Wow, if I was able to just say one word this is all I want to say about this great community, but you guessed it I can’t just say one word. It is a four hour journey to Port Barton which really should only take two. But hey I chatted all the way so it didn’t seem that long. Again the only issue was my bag and fortunately the walk from the bus stop to the Dragon House hostel was only 200 meters. The moment I walked into the hostel I felt at home. The staff including Mike the manager were fantastic, by the time I left Port Barton the girls behind the bar were calling me mummy. I do hope that was a term of endearment! Anyway I met a bunch of great travellers, expats and of course many locals who were happy to chat to me about their lives in Port Barton.
Robert the captain of a boat, who also was a motor bike taxi driver when the typhoon stopped boat tours for two days spoke to me about how he learnt his sailing skills from his father, when Port Barton was just a sleepy little fishing village. He taught Robert the waters around Port Barton, where to and not to go. His father also was well known around Port Barton and Robert was well aware of his fathers good name. Many of the families who live on some of the islands do not allow foreigners or even locals because of corruption and the fear of losing their way of life. Something I found out later during my trip to the Balacan Islands. Robert has 6 children and all of them in one way or another work on his boat. I loved how he was teaching his son when I took a reef tour. Certainly the master and his apprentice. He loves his life but worries what will happen when the new road opens and what that may bring. It is alright to say it brings work but it also changes peoples priorities.
Everyday from dawn to dusk at the Dragon House there was young lad who maintained the hostel. He could put his hand to everything. From unblocking toilets to creating 3D glasses for computer games. He was always tinkering away at something. He was well know in the Port Barton community for his ability to problem solve. He told me that he was always interested in how things worked and as a young child was always pulling things apart to the ire of his family and friends. He wanted a better education but could not afford the fees so he learns news skills via You Tube instead. I wonder if he was living in Australia how much an hour he could earn.
I was fortunate enough to meet two couples who were setting up life in Port Barton, atm their names escape me. One couple were from Brazil and the other couple were from Holland, they decided to open up Gorgonzola a pizza come European style restaurant. This of course was difficult as they needed to have Filipino backers and run it as a corporation. They were just starting out, including both couples are expecting newborns in the next couple of months. A daunting task if ever there was one, however they were looking forward to raising a family in such a wonderful place. However something that was worrying them was education for their children. Even though the Philippines has compulsory education both couples wanted an education one might get in our own country. Although they did point out that they were not happy with the current education systems that are in place in many western countries. They saw the failing of a system that only rewarded such a small percentage of kids. We had a great conversation about different systems of education and we all felt the same that the current education systems throughout the world were failing the younger generation. They spoke about a more holistic approach, a learning environment that bought creativity to the forefront rather than just an add on. Using your whole body not just the head to the table. So in 4 years time if anyone wants a great job, in a great place in the world the job is there to be had.
Obviously meeting travellers has been a great privilege as many have amazing lives. In Port Barton whilst on the reef tour I was fortunate to meet three amazing people. All have amazing stories of growing up, their present lives and what the future holds. Aidan a gifted photographer who has travelled the world taking photographs for travel companies and being flown to all corners of the world. Funny man and a great story teller. His friend Alex an amazing girl travelling through Asia and Australia for 6 months, funny as hell and her party stories have to be heard to be believed. Yet I know I could tell a few of my own from days gone past. She was so happy with her new job at Lloyds bank who had allowed her to take 6 months to travel and allows her to return to her job. I think she would not have gone if she wasn’t guaranteed a job. Something many people face is the uncertainty of reliable work and a job they can enjoy.
This takes me to Marco from Germany, I am a tad disappointed that I did not get his contact details because I would love to know what his future will hold. Marco sat with me for 2 hours and told me his hopes and dreams of the future. He has been working for his father in his engineering business for the past two years. He hates it, the regular day to day structured life is not what he wants. For six years he was a dancer in a dancing troupe on a cruise boat which he loved. However his parents did not agree with this form of work. He tells me that they don’t believe that wandering the world, being creative is going to give him a secure life. His mother and father emigrated to Germany from Spain in the 1980’s. They sacrificed everything so their children could have what they didn’t when they were younger. His mother has built a very successful Spanish restaurant on the border of Germany and Switzerland. However you could feel the anguish Marco was dealing with and the added pressure from his father for Marco to settle down and have a stable job. He is desperate not to let his parents down and this like many people I meet is the concern they all feel. During his spare time he has just started building a budding photography business and he could see a way out. Already he has had many people persuade him to continue and hire him for weddings and commercial projects. I do hope he follows his dreams and I am sure his parents will always love him no matter what direction he chooses.