The last cities I visited after Legazpi and before heading back to Manila were Naga and Lucena, both not touristy at all and me being the only white guy around.
Naga was the most honest city in the Philippines I’ve been at, the tricycle was 8 pesos for one ride, everywhere else it cost at least 20, mostly 50! At the time of writing 52,5 pesos convert to 1 euro. I saw poverty on the street, children begging, the prices for goods the lowest ever and still people were friendly wearing big smiles, pavement dwellers next to western dressed college guys walking past the fruit lady selling mango’s for 20 pesos, crowds of worshiper heading for the evening prayer and the street jammed with everything that moves – that’s the Philippines!
I could feel the stares, being the only European person all around made the people check me out – a few might not have seen a stranger like me with a big red beard 🙂 at some stage the stares were pinching and I felt distracted, I could not look the people in the eyes anymore…strange energy!
Quick facts about the country:
- English is spoken throughout the whole island state
- Churches are dominant all over the place, big catholic belief!
- Jeepney’s (old converted American truck’s) used as public transport – most of the time they have a Mercedes or Volkswagen emblem in front – tuning is king 😉
- The tricycle is the Filipino answer to the Thai Tuk Tuk and the Indian moto rickshaw
- Double moral: Riding a bike with a helmet is mandatory but riding on top of tricycles is allowed too
- Loud two-stroke bikes keep noise-polluting the streets
- Generally a lot of fumes in traffic and bad traffic jams in the big cities
- Everything looks fancy on the outside but if you look behind the façade it’s crumbling, that applies to material things but also to people…
- More expensive than India and Indonesia and also
- More chains in restaurants, fast food and groceries, like 7 Eleven, Mc Donalds, BK, Wendy’s, …
- People are dressed more western and got bigger bellies
- Food is all about meat with lots of fat and oil
- Karaoke is widespread and somewhat of a national sport, it also happens that people spontaneously start to sing on the street
- Whitening products are heavily used, which results in white faces but a more darker taint on the rest of the body
- Liberal in terms of gender topics, being gay is not a big deal
But what really struck me the most; it’s a retirement place for mostly western man. You’ll see so many with a Philippine lady on their side. When I talked to them, most seem to hate the country and consider the local dumb and lazy. Of course some people aren’t the smartest and I saw a lot of women working their asses off while the man fool around but the ignorance of those westerners was just so wrong! The only thing which came to mind: White trash!
Although the Filipino’s are very friendly and talkative I’m sick of answering the same questions: “Where you’re from?”, “Name?”, “Age?”, “You’re single?”, “Not married?”, “No wife?”, “No children?”, “Why?” I did that for half a year now but still in India it wasn’t that offensive and Indonesia was more gently, somehow I’m tired of repeating it over and over again. I’m also sick of the typical American words and slogans used more often. Every guy is a “Sir”, but I don’t want to be a Sir! “Thank you for shopping with us, Sir” or ”Come again, Sir” no I won’t come again, even if you’re crawling more up my ass! That’s a thing I didn’t like in the states either…
I won’t miss my experiences; even the bad ones made me grow! Some brilliant moments still happened and a handful of good people I met, but I’m looking forward for a change, Indonesia here we go again…