My first introduction to the country was in 2006 where I got to stay over at a Christian guest house, ate homely, simple food and had not much else to do but shop when we weren’t working, in one of the many malls there . I bought pearl necklaces, scarves, fake brand bags and watches (just a few as gifts) and that was my first introduction to buying cheap accessories in Southeast Asia. Years later there’s still a t-shirt or two lying around, hippy necklaces that I still have.
We went for a walk along the promenade, had seafood out – our host knew where to take us. What was disturbing to see was very young, beautiful women walking hand in hand down the promenade with older, unkempt, obviously middle class white men – some had children. The myths aren’t myths and the reality of white Caucasian men finding submissive, pleasing wives was everywhere around me. Maybe they’re both happy. Who am I to judge what they’ve each given up for this arrangement?
Exactly ten years later I visited again for work and this time the traffic was the introduction. It took two and a half hours to get to a place about half an hour of a drive away from Aquino airport. I didn’t have time to shop or budge out of the hotel this time. Luckily, Go Hotel Ortigas, where I was staying, was right next to a little restaurant called B&P where I had breakfast, lunch and dinner while I worked. Mornings were of an eggy-bacony type breakfast with cappucinos and the Ruskin Bond book, Landour Days, that I was reading. I recommend the book, by the way! Great sense of place and very simple style of writing, though very much of the British Raj tone, it must be said.
I still saw older white men strolling around with beautiful, young Filipino women on their arm. And frankly, was relieved to leave the city when I did. It’s not my cup of tea, but that’s just me. The country is known for its hospitality and its coastal tourism is picking up slowly but steadily. Many people visit the Visayas, for example, just one of the scenic places to visit in this country of over 7000 islands with a rich and varied heritage that makes it one of the more intriguing places to visit in South East Asia by many a tourist.