I arrived in the Philippines in 2008, a fresh faced 23 year old looking for adventure while working as a civil engineer on a hydroelectric site in Mindanao. Four years on, with a little more of a world view in my pocket, and a complete career shift – I’m still here.
As we launch our homestay booking website, I am constantly thinking of my reasons for why I am doing this. Why bury myself in the depths of Asia when I have family in New Zealand, and most of my friends living in London or Sydney? There are noble things I could say like I’m trying to get more money into Philippines communities. But in all honesty I know that for this project I cannot reach out to those who really truly NEED money. Those who are struggling daily to find food for their families. In all honesty my heart knows that it isn’t money/development we should be aspiring towards anyway.
So if this is not really fundamentally about getting tourism dollars into communities – then what is it about?
It is about YOU, the traveler and the experience you will have staying with a family. The observations you will make in a local area. It is about showing off this country for what it is to the rest of the world. And what is it?
The Philippines is community.
The Philippines has a spirit of sharing.
The Philippines gives as well as takes.
The Philippines is simple living.
The Philippines smiles.
To me the Philippines embodies some of the fundamental things we often forget about as we develop. The art of sharing – our homes, our possessions, and our time with others. The art of simplicity.
You really have to see it to understand it, but hopefully the homestays will put you in a place where you can. Beach resorts and big cities will give you one flavor of the Philippines, but you will come away feeling like you only saw the place, not that you were a part of it. Put yourself in a position where you can feel the heartbeat. Do this all over the world on your travels.