Now that I’ve been in country for about three weeks, I have definitely grown fond of several distinctly Filipino quirks and institutions. So here’s a working list of the “Best of the Philippines According to Kathy”:
The kindness of the Filipino people and their generally happy nature. So many Filipinos living here have very little to smile about, yet they do – easily and frequently. Today, while I was strolling in the rain with my umbrella, I passed a young man who was sitting outside a café. I glanced over and he smiled widely and said, “It will be better weather tomorrow, ma’am.” That small gesture meant a lot to a solo traveler far from home.
|Trudi's! Right on Alona Beach|
Having been both a cab driver and a shuttle driver, I just have to take my hat off to the professional drivers of this country. How they manage to get through a day without having an accident is a mystery to me. Vanessa and I constantly shook our heads while she was here at the fact that we did not see one fend-bender – amazing. And a special thank you to people who will never read this, our Baquio drivers Edwin and Arnold who literally gave us free tours as they drove us around the city and Jereme, who took us on our Bohol tour. Good men all.
I love – LOVE – the food here. I have found my own little café – Trudi’s – right on the Alona Beach and through four meals the food has been consistently wonderful. I’ve had the chicken curry, pictured here, twice!
The Filipinos love their cakes and bread so everywhere you go there are bakeries. Having a sweet tooth myself, I’ve enjoyed mostly window shopping the goodies, but have had one heavenly piece of cake in Baguio.
Every taxi driver has had their radio on and tuned to American oldies, and I’ve overheard several people singing out loud, without restraint and with no cares as to whether they are any good or not. Karaoke is big here.
The people of the Philippines are 85% Catholic and one lovely ritual they have is to genuflect repeatedly. Every cabbie did it before taking off and even the boat pilots before each trip down river. Even though I’m a non-believer, the act did make me feel somehow safer. Charming.
The landscape here is either lush and green beyond belief or vast expanses of water rimmed with mostly white sand beaches or mangroves. For the simple beauty of nature, I doubt that the Philippines can be beat.
I have been asked how old I am repeatedly here; it’s not an inappropriate question in this country and age is not a disease or disability either. I have been granted respect and not a small amount of awe because I’m out in the world doing this adventure thing by myself at what Filipinos believe to be an advanced age - 63. In fact, we had one cab driver in Cebu who complained of how terribly old he was and it turned out he was only 54. I told him that in the States he would still be considered pretty young. He didn’t believe me.