Saturday, January 3, 2015

LAGATAW'S Shoestring Travel Essentials

When traveling in the Philippines, you won’t have to ask questions if you do a RESEARCH of the destination before travelling. But if you are like me who randomly hops on a bus and gets off at some anonymous place, you may want to consider the following.

A stranger is most often recognized by touts.  A SMART TRAVELER SHOULD ALSO KNOW HOW TO IDENTIFY A TOUT. A tout often throws in the first question. The tout will pace with you. Politely give him the cold shoulder by walking in a way that tells him either that somebody’s gonna pick you up or that you've been to the place ten times. Tinkering with your phone usually does the trick. But if you fear that your phone might be snatched, a smile will do.
Golden Rule when travelling to a charted destination: They don’t ask you QUESTIONS. You do. And you should know who to ask. Ask those who are busy doing what they do on their ordinary day. An old woman is usually my first pick for a source of information. In case no meek-looking person is available, don’t accept answers such as ‘Tara, sakay ka lang sa motor ko’ or ‘Sunod ka lang sa akin!
When they ask you too many ‘Where are you going?’ and ‘What are you doing here?’ questions, your answer shouldn't be a derivative of ‘I am a splurging tourist’ or “I am a commie doing some covert operation”.


3. Bring a HAMMOCK or a SLEEPING BAG and a TARP. 
In case your unplanned destination doesn’t have available accommodation and either you are too shy to ask for one or the locals are not very welcoming, you can still have a good night’s sleep.

4. Put on some MUSIC and/or bring a BOOK. 
Most often they make better companions than your friends.

Pineapple tidbits in an easy open can or in a foil pack is a convenient emergency food. It could be a snack or a meal complete with sugar and fluid.

6. Whatever happens, WATER MEANS LIFE!

7. DROPPING NAMES often helps.
You may get these names from the locals themselves. 

During my first visit in Mt Lanaya, the locals, who never saw strangers in their little sitio, kept asking me about the purpose of my visit.

(This conversation has been translated from Cebuano to Filipino)
‘Ano sadya mo dito?’
‘Check ko lang yung pinaaalagaang baka ng tita ko.’
‘Kanino pinaalagaan?’
‘Nakalimutan ko yung name e…pero siya yung may ari nung huling bahay bago umahon sa burol.’
‘A si Manong Danny’
‘Yownh! Kay Manong Danny!’

And that’s how my fictitious aunt story got the locals to ask me questions which they never expected would give me the essential information about their place. Yes, not only answers give information. When the next household asked me the same question, I only had to drop the name Manong Danny and I was allowed a peaceful passage. Oh, by the way, don’t be so naïve as to think Manong Danny is his real name. I don’t disclose that kind of information.


Never ‘overglorify’ your target destination. So never worry if you fail to get to your destination. Just appreciate the place where you got stranded. Very often, you fail to see the unique beauty of a particular place because you’re too busy expecting a picture of a specific destination.


Don’t pay more than the standard price even if your reason is to return a stranger’s kindness. KINDNESS should be returned not in monetary form or gift. This will just start a culture of extortion among the locals. And take it from a Philosophy freak like me, GIVING is not really selfless. GIVING is one of the most selfish acts available to the vainest person.

10. Finally, DON'T ASK; DON'T TELL.

If you see a photo of a good place, don’t ask where it is. Just find another one. And if you find an undiscovered little paradise, post pictures but don’t tell people how to get there. Otherwise, it will cease to be a paradise in no time.

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