August 11th 2015. Australia was behind and the plane was flighting to Manila, the capital of Philippines. After spending all night in Manila I took the second fight in the morning and I finally arrived in Davao.
I took my baggage and looked for a taxi. The taxi driver was cool, but his English was not. 🙂 He drove me to the hotel and during the travel I was shocked about the traffic, the cars, the buildings, and everything else.. Everything looked very poor, classic town with old buildings and broken streets. The cars were all old, there were motorbikes with a third wheel on the side to support a box with a roof and a couple of sits to transport people, vans made up as mini buses, and bicycles with umbrellas to block the sun. All of that was very, very different from the world in Italy or Australia and I was quite shocked to see that. Philippines is a third world country but I didn’t think about it before to go there and I didn’t really know what to expect from it. However, I was reassured by the fact that everyone was saying that Davao was the safest city in the Philippines.
Once I arrived in the hotel I finally got my room and there I was, ready for a great shower. And there, I got the second surprise that made me think about how spoilt I was: no warm water for the shower, but a single handle for the cold water and a bucket. 🙂 After thinking “how spoilt am I ?!!” and waiting myself to be brave enough I took the bucket full of water and with a big smile on my face I turn it over my head! 😀 That was refreshing and definitely not such a big deal since the weather was very hot and the humidity incredibly high!
I then decided to go out and walk around a little. Everything looked soo crazy and new to me. Taxi driver were crossing with red traffic light, people jumped in the middle of the street to across it and overtake only on the right didn’t seem to be a valid rule there! As soon as I got off the hotel, I start noticing that everyone was looking at me. I didn’t know if that was a good thing or not but I figured it out soon when people started stopping me and try to be as friendly as possible. A couple of girls asked me where I was from and offered me to join them on Sunday, the Kadayawan Festival was about to start and people were all excited about it. The festival is an annual festival in the city of Davao that is similar to a famous carnival festival full of colours. Lunch time arrived and I asked advice for where to go to eat. They brought me in a very Filipino place where I got fried chicken, meatballs, rice, and stock, and I learnt how to say water in Visayan (tubig), the language spoken in the south of Philippines.
Now, you might wonder why I did go to Philippines before come back to Europe. The answers are many. During my life I met a few Filipino and they were always very fun and nice people. This was one of the reasons. Secondly I wanted to relax for 1 week since in Australia I had two jobs and little social life. During the past year I had also worked remotely in IT for a company based in Davao. Another reason was that I had the possibility to meet people I had worked for. Finally, while I was learning English 2 years before, I start talking with many people living around the world through a language exchange website. One of my friend was living in Davao and for me was great to see her after long time talking.
Really, people were so amazing, kind, nice, fun ! 🙂 My expectation was totally fulfilled. Knowing people there gave me the possibility to live very close to Filipino’s culture for one week. I was often taking a jeep to go back to my hotel (the jeep was the van/bus and it was the most common way people were moving in the city), I eat a Balut (typical food in the Philippines: an egg with a chick inside boiled after 16, 17, or 18 days), I visited parks and I enjoyed an amazing tropical beach on an island.
I want to end this article by saying that Philippines in only one week opened my mind like nothing before. Seeing so many people living in such bad conditions and still laugh and have fun made me realize even more that happiness in not about things we have but it is about what there is in our mind. It made me realize that most of the problems people in developed countries complain about everyday, in reality are not real problems. Philippines was one of the best experiences of my life.