My last blog entry, Manila is a S*ithole and other Words of Wisdom, was a hit! No two ways about it. The first day it was posted I received the most hits I’ve every received on this blog. Hell, the second day I still received more hits than I had ever received in a day.
Clearly you folks like it when I curse! I’ve thrown two bombs in the title here, which ought to ensure a massive readership 🙂
1. Cebu is Less of a Shithole!: There is a reason that Cebu City is often called “Little Manila.” The same reasons I trashed the capital of the Philippines in my last outing are true of Cebu: Traffic congestion, pollution, poverty, kids on the street, crime. All the goodies are there.
But there are some positives. The airport’s not bad and I now always fly into Cebu. Hell, there’s even a decent hotel right across the street, eliminating the need for getting a taxi and risk being ripped off for a couple hundred pesos late at night. Of course you could get taken by scores of guys wanting to carry your bags. Just lip point across the street and tell them you can manage to drag your bags and kano ass yourself.
There’s decent malls for the wife, a few sites to see (Tops is my fave – it overlooks the city and the view is great), some cool churches, and the Magellan Cross. And if you’re single and not a complete lummox you can find an attractive girl or two; hell, you can do that even if you are a complete lummox 🙂
It short, Cebu’s a decent starting off point but I wouldn’t stay there any longer than necessary.
2. Check out the provinces: There are a certain number of guys who think if the place doesn’t have a major mall, a McDonald’s, and a good supply of hot and cold running bar girls, it’s not a good place to go to. Nonsense!
BTW, there are a hell of a lot of nice cities not named Manila and Cebu. Just in my modest experience I like Cagayan de Oro, Davao, Dumaguete, and Tagbilaran. All those and others have those city amenities you’re jonesing for without some of the qualities I dislike in the two biggest cities.
But further still, you should broaden your horizons and check out other islands and towns; the vast majority of the Philippines, that some expats simply lump together and call “the provinces.”
The beaches, the people, the air, food – frankly just about everything is superior. Even the women are, though you’ll have to do your own comparison shopping!
3. Stop worrying about American foods: I just saw a posting on Facebook from a guy wondering where he could find American groceries in Boracay. No offense to the guy, if he happens to read this, but if you go halfway around the world and are lucky enough to get to a beach like Boracay (or Palawan or Camiguin for that matter) and all you’re worried about is finding your favorite ketchup – there is no hope for you.
OK, ok – you expats who live in the Philippines are different and get a bit of a pass. I get why after a year you might want a non-Skakeys slice of pizza, spaghetti without a sugar laden sauce, or the aforementioned ketchup actually made with tomatoes not bananas; I still don’t get banana ketchup and probably never will. But for the casual or serious visitor, man up and try some adobo, find some lechon (your girl will go gaga), take a gamble with some crap on a stick from a street vendor (ask them to hold the food poisoning 🙂 ), and quaff a San Mig or two. Hey, Oscar Meyer hot dogs and French’s mustard will still be waiting for you when you get back home.
I get why after a year you might want a non-Skakeys slice of pizza, spaghetti without a sugar laden sauce, or the aforementioned ketchup actually made with tomatoes not bananas.
4. Try a trike or jeepney: You haven’t really been to the Philippines unless you occasionally get in a trike or jeepney. I am a short guy but even I have to squeeze into a trike, but hell I’m squeezing next to the wife, so that’s not so bad. I’ve even taken a couple rides in pedal powered trikes at Janet’s home in Alcoy. I felt bad for the driver who had to peddle up a hill carrying my kano keester, no doubt a hell of a lot heavier than the average Filipino.
Jeepney’s are often considered dangerous, and passengers may stare at you like a dog stares at a juicy steak, but my ancient lungs can still yell for the cops, Janet carries pepper spray and is skilled at kicking people. So take a chance and experience the real Philippines.
5. Meet the Family: You’ve met the girl of your dreams, she’s as sweet as you imagined and now she wants to take you to the aforementioned “provinces” to meet her family. Go!
Sure, you’ve read all the horror stories about evil families taking advantage of you, the simple, naïve kano. It ain’t always so. If you’re very lucky they will come to view you as part of their family as well.
6. Mussolini was a terrible dictator but the trains ran on time: I chuckle at guys who post about the terrible governmental corruption in the Philippines. My guess is that most of these guys’ political activism in their home country doesn’t extend beyond the barstool or their fave tshirt which declares “Obamacare Sucks!”
Not to suggest that there isn’t plenty of corruption in the Philippines. I read a recent post (and a good one at that) by an expat who has lived in the Philippines over 40 years. He spoke fondly of the Marcos era when policeman were respectful and criminals were dealt with fairly – IOW executed. Of course Marcos was a dictator, no one got to vote for him, but the jeepneys ran on time.
Today the Philippines is a democracy but like with most new democracies, it’s a work in progress. The one central dictator has been replaced by a thousand petty ones. You might want to consider that while arguing with the cop over that traffic light you didn’t blow threw.
7. Tip of the Day: Your wife/gf will talk about ghosts and witches. She ain’t referring to Casper or a scary movie. She believes. You may come to believe also. When Janet says she is going to witch someone, I no longer laugh – I duck!