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I finally made it to the adventure of a lifetime and now I'm a citizen of the World. Indy author, blogger, in love with being an author - Mom of two grown children and widow of the most wonderful man to ever live - Devon "Pete" Hall.

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Beauty & The Beast – The Philippines So Far

Baguio Botanical Gardens
I struggled with how to describe our Philippines adventure so far and Beauty and The Beast seemed the best and simplest way to express both of our reactions. As you may already know, my daughter Vanessa is on this first leg of the trip to Asia with me, and I can only thank the Universe for providing her. She’s a great traveling companion but she’s also a fantastic support. Leaping into the unknown has been much easier because she’s here too.

Let’s start with the beautiful and, make no mistake, there are many amazingly fabulous things here. First and foremost is the people. We’ve had nothing but good experiences interacting with the natives, because of their inherent generosity and friendliness. Servers seem to be a bit afraid to wait on us, but I attribute that to a lack of confidence in their English speaking skills. Customer service is excellent here and better than most of America. We could take a tip or two from them. One charming aspect is being called “ma’am” everywhere and not just me, but a much younger Vanessa as well.

Villalyn on the left & Jocelyn, and my goofy grin.
Camp John Hay, historical gardens
You need only to look at these gorgeous manicurists to judge for yourself the loveliness of the women here. Additionally, the lush, verdant landscape can overwhelm at times, especially when it takes on the look of a jungle. In Baguio, we also found spots of absolute refuge and sanctuary, much needed after the rush of traffic that plagues both Baguio and Manila.

We visited the Botanical Gardens and the BenCab Museum, an enclave for both art and terraced gardening. Day 3 we visited Camp John Hay, formerly a base for US troops and now a very Americanized resort, frequented by both foreigners and Filipinos. It was an admittedly welcome taste of home.

Now for the Beast and why we were ready for an hour or two of home-fried atmosphere – the abject poverty and depressing shanty-towns that abound in the Philippines. Three quarters of our bus trip to Baguio was dominated by the endless miles of shacks, hovels and mere scraps of discarded trash patched together into something to either live in or sell something from. By the time we hit the open countryside everything free of debris seemed heavenly.

Also security is big business in this country which would lead you to assume danger at every corner, but we didn’t encounter anything that seemed ominous except walking in either city at night. Neither of us felt comfortable doing it so we didn’t if we could avoid it. That meant eating dinner earlier than usual.

One of many
Shanty-towns dot the roadside for miles.
One last warning, carry toilet paper wherever you go. You never know when you might need to use one of the many “comfort stations” where you will pay to use the facilities, often without benefit of TP. Small tissue packets tucked into a purse or backpack are ideal. 

After a day of bus and plane travel we’re now in Cebu City, on an entirely different island and ready to seek out beaches and such. More from the road tomorrow!

Lovely views of the mountains of Luzon Island,


  1. Replies
    1. Oops! I missed this one! Happily I've now found what I've been looking for - the peace and tranquility of small town Philippines.