Philippines 2012-2013

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When I was a young intern in Singapore, my filipino colleagues left a very big impression on me with their warm approachable personalities. They told me stories about their country and hometown, about emigrating to Singapore to escape poverty and the difficulties they faced in a foreign country. My colleagues also brought me to Lucky Plaza at Orchard Road (unofficially Little Philippines) and that opened my tastebuds to pinoy cuisine. Since then, I built a keen interest on pinoy culture and in late Dec 2012 I finally had the chance to visit the Philippines whose people have so many connections and ties in Singapore.

The Philippines, comprising of 7,107 islands, gave me a daunting task of planning the places I wanted to visit. The majority of the fly in & out tourists visited this Southeast Asian country mainly for the world class diving sites and also for Boracay. Surely there must be other attractions on land...questioned the non-diver like myself.

This country is geographically vast. When I put the outline of Philippines next to Vietnam, it covers almost the same area including Laos and Cambodia. This trip instantly became a challenge for a strictly bus/ferry journey from Manila to Cebu. My original itinerary was for 4 weeks but that stretched out to almost 6 weeks as I slowly discovered more and more fascinating places in my research online and from guide books.

Travelling in the Philippines had me constantly checking on weather reports. When super typhoon Bopha swept through eastern Mindanao in early December, she took the lives of more than 1000 villagers unprepared for this natural disaster. I was stuck in Iloilo City, Panay when tropical storm Quinta threatened to turn into a typhoon. It was a day after Christmas Day but yet it did not dampen the festive mood at all.

Filipinos are hardy folks who have been through many hardships whether brought by natural disasters or by political affairs. Yes, the number of homeless children on the streets is still dismal but they are living their lives the best they could and with hope.

The filipinos are also very warm people. I remembered wading out on a bangka to the marine sanctuary in Looc, Romblon when a group of local school children shouted to me from the pier "Hello Hello! Are you foreigner?" I smiled and waved back nodding my head. And they excitedly returned a big chorus of "WELCOME TO THE PHILIPPINES!!" while jumping up and down in laughter. That gave me a really huge grin.

  • Warm Manila Night
  • Amazing Philippines
Trip Start Dec 03, 2012
Trip End Jan 09, 2013

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