Roy the Riding Dutchman
Photos by: Zelda Amarles
This week I had my mind bugged on an article I read at Flipnomad. It was about why people were hesitant to go to The Philippines and I realized, I have been hesitant as well. But I have fallen in love with a wonderful country. Let me tell you my thought;
Back in Malaysia, my housemates talked me into going to The Philippines for the first time. I was hesitant, but didn’t refuse, cause well, we never refuse!
Now that I think of it, it was the best time I ever had! But before I said yes, I had some concerns. The Philippines? What on earth can you do there? was my first response. ‘Well, you know, lots of things’. I doubt that ending up in Angeles City was part of the lots of things perspective but you get the picture.
Angeles was my concern, isn’t the Philippines overrun by sex tourists? I asked. ‘And what about those kidnappings?’ my last concern being quickly taken away with the answer; that happens only in the southern Philippines.
A screenplay could have been written from our conversation but we ended up going there. Back then I went for four days, which was necessary cause AirAsia wouldn’t fly earlier, meaning we had to take a day off work – probably another reason many people are hesitant to go to the Philippines. Now, I have been back to the archipelago many times. With the exception of Holland and Malaysia, it is now the country I know the most of, seen the most from and never regret going to! However I developed a love-hate relationship with this country. I love it, but some things I could easily use to say I never wanna go back there! Here are three things I love about The Philippines, and three things I hate. In the end you’ll see, hesitation might come from a genuine source; but the loves definitely beats the hates!
Love – Nature
Nowhere in the world did I experience nature as in The Philippines. Whether climbing a volcano or swimming underneath a waterfall (a really cold one!), Philippine nature is always at it’s best! It is in this country where I found out how much I love real nature, not the planted trees across countryside Holland. The Philippines is one of the few countries I’d rather visit outside the city! I love cities, but here, I make an exception for it’s wondrous paradise! Of course, there is another reason why I avoid its cities;
Hate – Manila
I’m sorry guys, but I don’t like this city… It has it’s fun parts but I didn’t experience them like Bangkok and Kuala Lumpur. I loved learning about the Philippine history in Fort Santiago but as the city is concerned… Some locals refer to it as ‘Hell City’ and it is easy to see why. It is annoyingly crowded (not non-annoyingly crowded like Bangkok, but really annoyingly crowded). It speaks aggression every where you go (security guards are supposed to make me feel safe right?) and it just looks really grim everywhere… You might think of me as a Makati-person but I’m not, I’m your Brickfields Kuala Lumpur person, and Malate was probably the best part of Manila.
I can’t blame the city for it’s horrors because of what it has been through but I just hoped to have seen it otherwise… I’m sorry Manila…
Love – Adventure
The Philippines speak adventure! Everywhere you go it is there and it’s easy to understand why. Especially if you are hesitant to go here because you do not know much about this country you will see it can easily surprise you! Cross a lake to a volcano and you’ll see! Take a bus to a mountainous area and you’ll see!
Hate – Sex Tourism
Who doesn’t hate this? I’m not saying it’s worse in The Philippines than in Thailand, just like any other country in the world, it has its areas. If you fly AirAsia you end up in Clark and we had chosen to stay there the first night. It is probably why my impression of The Philippines is like this because the Clark-Angeles area has nothing more to offer than prostitution and go-go bars. It took us a really long time before we actually found good things to do here – Philippine cabaret is really entertaining -, so try to avoid it as much as you can.
Love – Diversity
This is probably the best thing about The Philippines because wherever you go, it is always different! The countryside of Southern Luzon is home to great hospitality and wonderful nature whereas the north is home to – of course also great hospitality – and cool mountain air and wonderful sights. No day is the same here, just as any place. It’s like every city and every town has it’s own history, it’s own traditions, it’s own festivals and it’s own way of life. When you go to The Philippines, you’ll start to realize just how much there is to explore!
Hate – Getting There
Getting around in The Philippines is easy as long as you stay in Luzon. If you want to get off the main island you undoubtedly have to take a flight and sometimes even a flight/boat combo. I hate boats cause I’ve been one one that caught fire, but sometimes it’s neccesary. When we went to Boracay we took a flight and a boat and it was totally worth it! But here is the problem. There aren’t many airlines that fly to The Philippines on a budget frequently and CEBU Pacific is in my opinion, not really budget. They tend to overcharge way too much making flights very expensive. Compare their rates with AirAsia and you know you are screwed. Whatever the reason, perhaps the introduction of AirAsia Philippines will offer some great price competition – we travelers always love that.
So you see why it is misunderstood? Because the things I hate about it are basically the reasons people are hesitant to go. But it’s just like any other country in the world; if you can look past them, your stay is amazing!
I do not want to spread any bad travel advice on The Philippines, just some information. If you have the chance to go to The Philippines – do it! Choose it over any other country! My best memories come from this place and besides, the hatred can be dealt with; I skip Manila as much as I can, just as much as Angeles. I tend to plan my way via Hong Kong cause it’s cheaper (great tip btw), making it easier to get there. And as far as getting around is concerned; the stay is cheap compared to Thailand or Malaysia so the extra bucks on the flights are worth spending
Don’t be hesitant, just do it!
Reprinted with permission from http://www.theridingdutchman.com/