A few interesting tidbits of the Philippine islands:
1. Upon entering a new provence in Mindanao (the southern most large island) we came to a quarantine stop. A sign read "Help keep the Philippines Bird Flu free". We pulled into an area resembling a gas station without the tanks, a few shops along the side. We were all required to get out of the van we were driving in and step across the 'disinfectant area'. It was a muddy looking rug. We walked across it and back to the car on the previously stepped on, with our infected shoes, ground. Whether or not the quarantine stop helped is anyones guess.
2. Filipinos have no qualms in asking your age. It's generally a question that comes immediately after asking your name. But they're also quick to tell you you're beautiful, in total sincerity, with no want in return.
3. The Philippines is one of the few 3rd World Countries I've been to where children don't beg. They say "hello" and that is enough to please them. Granted, many children are just as poor as the other countries in which children beg.
4. Basketball is the pastime of choice, which they play barefoot or with flip-flops on. Another conversation starter they'll use on their newly American friends is "do you watch the NBA?" and "which is your favorite team?".
5. There are many highly effeminate men. And many of those are transgendered.
6. The country is overrun with South Koreans - visiting, learning English, playing golf, etc.
7. Most of the 7000+ islands are strongly Christian. Churches are everywhere. Prayers are said before ferries leave ports on their journey to a neighboring island. While in Baguio City, a few hours north of Manila, I wandered through a mall. On the first floor, located near an open veranda, an international school was setting up for a music concert. I sat down as they were finalizing their preparations. Just as the wind instrument players sat down to perform, the skies opened and water poured down upon them. They all ran for cover where the audience was seated while a few ran to push a standing piano into the mall. Their 6pm performance was in the midst of being rained out. The teenaged DJ of the night grabbed the mic and apologized for the delay. "We can't control the rain," he said, "but there is something we can do. Do you know what it is? What we can do?" In unison, the entire audience around me shouted "PRAY!"