What I have learned about the Philippines

I am engaged to a Filipina. I have traveled there three times in the last eighteen months. And will be back several more times in my life. Hell, we might move back when it's time for retirement. I am officially enamored with this country.

So what have I learned during multiple visits in the PI?

- Filipinos are extremely proud of their heritage. They rally around each other in times of need. I was there for the first time not long after the devastating Typhoon Haiyon. The people had tremendous spirits in the midst of all the tragedy.

- Speaking of rallying around countrymen, they love beauty pageants, like Miss Universe. Especially when the winner is of Filipino heritage.

- They love Manny Pacquiao more. He is on TV every single day. He is by far their biggest celebrity. I have been there twice when he has had boxing matches and places damn near shut down to watch the fight. He's a big deal.

- Basketball is huge in this country. There are basketball courts all over.

- Many people seem to be obsessed with America (loads of US fast food especially KFC) becoming white. Whiting salons are common and apps to make your skin look lighter. Apparently lighter skin is more beautiful and means money.

- Many Filipinos are friendly people and joyful. People I just meet or get introduce to chat away like we are old friends. In fact, the first time I met my fiance's immediate family, it didn't take long for me to feel comfortable and part of the family. Big meals with comfort food and fine people helps.

- Unfortunately many also believe just because you are a tourist that you are also rich.

- I would have never guessed the popularity hot dogs and spaghetti. I'll stick with pancit, lumpia, caldereta, sisig, and other Filipino goodies instead.

- Good food and service was better than expect (I read horror stories). the key is they dont check up on you. You need to get their attention to be served. And I still dont really understand how to tip correctly. I've been told one tips what they can.

- I will never drive in this country. At least not in a car. It's madness of pattern honking which actually flows fairly decent considering how roads are laid out through the country. Plus it's too easy and cost effective to jump in a bus, jeepney, or trike.

- Basically the roadway infrastructure is a mes. Certain places have become so over populated that the proper travel space has not been able to keep up or possibly it is too costly to build.

- Parts of this country are absolutely breath taking. I have only scratched the surface of all the pristine beaches, mountains, and other wonderful landscapes. Palawan has been my favorite thus far. I cant speak highly enough about the area.

- It's freaking hot and humid. Always. At least to a guy from Indiana. I've been told there are two season. Hot and rainy. I've been there during both.

- Pollution is a problem. A lot of gas fumes permeate the sidewalk. And often piles of trash too. I have also seen very contaminated streams. This is why one does not drink the water.

- The family bond is extremely important. Often many family members live together is modest accommodations.

- I have learned some common phrases in my visits and general communication on a daily basis with my fiancee. Some I absolutely adore uses in my own vernacular now. She uses "comfort room" for bathroom or restroom, which I find so much more elegant of a phrase. "Resto" for restaurant is another word I like using. The phrase "same-same" has entered my world and is a common response I get when asking how she is feeling when sick.

These are just a few observations that I have noticed in my time. There is far more to learn. Every trip is a new discovery into the Filipino culture.

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Observation of An Illogical mind by Sean Kimmel is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.
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