Travels with Switzer: Eight unforgettable days in the Philippines, Part 1[wptouch target=”mobile”]
This year Free Energy Coop hosted the 4th annual Visayan Longboard Trilogy or “VLT”. From my eye opening experience last year, I knew an adventure was in store as this series of events is unlike any skate trip in the world. The fast paced island hopping, mango eating, hammock sleeping, white sandy beach, blue ocean swimming, waterfall jumping adventure is something special and full of energy!
Starting off with the structure, the skate trip is ten days long with three races on two different islands in small towns and rural areas. The tour is the largest gathering of Filipinos from all regions of the Philippines, and now has grown to attract riders from Singapore, Malaysia, Hong Kong, three this year from Sweden, and a Canuck. This counts to roughly 120 young energetic competitors.
Oslob Freeride Group
The weather is considerably hot, sleeping in hammocks is the standard way of lightweight camping, and motorcycles are the preferred mode of transportation. You’ll be surprised to find out how overwhelmingly kind and hospitable the people are. Being accompanied by a local, even the most deprived areas still feel safe. Tasty home-cooked cultural meals are available all over with sweet breads being your substitute in the mornings and late nights. The best yellow mangoes in the world are from Cebu, which make pit stops all the more pleasing. Seafood is extremely fresh with shrimp, octopus, oysters, squid and many types of fish. And the most obvious thing a visitor welcomes is that everything is very inexpensive. For example in rural areas you can eat a good meal for $2, an hour long massage for $7, or a flight to another island for $40!
For a quick history and geography lesson, the Philippines has been invaded by the Spanish, Americans and Japanese, so in time it has created a harmonious mix of cultures giving the people diverse faces. Spanish has been a large influence to the many different languages considering the country consists of 7107 islands. Fortunate for travellers, the second language is English.
For such short people you’ll find it humorous that the Americans established basketball as one of the most common sports with small and large stadiums in every town. Everyone has a basketball net no matter how make-shift.[sam id=”8″ codes=”true”]
You’ll also quickly realize that just about anything can happen in the Philippines. It is a considerably unregulated place with a very wide grey area as to what is allowed. For instance, driving is safe and courteous for the most part, but a two lane road turns into a highway of bicycle taxis, cars, buses and motorcycles all passing each other creating six lanes of mayhem somehow without ever colliding! I laugh every time I see a family cruising along on a motorcycle as dad drives with two kids squeezed between mom and a baby.
Moto-Taxi Family Ride
The Filipinos are extremely resourceful people. They always seem to find a way to make things work with whatever they have. They leave nothing to waste, except for the endless supply of plastic which no one knows what to do with.
For us skateboarders we can be happy with the recent calm and strong political structure and a growing economy for it is easy to see after just a year how much is being put back into roads all over rural areas such as the island Siquijor.