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Travelling Solo in the Philippines

Sharing you an essay I wrote about travelling solo when I went to CebuSitting in a waiting shed roofed with dried nipa leaves along the asphalted road, I saw an old man about to cross to the other side. Wearing a buntal hat, worn out camisa de chino shirt and faded jeans rolled up to his knees, he slowly pulls the carabao through the rattan rope tightly tied to his left hand. Scattered in the middle of the road are maya birds hopping back and forth on fallen coconut fronds, upon seeing a jeepney approaching, quickly flew up to the nearest trees. The whiff of air from their flapping wings caused the dusts to go up creating a blurry sight for a moment.

A six foot tall guy tapped me on my shoulder. I stood up and shook hands with him. Riding in a motorcycle called as habal-habal, we wiggled our way up to his place and arrived at dusk near the top of the hill. Crickets dueling and a gecko yelling! I saw a portion of the city, virgin black. The stars and street lights remind me of flickering candles on the verge of dying! Holding an arm-length world map, eyes hovering in the Philippines, he said “I’ve seen the hanging coffins in Sagada, swam with the giant whale sharks here in Cebu and fell in love with the lagoons in Palawan. “When I am in the streets they call me Joe“. Then he shrugged his shoulder in a poker face. “There is so much to visit here in your 7, 107 islands. But I still don’t get why most of the Filipinos wanted to go abroad for a better life they say!” He asked. “Bakit?”

I arrived at dawn in the ferry station to catch my trip to the next island. Dipping my feet to the ripples of the water hitting the seashore, I remembered this American guy last night talking in straight Tagalog and living here for eight years… almost a local. It is like he is asking why we never learned to speak Spanish when we are a colony of it for 377 years but English – his mother tongue we speak it always. The sun is still hiding in a fluff of clouds and I see a ship passing in the horizon. “I got to see my country too, soon!” I whispered.

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