and they pay no attention to you what so ever. they have very small mouths and rear fangs so it is in fact very hard for them to bite anything bigger than their selected pray. they are fascinating to watch as they swim around the reef hunting… So please do not fear them 🙂

  8. on #1 dislike … So true since Filipinos are mostly coffee lovers. Since i am fond of tea drinks as well, what i do is to usually buy my favorite tea blend and place at least 1 or 2 teabags in my bag.
    And when i feel like drinking tea, i ask for a hot water and prepare my own tea 😊

  9. Kumain ka na? [Kuh-ma-een kha nah]

    You made me miss growing up in the Philippines. I just tried explaining the cultural need to feed and feed others to a colleague yesterday and she said, “I LOVE lumpia!!

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