Having travelled throughout all of Southeast Asia, one country really stood out: the Philippines. Somehow it is completely different from all the other ASEAN countries we’ve visited. Is it because of the strong hold the colonial Spaniards had on the country? Is it because of the influence of the Catholic Church? Does it have to do with American colonial influence? Or does it have to do with the fact that the Philippines consist of a large number of small islands? I can’t give you the answer to this, but what I do know is that there are plenty of things you’ll not encounter anywhere else in the region… or in the world for that matter.
Sanne van Oosten
While hopping from country to country within Southeast Asia one expects to encounter variation in cultures, however, I had never expected the attitude towards women to be so vastly dissimilar from one country to the next. When travelling in Indonesia I had gotten used to the woman’s role of spectator instead of participant. Whenever being talked to, one usually turned towards my male partner and whenever a hand was extended to either of us, he was more often than not the one it was extended to. Generally I just went with the flow, knowing that that is the way it goes.
Sanne van Oosten
Last week, the American Embassy in Manila was flogged by protesters standing up against the planned American military intervention in the Philippines. Last November, the convoy of Hillary Clinton was bombarded with red paint by about 60 protesters. Still, when observing Filipino life, one would not conclude that Filipinos are in any way hateful towards America. In fact, they seem more loving towards America than any Asian country I have ever visited before.
The Chief Justice of the Philippines, Renato Corona, is being prosecuted. Nobody here can escape from the stories about the lawsuit as they are filling the front pages of the daily newspapers and tv shows. The Philippines is under the spell of the allegation of corruption against its highest judicial officer and the chairman of the Supreme Court. This historic lawsuit is part of the attempts of the current government to battle the widespread corruption. It started with a lot of chaos and verbal fighting and the outcome remains uncertain.