I’m from Tegucigalpa, Honduras, a lively city that I called home for 15 years before moving to Los Angeles. In 2014, I moved to Korea to teach English.
When I first arrived in Korea, multiple people kept telling me about their desire to travel around South East Asian countries. I decided to research these countries and found the idea of visiting a new place exciting, but I couldn’t get over how much these countries reminded me of Honduras.
I did not see the logic in spending money to go to a country to have an experience I had lived while in Honduras, and going back home to see my family and friends was more appealing. Nevertheless, this summer I found a cheap ticket to the Philippines and I decided to check out South East Asia afterall.
I visited Cebu, Puerto Princesa and Manila but no matter where I went I could never shake off the feeling that I was back in Tegucigalpa. The local stores that resembled pulperias (neighborhood stores run by a community member that are like a 7-11 or a mini mart), the decked out cabs and motorcycles weaving their way through the streets, or the street vendors selling mangoes and coconuts and the unending catcalling.
I felt right back at home.
Once I left the main city I was blown away by the vegetation and landscape the Philippines had to offer. Clear water by the roads, lined with different shades of greenery, and a distant view of the gorgeous ocean accompanied me on my journey.
I caught myself gasping multiple times. I finally found the appeal; greens and blues everywhere with bits of color, in a foreign terrain. It reminded me of the natural beauty Honduras also offers…but it was different. It seemed untamed, foreign and appreciated. In Honduras, those natural resources have been mismanaged and exploited. I was able to get a glimpse of how Honduras’ tourism would thrive if it hadn’t been mismanaged by the government and locals.
I was amazed by the Filipino spirit. Walking down the street, working as a guard at a museum, or even stocking groceries at a supermarket they always had a cheerful spirit. Everywhere I went I would hear someone bellowing a song or tune and not care if you caught them. They would smile, acknowledge my presence with a nod and continue to sing. It reminded me of people dancing and singing in the streets of Honduras, and it made my heart happy to see people enjoying lives full of small, happy moments.
My short week in the Philippines went by fast. There was a lot to see and do in each particular island, and I wish I would have had more time to explore each of them. I am glad with the experiences I had, and the kindness and spirit of the Filipinos, their food and the scenery made me feel like I was in Honduras.
I felt comfortable in Asia. It felt like home.