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“You must be rich………………”, Manila, April 14th, 2012

“You must be rich………………”, Manila, April 14th, 2012

For the 4th time since last October I am coming back to the Philippines. I already know why, I like this country, but this time I will get a compressed version of what it is all about and let me tell you something already at this point. Throughout my world trip I fell in love twice. Once with a cat (David’s Mushi (yes I know it’s a strange name, ask David)) and the second time with a country, the Philippines.

It starts with David coming over for a weekend and our diving trip to Bohol. In Alona Beach we relax, get massages, enjoy fantastic fresh fish dinners and party a bit. But most of all we dive. What can I say, a school of Jack fish and Baracuda around for the entire dive. This country offers some of the worlds best dive sights, cheap and with friendly staff, relaxed but professional.

After David has left for Singapore I go on to Palawan, a jungle island in the western Visayas – the name for this entire region of islands. It’s a calm, relaxed and friendly island as I notice right upon arrival. My backpack does not show up, my pulse however does. “Is it black?” the guy asks me. “No!!!!, its green and black.” I return rather harsh. “Come with me please.” he says, friendly and calm. Then I see my bag, I calm down and even take a photo with the staff. “It came with an earlier plane already, so we kept it here to be safe.”

Palawan would be even more quiet and laid back  if it did not happen to have one of the  new seven wonders of the world as well as some of the best ship wreck diving spots (from the second world war). However, I am not the first one to noticed that and so all permits for the world wonder are sold out for the next 6 weeks. As it is the Philippines I am not nervous but I do get up at 7 the next morning to wait in line at the tourist office. Bribe is an issue but under control, organization is an issue but with lots of potential for improvement. I know that, I count on it, I am right. People had reserved permits beyond demand. Now they bring them back, I get one, I rent my motorbike, I cruise along jungle streets under the sun, I reach the Ocean, I join a friendly family on the boat to the great underground river of Puerto Princessa. I experience a breath taking 5km river underneath a mountain having formed everything out of stone you can imagine, great.

Then I am back on my motorbike. Normally when people cross the 30 they stop or reduce their motorbike action. I do not even have a licence but I am just getting started. Nothing beats the feeling of cruising around with time on your side, stopping where you want, taking the dirt roads whenever you feel like. I perceive it as the ultimate feeling of freedom. A perfect example of what you run into is this, the betting on a cock fight, a big tradition here.

What follows the betting? Yes, the actual cockfight. Are you ready? It’s tough to watch as pretty much every time both cocks lose their live. The winner is just the one who’s injuries let him live for some minutes longer.

Lets summarize what I have done in the Philippines so far. The biggest rice terraces in the north back in October together with the chocolate mountain and the unique tarsier apes. I have played poker in Manila and relaxed on white sand beaches. Now I have dived fish filled walls, driven jungle roads on a motorbike and visited a wonder of nature, the underground river. You think that’s all this country has to offer? Watch this…………………

Whale sharks, the biggest fish in the world, can be seen at varies places here. I chose the one most expensive (still cheap on western terms) but also most strict on environmental rules in the south of Cebu island. 30 minutes you can swim with these peaceful creatures. Let me try to describe the experience. If I had to fly from Germany to Manila, on to Cebu, then a 4 hour bus ride and the swimming with the sharks would only be for 4 minutes before I have to go back the same way. It would have been worth it.

Having covered the nature aspects I want to come back to my main reason for loving the Philippines, its people. Look at the following photos and agree with me. Its poker (I played again for a few days before leaving for good), its about money, its tough but don’t they still look friendly, kind, warm? The next 2 pics are on common issues. The number of women vs men going through security, using airplanes is so representative but unfortunately still for most parts of the world. Then weapons and crime – the fire arm deposit booth – at the airport. What to say?

Wherever I went people approached me with open arms, friendly and credibly interested in where I am from and what I do. Mostly it was me who was invited for food, a ride or whatever. Pilipino are hard working people, well educated within their possibilities, interested in the world and modern technology and always kind, never jealous. It all shows in the last 2 pics and video. Young women working in a mall where they could not afford a single item, sleeping during their break or going on facebook and my dear staff people at Starbucks, never wondering or being jealous at me being able to eat here day after day. Instead they learned my name, greeted me warm and knew my order as I walked in.

On one of my many one, two or max three dollar taxi rides I talked to the driver. Upon mentioning that I am travelling the world since 1,5 years he goes “You must be rich…..” but he says it with a granting voice, being happy for me, almost meaning it beyond the money aspect. Rich in experience, rich in education I received, rich in health I can obtain, rich in freedom of choice and possibilities I have. I am rich and now I am on my way to see another country where that might not be the case. I am on my way to Iran……………..

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  • unfassbar, da lernst du gerade erst tauchen und hast schon walhaie. hut ab. philippinen hören sich echt gut an. mal sehen, wann ich sie besuche…. da hast du echt ne reise der superlative hinter dir. skypen bald. lg t

    • frank4444 says:

      Phillipinen sind tatsächlich eine Superlative und meine dringenste Reiseempfehlung. Ein Freund folgt ihr gerade und fährt nächste Woche für 3 Wochen hin. Walhaie kann man übrigens fast immer auf den Phillipinen sehen und man muss dazu nicht tauchen. Die sind ganz knapp unter der Wasseroberfläche. Tschau FRANK

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