Carolina: Cruising Past 70: Why "It's More Fun in the Philippines"

Thursday, March 8, 2018

Why "It's More Fun in the Philippines"

A flower on a rainy day at Sonya's Garden, Tagaytay City, Philippines

Seven thousand-one hundred-seven beautiful tropical islands make up the Philippine archipelago. Think of endless pink and white beaches in the 5th longest coastline in the world, just behind giants like Canada, Indonesia, Greenland, and Russia. The islands have topped the world best islands’ list: Palawan #1 for three years in a row and even Boracay #3. Some of the most exotic diving destinations available are all over the Philippine map. And in the north, the biggest island Luzon is famous for dramatic rice terraces amid mountainous regions that bespeak simple rustic temperate life. It is also the home of Mayon, the most perfect volcanic cone on the planet. In the south, on the second biggest island Mindanao, colorful Muslim vintas sail on in a different world of sea-going life. 

the chapel in Greenbelt Park, Makati, Philippines

In 2004, I migrated to the United States from this amazing diversity of nature concentrated in such a small geographical area. I felt sad when I left behind this Pearl of the Orient Seas.  I have gone back to visit seven times. But no matter how often I do, it seems never enough.

the view from my condo

I realized why on my last visit in August 2017. It isn’t about the abundance of natural beauty. As avid travelers, we know many other countries can claim that. Neither is it because it’s so affordable to stay. Other Southeast Asian, Eastern European, Central and South American, and African countries can say the same. And it’s definitely not only because it is my homeland. I believe another reason “It’s More Fun in the Philippines,” which is the country’s pitch for its tourism program, is its people. There is something about my countrymen that’s different. Perhaps it’s because of our Spanish colonial heritage of three hundred years and the American influence during their stay of fifty years.

part of my huge family

Consider this: I stayed for thirty-five days and ended up having a meeting over coffee, a lunch, a dinner, or a party every single day. They were with different groups: family; elementary, high school, or college classmates; colleagues in the nine different organizations I worked for; and friends from the various associations I had joined. They simply reached out to me on Facebook or other means. Or sometimes I reached to those whose names were mentioned in one gathering or another. But there was always warmth in their invitation or response.

inspiring the current batch of scholars in International School Manila where I was in the first batch

Psychologists explain that the core value of the Filipino is Kapwa; loosely translated, the shared inner self. It has two categories, Ibang Tao and Hindi Ibang Tao, “Outsider” and “One of Us.”  I belong to the latter, while a visitor belongs to the former. It is interesting to note that the range of interactions can start so differently with each group: simple civility or pakikitungo for the Ibang Tao (Outsider), and pakikipagpalagayang loob or mutual trust with the Hindi Ibang Tao (One of Us). But the highest level of interaction available for both groups is almost the same! It is called pakikisama,  being united with the group for the Ibang Tao (Outsider); while the one for Hindi Ibang Tao (One of Us) is pakikipagkaisa, or being one. 

college friends from the University of the Philippines

Visit the Philippines and, when you do, engage a local. It will be worth your time because it will, more often than not, develop to the wonderful level of pakikisama. This is what happened when we met some tourists as I was showing my country to Bill for the first time in 2009. See it here.

high school classmates

Salmon Soup from Enderun Colleges,
 an upscale culinary institute in Bonifacio Global City

Just look at the first paragraph of our national anthem:
Bayang magiliw                                                  
Perlas ng Silanganan                                          
Alab ng puso                                                         
Sa dibdib mo'y buhay.                                        

This is the official English version:                   
Land of the morning
Child of the sun returning
With fervor burning
Thee do our souls adore.    

Something was lost in the translation because a more literal one reads like this:
Land of friendly people
Pearl of the Orient Seas
With fervor burning
Thee do our souls adore.

That is the Philippines. It is bayang magiliw, a land of friendly people. When you get to experience Filipino pakikisama, you will understand why “It’s more fun in the Philippines.”

friends from the Philippine computer industry

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