Phil Hopkins added 10 new photos.
What an amaaaazing evening. One of the most fascinating of my life! I attended the Hiyas sa Kadayawan event in Davao, a type of tribal beauty pageant. Beauty pageants are still massive in the Philippines; none of that political correctness nonsense for the Filipinos! The event was all about the search for the symbolic 'Festival Gem', the girl most knowledgeable of her indigenous culture / tribe & wisdom. Eleven women in stunning tribal costumes competed in the event which not only featured choreographed tribal dances, but was also attended by thousands of people and dozens of media types. A BIG event in these parts. But, no bathing costumes. Controversial President Duterte said women are to be respected not gawped at and passed a no bikini ruling whilst Mayor of Davao. Oh yes one more thing.....Mindanao Region requested the honourable Mr Hopkins to be a judge but, with only a couple of hours to spare, there just wasn't time!! Shucks, didn't get to meet one of the Philippines' most famous actresses! #kadayawanfestival2017 #beautifulpeople #tribes #davaocity #tpbgov #ElevenTribesofDavaoCity ... See MoreSee Less
Davao has its roots in 11 tribes, six Muslim and five non-muslim. Other than the machinations of ISIS extremists they all live in peace & harmony together. It was so moving to watch the tripartite blessing as the Panagtagbo part of the Kadayawan Festival reached its conclusion. There was a priest, a tribal chief and a Muslim iman all standing shoulder to shoulder....then everyone sang the national anthem. Ever think we have lost something in the UK where national identity and pride have been silenced for fear of causing offence? I do! #kadayawanfestival2017 #beautifulpeople #tribes #davaocity #tpbgov ... See MoreSee Less
Phil Hopkins added 9 new photos.
It is the first time I have visited a city under martial law but, since May this year, Davao in the southern Philippines has been under military rule since the outbreak of unrest involving ISIS aligned terrorists in nearby Marawi City. I didn't know what to expect. I made phone calls. There were the dissenters. People said:"Don't go Phil, you're crazy." But i went following a belief that has driven my life, 'don't become a prisoner of your own fears. Live life. Go and see for yourself'. And so I did. What did I find? I found camoflauge uniforms and lots of soldiers but, other than that, a 'normal' city. People smiled, we took selfies with armed-to-the-teeth warriors. "Welcome to OUR city they beamed." They were proud. They checked our vehicles and bags but i felt they were there for my benefit NOT as an oppressive force. I felt safe. Never judge something, someone or somewhere based on second-hand information, least of all a city as beautiful as Davao with its smiling, beautiful people #kadayawanfestival2017 #beautifulpeople #tribes #davaocity #itsmorefuninthephilippines #tpbgov ... See MoreSee Less
Phil Hopkins added 7 new photos.
The Kadayawan Festival - now in its 32nd year - is more than a thanksgiving for Davao City's bountiful harvest. The Festival also serves as a venue to educate locals, as well as tourists, about the region's 11 historic tribes & their significance to Davao City's continued economic growth. Kadayawan honours its various tribes including the Kalagan or Kagan, Maguindanaon, Maranao, Iranum, Sama di Laut (Badjao), Tausug, Tagabawa, Ata, Ovu Manuvu, Matigsalog. What a privilege to witness the Subang Sinugdanan river float parade this morning and the amazing Panagtagbo tribal dances ... See MoreSee Less
This is 'durian' a fruit commonly found in the southern Philippines city of Davao in Mindanao. However be warned, it is a fruit with a difference, said "to smell like Hell but taste like Heaven!". And boy are they right. It absolutely reeks but tastes quite palatable! Must go...got to find some mints!!! ... See MoreSee Less
Phil Hopkins added 2 new photos — with Princess de Guzman.
Not sure about you, but I can't help but feel that airport security personnel in the UK are a lot more officious than they once were. Yes, times have changed, however there have been occasions when basic courtesy seems to have gone out of the window. A few moments ago i checked into Caticlan Airport for the flight back to Manila. Everyone had a job to do but the 'way' in which they did it couldn't have been more contrasting. The man with the shotgun beamed as he saw us struggling with bags. "I will hold your water & crisps here whilst you check in," he said, "just come back for them." Another lady added: "You're quite early. Go through security, get your boarding cards then come back out and go to the restaurant opposite. It's cheaper & you can hear all the flight announcements from your table. Just run across!" Can you imagine Leeds Bradford Airport? Perish the thought! ... See MoreSee Less
Phil Hopkins added 4 new photos.
In praise of bamboo! This is the most versatile of 'woods' although, in fact, it is a 'woody perennial evergreen plant'. Whatever it is, it is so strong & is used for a range of things in the Philippines.....furniture...nipa hut (doubling as a shop!)....wave breakers in typhoon season, even as building site construction props. Amazing stuff! ... See MoreSee Less
Phil Hopkins added 3 new photos.
Hookers are big business on the island of Boracay, Philippines. At night time a myriad of beautiful girls - more girls than women - line up along the edge of the main beachside retail path pedalling their wares. There's also more than a fair share of transgender options.....incredibly beautiful boys now working as female prostitues....and often, nearby, there's a man with no legs sitting with his begging cup whilst a lady, with two young children, does the same further down. There is such a sense of loss & hopelessness in their eyes. Middle class? There isn't one. This is survival of the fittest in a cruel society which, today, has Paradise as a backdrop. Be careful not to judge too quickly...especially if you have never been in that position! ... See MoreSee Less
People ask me about some of the so-called dubious practices in the Philippines, selling spray painted chicks for example. However as my friend Leanne Wray correctly pointed out...morals are often for the well fed! Here's a case in point. The young lady to the left earns about £5 a day (320 pesos)... £130ish a month...for a six day week. She makes fruit shakes all day and, out of that money, has to pay her lodgings & buy food. There was no work in her home town so she had to move to Boracay Island. She was lovely with a big smile. No moaning, no air of expectation. Just 'get on with it'. Travel has taught me to observe first & not to judge too quickly ... See MoreSee Less
Phil Hopkins added 8 new photos.
Met a guy from Huddersfield at Boracay Beach today. Fascinating man. He'd been an insurance broker, an ordinary guy but i so admired his attitude to life and willingness to push himself forward in any circumstances. Somehow or other he had lived in Kazakstan for 14 years & was now sampling the Philippines. He was earning around £1500 a month as a 'professional' online gambler & clearly had really studied online systems. His only handicap to earning nearer £50k per annum? Slow internet! Really nice guy. A few more photos of paradise! ... See MoreSee Less
Paradise has to be reached by several modes of transport! Firstly a flight from Manila to Caticlan in Aklan Province will cost you about £75 return (Air Asia - via domestic flight Terminal 4). Caticlan now has a new out-of-town airport, still under construction, so you are bussed to the old one, eventually disembarking in the town centre. From there It'll take you 10 mins to walk to the boat terminal, but they don't tell you that as they try to sell you rides on the mini bus / motorised tricycles! They'll also try & flog you a 'marked up' boat ticket package but wait until you are at the boat terminal & buy it yourself. Cheaper. Oh yes....don't forget to buy all 3 tickets....a terminal ticket....one for the boat & one to cover the government environmental tax....about £3-4 in total. Now you are good to go to Boracay where air-con rooms start at £16 a night for two. Bon voyage! ... See MoreSee Less
Phil Hopkins added 9 new photos.
Boracay Island is as exotic as its name, however as a destination for Koreans, Aussies and other out of towners, prices rocket compared to Manila; you might as well be in Leeds city centre because your wallet will take a battering....BUT it is beautiful. You get here by motorised boat from the mainland town of Caticlan but remember a boat ticket is NOT enough. You need a 'terminal' ticket to get to the boats and, unless you have a ticket to prove payment of the enviromental tax, you won't even get on the boat or reach the island for that matter! ... See MoreSee Less
Rush hour in Antipolo, Philippines at around 7pm is manic in the extreme. Cars, motorcycles, jeepneys & taxi vans jostle for position but, if you happen to be a pedestrian, watch out. Few concessions are made for those on foot. It is a complete free for all and, every time you cross the road, you take your life in your hands! ... See MoreSee Less
Genuinely shocked to see these spray painted chicks in Antipolo, Philippines. Watch this brief video. They ARE real, NOT mechanical ... See MoreSee Less
Shocked! These vivid coloured chicks are real. At first I genuinely thought they were mechanical because I had never seen anything like it. My interpreter asked the vendor:"How did you colour them?"
"No idea," she said, "i just get them from a supplier."
I was later told by a local man with good English:"Their beaks are covered with a tiny mask & they are spray painted."
Again, it is all too easy to be disparaging of certain behaviours, very different from our own, but, when you consider that a £50 electric bill can bring a family to its knees leaving kids without food - not forgetting, of course, the homeless street kids - it is hard to take the moral high ground when you come from a country where food, by and large, is a given and the poverty gap is narrowed with contributions from the Welfare State. In the Philippines it is survival of the fittest & those most able to adapt. ... See MoreSee Less