In a country full of churches, it was only apt that on a rather unpleasant ferry ride, our neighbour was a Jehova's witness. As much as i would have loved to debate with him, especially after he started sprouting about the next world (have you given up on this world already?), it was much easier to feign disinterest and attempt to sleep. The in-ferry movie service included a short intro about God keeping us safe, hinting as to the importance of religion in the country.
Though it does not compare to Thailand, where almost the entire population is rather devoutly Buddhist, Thailand is strongly Catholic... and this has had a dramatic impact on the country's population which is soaring...still. In 2000, Manilla even effectively banned the use of contraception! Although the Mayor who implemented that has now finished his term, many public officials, including the new Mayor and the President still prefer to promote natural fmaily planning methods that are acceptable to the Church. You wouldn't catch the Buddhists doing that in Thailand, where the birth rate is almost half what it is in the Philippines. It is a real shame, but it undeniably will ensure the country remains poor for a long time to come... and might get poorer if it is unable to feed, house etc. its population!
Anyway, after the diving and the beaches it was time for.. more diving, more beaches and some pool time as well as making use of the deserted island roads to cruise around on a scooter, check out the island and the villages and, whilst relaxing at the rather up-market resort, enjoy the restaurant and the bar. It seemed plenty of other Brits had the same idea as us -spending 10 days in 5 pound huts and then a couple of days in 25 pound hotels :)
We will definitely go back because of the friendly people, the laid back atmosphere, the beautiful scenery, the mixture of things to do there, the convenience of transportation and language, the low prices, the great weather..... the list goes on. In return i am expecting something from the Philippine Tourism Board!
Happy New Year to you all. It is THE year, 2008. The most important year in 5,000 years of Chinese history. And if you do not know why, you must be living your life on a remote island in the Philippines -but, no doubt, you will soon find out!