One of the fantastic things about being in the Philippines is that you don’t need to take long-haul flights to reach some of the most desirable holiday destinations. The Philippines is only seven hours from cities such as Sydney or Melbourne in Australia as well as just a few hours from the sights of China, Thailand and Japan. If you’re considering getting away to far-flung beauty spots on last minute holidays, take the time to research popular options such as Turkey and Egypt.
“Hello po,” I say, bowing my head a little in respect, to the dark-haired elderly man sitting on the slope of the hill where our project was situated. “Hello,” he says to me, a little surprised, probably because almost all volunteers are foreigners. “Pinoy ka?” he asks. I nod and smile at him. “Pasensya na sa aming bahay. Kailangan lang talaga namin ng tulong para ayusin,” he tells me. (“I apologize for our home. We just really need help in fixing it.”) I look over at our current work site, scanning over the ruins of what must’ve been a modest house. It was now all in ruins. The beams had gone down, the cement was broken and everywhere. What remained was an antique railing of an outdoor balcony…and a toilet. But he had called it his home. Home. It is where we all lay our heads, after a tiring day of work. It is our sanctuary from all the bad things and people outside. It is where we all come back to after a long, tiring trip. To some, it is a huge mansion, somewhere beautiful, sitting on the rocks of some unknown beach, tucked away from the buzz of the city life. To others, it is a condo, above the malls of beautiful, hustling Manila. And to the rest,
Taking a well-deserved break is something most of us look forward to. Everyday life can be difficult and stressful at the best of times, but obviously, you can get away from it all on holiday and just relax and unwind. But what if your life became one long permanent holiday? Where would you go? What would you do? And would you ever get bored of travelling and want to go back to work?
“What do you mean we shouldn’t go inside the sanctuary?” I snap at the poor, suddenly-rattled guide at the Sohoton National Park. He was going on and on about the infamous jellyfish not being in season and that it was too low tide and there were few boatmen available and how it would be okay not to experience it because we wouldn’t see many jellyfish anyway and the boat would find it hard to pass through the entrances. I was finding it hard to listen. After a 3 hour boat ride from Siargao and you tell me I shouldn’t see any jellyfish? “I will swim that if I have to,” I say to him, a little strongly, probably half joking. He laughs nervously. “No, Ma’am, okay, we’ll get you some boatmen,” he says immediately and leaves to arrange boatmen for us.
It was in 2012 when I first experienced falling in love with a stranger. It was a weird feeling, beautiful and unexpected. It was the kind of feeling that despite the pain, you’d still want to experience it again. and again and again.