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Philippines : A Country as Beautiful as Her People January 21, 2016

Posted by Karan in Uncategorized.

It’s been more than a month since we’ve returned from the Philippines. Without a speck of doubt, it is the most beautiful country I’ve been to (thus far). Stunning white sand beaches, stretches of pristine coastlines, fascinating islands, lagoons, underground rivers and landscapes, the most picturesque corals you’d get to see – all this, without the inevitable onslaught of tourists as yet. If you love any of the above, you should visit the country and do it right now. Take my word for it; you’d not fight a better place to be a beach bummer in Asia.

However, that’s not even the most interesting part of the country. The best part about Philippines is the people – who’re so happy most of the time that it is infectious. As the old Philippino lady (presumably in her late 60s) told us at the Caticlan Jetty in the wee hours of the morning:

We Philippinos are known always happy and smiling, after all what’s there to worry? The biggest source of joy apart from the beautiful country is our sense of large and warm families

Interestingly enough, she was returning back from Boracay with her very-old looking husband, equally old but warm sister and a cousin. For the uninitiated, Boracay is the Goa or Phuket of Philippines – albeit a much cleaner version. In the last ten years, this was the sixth time she had visited Boracay! I was amazed with her positivity – at 3 in the night, Karnika and I were far wearier than her family who were two and a half times our age.

The other part of Philippines which we visited was the enthralling Palawan. Now this place is like a large island state with satellite islands, a vast majority of which are unexplored or isolated (Philippines is a land of 7,000 islands+). The best way to see some of these islands is to take hopping tours, and use those to snorkel around the area. While I had snorkeled a fair bit earlier, Karnika was new to it. Needless to mention, she was scared of the whole thing as we didn’t know swimming.

That is where our awesome Captain, Aldi and his helpers jumped (pun intended) in. They had no need to, but the way they helped Karnika out was fantastic. It helped us get comfortable with the sometimes-choppy waters and work around some good spots to snorkel and swim. They even prepared us some awesome lunch (despite us being vegetarians – Philippines is your typical rice and seafood country) of noodles and salad.

That evening, we decided to visit Aldi and his little world – Midnight Sun Tours & Travels. The boatman lived with his wife, sons, daughter in law, nephews – all in a cramped house with a single bedroom. No stress, they welcomed us in a warm and affectionate manner. Their son was in a prison for no fault of theirs. They had little money for his release and running the family. They had to support a whole bunch of people. Strikingly, they were happy and went out of their way to make our experience in El Nido memorable.

There were many such people who we met along the way in this charming country. Nothing deterred their spirits and nothing broke their hearts. To say that we came back rejuvenated would be a gross understatement.

I cannot wait to visit the country again. I urge you to do so too before more people discover the beauty that is Philippines.