The Philippines is one of the most interesting countries I have come across during my travels. It would take months to explore each of its many islands. Even longer to learn about all the different aspects of the Filipino culture. The Philippines is situated in the western Pacific Ocean in Asia. A lot of the country is mountainous terrain making it the idea location for adventurous hikers. Before travelling to the Philippines, I knew very little about the country, except for its regular troubles. I was used to hearing about the frequent earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, storms and typhoons which plague this country.
Out of all the islands, there are eleven of them which are inhabited by the majority of Filipinos. The capital of The Philippines is Manila, one of the most chaotic and busiest cities I have ever experienced. I was in Manila for a very short time as I was just changing airports. Most of my knowledge of Manila was given to me by my Filipino friends, which I am so grateful for! The quick glimpse of the city only makes me want to return to it and experience all it has to offer. The Philippines has history of having an uneven distribution of wealth between rich and poor. So, it’s understandable why Filipinos are one of the world’s largest diasporas. There are about 10 million Filipinos living overseas all seeking a more worthwhile opportunities and prosperous futures.
The city sights range from high-rise skyscrapers to dirty, poor shanty towns. One of the main problems in Manila is the poverty and homelessness which faces thousands of Filipinos. Although I didn’t experience them first hand, the vast slums still exist today. These slums results in disease, malnutrition, drug-violence, lack of education and opportunities. In recent times, there has been billions invested into the economy to allow the country to have a bright future ahead. However, it will take many years to solve this country’s problems.
The traffic congestion is a huge problem in Manila. My time in Manila was brief as I was just taking a bus from one airport terminal to another. Back in Ireland it would be a 10 minute drive at most, but in Manila, our trip took over an hour. It was like being in a continuous never-ending rush hour. Our bus was stuck on roads with no lane lines between cars, buses, motorbikes and jeepneys. Jeepney’s are stretched Jeeps that can hold about 12 passengers – usually the main taxi service used by tourists. I noticed a policeman directing traffic at one point.
I thought this was madness as three lanes of cars were all trying to fit down one main street. It wasn’t until then that I realised there was no traffic lights anywhere. It was bizarre to me how dangerous, noisy and polluted the roads were. You’d have to be mad to drive here without car insurance! The country is in the process of developing the city’s transport but the traffic problem won’t be fixed anytime soon.
Despite these unfortunate circumstances, Filipinos are one of the most positive and happy-go-lucky people I have ever come across. During my trip, I was met with friendly and curious faces. Before arriving to the Philippines, I received great tips and advice from my Filipino colleagues. Which I am very grateful for! Their optimistic attitude is something I really admire.
Read about how I got on in Boracay, one of the islands in The Philippines!