Today’s Guest Column is from David Katague. David has a blog about his place in his beloved Marinduque, give it a visit, and visit David if you happen to be in Marinduque too!
Several weeks ago, I listed the ten most annoying things that bothers me in the Philippines in this web magazine with the thought of writing the ten things that I love about the Philippines in the future. I was writing it as a balikbayan retiree and from the point of view of an enthusiast of the “snow bird” lifestyle. I did mention in that article that those annoying things are easily outnumbered by the things I love about the Philippines. I could give a list of more than 100 items I love about the Philippines, but I will limit it to my the top ten and from a point of view of a balikbayan retiree. These top ten items are not in order of importance.
- The cheap standard of living, cost of food, services ( maids and drivers) With the exception of electricity, everything is cheap in the Philippines specially services, for example haircuts, massages , pedicures and manicures is much, much cheaper in Philippines than in US. A specific example are mens’ haircut. I pay between 60 to 100 pesos in Marinduque, but here in Sacramento, I pay between $12 to $15 for a haircut. For a $1000 a month, I live like a King here in Marinduque. The current exchange rate is 47.8 pesos for one dollar as of this writing date.
- The simplicity of life . The locals are easy going and do not hurry for their appointments. There is not much traffic if you reside in the provinces and in small towns.
- The abundance of fresh vegetables and fresh fruits ( papayas, mangoes and bananas) at a reasonable prices as well as the Filipino cuisine( lechon, lumpia and pancit) and delicacies ( bibingka and leche flan).
- Accessibility to the beaches, mountains, caves , rivers , islets for picnicking, bathing, snorkeling, scuba diving or just relaxing ( I am talking about Marinduque, Not the big cities).
- Social support system is fantastic. The presence of relatives specially during Christmas and Easter seasons is an experience one can not forget.
- Availability of all modern amenities, good restaurants, international food , modern health services in Manila, Iloilo, Cebu and other big cities.
- The dry and cool weather, ocean sea breezes ( at Chateau Du Mer )during the months of November to February.
- The numerous fiestas and festivals whole year round, specially during the months of January and May. I wrote an article on this subject in one of my web blogs.
- The hospitality of the people and their attitudes toward foreigners and visitors.
- Historical and Cultural heritage we have as a nation from Spain , such as our old churches, folk dances, Kundiman music, Putong, Kalutang and respect for our elders and freedom of the press and speech from the United States.