We spent our last day in Cebu and that was dramatically different. We asked the airport information desk where to go and they sent us to a historical sight...which, turns out, is in the slums of the island. It never felt dangerous, but instead, rather painfully, showed us a more complete picture of the country we had been enjoying so much. A country of beaches, sun and exceptionally happy people, is also one of shanty towns, children with no clothing and livestock as the local traffic jam. We passed a police station that was made of propped up four by fours. I've met and worked with many people from extreme poverty. And I thought I had a solid understanding of it. But I'd never been in the midst of real poverty before this and, it turns out, I really had no understanding whatsoever.
I sound like the typical privileged Caucasian, which I kind of hate. But this blog is the honest truth. We are a desensitized population in the Western world. You see poverty on TV and get used to the cries for help. Maybe you 'adopt' a kid and send money every month. But you don't really understand. Until you meet it, taste it, smell it and feel it, poverty, true poverty, is not something you can understand.
And so, I left the Philippines incredibly, incredibly happy. Weird, I know, but I was so grateful for the lesson I learned. So grateful to see something that shook me. A rough experience is still a learning experience and this one is something you can't just read.
All this to say, the Philippines left me tanner, a little lighter in the wallet and very grateful for a fuller perspective of the world.
Cheers to travel and adventure!