Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Reflections on the Philippines

Two days of intense work. No particular events to report; tomorrow I'm office to HongKong and although I'm back in Manila overnight this is really my last day day here. I liked the Philippines the moment I visited the first time in 2005, I'm sure in part because of the friendships I had with Filipinos before I arrived. I like their warmth and personableness, their hospitality and their intellectual flexibility.

I'm sure that, as in many countries and cultures, what a stranger sees on the surface of a society isn't necessarily what that society or individual truly feels - but since the mask exists in all places I prefer it is a polite one, rather than the hard and hostile one I've seen in a few places I can mention. The true way to a culture's soul is t learn its language - learning Tagalog and/or Visayan would be a challenge, but it would be a fun one.

I'm sure this is completely erroneous, but I always come back to comparing the Philippines with Mexico - they are almost sister countries, tied by Spanish steel, Spanish trade and Spanish mores. Both are fusions, but of quite different histories. The overt Hispanic presence has been subsumed into a melanged identity, more evident in Mexico because the principal language is still Spanish, but still very much there in the Visayan tongues also.

This is a place I could live in - the infectious warmth of the people and the beauty of the country has got to me - but what I could do I don't know, especially as Manila, the hub of everything in the country, is not an attractive place. Let's see what time brings - for sure there is business potential.

1 comment:

  1. Wandered into your blog after random Google local searches on "travel". I hope that you have not stopped writing. And I believe that here you are onto something not a lot of travelers are able to make sense of: the mask. Actually: not only are most travelers unable to make sense of it; they're also in denial of it, of the belief that what you see if hardly what you ever get.