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Word Travels - Behind the Scenes in the Philippines by Robin Esrock
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Behind the Scenes in the Philippines
by Robin Esrock / Published October 31 2008
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El Nido was absolutely spectacular, although once more , it felt like we were sabotaged by off-season weather.   To do a show like ours, on a budget like ours, off season means we can afford to get to where we need to go, and also get into the places we’d like to go (a place like the El Nido Resort gets booked up pretty fast in high season).    In the show, there’s a fraction of a second shot of me swimming into a cave.   We had parked the boat alongside it, the water was crystal blue, and it seemed like the thing to do, you know, swim into the cave.   Later, a guide tells me, “in fifteen years, you’re the first person I’ve ever seen do that.  Legend has it an big anaconda lives in that cave.”    Proving, once and for all, ignorance is bliss, and it also makes people do stupid things in retrospect.

Since my bum ear keeps me out from under the water, I had originally planned to go rock climbing amongst those fantastic limestone islands.   Rain and rock climbing mix like pitbulls and kindergartens, so we had to scramble for a replacement story.  Compared to other shows on adventure travels, I knew my first time scuba diving wouldn’t be very impressive in terms of what you, the viewer, might see beneath the surface.  But my reaction, and the pure thrill of doing something I’ve always wanted to do, would be as real as it gets.   Being real has held me in good stead these past few years.   After all, if I was actually a gung-ho thrillseeking adrenaline junkie, what fun would that be?  Half of the time I’m scared to death, the other half I just reassure myself that people don’t get hurt too often filming television.  Oh, wait... On the other hand, Julia can eat all the balut she wants.   She seriously did chase me around the hotel with that fertilized egg in her hand.  You have to be a serious nut to eat that.   Swimming with anacondas is like playing with puppies in comparison.

For someone who spends a lot of time in planes, I make a concerted effort not to think about plane crashes.   This is not easy when flying through a tropical rainstorm.   Rain was pouring in through the windows, and we were bouncing around like lottery balls, the propellers making that growling sound you hear in war movies just before a big explosion.   I’ve got to think that the more I fly, the more I increase the chances of going down in a fiery ball, but statistically, it’s more dangerous to drive your car.   Did you know more people get killed every year from bee stings than shark attacks?   Fear exists in nature, and irrational fear is human nature.   So here you have someone who’s been set on fire and bungee jumped off TV Towers and hiked erupting volcanoes but show me a plane in a storm or an exotic egg delicacy and I’m wrapped up in the corner hubbing for mercy.   

I can’t believe it took me this long to get to the Philippines, and it’s truly a place I want to return to.  I doubt I’ll be as lucky to find myself at somewhere as nice as the El Nido resort again, but that’s OK, I’ll take what I can get.     


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