|Couple in Boracay|
Filipino people to our mind are some of the most friendly, gentle and heartwarming people on earth. We have had the great privilege of befriending many Filipino people here in Taiwan and some of them have become our best friends, so we were expecting the local people, at least, to be warm and friendly. We were not disappointed. Even the touts and the vendors selling trinkets and fruit were not pushy. They would simply ask us once if we wanted to buy something. If we said no, they would leave us alone and not chase us or beg us to buy from them. Waitresses in the restaurants and all the service people and generally people everywhere greeted us with smiles.
The most memorable person we met was a 32 y/o dwarf, Nemo. We met Nemo on the first afternoon on the beach. We were just settling in on the beach, getting ready to swim, when Nemo came along and very politely introduced himself and offered us a wide variety of activities that we could do. We said we were just relaxing but that we would consider doing something with him on the second day. He agreed to come back and meet us then. Well, on the second morning he had some other guests so introduced us to his friend Sammy, who would take us snorkeling and jet skiing.
Nemo explained to us that although he was a dwarf, both his parents and his four siblings were of normal height. He told us he came from Manila and had been working in Boracay for three years. He started out in a restaurant but then moved to being a commission-based tour guide after a short while. He studied catering and hotel management and graduated with a two year diploma. He had previously managed a bar in Manila and worked in the restaurant industry there before deciding to move to Boracay. Nemo’s dream is to travel the world. The country he most wants to visit is America because they are rich and he believes dreams can come true there. He loves basketball and his favorite team is the LA Lakers. On one of the days he told us it was his lucky day as his team, the Lakers, had won. Nemo was interested in starting his own business but as he said, “I am waiting for my luck to change.”
|Nemo Gets Ready to Ride|
Nemo is an awesome guy. He usually hangs out outside the Le Soleil hotel. He is obviously fairly famous in the area. Just walking through the mall (D’Mall) with him was an experience as he seemed to know everyone. He was a good guy. Has a great sense of humor and is very polite. If you are looking for a good tour guide, I suggest you find Nemo.
|Paul and Nemo in D'Mall|
|Paul and Sammy|
Sammy was introduced to us by Nemo on our first morning in Boracay. Nemo was going to take us out to go snorkeling and jet skiing but he had other guests so he introduced us to his friend Sammy, another commission-based tour guide who hangs out around the Le Soleil hotel. Sammy was a very relaxed, easy going character. He was only 22 y/o but already has two kids, a six year old son and a one year old daughter. He had his first child when he was only 16 years old himself. Although unmarried he and his girlfriend do live together. He told us his neighbor had 15 kids, the same as a basketball team. We asked him way he had kids so young and he said in the Philippines, their excuse is that they were “cold” and there was nothing else to do.
As I said Sammy was a pretty relaxed kind of dude. He did try and get us good prices for the different activities and he always had a smile. He was just a genuinely nice guy and we really enjoyed his sincerity and his light heartedness. Once again, if you want a great tour guide we recommend you go find Sammy, he will hook you up with whatever you want to do and will give you a good price.
|Sarah in the Bar|
Sarah was a British girl we met in a beach side bar. She was there with her friends but currently works in Thailand. We didn’t really speak much to her but she was a memorable character. She seemed to really fancy the singer in the bar and kept on telling us how great he was. After a little bit of egging on from me she decided to become his backup singer. Well, a drunk English girl and an average Filipino rock n roll cover singer certainly made for a hysterical combination. After she got tired of singing she handed out a hat to collect money for the singer insisting he had a hard life. Ah well, we threw in a hundred pesos, drank a few more San Miguel’s and decided to call it quits for the night. Sarah was still dancing around like a mad girl, but we are old!
Another interesting guy we met (no pictures or videos, sorry) was the Italian owner of a restaurant who had lived in Boracay for 30 years. He was married to a Filipino lady and had a daughter. I was later told by some other friends who went to Boracay that the food in this guys restaurant was amazing. He also owns the Tree House bar (which we never went to). We went for a walk and met this guy. He was lamenting the loss of the beauty of Boracay and the over commercialization of the island. He was saying how the beach front had been destroyed by the hotels and how the big hotel chains such as Holiday Inn were moving in and taking over from the traditional hotels that had been there for a long time. He was looking to sell his restaurant and property and retire somewhere else. He was thinking about retiring in New Zealand (he thought it was more natural and beautiful). We recommended the East Coast of the South Island. We asked him why he didn’t want to retire in Italy. He said because everyone there had become crazy. We had a good laugh at that.
So that’s it really. The trip was too short to meet tons of people and we were mostly trying to have a relaxing vacation as opposed to a wild travelling experience. The people we did meet and speak to were wonderful and friendly and our only regret is that we didn’t have more meaningful conversations with more people. That is the true fun and adventure of travel, not the places but the people.