Dreaming Philippines

Posted on April 4, 2010. Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: |


It seems that it is all I do lately. Have you ever been to an exotic place? Does the memory of it haunt you from time to time?

I don’t know what it is about the Philippines that keeps calling me back like some reoccurring dream that you have had all your life.

Maybe it’s the people. Maybe it’s the pace of life. Maybe it’s the fact that I have worked all my freaking life and I just want to go somewhere WARM!

I never will forget my first landing in “the land of a thousand smiles!” I was on my first trip to see my relatives (whom I had never met). Not knowing what to expect and being too tired to care, I found myself exhausted, dead on my feet and curious about what would happen next.

We descended into Manila, one of the largest cities in Asia, soon to partake of a land which would become my obsession! My first greeting was not all that pleasant. We made our way off the plane and to the gate, into surroundings that I will never forget! It seemed like the 60’s had come and went but no one had told Manila that “we have air conditioning now”. The carpets were well-worn and the color (what was left) was a lifeless green that had borne the feet of many travelers for many years. This was my first experience in a “Third World County”.

There were people everywhere. People who had traveled a long way to get there. Literally throngs of humanity frantically searching for their luggage and loved ones they had been longing to see. We arrived in the terminal. Humidity permeated the air. The sound of the duty-free agents calling us to buy everything from cigarettes to liquor for the family that we would eventually meet. Then there were the Customs lines. It was like a game of sorts trying as best we could to find the shortest or the fastest moving line! Long que’s of desperate folk were lining up to go through the clinical “Nurse Cratchets” who donned Government uniforms doing business for the customs dept. of the Philippines. Mostly all female, they without emotion or efficiency they did their jobs as they stood all day in “Phone Booth like” confines working through a 3×5 opening in the glass.

We got past customs and collected our baggage. A Policeman was waiting at the door for us to “help”. He informed us that he had been in contact with my mother in law and that he would be kind enough to take us to see her. You see, this is a very large place, and it would be easy to get lost or worske get accosted. My wife knew what he meant by “helping” , he wanted a tip! Tipping is a very common practice in the Philippines.

There is a kind of tradition in the Philippines. It is like this. If you are a Filipino and you are “coming back” you will be greeted by friends and family. That does not seem strange at first glance but you have to see this “Filipino” thing in action just one time! My wife had not been to the PH in 10 years. Whenever someone “comes back” as they say in the PH, there is always a party to meet them. When I say a party I mean uncles, aunts, brothers, anyone who can come will show up! I don’t really know how to explain it, but Filipinos know how to have a good time, everything is a celebration with them! It was a big deal when we got there and they made us feel that way!

When we arrived at the van I met a her uncle Augusto. He is a particularly serious looking fellow with dark sunglasses. He was shorter than me but his stature did not tell the story of his presence. He was about 5’6″ with salty black hair hid mostly by a white ball cap. He kind of looked like you might see a celebrity in a private moment trying not to be discovered while on personal business or out shopping. One would know right away who was in charge of this expedition by his take charge attitude. I later learned that he is a black belt in Karate!

We boarded and off we were! The traffic in Manila was something to behold! There were at least six “lanes” none of which were marked. It was a literal sea of vehicles moving in chaotic harmony through the city! The poverty you see is striking! The shacks people live in unbelievable. This culture shock is something everyone in the West needs to see!

This was my introduction to the Philippines. It may not sound like anywhere you want to go. I understand that. The Philippines is complex and beautiful place. The people are the friendliest in Asia. There are problems with all countries. Yes, there is poverty there, but there is a dignity and grace to the people of the Philippines that you will never discover until you visit! This is just one story of many I have to tell about this wonderful place. When you get there, and I hope you will, this place will weave its way into your heart and make you feel like you never want to leave!

Let’s go!


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6 Responses to “Dreaming Philippines”

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I am hook on your web site….Your site and the rooster4am are two blogs I really enjoy…..Hopefully later this year…..I too will be living in the Philippines…..Reading your post…Make me want to be there even more…

Wow! Thanks for the comment! Have you been there before? I have a few years to go but trying to get things in order. Thanks for the great compliment, maybe we can meet up there somday!

i really love philippines as my mother country! this is because this country is very different in other country just like in celebration of occasions and aside from that this is very adventurous specially when you are here in the philippines!

I guess you live in Makati? Filipino ka ba? I checked out your website. Mabuti naman.

I do consider Philippines my mother country as well. I don’t know how it came to have this effect on my but I am always “Dreaming Philippines”.

Yes, very much so, the celebrations are great! I have only been to one Fiesta so far. I know Filipinos take time to celebrate life!

Thanks for the comment!

You have an excellent writing style I can read it all day long, you should consider writing a book about your journeys and adventures in the Philippines.
Charles Harman

Yeah, I don’t have too many talents. I do like to write. I like the feeling of getting away from reality and immersing myself in a subject. My writing is un-disciplined and scattered sometimes but other times I look and say to myself “Did I just write that?”

Thanks for the feedback and check out my new blog at http://www.thephilippinesproject.com

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