Hope you enjoyed yesterdays post and I really hope you enjoy todays 🙂
If you missed out on yesterdays post, please feel free to have a look here. Just posting a few of my experiences, how I approached things and the lessons I learnt. If you happen to resonate with them, then I am more than stoked! If not, I do hope they are at least entertaining – let me know, leave a comment either here or on instagram, would love the feedback 🙂
So again, sparing the chit-chat here is the second and most resounding lesson I learnt in the Philippines.
Selflessness is the biggest form of self-love
I wrote this down the day it all happened in fear that I might forget the moment, so it’s written in the tense of back then – but in honest it was 5 hours I will never forget. I’m going to put it down as is, I don’t want to rework it because I loved that these moments moved me so much I felt compelled to write them down there and then.
*I sat on a local bus today for five hours heading from Cebu to Maya so that I can get myself to Malapascua (an island off the north of Cebu) before the last ferry leaves. Each person that sat next to me reminded me of the beautiful lesson of selflessness and sacrifice.
The first was a young man, about my age, named Phillip. With him was the cutest little baby boy on his lap called Flynn.
Flynns mother is an air hostess and his father is Canadian living in Canada. Phillip was asked to look after Flynn for a while (about a month at that stage) whilst his mother was working and I didn’t ask about his father. I didn’t know Phillip at all and the closest we got in our friendship was sleeping on each others shoulders whilst Flynn sprawled across our laps. But to see the way he selflessly gave up his life to look after that of another with all his heart, all the love and all the smiles, well, it was absolutely beautiful, admirable and made me so proud of an absolute stranger. I wanted to get off at Phillip and Flynns stop just to help out if there was any way that I could, but they were happy and fine, it worked.
Phillip told me about his hopes and dreams of travelling outside of the Philippines someday, I had spoken about where I had been and where I was from. He was fascinated with Africa and insisted he would take Flynn there one day, when he was big enough to understand what it all meant. During this entire conversation I was in awe that he would so drastically change his life for a child that was not even his own! But this was where his happiness lay, in protecting and ensuring a beautiful life and future for a young adorable child. Not many people my age have that maturity and selflessness, it was an absolute inspiration and lesson in the space of a mere 2 hours. So unbelievably grateful for that.
The second was after Phillip and Flynn got off the bus, a couple stops later a young family stepped on. A mother, father and three daughters. There was one seat open and the three girls sat next to me all staring and playing with my hair. The eldest sat at the bottom and the rest all haphazardly piled on top of her. The road was really bumpy and bendy and if you felt sick – this would amplify that!
The youngest daughter whispered something to the eldest at the bottom and suddenly I saw the older daughter cup her hand and softly say ‘mama’. In a sudden panic I had realised what was about to happen and I had no idea what to do. The youngest sister was feeling ill and had to throw-up somewhere. She let her younger sister throw up in her hand. It wasn’t a lot and whilst the rest of us were all panicking to find a plastic bag bag or something she could use. This young girl was calm and gentle and with her gesture said, ‘here is my hand, I am here for you.’
After the panic and mayhem subsided amongst the people around the children, I tried to help the eldest daughter clean herself up. She looked at me, smiled and with the little english she knew just said ‘it’s ok, it’s ok’ repeatedly. I was so overwhelmed by her maturity for such a young child I just wanted to hug her, talk to her, communicate in any other way besides silly gestures. To express my appreciation of her and her lesson in any possible way that I could. All she and I could do was smile and watch the Filipino countryside roll by.*
Family is everything here in the Philippines, but beyond that; selflessness and kindness is a language amongst all. It truly touched me and resonated in my mood throughout every single day. Giving is the most important thing we can do, it is the very act that gives straight back to us tenfold.
I will never forget the kindness I found in the Philippines, the feeling of family, of home of being welcomed whole-heartedly. From having pancakes insisted on you every morning in Siquijor ‘because you are traveling alone’ and somehow that increases your appetite? To watching rom-coms with the Thresher cove restaurant staff on quiet evenings (amazing film selection over there by the way). Absolutely everything I did with the people I met – I felt like family, I felt at home.
Ask questions and meet the people, get interested in their stories because I promise you they are lavish and full of adventures completely different to your own.
I met a man named Simeon (Pictured below) on Malapascua when I was walking around the island to take some photographs. I saw him sitting on this boat just staring into the distance and every impulse within me became curious as to what his story might be. So I walked up to him, started general chit-chat and then asked.
He was more than happy to share. For about two hours we sat and chatted about everything from his past working on the cargo ships, to the way his wife had left him and how he managed to get over that and find happiness on his mango and banana farm on Malapascua. Finding new love, raising children in a country where the young are vulnerable being influenced by drugs and how he has hope for what the country’s future might be, because he believes in the beauty of the Philippines. To him offering me a lift to the mainland the next day on his tiny fishing boat, not even able to fit two people on, let alone my baggage too.
This entire conversation kept me completely present, only to stop chatting every now and then for me to take his picture – which he was more than proud to pose for. All of this contributed to what I would call one of the best conversations of my life. There are many times I have sat in a room with educated, accomplished people that have achieved great success on paper – yet the points of conversation are as bland as dry toast! Yet here I was speaking to a banana and mango plantation owner that was only educated to the point his mother was able to educate him to…and I was completely enthralled. I can’t get enough! His experiences, points of view and general banter kept me sitting there on the sand like a 2 year old kid at story time. No education is substitute for real-life experience and as I have said before no one else’s opinion should be substitute for yours – go out there and find your own.
I will forever be grateful for these experiences, conversations and new friends! All these moments and lessons make the journey worth it! And yes all these places are stunning, but the people…they are the soul that give you that feeling you will never forget. Get to know their stories.
I promise you it is worth it!