The Philippines – a somewhat large group of islands that have been colonized time and time again leading to the diverse melting pot of culture that it is now. American soul food? Coming right up. Japanese nightclubs? All night long. A Spanish fiesta? There’s one everyday. A boiled duck embryo? There’s a stand selling them right around the corner but I’ll pass.
I moved to the Philippines with my family when I was in my early teens and I left for Paris a few months after turning 18 which was roughly six years of living the beach girl life. This year was the first time that I’ve gone back since leaving two years ago and it was both wonderfully nostalgic and surprisingly disappointing.
I left with a friend from Paris and we spent three weeks in Cebu, the island where I used to live. The highlight was seeing my dogs again and spending quality time with them and while it was great seeing family and old friends, I saw how both so much and so little had changed. Traffic was a disaster and in most places would last at least 2 hours for a journey that should only take 30 minutes. The infrastructure needs to be rebuilt and quick. My favourite beach has changed hands and although it sort of looks the same, it’s just not. Prices for almost everything went up by at least 8% which is quite a big deal for only two years. There are a bunch of new malls, and restaurants, bars and entertainment complexes are sprouting up like mushrooms and sadly the line that divides the social classes is even more evident than I’ve ever seen it.
Unless you’re in Cebu for longer than a few days, don’t bother trying your luck with the cheap beaches that aren’t always the cleanest and splurge on a whole day or two in an expensive one. Also, the Director’s Club cinema at SM Seaside City is an amazing experience that will make going back to regular cinemas quite difficult. If you have time to go do outdoor activities, go south for watersports and the waterfalls and north for the whitesand beaches and jungles.
I already miss the smell the fresh morning dew.