(Image courtesy of Leizel Avila)
When I first wrote about “Why there are no backpackers in the Philippines?” on my first blog, my purpose was to really find out why? and that to raise awareness to my fellow Filipinos as well as our government if we could do something about it.
Yes, 21 day pass. Some other Southeast Asian countries (mostly) gives out free 30 day visa and to think that we are an archipelago that needs more travel time to go from island to island, makes it less practical for a backpacker to visit.
Negative Feedback from Locals
From my point of view, I realized several reasons why. During my travels to different places I met some Filipinos working in one of the places I visited and when you ask them about the country, negative things about the country is what you will hear. Heavy traffic, pollution, thieves, scammers, kidnappers, killing and all negative stuff a Filipino could ever think. I, myself did the same and I start asking myself why do we do that?
I found the reason why, my sociology class made sense now, that the media has a lot of influence to a person and bombarded by negative news everyday (repetition) will create fear to people. The media magnifies the negative things happening than the positive ones, therefore leaving all those people that are doing their best to help the country invisible. Although, I still believe backpackers should be very careful not to go Mindanao (Philippines is divided into 3 Major Islands; Luzon, Visayas, & Mindanao).
Safety is one issue for tourists here, unlike Thailand, they have Tourist Police assigned to tourist places who protects well and maintains order at the tourist places in Thailand (I heard they are better paid than normal police, and they are trained well). This is a major factor for travelers to consider the place if its worth visiting.
From working in a hotel, traveling around, I noticed that there are way more backpackers than tourists traveling around the world. They travel and stay in one place for a longer period of time, therefore spending more money than the splurging tourists that stays for only few days.
This is what Philippines are not aware of, by offering cheaper deals like accommodation, we encourage them to stay longer in the place. Backpackers are always on the go, they don’t stay much in their rooms because they want to experience more of the place so they opt to get the cheapest accommodation they can find such as dorm rooms, hostels, rather than the posh and deluxe suites, hotels, and resorts. In a way, another reason why more and more big resorts and hotels are closing because of less customers coming in. If only, more dorm rooms are available or cheaper rooms, we’ll have backpackers flooding any tourist areas packed with local or foreign ones.
Food, Food, and More Food…
Food are not a bad issue, cheap food are everywhere in the Philippines. Street foods are even better than most street foods I experienced in Vietnam and cheaper, I did not appreciate it before because I did not go and check out much street foods then. Where did I found out that we have cheaper food here? From fellow backpackers who have been to the Philippines! Even mall food stalls are way cheaper.
I am now back to discover more of my country after backpacking Southeast Asia on my own, and as I have started doing it slowly, I have seen beautiful things and scenery I never imagined my country have. I only have seen few places so far, but they are truly amazing!