There was no Apo Island snorkelling nor sightseeing today!
We got to Malatapay pier hoping to hire a boat but they were charging 1,500 pesos for a return trip. We could see the Apo just waving infront of us and to pay such amount is highway robbery! Well, it’s not that we cannot afford it, it’s the principle! We would not let them get away with charging so much money for a mere few minutes boat trip so we went away. An Apo Island resort staff agreed with us, even moaned that it is the (municipal) government who push these boatmen to charge these ridiculous fees because they charge so much license fees to operate the boat tours.
In order not to waste the day, we hailed a bus to Bais city hoping that we could see dolphins instead. But holy cow! The tourist office staff who operates the boat charges even higher. For a big boat, you pay 3,500pesos, and for a smaller boat, 2,500pesos. We looked at the small boat – a piece of what seems to be a floating box so old and rundown that we won’t even buy it for that amount! They won’t even give in to our haggling – like, we arrived there at almost 3pm and boat trips last till 5pm, so even With 2 hours left, we still have to pay the full fare! I mean, what are they trying to do? But forget the foreigners, even local tourists wouldn’t even afford it so what happens is, we, Filipinos, wouldn’t even have the chance to see our own dolphins because of the high cost of seeing them!
Well, it’s not that we cannot afford it. It’s the principle. To let them get away with it is encouraging them to keep doing it, so we just did our favorite activity – that of walking. This is the best way to see the countryside because you get to see at close range the flowers, the people, their houses and what they do, in fact, the most colorful photographs we took were that of roadside encounters.
I got a lot of photos of barrio people (excellent for photojournalism!) who would even say ‘salamat’ (thank you) for taking their pictures. Believe me – this is a big no-no in Europe!
Maria has taken some really nice shots and as she can speak Tagalog (although they speak mainly Visayas here) we enter into conversations easily with people and have taken some really good shots of children and people laughing and smiling outside their very poor little shacks. Some of them are so basic. Just a simple slatted bamboo floor to sleep on and they cook outside on an open fire. We were with one family today who were so pleased to have their beautiful children photographed, it was quite touching. I wish we had a polaroid so we could give them an instant picture to keep. They really have so little but always manage to smile and be very polite.The more I explore the Philippines, the more I realize the tremendous potential and natural resources it has. Unfortunately, the government is corrupt and hopeless and the country has been exploited for so long they cannot seem to get out of the poverty trap. We have really learnt a lot about bamboo and struck up a good friendship. I am convinced that there is a big market in Europe plus Bamboo is a fast growing and sustainable resource unlike cutting down hardwood forests in the Philippines. It is an incredible material. The more I research on it, the more I am fascinated with it and the potential it has.
…..A European in the Philippines