I’m not going to lie, I didn’t particularly want to go to the Philippines. I was told before I went – even by Filipino’s- “don’t do it! You might not come back!”
I was told there was good shopping to be had, and we promptly went to the nearest shopping centre. As I haven’t traveled outside the island of Cebu I can’t say if it is normal for the country or just a rare gem, but the shopping centre is called Ayala and it is huge. And I mean HUGE! It makes anything I’ve seen in Australia look like a flea market. Brand new, beautiful. Upon arriving at one of the many entrances you are required to present your bag for inspection, and step through a full-body metal detector. There’s not much room for argument as the 2+ guards at the door are heavily armed. It sounds very off-putting but it made me feel quite safe.
There is a stark contrast between social class in Cebu, from the all-you-can-anything and the big fancy shopping centres, to the tin shanties on top of each other for houses across the road. It did seem as though no matter what your social standing, you have a brand new car. Even if it is parked outside your tiny shanty.
I am so glad my parents coerced me into this trip, as it was such an extraordinary, beautiful and touching experience. I can’t comment on the general safety of the country as we were limited to one island, but nothing bad or even remotely bad happened to us (other than getting a lot of stares, particularly to my blond-haired, blue-eyed mother & brother and me with my facial piercings) and I often day-dream of returning to Cebu… and not coming back!