This is usually interesting when I am with Saulius. We would always taunt people by saying, “You have 45 guesses. Start now.” Some find it fun but others find it odd not to get it at one hit. Why 45? What makes you think we can’t get it at 15, or 8, or 2? What adds more to the fun is that they never guess Lithuania (Saulius) right, even after 45 tries.
So, when we parted ways, I tried if it will work for me; if I would blow people’s heads off; if the Philippines is as hard to guess as Lithuania. I had a lot of psychological testing in the past and I find it interesting how people from different walks of life respond. Hear ye! Hear ye! This is what people say whenever I blurt the words out:
“I’m from the Philippines.”
1. I don’t know. Your accent is everywhere.
Now here goes the one who’s not interested to use his/her 45 cards. A lot of travellers say that Filipinos have good English accent so they can be mistaken as Americans. I usually get “Hawaii” more than the Philippines because of how I speak. Our education system is from the Americans so majority of the population speaks very good English. In fact, a huge number of call center agents in the USA are from my country.
2. I don’t meet much backpackers from the Philippines.
Fine. We’re not big backpacking fans but wait, who says I’m a backpacker? HAHAHA! Seriously, we’re not really known for this kind of thing but who knows? Maybe somewhere in those islands, a lot of people are also pursuing long-term travel. We are very diverse. The Filipino people are hard workers and big dreamers. This is why I am here: I want to prove to everyone that despite our passport’s limited access, we can be here.
3. Uhm, where is that?
Uhm, awkward. Alright, some people just don’t know and that’s fine, I don’t take it against them. This usually happens when I take buses and sit randomly next to an old lady; or ride motorcycles with drivers pretending they know but they are really thinking of China because that’s how everyone looks at me — Chinese. In fact, they refer to all Asians they meet as Chinese. After a short conversation about my country, they would go blank and admit that they don’t know. I would then have the awful struggle of explaining it in their language (Spanish, Portuguese, etc) but we will both make it through understanding each other in the end.
Still have no idea? Click here to see where the Philippines is.
4. Oh, how are the victims of the tsunami?
Alright, alright, I think you’re mistaking us from Japan or Thailand. One of the problems of Philippine Tourism is that people mistake the country for being attacked by huge tsunamis every year. Ergo, people visit Thailand or other Southeast Asian countries. This is just my opinion derived from the people I meet on the road. Believe me, I always correct them. I lived there all my life and never did I experience a tsunami or heard about it. However, our close friendship with the equator makes us really prone to earthquakes and typhoons — this, I am not denying. Above all this shenanigan, rest assured that you will enjoy visiting my country because of the great biodiversity.
5. I heard you eat dogs out there.
Seriously! Seriously! This is the most hilarious comment that I ever received and I but I am not offended. I was a long-time volunteer for the Philippine Animal Welfare Society (PAWS) and not once did I dare eat the meat of the 100+ dogs housed in the centre. I never even thought of it. In one mission I was in, we captured a truck full of dogs going to the northern part of the country (where it’s very cold) but it’s just one instance. That doesn’t mean that eating dogs is part of the lifestyle. Maybe it was out in the news, I don’t know. It’s just one time and we saved them from being eaten. Don’t believe everything your flat screen tells you.
6. That’s why you speak Spanish.
I keep wondering why everyone thinks this is true. I speak Spanish because I studied (not really), I listened a lot and endlessly spoke the language regardless if I am right or wrong. No matter how long the Spaniards stayed in the Philippines, they did not teach us a thing about language. In fact, coming to South America made me realize that our language, Tagalog, is Spanish in the wrong form or meaning. I think that the Spaniards were very high and drunk everyday when they colonized our country. I am currently gathering 100 Spanish words and it’s meaning in Tagalog and you will find it very hilarious. I am excited to write about it as well because it really deserves to be on a separate post.
7. I don’t want to lose my kidney so I never visited.
Now this, is another not-so-big-deal in the Philippines. People think that they will be in a Taken (the movie) scene where they will be kidnapped, sliced and left on the street naked. No, no, no! You’re really seeing it another way! We won’t steal your kidney or if we did, we will pay you for it. Oh God, did I just say “we?” Like number 5, it must be a one-time thing and I am not denying that I’ve never heard about it once. I know some people who would voluntarily donate their kidney because they will get paid for it. But I never heard something about the Taken scene. So come and visit — losing a kidney is not a major trend in my country.
I don’t take it against you, or the people I met on the road or to more people that I am going to meet while traveling. I was once a victim of the subliminal messages from my flat screen. At present, I am also experiencing the big fuzz about how dangerous Colombia is with all the drug cartels, kidnappings and violence but it’s not true. That’s is so 2000 late. Or maybe 90’s late, I am not sure. But believe me, I am here and like my beloved country, Colombia is maximum awesome.