My too short vacation in the Philippines ends tomorrow. I'm actually kind of disappointed, because I'm really enjoying myself here. I really like the Philippine Islands, as well as the Filipinos (and Filipinas). There are some annoying things, and some things that bother me about the place, but in general, I really like the laid back lifestyle and attitude of everyone. They seem to be an extremely flexible and unassuming people. A bunch of nice folks just keepin' it real.
One thing I didn't particularly care for was the food. Now I didn't absolutely hate it, but I wasn't impressed with it, the way I was in Korea or Italy (or even Japan where I live now). Most Filipino food consists of rice with some sort of dish (meat, pork, fish, etc.) that is eaten with it. These dishes were usually fairly salty or fairly sweet, some of which had some excellent and very unique flavors. The problem was the meat dishes were always full of bones! It's like they just hacked the animal up before cooking it! The diner is left with the painstaking task of either removing the bones (often constituting a significant portion of the dish) or trying to swallow marrow, tendons, and ligaments. At first I thought maybe it was simply the budget places I was frequenting, and I began opting for more upscale establishments, but the same problem emerged.
I met a Peace Corps volunteer when I was leaving the island of Busuanga, who said he's heard from numerous expats in the Philippines that Filipino food is the one thing standing in the way of the Philippines developing a lucrative tourist industry. While the Filipinos seem eager to welcome more tourists (and the money that comes with them), I actually hope that this doesn't happen. This is one the few places places I've been that aren't completely over-run by tourists. The only place I ever really ran into other travelers was in Busuanga Island, at the Dive Resort. Like me, they all consisted of full throttle action-jacksons, eager to descend beneath the waves and tunnel through derelict shipwrecks. Here's hoping that the Philippines does not become the next Bahamas.