Bardiness

"..a bardy view!"

Thai Trouble – Pinoy Praise….

Thailand receives ten times more tourists annually than the Philippines and is the destination of choice for visitors to South-East Asia. It's festering anti-government sentiment has been building for several months, yet throughout, the country has continued to draw international visitors seemingly oblivious of the dissent. Now with civil unrest escalating its only in recent days when the UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office has advised against all travel, and the US Embassy is repatriating its staff.

The Philippines by contrast, and for all it's economic and social problems, have conducted its presidential elections with quiet dignity. Traditionally marked with violence and dispute, the elections have gone surprising peacefully, even though a new automated voting system has been implemented which had the potential to cause great confusion.

As I mentioned in a recent post, the challenges to get 50 million voters to democratically and fairly cast their vote in an archipelago of 7000 islands would task the most organised country.

Whilst in the UK we managed to avoid murder, we did not avoid mayhem. Several polling stations closed on the dot at 10.00pm leaving scores if not hundreds suddenly disenfranchised. In some stations they even ran out of ballot papers – which is astonishing when they knew how many legitimate voters were on the electoral roll. In the past the occasional ballot box went astray, but was recovered, so it can only be assumed that 13 years of a UK New Labour government successfully created even more incompetence right down to the wire.

So the Philippines should be praised and complimented on their organisation. But this is a country which knows the value of democracy, and whilst it can be criticised for pandering to celebrity and personality, the people queued for hours to stamp their mark. Now they have made their choice and a new era dawns. Or does it?

Whatever the future holds the world should look with respect upon this nation. It struggles in adversity and is challenged by colonialist legacies and influences. It strives for identity and seeks to re-enforce pride in its people. It sits as a beacon of hope amongst neighbours much more volatile than the rest of the world cares to acknowledge.

The Philippines continues to build a nation. It is not a tourist playground like Thailand, whose citizens finally appear to be waking up from a soporific coma. Nevertheless, if you were considering popping off to Bangkok or Phuket for your holidays, why not go the few extra miles to the Philippines?  It's just as beautiful.

But remember – it's the best kept secret in Asia – so keep it under your hat!

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May 15, 2010 - Posted by | Culture, Current Affairs, Politics, The Philippines, Travel, United Kingdom | , , , , ,

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