We've posed questions to frequent travelers about the different countries they've experienced and the cultures in which they were immersed.
When we visit other areas of the world we find things we didn't expect, we grow in ways we never could have anticipated, and we take home with us a piece of the culture we visited.
Whether we expect them to or not, our travels always change who we are. Every fragment that is adjusted and shaped by seeing the world, brings us inches and sometimes miles closer to what we were always meant to be:
One people; one heart.
The Philippines, from Bekah K.
What did you expect to find that you did not see?
While in the Philippines, what I expected to find was not a thing, but rather an experience. I did have many new, spectacular encounters, but not specifically the one I expected: culture shock. Many friends of mine had warned me that I would be stunned when I stepped foot into a place I had never seen before. I must say, however, I felt quite at home wherever I went, and not once did I feel out of place. The ebb and flow of the culture was welcoming to me. The people there understood the meaning of hospitality. Sharing one’s wealth with another has long been an ancient symbol of friendship. These amazing people shared just that: their homes, their food, and their smiles. The landscape and community were new to me, but they never truly seemed “unfamiliar.”
Did you eat anything that you would later report to your friends as "so that was weird"?
One of the first questions my stateside Filipino friends excitedly asked upon my return was, “Did you try balut?” The native favorite they were referring to is basically a duck or chicken egg, containing an embryo that has been incubated anywhere from 2-3 weeks. After it has been boiled, it is cracked and eaten straight from the shell. Unfortunately, I was not able to join my traveling friends in tasting this foreign delicacy.
What differences stood out to you the most?
The difference that stood out to me the most was the hospitality that was poured out on my friends and I. I believe in some ways, my home nation has lost touch with this powerful practice. It was refreshing to see the respect that lies within the act of hospitality.
What was your main mode of transportation in the area you visited?
The main mode of transportation in Lucena and Manila was walking or Jeepneys. Jeepneys are basically jeeps that originated from the extra vehicles left by the U.S. military during WWII. They have now been transformed into the ultimate transportation of the Philippines. They are always tightly crowded, but the lack of glass in the windows creates a pleasant breeze. The legendary Jeepneys make for an interesting ride in the chaotic city streets.
What was your main mode of transportation in the area you were in?
The best meal I had while in the Philippines was Pancit. Back in the US, I now clamor at every chance to eat this tasty dish. Pancit is usually made up of rice noodles, chicken or pork, cabbage, carrots, and special seasonings. I was lucky enough to try Pancit many times as I traveled from city to city. Every new serving was unique but equally delicious.
What customs do you think should be adopted by our country?
Kindness and admiration that knows no color, no nationality, and no language.
What was the most interesting thing you saw or visited and why?
What insights did you walk away with that you couldn't have anticipated beforehand?
The greatest insight I gained from visiting the Philippines was the beauty of culture. A man named Osho once said: “If you love a flower, don’t pick it up. Because if you pick it up, it dies, and it ceases to be what you love. So if you love a flower, let it be. Love is not about possession. Love is about appreciation.” This could not be more true when visiting another culture. I learned that my way of life works for me. While I believe improvement is always a good thing, believing I know the best for other people isn't always a fact. I want to spend time admiring culture and learning from it. Once that culture is lost, it cannot be regained. Diversity and differences make the entire world a more beautiful place.