Occupation/Location: Travel Writer and Publisher, Philippines and Germany.
How did you find about the Philippines?
On my very first South-East Asia trip in 1975 I discovered a small note on the Hong Kong Youth Hostel bulletin board saying that the Casa Olga Pension in Manila was an inexpensive place to stay, people in the Philippines were friendly and the beer there was good and cheap. Two days later I gave it a try and ended up spending two months on the islands. At that time the Philippines was an absolute backpacker’s no-man’s-land, so to speak. You had to ask a lot of questions to find your way around. That’s when I started taking notes, which eventually became part of my first Philippines guidebook.
What Philippine locations have you visited?
From Batanes to Sulu Islands, from Palawan to Catanduanes, I have visited all the major islands and many, many small ones in between.
What are your opinions on the following things about the Philippines?
The Philippines are a unique mixture of tropical islands, everybody should see at least once. Since you don’t find the usual Asian attractions here, but fiery fiestas, cha-cha, coffee and rum, I call them “the other Orient, Asia’s very own Caribbean Islands”. When island hopping, you can enjoy a kaleidoscope of impressions. Even after only a short crossing by boat, you might be surprised to find totally different landscape, food, tricycle designs and often even a different language.
Serve me Sinigang, Tinola, Kinilaw or any fresh seafood and I’ll be a happy customer. I definitely don’t need Jollibee or any of the other popular fast food joints.
Although true traditional Philippine culture can only be found in tribal villages in remote areas, in Muslim Mindanao and on the Sulu Islands, it’s always great fun to share the joy and enthusiastic atmosphere of a fiesta, cockfight, basketball game and karaoke singing.
Easy-going people, happy most of the time, make a foreigner’s time in the Philippines fairly smooth and uncomplicated.
What do you dislike about the Philippines?
Not much. But those insane bus drivers speeding like racing cars through small villages can be quite annoying.
What do you like about the Philippines?
First of all, I like the people and their great sense of humour. Filipinos can laugh about themselves, which is not something you can normally take for granted in Asia. Then I like the variety of islands. Their large number (over 7000 of them) offers lots of room for exciting travel activities (if you spent only one day on each island, it would take you about 20 years to visit them all…).
Your favorite place/s in the Philippines.