Thank you Philippines!

Trip Start Jan 09, 2013
Trip End Jan 22, 2013

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Flag of Philippines  , MIMAROPA,
Sunday, February 17, 2013

I don't know why Philippines is off the SE Asia tourism map.
This country had some of the most beautiful beaches and amazing dives I've ever done.
I would have missed this country myself if my Filipina friend didn't recommend it to me. I'm so grateful that I got to travel to 6 different islands over the last 5 weeks. I leave this country with unforgettable memories, new friends and heart filled with so much joy.
Tonight I leave for my next destination, Thailand!!

Yesterday, on our last day in the Philippines, Gerrit, Gesa and I went to a Palawan WWII museum. Apparently there was a Japanese occupation/invasion in this town of Puerto Princesa during the WWII and being Japanese, I had a personal interest in this history.
The museum was understandably very one-sided. It portrayed the "Japs" as barbaric, inhumane monsters. Having read what the Japanese did to the Filipino and American POWs, I couldn't blame them. 139 POWs in this town were slaughtered, tortured, and murdered in some of the most horrific methods. I cried as I read the account of one soldier's tale of survival and what he endured at the hands of the Japanese.

There was a wall that also displayed a Japanese flag that was found after the occupation. It was signed by family and friends, and included messages of love, hope and victory. I was so overwhelmed with emotions - I cried again. Having sent a loved one to a war myself and having lived a year with misery, sadness and helplessness, I felt each of their message with my heart. I could picture sisters, wives and mothers signing messages onto that flag and tears just kept flowing. It's interesting being a Japanese-American. I could feel sorrow and sympathy for both sides.

Moving onto a bit more of a brighter topic, we met a cool couple from Vancouver at the guesthouse so the 5 of us went out for a happy hour last night to celebrate our last night in the Philippines. We had so much fun and I was so sad to say goodbye to G&G! We had become such great companions, having spent 5 days on Tao, 6 days in El Nido and 2 days in Puerto Princesa. Despite our age difference, we got along so well and I learned so much about Germany and its history. I will miss them so much!!
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