The other side of travel, what you never see on other websites

The other side of travel, what you never see on other websites

I’ve been in the Philippines for almost a year now and although many of you think it is all white beaches and mesmerizing blue seas, friendly hospitality and all that peaches and roses stuff other travellers write about,  you are very much mistaken.

A few days ago I met a backpackers couple on the beach here in Siquijor and she was crying over the dirt on the beaches and the fact that most beaches did not look like she found on Google Images or travelblogs for all that matter.

And I sadly agree with her. Although crying about it is a way over the top I think. On the other hand: if you have been saving up for some time to get yourself a dream holiday thinking you will be the next one to post all those gorgious white sandy beaches photos with you bright smiling in the middle,….yes crying is an emotion that might come up.

Nobody want to put up pictures of world pollution unless you are an activist. And none of those back home want to see you wading into an ocean that is covered with trash.  All to true, and sometimes reality here in the Philippines.

The earth is a filthy place. We produce a lot of waste. And a lot of it is dumped in the sea. I see Filipinos on board ferrys that simply throw all the trash overboard. I see their children playing on the beaches in the trash that washes ashore with every turn of the tide of changing of the wind.

And I hear tourists complaining about the beaches while drinking from their disposable water bottles and demanding for clean sheets every day in the hotel.

It all takes its toll on the earth and the cleanness of the countries and oceans. And yes, a lot of that trash washes upon the shores of those stunning Filipino beaches.

I took some pictures just to proof that I’m not over reacting here. Like I said, nobody beliefs it until they have seen it themselves.


And yes, you can ignore it, just go to the other side of the island where the wind comes from the hills blowing the trash away from the shores. Move on to a place where beaches are cleaned up every day just to please the tourists. Move a place with a different current, study the wind as you plan your travels.

For me, at the moment I’m living at one of the filthiest beaches I have seen so far in the Philippines in a paradise called Siquijor. Google it and you will see no other than beautiful white beaches. The comparison with Boracay is often made. And I dare to say that it is highly overstated, specially at this moment.

With the Habagat blowing right unto ‘my beach’ comes tons of plastic, driftwood, coconuts, solitary shoes, clothing, bottles, fishing gear, tires and other stuff, dumped int he ocean, somewhere, some place.

Sometimes beaches aren’t even beaches in the Philippines

Due to climate changing and constant flooding people build seawalls.  Bohol has that. And Sabang Beach on Mindoro Island (Puerto Galera)

You sit on a small strip of sand, and on Bohol most of the beaches are concreet with a little sand on it. Seawalls to prevent the land from flooding, due to the rise of the seawater, appear everywhere and hotels are often build on top of the seawall.

Living in the Netherlands for such a long time I became ignorant of how filthy the world is. We paid eco tax to clean the place up, there were mufflers and catalytic converters and particulate traps. There was no public burning of trash but trash collection and those collecting it cleaned up after them. There are recycle plants and laws to prevent pollution on a large scale.

Here there is none, whatsoever. O yes, garbage is collected in some places after dogs and treasure hunters went through the bags scattering the trash all over the place, but there are also sewers are open and end up in the ocean. There are people dumping garbage everywhere and it is taken downstream in rivers to the ocean. And not many seem to care.

So you might be in for a big surprise coming to the Philippines, unless you book your holiday in one of those well maintained resorts that clean beaches and have ‘natural landscaping’ and charge you 100 US$ per room per night.

So be prepared, do not believe Google Images and you will not end up crying on a foreign beach, like the girl I ran into the other day.

Besides from that…life is pretty good here.
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