Take a look at a promotional video for the Philippines:
It's so beautiful, isn't it? This is where I live, and the sheer beauty of the place takes my breath away sometimes. The video says Boracay is the best beach in the Philippines... it really isn't. It's beautiful, yes. The most popular, yes. That's why it's also probably the most commercial. If you're into the party scene, with lots of crowds, then you'll have a great time at Boracay. But if you prefer a more secluded place, something that's off the beaten path, no need to worry. After all, there are over 7,000 islands from which to choose...and a number of them have beaches that are even more pristine and more beautiful than Boracay. Damn, I wish it was summer already. The Genius suggested I take a swim in the ocean (to take a well-deserved break from work). Nice suggestion, but we're in the middle of the rainy season. Not the best time to go beach hopping.
With all the beauty that the Philippines has to offer, it would seem that many of us would be leading the "good life." Well, let's see. I have a hazy memory of my humanities classes back in college (it's being superseded by memories of drinking sessions with buddies, but that's another story) and I remember a little bit of something about Plato's description of the elements of a good life. I'll oversimplify and twist it a bit here. A good life must have beauty, love, and truth.
The video above shows some of the "beauty" aspects of living here. And man, are they beautiful -- no doubt about that. But it doesn't tell the whole story, not by a long shot. Here are some photos of the other side of the coin...the dark side of the truth.
Garbage choking the city's waterways. This sad phenomenon can be found in the provinces too.
Shanties huddled together. You'll see them under the bridges, along the train tracks, and in many other places.
Scavenging for food from somebody
else's trash is a daily ritual for many
The homeless, the starving. A gut-wrenching sight.
So we've got Plato's truth and beauty covered. What about love? Simple. I love this country. I love living here -- because of the beauty, and in spite of the bad and the ugly. I may find myself traveling to other places (and I really will! I want to travel)...but even if something unexpected happens and I find myself living in another country, the Philippines will, in my heart, be the place I call home.
*Plato or pinggan is the Tagalog word for "plate" or "dish." Sometimes you'll find things on your plate that are absolutely yummy -- and others you'll find that you just can't stomach.