The Philippines

laughter and ferocity

Kumusta from Nacpan, Palawan,
        Gustave Flaubert was an easily bored, utterly unpatriotic Frenchman who once penned these words about travel. “How many imbeciles one comes across in the most beautiful places and in front of the finest views. When travelling, one meets many . . . but as they go by quickly, one can laugh. It’s not like in ordinary life where they end up making you fierce.”
       There’s one of these wet blankets here in Nacpan, The Philippines. In a place that a reasonable person could only describe as near-Paradise, a lone whinger wants to find fault with everything. This is a woman travelling alone ; we are guessing European but we can’t quite place the accent. 

“a bit crazy in the head”

       Whereas Linda picks out such noisome individuals on the basis of their lack of interest in nature, I usually identify them for their patronising attitude to locals. This particular complainant fits both ends of the spectrum. On one occasion when this individual wantonly inconvenienced the shuttle driver,  one of the local workers theorised that perhaps she was “a bit crazy in the head”. This is not an issue the locals spend time worrying about; more a shrug and move on from them. I’m afraid I tend to the ferocity Flaubert talked about. 

      For decent people, it’s a bit hard to find fault here in Nacpan. The two nearby beaches are spectacularly beautiful (even by Australian standards), the weather is perfect, the food is exquisite, the snorkelling is fascinating, the fruit is good enough to live on, the ocean water is clear and warm and the local people are congenial hosts. Some pessimists – or spoiled brats – still want to find fault. It just reinforces my belief that the people endowed with the capacity to travel are often the ones who should be banned from doing so. 

Pina Colada Nacpan Style

    Yesterday, down on the idyllic beach, we feasted on a magnificent fruit platter for lunch and a Pina Colada Nacpan Style each for sundown. The proprietor of this thriving business is Mimi, a young enterprising bloke from the village. He also doubles as the beach life guard (a job he calls “Bay Watch”) and goes fishing during the monsoon season. That’s his assistant shredding the coconut (buko) in the foreground of the photo. Mimi has a beaming smile and very good English, and a great appreciation of the natural beauty of his home village. He has seen a gap in the market and is proud of the service he provides. Can you imagine a rich tourist complaining about some insignificant part of this service? Is anybody justified in finding fault with this guy’s enterprise? What on Earth do they want? 

    What Flaubert noticed in 1840 is still a feature of travel today. Linda does the laughing while I contain the ferocity.

Paalam from Nacpan


Other photos from hereabouts

between the two beautiful beaches

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