Many of you posted nice comments on our Facebook posts and our blogs. We don’t argue it; we are very ‘lucky bastards’ to be able to travel to the Philippines just for holidays and fun. We really consider ourselves privileged to be able to enjoy all the beautiful places here. We like the Filipino atmosphere a lot, it’s relaxed and easy going, and for Steven as a diver also the underwater world is amazing, with lot’s of exceptional aquatic life.
But travelling around Cebu Island, we also see some other sides of this paradise. After our boat transfer from Malapascua to Maya pier, one of the waitresses from the hotel joined us for part of our car trip, because she had to take care of some paperwork on the main island. We started talking and discovered that she is a mother of 4 children and a 5th is on its way. She is working full-time in the restaurant, her husband is working full time as a tourist guide. They work six days a week ten hours a day on average. Whilst one is working, the other is taking care of the children. They see each other a couple of hours at night. They are happy because the resorts are paying them the minimum wage: three hundred pesos, which is six euro a day. Three hundred pesos is what we paid for the grilled squid we ate the night before, and which we thought was a real bargain.
While driving across the island we see a lot of wooden houses, with wood or corrugated iron as a roof, no running water, many of them have been repaired multiple times after one of the many devastating typhoons. Very young children are playing in dirt piles next to their homes. People burn dead leaves as well as their thrash at the side of the road. When we hire a tricycle with driver to go for dinner in Panagsama beach from our resort we walk through the town to find a place to eat, the roads are muddy because it has been raining, young children are selling souvenirs to tourist at nine pm and there are dozens of one square metre shops that sell almost everything: cigarettes, beer, cookies, chips… etc. At each counter there are moms in a couch with their children sleeping or helping in the store. It’s a very different world than the one we live in.
Recycling, less plastic, clean air, clean water, a healthy environment it’s not of any concern to the people that live here. Being here, I do understand that! Whilst walking here and seeing with my own eyes how poor these people are. These people have other concerns, steady work and an income to feed themselves and their kids is the number one priority. More and better basic infrastructure, better roads…
At this moment I’m even more convinced the better half of the world has a big responsibility in all of this and also needs to bring solutions to globally change this situation. I’m also convinced that we shouldn’t wait for our governments to act, and do something. That’s why we started refusing plastic bags, straws, refill our water bottles, and don’t go to Oslob (we have been thinking about it though) where they feed the whale sharks to attract tourists. We want to teach the people that they shouldn’t drop their values and should destroy their country and marine life for tourists, because in the longer run it will pay of, and I’m sure that over time more and more people will support this idea’s.
All of this makes us realize even more how lucky we all are. Being born in Europe means that from birth we have been given much better “cards” in life, so in that sense you are right we are lucky bastards, VERY lucky bastards.