Well, I said this was coming, and I wanted to do this for a long time. I finally get to pound it out!
As I mentioned in my LDR post, I got the fantastic opportunity to travel to the Philippines in January to meet my girlfriend after a year and four months together. I meant to write this way earlier, but at first I was procrastinating due to the long length this would undoubtedly be, and then when my relationship with my girlfriend fell apart, it was obvious to me that writing this then would have prevented the wounds from closing. And then I just kinda forgot about the post some more. I am now, I feel, at the point where I write this and focus on the good and the interesting things – which the trip did have in abundance. Plus I need to write this soon before I start to forget details…
First, some background: Metro Cebu is the Philippines’ second largest metropolitan area behind Metro Manilla, the capital. The Philippines is a newly industrialized country. In Cebu, I saw a downtown city area not at all behind what you might see in a ‘lesser’ large US city, and the slums, a community down by a river whose buildings seemed basically like large pieces of scrap metal, and basically everything in between.
Language in the Philippines is a bit of an odd affair to Americans: because there are many islands, many different languages have taken root in the country. There are two official languages in the Philippines: English and Filipino (a standardized form of Tagalog and it seems like the two terms are used pretty interchangeably). Many parts of the country also have their own regional language – Cebu has Cebuano. My girlfriend’s home had Waray. Most people speak English, but only to a certain extent. In Cebu, Cebuano was preferred. Nearly everyone knows enough English and Tagalog to get by, but they won’t use it if they don’t have to. When my girlfriend was speaking to other people on my behalf, it was never English. Signs, notices, and websites, however, were frequently in English.