Monday, March 03, 2008

Wow Friendly People

I just returned from the Philippines and I can tell you one thing: its people are the friendliest in Asia.

No, I didn't get paid by the local tourism authority. Yes, the country has a terrible crime rate and lots of guns and probably lots of bad people, but I didn't meet any of those. Yes, there are hawkers trying to sell you guitars or trips in their tuktuk.

But overall, the experience with the people has been positive. Apart from the surprising prevalence of English - which people speak in addition to Tagalog and their local Cebuano or Boholano - they are very polite, smile at tourists, say hello, or just wave at tourists passing by in their buses.

My visit was limited to the central area of Cebu island - practically the capital Cebu City and the adjoining island of Mactan where its airport is located - and to the island of Bohol with appended Panglao Island.

It is Bohol which left the most positive impression: the diminutive Tarsier monkeys sleeping in the trees, the shapely Chocolate Hills and the similarly shaped Peanut Kisses, the statue of the Spaniards and the local leader on the coast, the old church at Baclayon, the white sand beaches of Panglao.

All of that mixed in with the assorted sweets made from peanuts or coconuts, the coconut milk, the tasty bananas and pineapple, the capcap or cassava tacos with fruit, the edible flower petals and the honey drink at the bee farm in Panglao, the touristy river cruise on the Loboc with the varied food, and back in Cebu finally the impressive buffet on the 20th floor of a building on Cebu City's main road.

The however limited piece of the Philippines I succeeded in seeing during this four-day trip was well worth it, and the view from the plane heading back to Taiwan showed me there is a lot more waiting to be discovered.

And if you're wondering who the beautiful people are on my picture, they are students from a tourism school on a visit to Cebu City's main Chinese taoist temple.

If you are a beach and ocean person, or a scenery person, then the Philippines should be on your agenda. Forming part of a tour, my task was made easier because I didn't have to look for public transport, restaurants, or hotels to spend the night in. Everything was arranged beforehand, was relatively low cost but still high class.

Sean Moss for S2S in Cebu and Bohol, the Philippines. Wow!


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