I walk around this country and often think of ways to express my love for it on this blog. It is hard to accurately synthesize what makes every day here a lesson in hilarity or, as a friend aptly noted a 'carnival of lunacy' in so many ways. With the patience of the unemployed, every day in the Philippines brings me something new to savour, and a new oddity to encounter. From relearning what air sirens mean, to watching a staunchly catholic country celebrate Miss Ladyboy Philippines 2009 to being swept along in the swirling current of daily life in a small town, this enigmatic country is full of contradictions and they are a pleasure to explore. I often think of my temperament when I was working in NY and - less a factor of my job and more the fact that I was living in a big city where time was money - efficiency was the name of the game. Efficiency in the Philippines is often a laughable concept, be it the meticulousness of the Yummy Angel Burger lady as she slowly puts my egg & ham sandwich together or the undeniably rocky transportation routes (direct never, ever means direct). However, since I have all the time in the world, I take pleasure in these small but significant changes, knowing full well that they would likely get under my skin were they to occur at home. Some of these small quirks and funny moments need to be shared. Among them:
1. Motorbike disbelief. I have rented a motorbike on every island I have visited (with the exception of Negros Occidental) and every single time the locals are truly flabbergasted that I am a white woman riding by myself. Even if we are in a group of other tourists, the fact that I am on my own bike and not on the back of a man's bike just blows their minds. Extra shock factor: driving the bike with a guy on the back. Unthinkable.
When renting the motorcycle, the following cycle of awesomeness ensues every single time:
Me: Hi, I'd like to rent a moto for the day, please. (Or, because Tagalog doesn't actually have words like "the" or "a" built into most sentences - "Moto, me. thank you").
Them: Hi, where are you from?
Me: Canada. I'd like a moto?
Them (slowly): Ma'am? A moto for you and.......? (trails off confusedly)
Me (with emphasis): Just for me, thanks. I am only one.
Them: And you...know how to ride these (gesturing in panic at his motorbikes)?
Me: Yes, I have ridden many times alone. I do not need lessons. I will be careful.
Them: Ok, but then I now show you how to turn on a motorbike, ok? I will teach you.
Me: Thank you, but I already know how. Let me show you.
(I take the keys, drive around the corner and back and flash a smile)
Them: Ma'am? Why are you so brave?
Add to this infinite loop of dialogue the fact that jaws drop repeatedly when I drive by people at the side of the road, or stop in a town to buy supplies.
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