Bryan, our regional Pocket Cultures contributor from the Philippines tells us a bit about the best parts of his country, including videoke, San Miguel beer and Weng Weng. Don’t know who Weng Weng is? Read on!

Tell us a bit about yourself

My name is Bryan Ocampo. I guide tourists in my country and I also write for a mobile content provider in Pasig City. I love watching World War 2 documentaries and US sitcoms. My main interests are Philippine history, anime and manga (Japanese comics); eating sanzrival from my grandparents’ home province; drinking and videoke with my friends. I like hanging out with people who have a good sense of humor. I’m a Beatles Man.

Where do you live? Where are you from? If those are different, can you tell us a little about what inspired your move?

I was born in Quezon City but I now live in Makati City, the central business district of this archipelago-nation called the Philippines. I almost migrated but recently, I made a choice to live here.

If you would describe yourself as multi-cultural, tell us a bit about what culture you most identify with and why.

As a Filipino, I can identify with the cultures of Southeast Asia, the Polynesians, the Chinese, the Spanish and the Americans. Too many right? It’s the blend of Eastern and Western influences and the way these were transformed and interpreted here, which make Filipino culture quite unique. For me, it’s a fun and ongoing process.

Why did you decide to become a Pocket Cultures contributor?

Being a contributor gives me a unique platform to spread the word about my country. It is also a way for me to know other cultures and appreciate our diversity and our common humanity.

 Can you describe a typical day for you?

I wake up and greet the morning next to my wife, take a bath, prepare coffee, drive to work, spend 8 hours on the desk then go home and sleep. Sounds like an exciting day but it helps me to balance my other job as a tourist guide.

On some days as a guide, I wake up early and review my notes in preparation for a tour, then I meet and tour my guests, have lunch, go home, have dinner with my wife then watch TV or read a book until falling asleep.

I have come to realize that both jobs break the monotony. I think that I cannot live without the other.

What is the best part of living in your country? The worst?

The best part of living in the Philippines aside from its natural beauty is its people. Filipinos are regarded for their warmth, hospitality, hard work and resilience. I know that there are a lot of things needed to be done for a developing country like ours but I have faith that eventually, we will progress.

On a lighter note, it’s videoke, San Miguel Beer and “Weng Weng” also known as Secret Agent 00. The worst is the negativity found in some people here and abroad. This feeling of hopelessness that doesn’t help at all.

Btw, this is Weng Weng:

 What books or films would you recommend someone who’d like to know more about your country?

I recommend the following books: Culture & History by Nick Joaquin; Manila My Manila by Nick Joaquin: Culture Shock by Alfredo Roces & Grace Roces; The Rosales Saga by F. Sionil Jose, and Tikim by Doreen Fernandez.

Films and its rough title translations: Himala (Miracle) by Ishmael Bernal; Maynila Sa mga Kuko ng Liwanag (Manila in the Claws of Neon) by Lino Brocka; and Kakabakaba Ka Ba? (Will Your Heart Beat Faster) by Mike de Leon and For Y’ur Height Only by Eddie Nicart.

What’s something that visitors are often surprised by when getting to know your country/culture?

Some tourists were a bit surprised about the fact that English is widely spoken here. Another thing is that mobile phones are almost everywhere.  In my past tours, some were interested to know about Philippine-Mexican relations, the destruction of Intramuros in the Second World War, and simple things such as the name origins of Manila and the Philippines. Oh, and our smiles for any occasion 🙂

About the author

Carrie is an American who just moved from Bali to Mendoza, Argentina. Carrie caught the wanderlust bug early on from her parents, who raised her in Mexico City. Carrie and her husband David have lived in New York, London, Barcelona, Costa Rica, Rio de Janeiro, Montevideo, and Bali before moving to Mendoza. They are actively working to pass on the travel bug to their young son Timmy, who has already been to twelve countries.