A country with a lot of tourism potential: untouched sandy beaches along thousands of sunny and warm islands, smiling locals and good food? The Philippines have all this, but still it feels as the tourism industry is still a bit underdeveloped, a bit like Thailand looked like 20 years ago. All over the islands you can see huge hotels being built right beside sheds, which are still standing, and the beaches are being bought by conglomerates that deny locals the access to their business at sea.
We spent time only in Cebu, at Mactan Island in Lapu-Lapu village in a hotel, which was clearly cut off from the local population. The laziness by the pool and sea was relaxing, but when we worried the security staff by going to the slums outside the hotel walls, we were met by smiling people who put all their spare money on cockfights – the express pass to riches. We did not even consider going to the mega city Manila. For tourists there are numerous possibilities along the coast to snorkeling and deep sea diving from boats that resemble spiders. The drawback for both tourists and locals is the constant worry over ruined travel schedules, since typhoons, volcano eruptions, volcanic ash and other disasters might close airports for days. We were worried that the tropical storm Usman would isolate us, but fortunately we were not affected by any severe disruptions.
We have all heard about Philippine work force that is used with minimum wages and bad work conditions all over the world. When you see the friendly, smiling locals in their home land, you feel bad that the conditions force these people to emigration and slavery. Their language sounds like a playful mix of local dialects, Spanish and English. This playfulness is apparent also in Pinoy TV shows and in their radio programs, where talk is completed with sounds that only can be described as verbal emojis.
Nevertheless, we can thank the Pinoy emigrants for the opportunity to try the Philippine cuisine in our home lands. If you haven’t visited a Philippine restaurant yet, I can only recommend to try! Taste Pork Adobo (a kind of pulled pork stew with boiled egg) or Pork Sisig (spicy minced meat with egg and rice) or why not the tuna equivalence to Sisig. One morning I had Tocino Sisig for breakfast and it turned out to be red pork slices with rice. By the coastline fish and seafood is obviously available: we tasted stuffed crab and grilled pucit (octopus). Back home I have tasted binatos (corn), daing (white fish with mung beans and salsa), kare kare (beef with beans and eggplant), talbos (baked vegetables) and okoy pancakes. The surprisingly good pork neck in blood and ginger sauce is known by the name pork dinuguan.