Lessons Learned: A really inconvenient time of the year to go to the Philippines

Fort Santiago (1)

On my last trip, I went to Thailand and the Philippines. I ended up in the Philippines just before Halloween and that turned out to be a bad idea. I didn’t…what’s the word…understand? I really want to use the word GROK here… but at any rate.. I didn’t *get* what it means to be in a predominantly Catholic country during All Souls Day and All Saints Day. Those two days, it seems like virtually EVERYONE goes home to the provinces to clean the headstones of their ancestors and share in family meals. It’s a national holiday to help people accomplish this and that meant that most services are closed and nearly all tourist sights are closed or partially closed.

It also means that traffic the few days before and the few days after is jam packed. Buses are packed, freeways are packed, there are fewer taxis on the road and the ones that are, are stuck in heavy traffic. It’s quite a mess. Now, I’m not saying that the people or the country was particularly unpleasant during the time, it’s just that as a tourist, if I could have exchanged those two days for two non-event days, it would have been easier to get around and do the tourist thing šŸ™‚

That makes for a couple of very slow days and really eats into any scheduled activities.

I did manage to see Fort Santiago, in Intramuros. Once a fortress for the Spanish conquistadors, it now stands as a historical landmark, a multipurpose open space, and as a memorial for Filipino freedom fighters, in particular Jose Rizal whose shrine is visited by thousands of Filipinos each year.

So I did have something to do during one of the days. I did miss out on the museum and a few other things I wanted to do, so lesson learned.

If *any* holidays come up during a trip, I won’t assume what it will be like there and dig a little deeper to try to find out what the actual atmosphere will be like! šŸ™‚