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….
#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) #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”
#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. #19 – The Adult Diaper aisle of the supermarket. #20 – The awesome names of some of our drivers: #21 – These fantastic signs in the bathrooms: #22 – This hilariously unfortunate name for a college: #23 – This beautiful sunset over Cebu city #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… #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! 🙂
- 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.
#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…. #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!!!! 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… http://www.theguardian.com/world/gallery/2011/sep/06/wildlife-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… #6 Sea Snakes – also spotted while snorkelling. Very pretty to look at until you realise they are highly poisonous and also fairly aggressive creatures.
#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….)