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Blog Post #7

Recently I had the good fortune to travel to the Philippines with my partner and sweetheart. We flew to Los Angeles, then on to Tokyo (long haul) and then to Manila. It would be my first visit to the Philippines. It was an interesting time as the country had recently elected a new President who took office while we were in the country.

We spent the first night in the house where my partner grew up in a lovely section of Manila called Green Hills. After the first night there and meeting her mother for the first time in person, we traveled south to Lake Taal, which is home to a volcano inside a lake, inside a volcano, inside a lake. It is an amazing geographical wonder and while it is only about 1.5 hours from the teeming metropolis of Manila, it is worlds away in dozens of ways.

While in the town of Tagaytay (where Lake Taal is located) we stayed in a small but charming hotel on the rim of the volcanic canyon. The view was mystical and fascinating. We hired a guide and rented horses to make the 2.5 mile climb to the rim of the active crater. It poured rain and was foggy and wet the entire trip.

We returned to Manila where we had dinners, shopped in a couple of the never ending string of retail malls and ended our stay in the beautiful Shangri-La Hotel. During the week the new President, Rodrigo Duterte took the oath of office and President Aquino rode off into the sunset.

This post is not meant to be a travelogue but rather an observation of life in a faraway culture (literally halfway around the world and 12 time zones from Atlanta). While people in the Philippines have a distinct cultural feel and look, they are people trying to through life just like people in Atlanta or Antigua or anywhere else on the planet.

The people there are warm and hospitable and extremely gracious. This is a deeply religious country where over 90 percent of the population is Catholic (after 450 years of Spanish occupation).

One lesson you learn while traveling internationally and experiencing different and unique cultures is that human beings all have the same basic needs and desires. Oh yes, there may be some social and cultural differences that on the surface make the people of the Philippines seem quite different. However, these hard working people love to laugh, enjoy their families, eat a good meal and shop for basics………no different from people on the other side of the world.

As we observe life from our human perspective we should all take the time to remember that we are truly one man on one planet joined together by the universal power of God’s love. And, just as it has been for millennia, people live, laugh, procreate and pass on to the spirit world no matter what their ethnicity or language.

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