The Year That Was 2016

It looks like everyone couldn’t wait for the shitshow that was 2016 to be over soon enough. Highlighted by too many celebrity deaths, terrorist attacks, refugee crisis, extra judicial killings, trolling, bigotry, fake news, a couple of presidential elections that produced less than desired outcomes, 2016 has been a trying year for many.

I could say it’s been a trying year for me, as well, but it would be unfair and mostly untrue. A few years ago, I created a “40 before 40” list of things to achieve or do before I turned 40, and on top of which was to find the one. I didn’t give it much thought afterwards, such that in my rush to fly out of Manila last year, one of the things that I left behind was that piece of paper that contained the list. However, realising that I managed to accomplish a number of items on that list this year makes for a happy recollection of the past 12 months. It has been a challenging year, stressful on some parts, but one that I should recall favourably. Continue reading “The Year That Was 2016”

Sayonara, Manila!

purple bagsNearly 12 months of communicating mostly online, patiently waiting for school holidays to come around, and traveling thousands of miles to be together for just a few days, this is what it comes down to.

While the last three weeks have been absolutely stressful, thanks to having to deal with red tape and braving Christmas traffic to get from one point of Metro Manila to another (hello, Pasay to Kyusi in a day!) to run after certifications and official documents, I still count myself absolutely lucky to have the chance to be with The One and to be given the opportunity to work in another country. Things fell into place just when I was about to give up and embrace life-long singledom (nothing wrong there, mind!) or accept the prospect of working in the same city until for the rest of my productive years. Continue reading “Sayonara, Manila!”

Tales of El Nido

IMG_0100I first visited El Nido three years ago upon the invitation of a friend whom I dated very briefly. I must have been living in a bubble all my life for I never knew how relationships with visitors worked. Since then, I treasured a hate/hate relationship with this destination popular amongst backpackers.

And so excited to visit a place that I only knew about from travel magazines, I booked tickets to the nearest major airport, not knowing full well about the harrowing land transfer between Puerto Princesa and this tiny town sitting on the edge of nowhere: six hours of commute on some of the roughest roads I knew. If you asked me now, I would pay anything to avoid spending a total of twelve hours that I could never get back on a backbreaking road trip.

Continue reading “Tales of El Nido”

Travel Is a Lot Like Life

Air Travel
Somewhere over the West Philippine Sea

“Travel is little beds and cramped bathrooms. It’s old television sets and slow Internet connections. Travel is extraordinary conversations with ordinary people. It’s waiters, gas station attendants, and housekeepers becoming the most interesting people in the world. It’s churches that are compelling enough to enter. It’s McDonald’s being a luxury. It’s the realisation that you may have been born in the wrong country.

Travel is a smile that leads to a conversation in broken English. It’s the epiphany that pretty girls smile the same way all over the world.

Travel is… a street full of bearded backpackers looking down at maps. Travel is wishing for one more bite of whatever that just was. It’s the rediscovery of walking somewhere. It’s sharing a bottle of liquor on an overnight train with a new friend. Travel is “Maybe I don’t have to do it that way when I get back home.” 

— Nick Miller, New Girl

Last year was the only one in the past six that I didn’t leave the country. Maybe it’s time to get a new visa or use up what’s remaining of what I still have. Or maybe it’s time to dust off my old camera and drive hundreds of miles to capture the beauty that my country is known for: its rich traditions, its people, the kindness of strangers whose languages I don’t even speak.

Travel brings out the worst and the best in us. In it, we find ourselves and realise how strong and brave and patient we can be. Along the way, we find friends and along the way, I may find what and who I have been searching for.

Travel opens our eyes to certain truths: are we there for the whole journey or are we just tagging along until the next pit-stop, the next station? Are we travelling with the right companion and going in the right direction? Travel has its perils, too: wasted time, false promises of a good adventure, lost resources, physical threats, heartbreak.

Sometimes, these pitfalls make me wonder if some travels are worth taking. Not all travels are equal, and we cannot keep on making reckless decisions with our limited time and resources. Maybe some journeys are better taken towards other directions.

Take the next or the first step; bring out the map; take with you only what is necessary. Keep it simple. Follow your inner compass. Sing if you are afraid, dance when you are happy. Meet fellow travellers; treat them kindly and respectfully.

Travel is life. Have faith. Find your courage. Travel is why I don’t have nice things. But oh, I would not want it any other way!

Thoughts on the year that was

Last year has had its ups and downs, but it was one that I could recall with fondness, thanks to new-found friendships, new goals reached, and big decisions made.

It was a quiet year for the most part, and it was just what I needed regardless of where I sat on the introvert/extrovert divide. There comes a point in one’s life when drama loses its meaning; there are bigger things than oneself out there. Be part of what is good; look ahead. Life is easier and often more fulfilling if we just focus on things that are within our control–ourselves, our performance, our attitudes–instead of things that depend on the decisions and feelings of others. It’s tiring, it’s draining, and I don’t have the time, energy, nor the brain space to deal with negativity and everything that goes with it. In this, I succeeded for the most part. Most. Continue reading “Thoughts on the year that was”