Boracay?!?! “Something for me Sir??”
I have never been to the Philippines before…and I will perhaps never go back…except for the diving! I have travelled all over SE Asia and this place is the very pits. Let me explain what I went through.
I arrived into NAIA airport at 8PM from Australia and cleared customs etc. and got a taxi to the Heritage Inn Hotel, about 15 minutes drive from the airport that I had pre-booked as I had to overnight there so that I could get my Cebu Pacific flight the next morning to Caticlan. I only got an hour's sleep that night as people kept tooting their horns when they drove past the hotel, on purpose I was told to stuff up the people there. My taxi driver to the airport was OK. I paid him some 180PHP I think. The next morning I took the hotel taxi. After I asked for a normal metered taxi, and when we got to the airport I was asked to pay 800PHP. I complained to the driver and he said it was a hotel taxi. I just threw the 800 in 100's into his face. Scamming pricks over here too. Before that we had talked about how many kids he had, he told me 9 kids!!!! "Oh we are so happy here. We are catholic, and we are happy having so many kids".
I interjected, "Well how many of your kids still live in the Philippines?" He said 4 are overseas, with 2 daughters married to Maputi (yes I learnt a few words). We have 90 million people here, too many as people most of us poor" and I
said to him after I paid him, well aren't you happy and perhaps ashamed of yourself to make children that have no hope of surviving at home and raising children so that they need to leave the country. He didn't like that at all. Over
here we have 4500 Filipino girls per annum come over who marry Maputi just in Australia!!!
When I got to the airport I went to the Cebu check in and to cut a long story short Rama from Cebu who I bought my tickets from in the Philippines but still in Oz cancelled my booking for no reason. I wrote / emailed to the a-hole when I got back but no answer or apology from the turdhead so I had to book my flight again and pay some 7,000+ PHP again, return from Caticlan at the service counter. My credit card was never charged for the first booking! (This included excess baggage charges that was fine by me). I wasn't the only Aussie this happened to and all of us from the previous night's flight suffered cancelled bookings not just to Caticlan but all over the Philippines. No sweat, the plane was only a third filled anyway.
When I got to Caticlan the scams continued. I was staying at the Fairways and Bluewater Golf Country Club resort upon invitation from some high class Thai friends of mine who have time share all over the world. So I was taken to the "Welcome Centre" for the resort where I was asked to pay 1,100PHP for my return ticket that covered the ferry ride to Boracay. The porter carried my suitcase to the boat moored off the beach and I got on it and I was the only one aboard apart from the crew. The porter then said, "Something for me, sir?" and that became the catch cry for Boracay! I gave him I think 40-50PHP…then we had a rough wet trip across the channel (That I performed a drift dive a few days later for 3 miles along it) and then again got off and had my suitcase carried for me and something for me sir?
I got onto a small taxi van with bench seats along the back like in Phuket that took me for a very rough ride to the other side of the island where the resort was. The filth, pollution, stench and crap and dilapidated infrastructure I saw on this trip
was worse than I have ever seen in any Asian country. Boracay is supposed to be a trendy place for the wealthy but it was a pig sty that needed a good aerial bombardment by 20 B52s and then start all over again.
Once we got into the resort it was pristine. Once I settled into the 5 star air-conditioned room I met my hosts and we went into town to buy groceries as it was a self-contained apartment. I have been to Asian markets before but this one was third world like Africa, perhaps worse than Africa. We bought fish and vegetables to cook dinner and other breakfast foods, milk, bread etc. We were told this is the market for produce etc in Boracay. Dogs, cats hanging around the food, broken concrete with food liquids pouring all over the place, flies and other insects crawling around, bruised and rotten fruit and vegetables sold off to the people. "Oh how I wish I was in Thailand right now" belted through my mind.
One night I had a desire for Thai food and went to a Thai place in D Mart Mall and I took one look at the menu and another look at the dirty scumbag pinoy guy who was the cook and it didn't add up and walked out.
The next day I fronted up to the dive centre and met my Dive Master, Rainer from Cebu. Now he was a TOP BLOKE. He is in the photo…the dive shop is owned by Brits and they employ only top people. The diving was reasonably good but Rainer made it very good. We went night diving off the beach, did a wreck dive to 30 metres on to a Japanese fishing trawler, did navigation dives, drift dives in fast flowing currents in the channel between Boracay and Aklan, saw incredible sea life and I earned my Advanced Open Water Masters certificate in the process.
In the evening my other two friends and I (a married couple) went to look for a bite to eat in "Town" we ended up sitting down and walking back out of 3 restaurants before we came across one that didn't misrepresent what they offered. We felt the attitude of the waitresses, chefs etc was poor, didn't give a shit about us and amazingly didn't show gratitude for tourists coming over and bringing money over. Someone explained this to me a day later why. This is the Philippines, the Mexico of Asia!
Even though the people are poorer than say Thais or Cambodians who are very poor, the culture of the country is different. The owner of the dive centre explained to me after I quizzed him on what we had experienced.
He said you have to look at the negative influence that the combination of the catholic Church, the Spanish inquisition and the influence of American culture has had on the country and its people's mindset and upbringing which has been a negative for all 3 elements. The catholic church has taken away the happiness and sense of humour of the people, especially the girls, caused overpopulation, misery and suffering in the majority of its people. The Spanish influence has destroyed the self-esteem of the people and the US influence has made them turn to poor eating habits and other decadent materialistic behaviour and ways of living.
The Philippines is getting worse and worse with too many people, not enough investment, it is too far gone and will one day implode and where 10% of the population is working abroad will only increase further with a mass exodus of women especially. It is also the world's biggest importers of rice as it cannot grow enough to feed its own people.
Every woman / girl I came into contact with, who came from other islands and territories to work on Boracay left poverty back home and send 80% of their mediocre earnings back home to in one case support a sister in university, or support a father back home who is a poor fruit vendor or taxi driver etc. The stories were endless. I met girls from 21 to 26 and ALL of them want to get out of the country. They want nothing to do with local men and want Maputi. They all know girls who have already left either to Oz, USA, UK, Sweden etc…all of them asked the same thing, waitresses, check out chicks, bartenders etc, "Are u mallied Sir?" "You have wife Sir" " You have family Sir?" 'You have girlfriend here already?" When I started to engage them in conversation the same thing came out, they want to get out, and for a poor Filipina to get out she has to get a Fiancé Visa to achieve that in most cases. I have never had such and so much thrown into my face like this country!!
Even at the resort, after experiencing such poor food and service I ate at the resort's own restaurant one night. Rose was her name, a lovely tall 21 year-old girl from nearby Aklan, the girl who waited on me. I have plenty of patience and compassion as part of my strong faith as a Buddhist but this really stretched me to the limits once more. I sat down and ordered some food and then ordered some drinks. I ordered a glass of the Cabernet Shiraz from Australia and she went off and then came back holding a glass of white liquid. As she put it down on my table I said I wanted the Cab Shiraz which is a red wine. You bought me out what appears to be the Chardonnay. She walked off back to the bar and was gone too long. Then she staggered back and said we are not sure what it is so I got up and I said take me to the wine cellar or where you store the bottles and she pointed to a shelf where the bottles were. We looked for the bottles of Cab but none could be found. I said I am not drinking the Merlot as it is too sweet for me. She then called her other lady friend and she pointed to a bottle of "red" wine for me and I said no that is Port. You have that in tiny glasses at the end of meal if you desire. That is triple the sweetness of Merlot (I like dry reds) so I just told them to bring me out a gin & tonic with Gordon's gin. This they did ok. While eating my meal Rose stood near me and we talked about lots of things, about her and what she wants to do with her life. I was the only customer there so she had time to stand next to me and talk of which she enjoyed the dialogue. I got to the guts of her desires and goals. At 21 she wants to get out of the country with a Mahpouti…21! I couldn't fathom how at that age she has already given up on the Philippines. She slept in the resort's dormitory, paid 1,500 PHP per month rent from her income of about 5,000 PHP and sent the rest back home.
The next night, our last night there, we went to an upmarket Korean / Japanese fusion restaurant up the road from the resort. I didn't eat a thing there. The other two ate some stuff that over here we throw into the rubbish bin or take to the pet food factory to make into dog food or fertilizer. After excusing myself I caught the taxi and went into town and after walking in and out of another 3 places (one had really loud music by a couple of Filipina girls singing that made it uncomfortable to sit and eat) I sat down at a pub style place and ordered a damn pizza. I was so frustrated by the place!!! By that stage I was pissed off with the entire place.
One night I went to one of the bars / nightclubs (not Cocomango, the other one across the road with someone…I think it was called Chilli's?) It was during the week so it was very quite in there. The Pinoy men next to us were smoking some Hoochi Moochi grass.
I spoke to other divers from Germany who were on our team and I asked them if they had ever been to Thailand to dive there and they said they hadn't. I quickly said to them that if they went there they would NEVER come back to the Philippines!!! Never in a month of Sundays!!! They will make a point of going there one day soon. The beach in Boracay (white beach) is dirty and the wind was so strong all day that made walking up the beach street unpleasant. All those terrible wind breakers they have put up along the beach. It looks terrible when looking from the ocean into the island.
The couple with me vowed never to come back here either (after their first day). Really, if you are not a diver, perhaps a snorkeler, or golfer then Boracay is a waste of time. It is expensive for food and drink, a hassle to get there, all those disgusting vendors on the beach hassling you, dirty garbage strewn shithole. I found out later that it only costs about 80PHP each way for the ferry ride and I hope to return later in the year to see Rainer again to take me to some real deep wall and cave diving on the northern end of the island and I will stay at the Pinjao Villa's that is just a stones throw from the dive shop.
When I returned to the international terminal to leave Manila it was an old run down hole of a place. That reflected the overall standard of the country that I have just visited. To go from terminal 3 from Cebu Pacific to International we had to fight to get aboard a crappy old bus where the locals quickly took up baggage space in the holds and I had to struggle with my suitcase and lift it inside the bus and store it near the driver with 20 other bags from the passengers. We went for a drive around the suburbs to the international terminal. When I went to the Thai Airways counter for check in the Phil staff were so slow and took forever in the queue to get to us. One of the Thais next to me told me this is the slowest check in service in Asia. All the Philippines is the same and told him of my issues over the previous week. The terminal was run down and needed a major face lift.
On a positive note, when I was waiting for my flight out of Caticlan, the Cebu Pacific ground staff lady came up to me in the boarding lounge and told me that I overpaid my excess baggage fees. What happened was that I paid the 7K PHP+ in Manila, but they made me weigh my suitcase again and charged me some 1,500PHP again. It didn't twig in my mind as I was focused on getting the heck out of there as quick as I could to put as much distance between me and Boracay as possible. I simply paid it and then the girl approached me and called me over and refunded me the money. Well I was impressed with that honesty rather than ripping off a Maputi tourist. Cebu Pacific was a major entity and it would have eventually shown up that they had an excess 1,500 in there.
Oh and the Airport Terminal fee in NAIA everyone has to pay…what a scam!! For a third world airport…so I have been upfront and honest with you of my appraisal of what I saw…
I guess Maputi – Farang?
Your comments about the Philippines are really scathing. It's disappointing you had such a bad time. I have heard that some things in the country can be a challenge but have never heard anything quite this bad. I don't want to suggest that you are exaggerating but….