I've recently been dragging my feet about continuing the story from my South East Asia trip. So much happened then, but it almost feels overcast by my recent move to London and things that have been happening here in the UK. And the longer I wait, the less details I remember about what happened. So I shall continue, as I still have so much to tell!
Today I am going to tell you about a good friend of mine and his family. Their hospitality exceeded our expectations and despite not having a lot themselves, were were treated like royalty.
I first met Ben when I started my work as a cruise ship photographer in 2008. We instantly clicked and became good friends. He was kind, mild-natured and an amazing photographer. In fact, he took some of the best photos of me EVER. Take a look below:
He was a pleasure to work with and to hang out with. We only knew each other for about a month when I got transferred to another ship. I wasn't sure if I'd ever see him again...
Thanks to Facebook we stayed in touch over the years, so the day I decided to visit his home country - the Philippines, I messaged him asking to meet up.
CEBU - FLOODS, FAMILY LIFE AND SIGHTSEEING
We were initially going to stay in Cebu, Ben's home city, for 1 night, catching connecting flights between Palawan and Siargao. So I asked if me and my partner could stay with him and he instantly said yes.
Ben had his sister leave work early to go and pick us up from the airport. His mum came with them, too. That afternoon we were stuck in the traffic for something like 4 hours because of the monsoon that caused local floods. But the family stayed ultra positive, despite getting home with us and children at 11pm. The generosity and kindness we encountered from the Salutan family was mind-blowing. Ben's nephew and niece gave up their bedroom so that we could sleep in it. That was the only room in the house with air conditioning.
They themselves, their Mum and Grandma (Ben's Mum) slept in the living room. I felt really bad, but they wouldn't let us do it any other way!
Ben worked night shifts at an international company so he wasn't staying with us in the house anyway. We ended up staying with Ben and his family for I think 5 nights altogether, 1 or 2 nights at a time, between transferring to different Philippine islands. Cebu was like this transfer spot - either by plane or by a ferry. We could have stayed at a guest house but the point was, we experienced a real family life of Filipinos.
They have such a strong sense of community and togetherness! They love watching reality shows ("Big Brother Teens"? WTH?), they work hard to make ends meet and they seem to be always happy. Ah, and did I tell you the Filipinos love shopping malls? Most Filipinos have little money, but they just love hanging around in the malls. Partly it's probably because of the air conditioning. Jollibee is their national fast food. They adore it (Coca-cola with ice cream on top? Seriously?!).
On his time off, during the day, Ben would take us to famous spots of the Cebu and Lapu-Lapu city. So we saw Santo Nino Basilica, Magellan cross and Lapu-Lapu monument. We also went to Fort of San Pedro.
MOALBOAL - KAWASAN WATERFALLS AND (NO) SNORKELING
One day we decided to get out of the Cebu city and visit Moalboal - a famous diving and snorkelling spot. The journey took us a good 4 hours by bus. Unfortunately that was around the time when one of the hurricanes hit and there was no way we could snorkel, or even get into the sea. It was extremely rough! If you want to see what Moalboal's snorkelling is like, visit I dreamed of this blog. Shame we couldn't experience it for ourselves.
However, what we did experience were stunning Kawasan waterfalls, just 20 mins of driving from Moalboal. You would enter the nature reserve area of the falls, and could see people living in local cottages, children coming back from school, just living in a rain forest.
We also had a chance to visit an Orchid Botanical garden, but nobody had told us it was not the season, so no flowers were blooming! We managed to use the swimming pool just by the garden, for a small fee.
One night in Moalboal, just by chance, we met up with a couple who were going to become our couchsurfing hosts in Manila a few days later. They were visiting the area for a weekend and it was great to get to know them before actually coming to stay with them.
We felt such a warm welcome from Ben and his family. On our last night in Cebu, Ben's Mum took us to a restaurant they used to run as a family business. She remained friends with the current owners and decided to cook for us in the restaurant's kitchen. It was such a sweet gesture. We also met a number of Ben's friends. They were generally really lovely.
Ben's family made us truly feel at home. They may not have had a lot, but they shared with us everything they had. It was truly touching and I felt a lump in my throat a few times because of their kindness. Salamat po!
Ah, lets not forget the puppy dog! I instantly fell in love with him, and wanted to take him with me. The cutest puppy ever!
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Hello stranger! My name is Bogna, but you can call me Boogie. I come from Poland, but have lived in a few different countries, including UK and USA. In the past I have been a summer camp counsellor, special needs teacher, cruise ship photographer and IT Support. I am the author of BoogiePlanet.com This website is all about the experiences I encounter in different cultures and the World I see through my lens. You can help me fulfill my dream to be a travel photographer and perhaps to inspire you to travel by liking my page on Facebook, or following me on Twitter.