A few hours in a plane from Manila and you are transported to another world.
Although both Asian countries Japan is pretty much the polar opposite of the Philippines: transport runs to the second, nothing is dirty or out of place and there is a stillness.
Even in cities there is a calm, soft voices, an order, a system to adhere to. From a plate of sashimi to a temple rock garden, everything is a work of art, meticulously placed in the correct position.
In the Philippines everything is a heady, crazy mixture of clashing ideas and aesthetics for an example simply look at the garish and menacing look of the pimped up Jeepneys that run whenever they are full of passengers (walang timetable). The Philippines is like one of its favourite desserts, halo halo (mixed mixed): colourful, loud, a combination of whatever is at hand.
And not only could I flush my toilet paper in Japan, there was a NASA-like control panel on the side for splashing sounds (to cover the real splash), volume of splash, temperature control for bidet, water location and blast strength and of course a flush button (never to be assumed in the Philippines!)
One thing Japan and the Philippines has in common is warm hospitality and a willingness to help a stranger in their land. If you know me personally you know I have travelled South America, Europe, Turkey, India and of course my homeland Australia, but never have I encountered so many people to help me along my way as I have in Japan and the Philippines.
There is also a respect for elders that is lacking in my culture back home. Perhaps because Australia is such a halo halo country we have no established culture of hierarchy, if anything we rebel against it. Or perhaps we have no linguistic tools to articulate respect like Japanese and Tagalog. Either way I will miss being ma’am, ate (pronounced ar-te), and my personal favourite, Miss Jenny when I return home.