Philippine friendships endure beyond pandemic

As has been advertised on Facebook – I am presently back in the Philippines.

Back in Malay, Aklan on the northwest tip of the island of Panay — part of the ‘Central Visayans’. 

Back at world-famous Boracay beaches and the nearby jungles, rice fields, rivers, and mountains.

Back where the Earth Vagabonds spent more than two years during the COVID crisis.

Back with the humble and hardworking Malaynons, Aklanos, and the indigenous Ati tribe, who we were able to assist and ’employ’ throughout the worst of the pandemic turmoil.

Back with some of my very best friends on the planet. Friends I’ve missed and kept in touch with and am thrilled to be spending time with again.

Like much of our ongoing slow travel travel adventure, it feels surreal, fantastical, unbelievable. Yep — eight years into this journey and I still sometimes wonder if I’m going to wake up and have to be at work in the morning!

This visit it is also melancholy and emotional.

Melancholy because I am here without my precious wife. It’s the first time we’ve been separated for any real length of time since 2016 when she went back to the USA for a family health event. I feel adrift without her.

Ellen is again in America after deciding she was long overdue for some family time, and to handle some of our other personal affairs. Honestly, I couldn’t imagine enjoying the fractured U.S. at this particular moment — so I passed on the opportunity.

No doubt my angst at her absence contributes to the intense emotions I feel as I again meet and reacquaint myself with the dozens and dozens of Filipinos who were an everyday part of our lives here during the pandemic time.

So many strong hugs and and handshakes and smiles and tears. Surreal.

Of course, I communicate daily with Ellen. And we have confirmed travel plans to rejoin and restart our world wandering in Japan in July. That gives me comfort and license to fully absorb this intervening time with these very special Filipino people. I am truly happy to be here.

Jerry, a guy from Wales, U.K., who was also ‘stranded’ here in this tropical paradise during COVID, once remarked that to him, “travel was more about the people than the places.” That’s why he repeatedly returned to Malay and Boracay and the longtime friends he has here – instead of always exploring new places like we tend to do. I think I finally grasp that concept.

We do meet and make new friends wherever we travel. But usually, just as we ‘get comfortable’ it’s time for us to move on. As a result, we have countless ‘acquaintances’ who we remain in contact with on social media — but rarely do we develop the deep friendships and emotional ties that we have here in Malay, Aklan, Philippines. I do understand, Jerry.

As I said above, Ellen and I already have plans to explore Japan —  then Korea and Taiwan through the rest of 2024. But going forward, and as we get older (and slower), I will definitely be open to an even slower pace that will allow for closer relationships and the kind of true friendships that we have here.

Further, I know we’ll be back in Malay in future years. And hopefully, also other places on the globe where we can help and share and be of value to those less fortunate but equally friendly.

In coming days and weeks in the Philippines, I’ll be doing more reconnecting and celebrating and giving thanks for this lesson and this surreal lifestyle — and posting some follow ups to our COVID efforts and friendships.

As always, be thankful and generous, happy trails & more beer.

Life IS NOW!

Thanks for reading, “Philippine friendships endure beyond pandemic.”

About Theo

Tedly (Theo) retired early from the news business to wander the planet with wife Ellen. He enjoys exploring all Earth has to offer: jungles and beaches, volcanoes and deserts – always drinking beer along the way.

Pandemic stories from the Philippines:

1 thought on “Philippine friendships endure beyond pandemic”

  1. We spent a month in Kyoto last year and adored it! I’m looking forward to reading your observations about Japan. We definitely want to go back.

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