We have now lived in the Philippines for over three years and one thing that makes me reflect on life is that Filipinos love to smile. No matter where you are you will almost always be greeted with a warm smile (Funerals are the exception). Not the typical Western courtesy smile, but a true warm welcoming smile.
When we first went I quickly dismissed the notion that people only smiled because they were eating food (many do not have regular meals). People seem to smile whenever you greet them or spend some time getting to know them. I suppose, being English, that this genuine warmth in each smile and greeting, which is not very "British", is what endears me to the Philippines.
We recently traveled to Cebu for Christmas to be with a wonderful team of people who serve the poor in Cebu City. Our first trip was in 2004 (when we moved to the Philippines) and this has now become our yearly tradition. The Christmas lunch that is served is not the traditional Western fare and each year it has been done differently from serving thousands to serving hundreds of people.
The people in the following pictures are poor in financial terms, but are very wealthy in spirit and joy.
The smile tells it all
Happy to be eating
A true Christmas smile
Hope for a better future
Christmas comes but once a year, but my smile appears everyday
Biggest smile winner
To all of the instant critics out there screaming that they smile only because they only want your money - I recommend that you stop watching soap operas on TV, get a passport, got off you couch and get on a plane over here to see for yourself. Out of all the 30+ countries I've been to, I have never met a people who smile so beautifully and are genuine about it.
You can see more photos of the time spent in Cebu:
Cebu Christmas 2006 - Boat Trip
Cebu Christmas 2006 - Party
Cebu Christmas 2007 - Party