6 Reasons Why I Like the Philippines

I like to travel -- really, I do. I like seeing new places, domestic and otherwise but it never fails to happen that every time I go out and travel outside of the Philippines and even if I had a super enjoyable trip elsewhere, the moment I get back to Manila, I am super glad to be home.

The last trip to the US was no exception. It was a blast going out with Manuel and the kids, spending time with my brother and his family and just plain sightseeing or staying at home. Still, I am glad that I "vacation" elsewhere and reside permanently here in the Philippines. Why?

1. My skin doesn't get dry or wounded. It wasn't really cold in Los Angeles or San Francisco while we were there (I mean for the people who actually live there) but the skin on my hands got really blotchy and wounded. Not a pretty sight. Not all the lotion in my brother's bathrooms could prevent my hands from looking really eerie. It wasn't just me. Manuel and Ali got it too. Only Kuya Adi was spared. So Ali always says: "Kuya is for America. Daddy, Mommy, and Ali are for the Philippines." Mercifully, about three weeks in Manila and my hands were back to normal. Hay salamat.

2. I don't need to wear jackets. I'm not meant for cold weather. I just go to an airconditioned church or to a super-cold office here in the Philippines and I'm already armed with a shawl or a blazer. In the middle of the sweltering summer heat, everyone would be turning on the aircon in their rooms here at home and I'd be happy in my room with an electric fan. I like Manila weather. It's so liberating to be able to go around in sleeveless shirts, shorts, and any light outfit you can think of. In the US, of course, I can't do that. All throughout my stay there, I was constantly bringing two or three sweaters and jackets just so I could survive going around. The worst time was that evening we spent in Disneyland, when it was raining, and I had three sweaters/jackets on me, all zipped up, and it was still cold. It doesn't help either when you see other people just wearing their strappy blouses and shirts and looking as if they aren't the least bothered by the cold.

3. I can eat healthier and I can control my weight better. When you're on vacation, you tend to get lazy. You don't exercise and you eat a lot, thinking, "What the heck -- I'm on vacation." Theme park food generally confines you to burgers and pizzas and it just feels so much nicer to eat ice cream, junk food, and everything else in cold weather.

4. Everything in the Philippines is relatively affordable and cheap. For the same amount of money that you will spend, your money will go a much longer way in the Philippines. Here, a P100 shirt still looks decent while you might waste all your time searching for a shirt worth USD 3 and which you'd still like to buy. A meal over there in a fastfood-like place can probably feed you several times in Jollibee. And it's not just me. At first I thought I found things expensive over there because we would earn in pesos and spend in dollars. Until my brother pointed out that a bottle of water at USD 3.50 is so expensive compared to a soda at only USD 2.99. E dollar earner naman siya.

5. Masarap magsalita ng Filipino. Speaking in English continuously can be quite a drain. There's just something about Filipino that makes it so relaxing to speak -- parang hindi ka na mag-iisip -- but that's just me. Tell my son that and he probably won't even get it.

It also feels good when you speak to Filipinos who are comfortable with the language in Filipino also. At times, when I am forced to speak English for a relatively long time, I kid my husband by saying: "Dumudugo na yung ilong ko." or "Sumasakit na ang ngipin ko." Don't get me wrong. I think being able to speak in English and Filipino is a good thing -- but speaking in Filipino just seems to come more naturally to me.

6. There's no place like home. Home will always be the Philippines. A lot of Filipinos work or live outside of the Philippines but I am sure most of them would still like to vacation here or spend their retirement years here. There may be some who may not have that in mind but you can never really say that they have totally disconnected themselves from all that there is here. They regularly check the Philippine newspapers online. When friends or relatives come to visit, they think of all the Filipino food that they miss. Much as there is much to dislike in this country that we all call home, there is a certain appeal, charm, angst -- call it what you like -- that never allows you to really just pull away and forget it.

So, we are glad to be home in the Philippines and whatever place it is that you may call home now or for now, you can always visit our home, viloria.com, and find a little bit of the Philippines within your reach, right here.

[By Angelica Viloria | Thursday, July 12, 2007]

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