Beer is your poison of choice in the Philippines. Whilst sometimes you might be forced to opt for a San Miguel light, to which you instantly add a little grenadine to make it more palatable, chances are you moved on to the harder stuff. Red Horse, potent, laced with gin — although chances are you found this out too late. Now only one thought occupies your mind when ordering, will today be the day you find a Happy Horse?
At first, they seemed to produce an insane amount of fluffy grains that surely no family could conceivably consume. A bulky piece of kit, you wonder what could be wrong with just using a saucepan?! You watched perplexed as everyone carried their cooker everywhere — on boats, strapped on the back of a moped, and even on domestic flights. Now you swear that rice from a rice cooker just tastes better somehow. Your thoughts have done a 180 and you feel like you’ve been let in on the secret.
Tightly packed, with no real timetable or obvious stops, at first you had no idea how to ride a jeepney. You seemed to be stepping into a myriad of cultural misunderstanding. Before long you were passing other peoples’ fares and heatedly negotiating their change whilst random strangers placed their kids on your lap. You also learnt it is perfectly acceptable to sit by the door and let the entire crowd behind shuffle past.
You popped down to the shop to buy some chocolate milk and a hot dog, and your ears honed in on the unusual background music — chart hits played at half speed or at two octaves lower than their original. You’ve embraced the non-family-friendly playlist and appreciate the opportunity to rap along to Ice Cube’s “Go to Church” with the checkout lady.
It’s midday, it’s 35 degrees and you pull over to fill up with petrol. As you wait on the dusty roadside you hear the opening chords of a Bryan Adams song, initially you might have been too shy or have strictly reserved your karaoke skills for post 2am slots, but now you think nothing of busting out a tune at the drop of a hat.
Not for the recently broken hearted, the romantic pop classics never stop in the Philippines. In restaurants, bars, and even in taxis — it is relentless. When you start wailing Aerosmith and are genuinely shocked the day any other genre of music hits the radio — you know you’re fitting in.
Crispy fried chicken with spaghetti, in a congealed lumpy tomato sauce — at first this wouldn’t have been your order of choice, but now it’s your hangover staple. You know you are swiftly becoming a local when this becomes your regular breakfast.
With over 7,000 islands making up the Philippines, you enjoy being a stone’s throw from the beach wherever you are. The minute you venture to new pastures you will have the sudden realization that the endless idyllic powder-white sands and impossibly clear waters have turned you into a savage beach snob.
The Philippines is crazy about basketball and you’re no Michael Jordan. Everybody slam dunks, everywhere — on the dance floor, at the arcade, at the office. So you’ve honed your skills, and now you feel confident in your ability to lob a piece of paper into the trash bin from across the room.