From being a “prisoner” in Philippines to the best New Year’s Eve in the slums

Let me start by saying that less than 24 hours ago I was still thinking that this New Year’s Eve celebration will be one of the worst in my life. Surprisingly it turned out to be THE BEST New Year’s Eve celebration I’ve ever experienced and I’m still in shock on how amazing last night was.

Because of some unfortunate circumstances I became a “prisoner” on one of the Philippines island. I arrive to Cebu, a city in central Philippines, 4 days ago. I was super excited because I decided to sign up for a Divemaster program and I was more than sure that everything will go smoothly. Well, as most of you know, plans look nice on the paper but they usually don’t work out that well when it comes to backpacking (especially in Asia).

I arrived to Philippines in the middle of a typhoon and an earthquake – how cool is that?! When the pilot said “fasten your seatbelts, we are entering a typhoon area” I knew that the troubles are about to begin.

The turbulences were not bad at all but it was raining very heavily when we landed. When I picked up my luggage (at least that part went well) I went to catch a cab to the city. Only after a while I realized that I’m the only tourist and the only person traveling alone. It didn’t feel so great.

The World Is Calling Me in Philippines

I started to feel even worse when few people in a row asked me why I travel alone. I didn’t really understand why would they be so surprised as I was travelling by myself in Asia for a while already and haven’t feel uncomfortable about that. Well, it took me only a couple of hours to get why people on the airport were so concerned about me being by my own.

On my way to the hostel that happened to be in the middle of nowhere (shame on you trip advisor for giving unreliable reviews!) I was getting more and more distressed. The city looked disgusting, there were no foreigners on the streets at all and the weather was simply awful!

When I arrived to the hostel I realized that I’m actually the only guest! It was raining like crazy, the place looked gloomy in the evening light and I couldn’t help but think: “shit Joanna, what have you done?!”.

The things were getting worse and worse that night – they didn’t have any food in the hostel, it was pouring and the closest place to get food was pretty far away. I don’t mind walking but I wasn’t so eager to do so at that moment as it was dark, raining and I would have to go through the slums. I went to bed depressed and starving without suspecting that I will be stuck in this place for days…

When I woke up the rain was gone and the place looked much better. The sun always makes me feel happy and gives me good energy so I started my day feeling very confident. I’ve contacted the diving resort asking If I could arrive earlier than I was supposed to and they replied saying that I could come anytime I wanted. I packed my stuff and was ready to go when the girl in the reception told me that because of the typhoon the ferries are not working and I need to stay in the city until they solve the problem.

I kind of freaked out when I heard that – the idea of staying in this place was killing me, the smile disappeared from my face and I felt miserable again. The only thing I wanted was to be on the beach already and finally see the Philippine beauty that everyone talks about but I wasn’t able to see so far.

The World Is Calling Me in Philippines

I sat down on the sofa and decided that as I’m not feeling comfortable with leaving the hostel I will spent the whole day working, writing and editing pictures. I can never find enough time for my personal writing so I thought that, as I have no other choice anyway, this is what I’m gonna do.

At the lunch time someone came to the hostel and I got super excited to see another human being (I almost jumped from the happiness). The guy checked in, left his stuff in the room and immediately came to say hi. His name was Thomas and he turned out to be my guardian angel. He saved me from loneliness and sadness of that place and I can honestly say that the next two days were so great only because he was with me. We bonded very fast, he was like a twin soul and we made the best of our stay in this scary place. He also was stuck in Cebu because of the typhoon and as much as I felt sorry for him I was also happy (sorry Tom 😉 ) that the universe sent him my way.

I could never do any sightseeing in this city without him and I wouldn’t go out for the New Year’s celebration because I was just too scared of walking on the streets by myself. He made everything much easier and only thanks to him I’ve experienced such an amazing and once in a lifetime party in Philippian’s slums.

We went for a dinner and beers, we saw fireworks that were quite impressive, we’ve danced in the supermarket with Chinese people (that was pretty unique experience as well) and in the end we found ourselves on the street party next to the hostel we were staying at.

The World Is Calling Me in Philippines

I’ve never seen something like that – people dancing, singing and celebrating life in the most simple and yet, most beautiful way possible. Kids and adults dancing on the street, laughing out loud and giving you the impression as if they were the happiest people in the world that don’t have to face such a poverty and misery in their everyday life.

The street where the party was happening looked miserable – houses falling apart, dirt and garbage everywhere and insects, rats and everything you can imagine running around.

My head was spinning, I was so shocked to see such an energy and happiness in a place like that. In the beginning I couldn’t stop thinking about how we, western people, don’t appreciate anything we have; how we don’t realize how rich (in many ways) we are, how we look for problems all the time, how spoiled we are.

You can’t really see western people celebrating like that, you don’t see those huge smiles regardless of any circumstances – what you can see in a western world is people worrying and worrying and worrying without any serious  reason all the time.


Everyone on that street was so friendly, inviting us to dance, talking to us, wishing us Happy New Year and even giving us free drinks! We could truly fell their happiness and soon enough we joined them and danced like there was no tomorrow.

After a while I completely disconnected from my thoughts – I was there 100%, the whole world stopped for a while, I felt so good, I felt like crying, I felt like I can fight any obstacle if in the end of the day I can experience something like that.

That was, with no doubt, one of the most amazing, fulfilling, ecstatic and impacting experience in my life. Something had changed inside of me, something started to make sense, some part of me felt in peace. I wish I could describe better how I felt but I don’t think there are right words to explain that. You have to live it to understand it.

When we got tired of music and dancing we started to head back to the hostel. After a minute or so it started to rain – slowly slowly the rain was getting stronger and stronger but we didn’t rush to the hostel, we were enjoying it.

We started to dance in the middle of the street, there were no more music or people, only heavy rain, stars and two twin souls that happened to be at the right place at the right time. We got soak wet so we decide to take our t-shirts off – there was no point of wearing them anyway.

We’ve continued walking and dancing, jumping, laughing and feeling the rain on our skin – I have never enjoyed the rain like I did last night, I laugh so purely, I felt such a bliss in my heart, I felt like if I had to choose how the last day of my life should look like that would be exactly it.

Two strangers that might never meet again living a moment to the fullest. Two hearts deriving indescribable joy from the simplest thing that the Mother Nature gave us. Lost souls on the road searching for their life purpose.

Earlier that day I told Tom that there is a superstition in Poland that says that you have to be very careful on how you spent the last day of the year because it’s gonna impact on how you gonna spent the upcoming year. I don’t really believe in things like that but in this particular case, I really wish it was true.

I hope that the feeling of bliss and pure joy will stay with me for the whole year and that I will be able to experience things that will help me connect with my true self.

Dear Universe, I don’t have words to express how I feel right now so I will just say, thank you.

Tom, you came from nowhere and now you are gone but it feels like your beautiful presence is still here. Thank you from the bottom of my heart, I could never live this experience if you didn’t show up in the hostel two days ago.

I wish you all Happy New Year, may all your dreams and goals come true in 2015; stay healthy and in peace.

Lots of Love,



Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *