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# Philippines Photo Essay

I’ve got a mixed bag of feeling with this country.

When I had just arrived at Manila Airport, I was overwhelmed. Worse, I spent the night sleeping in the airport. I’m happy though, because it seemed that I discovered an endangered species in Manila Airport: sitting bench! At least I could sleep unremarkably-somewhat-but-not-quite-comfortable in that bench.

Manila, it’s a very big area which actually consists of a lot of cities. With the population of almost 12 million ihabitants, it’s battling neck to neck with Jakarta. Although I would like to be neutral and abstain for choosing any of those cities.

The public transportation here is unique. The call it “Jeepney”. It’s jeep that got converted to be mass passanger transportation. For an outsider, a lot of asking are needed: Jeepney have obscure, cryptic, hard to dechiper route. But, knowing where to catch and the number of the Jeepney are enough to arrive at your destination for cheap.

One of the more famous thing about the Philippines is its duck embryo… thing? They call it “Balut”. I tried that, it’s not half bad. One just need to be unlearn what Balut is, then eat more and more of it to get used of it!

The second biggest city in Philippines, with almost 3 million population: Cebu City is located in the island of Cebu. While the city itself might be too similar to Manila, the island offers some great beaches.

Taking bus around the island, which takes around 5 hours to the southern tip, and another 5 hours to reach Cebu City in the north is one of the best way to see the overview of the island. Most of the road portions are built just in the edge of the island, which translates to great view of the beaches and the sea.

Then, there’s one city that I really like: Dumaguete. It’s a small town, with 125,000 of inhabitants. However, around 30,000 of them are students! No wonder Dumaguete is said to be university town. It actually reminds me of Yogyakarta, the city where I live for a long time in Indonesia.

Guess what does it mean, having a lot of students in a town? Super cheap cost of living!

I found Philippines to be neck to neck with Indonesia in term of cost of living, however, Dumaguete is just blowing my mind. The food and accomodation there are so cheap.

Then, there’s Apo Island: a marine sanctuary, off shore of Dauin which is 30 minutes drive away from Dumaguete. Being a marine sanctuary, it’s free from the trash and coral destruction. I found that the dive there is the best one I’ve ever done. Just one full day of diving there made my Philippines trip pays off.

One more thing to talk about: food.

I found that I really really really really like Sisig!

Also, the Philippines people are really proud with their fast food: Jollibee! Not without reason, really! I ate there several times and I really like it!

Then, there are “Carenderia” everywhere, where one could eat really good food for local price. Again, it’s neck to neck to Indonesian “Warteg”.

Finally, in Dumaguete, I found a really good food called Dumaguete Express. Might sounds cheeky for marketing purpose, but, it’s really really good!

Overall, I really like the nature of Philippines. I would even say that they’ve got some of the best beaches and seas I’ve ever seen.