Who Are We?

There are many reasons to travel. An obvious one that comes to mind is the opportunity to experience and understand a new culture, to make a small stride towards seeing the world from another perspective. It had never occurred to me that anyone could have any kind of fulfilling travel experience by closing the gilded gate on the local residents and enveloping yourself in generic luxury. For our last night in Bohol, we thought we’d try it.

It was certainly another perspective.

Gracious greetings, welcome drinks and cool towels. Something about an impressive staff to guest ratio. Kowtowing porters. Infinity pools. Private beaches with even more staff set to the task of keeping out interlopers. Daybeds dangling from palm trees. I start to wonder: if a person was taken from the airport straight to this resort could they even make the claim that they had visited The Philippines?

Nestled inside the lulling perfection of our resort on Panglao Island, I realized that I was not visiting a new place at all. I was visiting a new class. I’ll admit, it was easy to get used to. Nothing to see but the blue horizon. Nothing to do but dangle in a daybed and wade in a pool.

We kept looking around the edges, waiting for some sort of clue that we were in The Philippines, or even Asia. But nothing Asian could seep through the gates and not a single jewelry-selling hawker could get past the watchful guards.

In the end, the only evidence was in the hotel bill. Not $500 a night like the Maldives. Not $300 a night like Turks & Caicos. But $100 a night for a five star resort. Still a splurge to be sure. But this must be The Philippines after all.

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