Monday, May 12, 2008

and the award for best island ever goes to . . .

Pamilacan Island is right off the coast of Bohol, the #2 tourist destination in the philippines, so it is pretty amazing how tourism has been so slow to develop here -- in the middle of high season, Michael and I were the only foreigners staying on the island. Pamilacan has everything your typical deserted island has to offer -- beautiful skies and seas, no roads (so no loud jeepneys or tricycles), no restaurants (you eat with local families), and not much to do (bring a few books). but the thing I really loved most was how seamlessly we integrated into the local community while we were there.

in most of the places I've been to, tourists are treated like an 'other.' maybe tourism is helping the decline of the local culture, so people aren't very happy to see you, or sometimes touristy spots are nowhere near where families live, so you get a skewed vision of what a country is like, or lord knows what other reasons there are. but in Pamilacan, random people would sit down and talk with us while we ate, and there was no shortage of little kids who were totally happy to play with us, complete strangers. and our hut was in the middle of everything -- the neighbor's roosters would crow right behind our outhouse at down, and at night we listened to singing at the church in preparation for the town's fiesta. perhaps it's the dynamics of the island itself -- Pamilacan is inhabited by whaling families who all know each other, and ever since the ban on whaling was passed in the 90's, they've all been in the same we're-fucked-unless-we-figure-something-else-out boat. in any case, when we arrived in Pamilacan, we were basically treated like family the entire time. which really made me appreciate how easy it is to find a deserted island, but how hard it is to find a deserted community that will accept you.

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