Storytellers JB and Renée |


Dwarfed by bamboo, Arashiyama Bamboo Groves, Kyoto, Japan
Dwarfed by bamboo, Arashiyama Bamboo Groves, Kyoto, Japan

This week on Culture with Travel, an interview with travel couple, JB and Renée of Will Fly For Food, as they speak about culture and food in the Philippines.

Tell us a bit about yourself! Why do you love travel? How do you think travel unites us or teaches us more about the world?
We love to travel, because it’s the only thing you can buy that makes you richer. I know it sounds corny and cliche, but it’s true. The satisfaction you get from material possessions fades over time, but memories from trips last forever. It never fails to put a smile on our faces whenever we look back on our old trips.

Can you tell us something about the culture in your country and why did you decided to stay there?
We both lived a good portion of our lives in the US before moving back to the Philippines. The Philippines is a developing country with its share of problems, but we love it. It’s the only place in the world we can truly call home.

What surprising aspect of culture do you love about your country (or your specific town/city) that travelers may not be aware of?
Filipinos are some of the kindest and most warm-hearted people in the world. We treat visitors like family. I love how we can laugh about our problems, too.

Which dish do you feel best represents where you’re specifically from? Share a picture and tell us why you love it!

That’s easy, adobo! It’s unofficially our national dish. It’s damn delicious, especially with rice.

Growing up in your country, what’s something that you believe makes it unlike anywhere else in the world?
The people, and our sense of humor. We Filipinos love to laugh and joke around. We make the PUN-niest jokes ever. And oh yeah, our love for basketball. We aren’t that tall, but we love it with a passion. We can make hoops out of anything, even toilet seats!

Talk about the role of family in your life. What does family mean to you? Which family values are valuable to you?
Family is everything. You need trust and a good support system to thrive and only family can provide that.

How important is spirituality and religion in your daily life? What do you do to celebrate the two?
Not so important. We’re both god-fearing, but we don’t believe in organized religion. Too much hypocrisy and self-righteousness. We pray before every meal though, and thank god for every blessing.

Share about a custom/tradition you observe. What makes it special?
JB: This isn’t a custom but more like a quirky habit. I personally kiss our dogs Henry and Mona 18 times each when I put them to bed at night. They’re like our children and we love them to pieces. I do it for good luck and to give thanks.

Art and dance can tell a deeper story about local culture. Tell us the story of a specific artwork or dance that has a meaning for you. Share a photo, if you can. (It can be anything from street art to a festival to a painting to architecture to woven art work, to woodworking, a family heirloom, etc.)

Juan Luna's Spolarium
Juan Luna’s Spolarium

It gives me pride to see Juan Luna’s Spoliarium. It’s arguably the greatest Filipino masterpiece. It goes to show that Filipinos are just as talented as anyone in the arts.

Languages not only give us the power to communicate, but also can unite us across cultures. What’s something you love about the multitude of languages spoken in your country? Share a favorite saying you have, or teach us something in your native language.
“Kung gusto may paraan. Kung ayaw, puro dahilan.” That basically means “When there’s a will, there’s a way.” Too many people make too many excuses. If you really want something, then you should just go out and get it. No excuses.

What local spot in your city/town do you love most? Why is it personally important to you?
Not sure if we have one favorite, but we do love good cheap eats and buckets of beer (many bars in Manila serve beer in buckets of 6 bottles). We always look for good but inexpensive places to eat and drink every Friday night. It’s the highlight of our week when we aren’t traveling. Haha!

Who is the most inspiring person in your life? In which ways does this person inspire you?
I like to think that we inspire each other. 😉

Have you ever met a stranger during your travels who made an impact on your life in a certain way, or maybe it was you who helped someone else? Share the story!
JB: When I was backpacking alone in Nepal 20 years ago, my guide Sarot in Pokhara offered to lend me money so I could buy a $300 thanka. It was a moving gesture considering that wasn’t a small sum and he didn’t know me. I had enough money left over so I declined, but I never forgot the gesture.

Before I left, he told me he wanted to study in the US, so he asked if I could call universities and ask them to send him brochures. I told him I would. I was just starting out at art school, and I remember picking up the phone to call one university, but I couldn’t get through. I told myself I’d call again, but I never did. I’ve never fulfilled my promise to Sarot, and it’s something I’ve regretted to this day.

Unfortunately, stereotypes exist in the world. What are some common misconceptions you’ve heard about your country? What is considered disrespectful in your culture that visitors should be aware of?
JB: That we’re a bunch of savages who eat dog. Some people do, but not many.

Personally, I don’t like loud obnoxious tourists who act like they own the place. To me, it’s important that you show respect and carry yourself with humility when visiting a new country. You’re like a guest in someone else’s home, so you shouldn’t act like an entitled jerk.

To learn more about JB and Renée, visit their blog, Will Fly For Food. You can also follow them on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter

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