The typhoons that spoiled my last visit to the Philippines in 2011 did such an efficient job, they even washed away my memories of this country's more horrible aspects, which all came flooding back in the two days I spent in Cebu. (All this weather imagery is just for effect, it was only comfortably cloudy this time).
I specifically chose Cebu as my entry point over Manila and Angeles because I'd been to those other places before and have no desire to ever go back. Unfortunately, it turns out Cebu's basically the same, just on a more compact scale. It may be on a dinky island, but it's no paradise.
Things were even more pronounced as spending nearly two months in Australia meant I'd lost my South East Asia sensory immunity, and walking around the dangerous city streets I was overpowered by the stink of the jeepneys and polluted streams, the trash strewn all over the place, the depressing young girls hanging off the arms of foreign pensioners, the even more depressing beggars rolling around with skateboards for legs and the parodoxical holy imagery decorating dens of sin.
It was also distressing to notice other people's perception of me shifting from generally failing to acknowledge that I even exist in Australia (perfect) to being openly stared at and a target for all sorts of scams and services. Before Cebu, I'd been able to comfort myself that any times I might have been approached by prostitutes in Thailand, there'd been enough ambiguity that I could pretend they were asking about something else. But now I don't have that comfort any more, unless 'fucking' means something else in Cebuano. Why did I leave Australia?
I'm in this country for three weeks, so if this doesn't all become darkly humorous soon I might lose my mind.
The oldest street in the Philippines is also one of the best named
And you thought my dreams were disappointing
He loves being chained up in filth
Seeing Caucasian Christ revered in the Philippines is strange enough, but this massive monument to American Jesus is even more bizarre (Temple of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints)
Basilica del Santo Niño (1565). I have time for Catholicism when it's old and crumbly
Though it's hard to resist cracking paedophilia jokes when they give you so much material to work with
It's always Christmas at Fort San Pedro (1738)
That guy on the bench is so screwed
More revered white men. Where are the Filipinos?
For the sake of the narrative, let's imagine I rowed on this boat to my next destination.
Glory or insanity awaits!