If your mental picture of a Filipina is that of an exotic woman who will be your snorkeling buddy when you go to some coral reefs in the Philippines, you might be in for a surprise.
Although the Philippines is an island nation, most Filipinos and Filipinas just can’t swim.
First of all they live on islands, not in the water. Second many of them live away from the beach, in the cities or in the mountains.
Even cities or villages that are relatively close to the sea are sometimes poorly connected to the beaches, long stretches of seacoast are occupied by private resorts and many Filipinos don’t have the money to pay the entrance fee. In several areas of the country the sea is polluted and, in many parts of the country, that are situated close to the sea, there is nothing but fields and countryside between the sea and the main road and there is not a single driveway that leads to the shore.
Third there are relatively few swimming pools (private or public) spread over the country.
Roads are insufficient and there is so much traffic that it takes forever to get to the nearest beach.
Much of the inland is covered with hills and mountains and there is nothing but rough roads in most inland areas and getting to the nearest body of water may require long hours.
My wife comes from barangay Pinaod, between San Ildefonso Bulacan and Donya Remedios Trinidad which, theoretically is close to both the China Sea and the Pacific Ocean. The China Sea stretch of coast that belongs to the Province is too polluted and between the villages and towns of Bulacan and the Pacific coast, on the opposite side, there is a thick jungle and no roads crossing it, not even a trail.
There is only one swimming pool near my wife’s hometown and it is located some 20 km away and the nearest (clean) river is Bulusukan which is some 30 km away and swimming there is not for everyone as there are waterfalls and the current can be strong.
So, although she comes from a village situated in the middle of an island, her hometown is so far away from any body of water that there is no way local people can practice swimming on a consistent basis.
Another factor that keeps Filipinos from learning how to swim, even if they live close to a body of water, is that for many of them entertainment is not hiking, swimming or any other physical activity but rather staying home and chit-chatting with various relatives and guests who show up at any hour, so women spend much time preparing meryenda. They also prefer social gatherings, karaoke, going to fast-food restaurants or to the shopping mall to going to a beach so, even a lot of people who live close to beaches have other priorities.
So, although you marry a woman who comes from one of the most beautiful island nations on the planet, chances are she can’t swim.
So, don’t expect a swimming or snorkeling buddy, rather, when you visit the Philippines, prepare yourself to spend most of your time there window shopping at the megamall, eating at Jollibee, KFC, Burger King etc. or at social gatherings.
The Philippines is in the middle of the sea but the sea is not a priority for most Filipinos and all the more so for women.