True Smiles in the Philippines~A First Look

A Rival for the Kiwis

Upon arriving in Australia for the first time I thought I had encountered the most friendly people in the world. But then I headed to New Zealand and found the Kiwis to be even friendlier.

But move aside lands down under because I’ve discovered your rivals. The Filipinos are taking the cake in my book for the grand title of Friendliest Folks on the Planet.

Somewhere, somehow, each and every Filipino I’ve met got the memo….be friendly, say hello, smile…what a difference it makes.

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We arrived at the Manila airport and simply getting off the plane we were greeted by smiles and a warm “hello Ma’am and Sir” from everyone we met. The way they Ma’am sounds more like “Mom” and seeing that I seemed to be older than most everyone in this young country, it seemed apropos. In fact, many of my Filipino friends do call me “Mama Carin”.

After picking up our luggage we headed outside to meet “Mike” who was to drive us out to the Provinces. We couldn’t find Mike but everyone else we met went out of their way to help, pulling out their cell phones and calling “Mike”. It appeared that Mike was waiting in the “greeting” area. It seemed fitting that in the Philippines they would have a place to meet, greet and smile at incoming passengers.

At every turn we’ve been embraced with kindness. Every boat driver, restaurant waiter, the shuttle guy at 05:00am, the security guard at the hotel, everyone has had a warm reception for us. Leaving our last hotel we were even hugged by the dining room staff. This friendliness goes beyond service staff, my Filipino friends, of which we have many, are warm-hearted, selfless people.

Just last night, back in Manila our driver was taking us to our hotel. During the drive he indicated in a caring manner, trying not to tell us we made a mistake in our booking, that perhaps we might re-think our hotel. He would just drive us there and we could take a look. We asked if it was a nice hotel. He indicated that it would be safe if we stayed inside and that we would need to watch out for “bad guys”. After further discussion, we found out that our last minute, booked hotel was favored as a “lover’s hotel” meaning rooms were rented by the hour. Cars were parked in individual garages so as not to be recognized. Oops. Perhaps we wanted to try another spot? Yes, most definitely.

He guided us around the area, allowed us to use the WiFi on his phone and showed no sign of impatience as he helped us find a more appropriate place to stay. We thanked him profusely for his time and Ridlon gave him a nice tip. He said that it was his pleasure to ensure that we were well taken care of and that everything for our journey was as it should be. It was a genuine wish and not driven by any hopeful cash incentive.

This morning we left Manila for another area of the Philippines in the south of the country. I feel a sense of peace as we drive to the airport knowing that I won’t have a hassle at the airport. I can feel it. The check in line was slow but smooth at the domestic airlines Cebu Pacific Air. The logo of the airline is this smiling airplane, a happy place to be.

Cebu Pacific Air – Why everyone flies

Now, we are at 30,000 feet on our short hop to Dumaguete just an hour down the road. The flight attendants have just decided we would play a game…really? on a 07:00am flight? Sure, why not. They stood smiling at the front of the plane with prizes for the first person who could raise their hand with a valid senior citizen’s ID. Then they were looking for a pair of wedding rings and finally, anyone with a photo of the president, who of course as any Filipino is aware, is printed on the local currency. Short, fun and something extra for the winners. A nice addition to the flight.

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I’m looking forward to our next destination and waiting to meet the smiles in Dumaguete. What a great attitude to have in my heart as I travel.

Thank you Filipino friends for such a wonderful introduction to your country. Sorry, New Zealand…not to take anything away from your hospitality…..we have found your rival.

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