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Why you will surely love the Philippines

The Reporter's editor remembers once again why he likes this chaotic place so much.

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As I look through my notes from a journey to the Philippines a few years back, I get this distinct “oh, yes!” feeling again.

I had forgotten why I like this country so much, what was left was just a general knowledge that it is a good place to be.

But the notes got me back on track.

In there I found the reasons written down why the Philippines is a fantastic place, pieces of wisdom that can only be nailed down as you are at a specific place, hear the sounds, see the sights, talk to the people. Afterwards, when you’re back home again, you’ve lost them.

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The Philippines is the Traveling Reporter’s April featured destination. Click dots to read stories.

For example, I wrote: “These islands have lots to offer, though not always in the manner you would think. What you thought was good can be a disappointment. And where you happen to end up, not having any expectations about it, can become a real hit.”  [pullquote]If you ask for directions, you’ll get an answer – even if the person has no idea of where the place is[/pullquote]

I also concluded: “Compared to Thailand, tourism here is rather underdeveloped. That is a positive fact nine times out of ten. But sometimes you lack working arrangements for convenience reasons. An example: The other day I was checking out the possibility of going on a whale safari. Besides the fact that the weather was too bad, I would have had to charter a whole boat by myself, which would have been very costly. The reason: There were no other tourists in town. That would never have happened in Thailand.”

Part of the reason why you’ll most likely like the Philippines too is the people. As I made my way across the country’s islands, I wrote: “I like the Philippine people. They’re always helpful and want to do good. As one of my Philippine friends that I met on a volcano said: ‘A Philippine always wants to have fun, always want to help. If you ask for directions, you’ll get an answer – even if the person has no idea of where the place is.'”

Me at Dumaguete, Philippines. Photo:

Me at Dumaguete, Philippines. Photo:

I happened to pass by Manila, the capital, four times in a few weeks when I traveled the Philippines. This city can really scare the hell out of you. It’s dirty, traffic is always jammed up, buildings lack maintenance, signs outside restaurants and casinos ask you to surrender your firearm before you enter.

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But even there, in the chaos and among shady neighborhoods, I managed to build up a tolerance for it all, a tolerance that, as the date of my return flight came near, turned into a light love story, too. I simply like it when it’s not too polished, too arranged, too full of smug people. Even in chaos, you can find peace. One day, to get out of it all, I went to a spa in central Manila. Waterfalls murmured in the backyard, and I was given tea as I relaxed at to pool and saw the sky above darken. [pullquote]I didn’t get far, though, before my front wheel was flat[/pullquote]

Another day I went to one of the largest malls I’ve ever seen, full of copied western brands. I also took a three days trip to Taipei, Taiwan, easy accessible from Manila by air.

A family on an MC ride.

A family on an MC ride.

In my notes I’m also able to retrace the afternoon when I found my own special Philippine paradise at the small island of Siquijor, Central Visayas, the Philippines. I hade come by boat from the city of Dumaguete, eastern Negros, to spend the day on Siquijor. Renting a moped, I started to navigate the island’s small gravel road to see what was behind the next curve.

I didn’t get far, though, before my front tyre was flat. Finding myself in a little village, with too long to walk back to the rental guy, I looked around – and my eyes fell on a small shop at the side of the road. They were selling Cokes, postcards, snacks, and – fixing flat tyres. Before long, an old man had the wheel dismounted and started to look for the hole using a bucket of water, then, finding it, fixing the problem by putting pressure on the tyre while applying heat from burning gasoline, so the rubber would melt. All the while his little son was studying us, fascinated.

A repair man fixes my flat tyre at Siquijor, Philippines. Photo:

A repair man fixes my flat tyre at Siquijor, Philippines. Photo:

Fixing a flat tyre in the Philippines. Photo:

Fixing a flat tyre in the Philippines. Photo:

Siquijor has a few hotels and hostels, so it’s perfectly possible to spend at least a few nights there on your route through the Philippines. My schedule, though, was tight. But having a working vehicle again, I sped off again. Soon – the island isn’t very big, you’ll easily drive around it in a day – I ended up on an empty beach. There, I ate my food, drank some water, and threw myself in the crystal clear water. There were no people around, though far away I could hear the faint sound of a fisherman working on his boat. A pig was grubbing nearby in a ditch. As the sun warmed the air even more, and I sat down on the beach to just enjoy the view, mind empty, an odd feeling of peace settled in. This was my own paradise, my spot in the world, right at this moment, where I was totally relaxed.

These serene hours on a beach at Siquijor is yet another reason why I like this chaotic, strange, dramatic and wonderful country.


The editor of the Traveling Reporter works as a business news editor, and is a frequent traveler. When not doing any of that, he spends time on his boat and tries to figure out where to travel next. Two of his top destinations are the Philippines and San Francisco. Email Erik! Follow the Traveling Reporter at Stumbleupon, Tumblr, Chime In, Pinterest, Google+, Weibo, Storify, Facebook, Traveldudes, Myspace.