We're going because I want my youngest son to experience living with a large family, with being able to hang out with a dozen cousins at once, to enjoy having that family reunion almost every day! He knows the problems there—after all, he spent four months there last year going to high school. But if you ask him, he's eager to go back. As poor as the schools are there, he prefers going to school in Manila, despite the fact that at the school where he's going, students are not allowed to date until they're 18! Why does he like the school so much? He said it was because they took their schoolwork much more seriously there...and because he's well-liked at the school; being the only white kid in an otherwise all-brown school tends to make one more noticeable. I knew somewhat how he felt, having attended a school once in Mississippi where out of 480 students, perhaps 20 of us were white.
He learned something else there, too: that as dirty and unsanitary as Manila certainly is, the Filipinos themselves are much cleaner than Americans. It's not only taking one's shoes off when going into the house. It's also taking showers twice, three times a day, and rinsing one's butt with water every time with a small bucket called a "tabo" whenever one uses the toilet.
There's a personal reason for going there, too. I've seen several nursing homes here stateside, and I told my sons long ago that if they decided to put me in a nursing home, to instead just take me out to the woods and leave me there. I cannot and will not allow myself to be sentenced to die in one of those places no matter how nice they are. Why? My wife's grandmother passed away in the family compound about eight years ago. She had spent her final years mostly blind, somewhat hard of hearing, and hardly able to move, largely restricted to a bed in an unventilated room...and there she would spend her days in the heat with perhaps a fan for cooling in the hot and humid Manila weather, hardly able to swat away the mosquitoes and other insects. Sounds miserable, right? But every single day, she could hear her children, her grandchildren, her great-grandchildren...whereas those in American nursing homes—even the high-end nursing homes—count themselves lucky if they see a family member or two once a month!