[This is Steve’s post about his experiences in the Philippines]
My third trip to the Philippines during the past 12 years has inspired me to think about all the good times I’ve enjoyed during my visits, while also reflecting on what I’ve learned about the good people there. I’ve also found that I get somewhat depressed about the hardships that folks have to deal with in their day-to-day lives on the many beautiful islands (7,107 to be exact).
I want to stress that this post is a very general comparison of life in the Philippines, in contrast to living in the good old USA. Like any place in the world, there are many exceptions to the following characterizations, but I thought it might be worthwhile to offer my insights into what I observed while there.
My recent trip reminded me how upbeat, tough, resilient and flexible the Filipino people are. These folks generally work hard for extremely low wages, and there are no pensions, retirement plans or medical benefits in sight. There’s no “attitude” here as there is with many young people in the USA, and these are non-violent people. Their biggest joys are spending time with family and chatting comfortably with complete strangers. They are friendly, helpful and respectful with anyone they meet. Life is much more leisurely, and it’s almost as if time is not a factor when trying to get their jobs done (ie. a very low-stress lifestyle).
Wanna talk about tough? Many people in the U.S. choose between living in areas that experience either brutal weather or earthquakes. In the Philippines you get both! We arrived in the midst of a “signal-1” typhoon, which caused some damage but never made the news. Several typhoons cross the islands each year, but only the “super typhoons” make the news. Fortunately, the recent huge typhoon Hagupit headed north of our stops and spared us and ML’s family.
No matter how terrible things get with regard to weather or their job situation, Filipinos rarely fail to show up at church on Sunday to thank God for what they have. Amazing!
Although I love the beautiful islands and warm Filipino people, I have to admit that I’m probably just too spoiled to live there full time. I would never drive there; although the drivers appear to be insane as they negotiate the roads with no attention to any kind of traffic laws, they somehow make it work and defy my certainty that accidents must occur every few seconds. On my first trip in 2002 I was terrified as we weaved through traffic at high speeds. This time I just sat back and enjoyed the ride.
Despite the fact that I don’t speak the language or even fit in very well, I always look forward to my next adventure in the Philippines. So many beautiful islands to explore and friendly people to hang out with. You simply must make a trip there one of the items on your “travel bucket list” – you won’t be disappointed!