Experience, Personal Essay, Travel

In retrospect | 2016 round-up

Amidst the debauchery— an oversupply of alcohol and an indulgence in second-hand smoke— I smelt brine.

Barely sober, I heeded the smell and waded out of the Jungle Bar mosh pit and into the silence and darkness of the nearby beach. By the time midnight struck to herald 2016, seawater had already soaked the hem of the jumpsuit I wore for the night.

Water was my element, I was certain, despite the stars of my birth insisting it was Fire. 

On January 1, 2016, I was partying in Gili Trawangan, an island off the coast of Lombok in Indonesia, on what felt like the start of a new lap after accomplishing a whole darn lot in the years before then.

Gili Trawangan - Words and Wanderlust

The boylove was on my tail, generous with the space he was allowing me to brood in. We met at a New Year’s Eve Party too, some seven years ago. I was keeping him, I thought. For on days that my soul isn’t comforted by water, his skin becomes the hearth where my fire is able to burn the wildest. 

With finding fixture, came true understanding of the ways of my own heart. I found out that humans will always yield to the gravity of moments, of micro-infinities. Often to the weight of the ones that got away. Sometimes, of the ones who never left.

My heart will always flutter to a lot of things. But true love is a shelf that sits over and above everything else. That’s where Jonathan is.

camping patonga - Words and wanderlust 6

That firework-laden midnight in my favourite island in the world, kicked off what turned out to be a year of triumphs. For the first time in the history of my wayfaring, I felt no need to leave.

Rather, I found value in taking root; in finding marvel at the retelling of stories from revisited destinations. It was a year of knowing places better and loving people deeper.

Australia: The Joys of the Wilderness

The wilderness tapped on my fancy early on in the year. My husband and I have been privileged to have started our marriage in a beautiful home with splendid views of the lake. Also nearby was the ocean. In between were woodlands.

A long weekend at the foreshore of the neighbouring Patonga opened up a series of outdoor adventures. These adventures consequently led us to drive 4 hours south to Sanctuary Point and Jervis Bay on Easter Weekend, and 7 hours up the Snowy Mountains in the winter.

Successfully pitching a tent before nightfall and managing to stay dry despite an overnight downpour were but small victories. But through those tiny triumphs, the camping grounds have taught me an invaluable skill: sensitivity to the song of nature. 

It was through this new-found understanding that amongst many other things, we got to find pleasure in starlit dinners of salmon and asparagus, cooked over single-burner camping stoves and served on tin picnic plates and disposable cutlery.

In 2017, we plan to go more off-the-grid: to Barrington Tops, if time would prove to be of a constraint. More of Kosciuszko, if the mountain would have us again. Or if nature will be truly kind to us, to Outback New South Wales.

Philippines: A Month-Long Family Roadtrip

After my mother triumphantly defeated the mortal threat of cancer, the whole family embarked on a month-long road trip around Visayas and Mindanao in the Philippines.

Travel had always been my redemptionmy way of communing with the soul when the body had fought hard enough. As Mommy’s battle was ours too, I wanted us to have that victory trip together as a celebration of a life of countless second chances.

Test-driving a 7-seater monster that I recently bought for Daddy, we spent a weekend in a log cabin in Dahilayan, reunited with Mom’s side of the clan in Negros Occidental and retraced Dad’s roots in the mystic island of Siquijor. In between were stopovers in Malaybalay, Dumaguete, Mabinay and Dipolog.

My siblings and I went on to explore waterscapes in Surigao City, Bucas Grande, Siargao and Hinatuan. We still have the rest of our home island, Mindanao, to tick off our list. But it was a good enough start.

As for my parents, traveling led them to unwrap a lifetime’s worth of gifts at once: of youth, of strength, of possibilities and of life.

“YOLO!” my mom would quip, complete with rocker hand signs and her Eminem-ish post-chemo hairstyle.

2016 in retrospect | backpacking philippines

Indonesia : A Life-changing Trip of Wonders

Up to this day, I didn’t know how my name ended up on the ministry’s shortlist. I am a mercurial, if not lazy, blogger. I write monologues, mostly. In this day and age of informative travel blogging, I offer nothing but personal introspections.

But Indonesia happened, and with it came the need to tell more stories. It was perplexing, as the experience also showed me the business side of what I only otherwise attribute to as passion. I was confronted with the challenges of Discipline and Consistency — traits that I have managed to dodge around with the hipster label as a shield.

Wonderful Indonesia was my peephole to an industry I would love to give my all to, to get in. But because the heart is at stake, it has to take time.

2017, I hope and pray, is my time.

pink beach

Malaysia: A Tapestry of Cuisine and Culture

Nostalgia appeals to me like light to a moth. For many years, Malaysiaits street art, traffic, food and history— has given me nothing but good memories. In 2016, I revisited Kuala Lumpur and relearned its tales through food. Time also permitted for a short sojourn to Melaka, catalyst of poetry and cradle of somedays.

For many, Malaysia is a stop-over. For me, it is a touchstone. It is my Polaris; my arrow towards new adventures and my guide back home. That it is also a gastronomic wonderland, is a welcome bonus.

2016 in retrospect | Words and Wanderlust

2016 had been a year of kindness. More than ever, it was a time when the universe proved its faithfulness to me. It held a promise, almost spoken, that 2017 will only hold better things.

What with love, family, and an ever-present sense of marvel, the sky ocean is the limit!

Mindanao, Personal Essay, Philippines, Travel

Blog Carnival | The City of Majestic Waterfalls

In the late 90s, my once progressive home city lost its clout as The Industrial City of the South. Public amenities were sold to private operators. Housing projects were abandoned, half-built. The largest steel mill in Asia was closed down and left rusting. Jobs were made scarce. Even beer houses, once frequented by husbands whose wives didn’t care so long as they were provided for financially, turned their lights off for good.

Iligan City was stripped off of prestige.

The Waterfalls of Iligan | Words and Wanderlust
Mt. Agad-Agad lording over the CBD

The City of Majestic Waterfalls

But when one is forced into nakedness, one learns to love its own skin. When progress left, nature stayed. 

Fast forward two decades later, the city has risen up to the national stage, viciously proud of a new monicker: The City of Majestic Waterfalls. 

There are twenty-four, to be precise. But Iligan is best-known for two: one for its power; and the other, for its beauty. I know both for its legends. 

The Waterfalls of Iligan | Words and Wanderlust

What the people in my far-flung hometown lacked in luxury, they made up for in imagination. I grew up in those: in stories woven from the very fabric of nature.

The Lore of Maria Cristina

Perhaps the more renowned of the two is the mighty Maria Cristina, the heartbeat of Agus VI, a hydro-power plant that lights up most of Mindanao. Imagine the force. 

In intangible terms however, such force can only be equated to two emotions: love and hate. Coincidentally, these are the legs on which the saga of Maria Cristina Falls stands on.

The Waterfalls of Iligan | Words and Wanderlust
Maria Cristina Falls in full blast

Once upon time, on the coast of Iligan Bay, there lived two sisters who were famous for their beauty. Maria and Cristina were very close as siblings, but were often compared and pitted against each other.

There came a time when they fell desperately in love to the same man, who in turn, deceived them both. Unable to take the heartbreak, Maria leapt into a ravine and plunged into death. Guilt-ridden for her sister’s untimely demise, Cristina followed suit. Deeply saddened, the townspeople then put a boulder of a tombstone on the spot where the sisters jumped, to remember them by.

Soon after, river water started to flow and fall into the ravine, between the boulder. This created the twin waterfall that was later named after the sisters, Maria Cristina.

The Waterfalls of Iligan | Words and Wanderlust

But as the playwright Congreve once said, “hell hath no fury like a woman scorned.”

In the years that followed, the waterfall and its surrounding waterscapes, were noted to have been claiming lives of men: motorists mysteriously driving over the bridge and into the unforgiving water turbine under it; swimmers winding up dead, their carcasses floating in the nearby Bucana Beach; and fishermen going missing for days— some, never to be found. 

Maria Cristina Falls, to this day, exudes radiance. But like a maiden who never got justice, it also rages twice as bad.

Maria Cristina Falls Travel Guide


HOW TO GET THERE

  • From the North Bound Integrated Bus Terminal(if on an Iligan line bus) – take a city-bound jeepney and disembark at Zoey’s Cafe in Aguinaldo Street. Then catch a Buruun line jeepney and disembark just after Agus Bridge. 
  • From the North Bound Integrated Bus Terminal – (if on an Ozamis /Dipolog/Pagadian/Zamboanga line bus) – disembark just after Agus Bridge.  
  • From the South Bound Integrated Bus Terminal – take a jeepney (either Buruun, Linamon, Kauswagan, Kolambugan lines) and disembark just after Agus Bridge. 
  • From Lanao del Norte – disembark just after Agus Bridge.  

~*~

  • Travel Time – from the city centre, depending on the traffic, 15-30mins.
  • PUJ Fare – 7PHP (within city centre); 12-15PHP (Ma. Cristina, Buruun, Linamon)

FEES

  • From Agus Bridge, walk to the gate of NPC Nature Park (approximately 10 minutes from the highway).
  • Entrance Fee – 35PHP (adults); 25PHP (kids)
  • Shuttle Fee – 10PHP (return)

NOTES

  • The power plant controls the flow of the falls, except on weekends where it is usually on full blast.

The Lure of Tinago

In the last decade, news of a modern-day Arcadia seemed to have caught the fancy of curious outsiders. People have come in throngs, garbed in bright orange safety vests to frolic in the other-worldy waters of Tinago Falls.

The Waterfalls of Iligan | Words and Wanderlust

Nestled deep in a cavernous gorge between the suburbs of Ditucalan, Buruun and the municipality of Linamon, is most probably the country’s most spectacular waterscape. To get to the basin, one has to descend at least 436 steps down a concrete set of stairs– a small price to pay for such precious a beauty.

But nature, just like all else in life, is a double-edged sword. Unbeknownst to non-Iliganons, behind the charm of Tinago Falls, lies a lore of darkness, whose extent was never before gauged.

To start off, the depth of the basin is not known. Many have tried, but not one has succeeded. The accounts of those who neither died nor disappeared varied from pleasantly enchanting to downright harrowing.

One of the few, non-horrifying versions of the Tinago narrative, was about a rainbow that appeared every afternoon, and whose end dipped into the waterfall. It was said that behind the cascade was a cave. In the cave, was a pot of gold guarded by a giant snake.

Another version recounted how an entire coconut tree was once dropped into the falls in an attempt to measure its depth, but it did not float back.

But the most nightmarish of all, told of a tale of a diver who surfaced out in sheer panic after hearing voices at the bottom of the falls. When prodded, the poor man reportedly, eerily described the voices as “wailing in suffering, as if it was the very doorway to hell.”

The Waterfalls of Iligan | Words and Wanderlust

The truth to the mystery of Tinago Falls may be something that no one can ever get close to in this lifetime. But maybe too, there are truths we do not have to pursue. The way of nature is something that needs not only to be respected, but also, accepted.

In Iligan, we recognise that our realm, may sometimes overlap with that of others. There is good; there is evil. But the humankind is gifted with the most powerful magic of all: freewill.

It means get to choose our own versions of truths. How I choose the pot-of-gold-at-the-end-of-the-rainbow version of the Tinago story every time, for instance.

The Waterfalls of Iligan | Words and Wanderlust

Tinago Falls Travel Guide


HOW TO GET THERE

  • From the North Bound Integrated Bus Terminal – (if on an Iligan line bus) – take a city-bound jeepney and disembark at Zoey’s Cafe in Aguinaldo Street. Then catch a Buruun line jeepney. 
  • From the North Bound Integrated Bus Terminal – (if on an Ozamis /Dipolog/Pagadian/Zamboanga line bus) – disembark in Buruun or Linamon crossings to Tinago Falls. 
  • From the South Bound Integrated Bus Terminal – take a jeepney (either Buruun, Linamon, Kauswagan, Kolambugan lines) and disembark in Buruun or Linamon crossings to Tinago Falls. 
  • From Lanao del Norte – disembark in Buruun or Linamon crossings to Tinago Falls. 

~*~

  • From Buruun (my favourite route) – from the highway (Buruun crossing to Tinago falls) – hire a habal-habal to Tinago Falls.
    • Cost: 50-100PHP
    • Accessible through the ruins of the old Tinago Falls Resort
  • From Linamon (the most convenient) – from the highway (Linamon crossing to Tinago falls) – hire a habal-habal to Tinago Falls Highland Resort.
    • Cost: 50PHP
    • Maintained by the local government. Roads are less steep and more paved, plenty of parking spaces and easier access to the falls.

FEES

  • Entrance Fee – donation only (10PHP minimum)
  • Live Vest – 25PHP
  • Bamboo Raft – 10PHP
  • Table – 75-100PHP

NOTES

  • Visit on weekdays as weekends tend to get very crowded.

The Waterfalls of Iligan | Words and Wanderlust
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This is my entry to the Pinoy Travel Bloggers’ November 2016 Blog Carnival, with the theme, Stories From My Hometown, hosted by Celine Reyes.


Asia, Personal Essay, Philippines, Travel, Visayas

Siquijor: The Long Way Home

Lineage, they say, is traced back from the father. If that is the case, then mine traces back to Siquijor, the island of fire. Also, of faith; of magic; of saltwater; and of the nocturne.

Only, even my father, a third-generation migrant to Mindanao, hadn’t been to the island himself.

But postal address was the sole thing that was not Siquijodnon about my Dad; about us as a family. Growing up in a region where only a handful bore our surname, we always felt misplaced somehow.

Talks about entire barrios that shared our bloodline– sun-kissed, with wide noses and big teeth— were mouthed as a promise -to-see-someday; a dream, repeatedly told over coconut wine- drinking sessions amongst uncles.

Just after summer this year, when sunshine was still abundant but not as scorching, the whole family embarked on a road trip to Siquijor, to fulfil my father’s lifelong desire for a homecoming.

Lazi - Words and Wanderlust

Our journey started in a church in Lazi. Whilst the rest of the family lit candles of petition, my dad stood distracted, reading a list of names of church benefactors on a cement wall. He gasped at familiar surnames of people from our hometown. After all, many of our neighbours’ forefathers were also farmer-fishermen from Siquijor; just like one Rufino Amantiad, who once loaded his entire kin on to a boat bound for Mindanao, and never returned.

My brother and I joked: maybe an heirloom awaited our Dad— a beachfront property, a hillside mansion, or acres of Molave. Maybe he is heir to some powerful wizard and we have come to the island to claim our destiny— a stone to swallow, a cave to set fire to, or a talisman to be received.

My mom, avid unbeliever, could only roll her eyes.

Minalulan

The first lead we found was from a group of candle vendors outside the church. They spoke of Amantiads they know from some distant barangays in and around the town of Maria. But one that rang a bell was a seaside community called Minalulan, from which, I believe, my father’s birthplace of Minaulon in Mindanao, was derived from.

As we drove away from Lazi and closer to Maria, my dad’s anxiety was almost palpable.

“Look for small houses; for poor people,” he kept on saying. “My grandfather said we were from poor origins,” he emphasized.

“Still poor,” my mom chirped in, antagonistic as ever.

Their bickering was promptly interrupted by a distinct welcome sign on the side of the road. My dad jumped at once, beckoning me to take a photo of him at the welcome sign of Barangay Minalulan. Soon after, the whole family joined in.

Minalulan - Words and Wanderlust

From there, we euphorically asked locals for directions, as if all of them were distant relatives. Eventually, the search led us to a sari-sari store at a corner fronting the public plaza. This was where we found Hilarion and Benedicta Amantiad, who, upon learning about our plight, offered a pack of hopia and a bottle of Mirinda to take with us to Salagdoong.

Lolo Hilarion was too young to remember or know my great grandfather, Rufino; moreso my grandfather, Agustin, who was only 14 when he left the island. But his eyes pocketed passion and pride, just like my late Nanay Teofila’s; his whole face bore the same smiling/crying grimace that was distinctive of my Lolo Leoncio. I’m sure my dad saw it too.

“I may not be able to recall how we are related, but we are; that, I assure you,” Lolo Hilarion, in an unmistakably Siquijodnon lilt, confirmed what we already knew deep down inside.

Hilarion - Words and Wanderlust

Maria

My dad was still on a high from meeting Lolo Hilarion, so he kept striking up conversations with everyone as we made our way to Salagdoong. Upon hearing his narrative, the gatekeeper at the resort volunteered that he knew of a certain Ecoy Amantiad, whose kin runs a stall at the Maria Public Market.

It wasn’t hard to find Lolo Ecoy at all, who received our strange intrusion in shock and silence. He wasn’t in the pink of health having just recovered from a cardiac ailment, but was gracious enough to talk to us. His daughter, Auntie Lucy, very hospitably answered our questions on her father’s behalf.

Surprisingly, the world was small after all. It turned out that Lolo Ecoy was Angelico Amantiad, grandfather of Rainveill, a “cousin” I accidentally bumped into, online, one day many years ago. Long story short, we’ve kept tabs since, both convinced that although we didn’t know how and why, we were from the same bloodline.

Understanding of my father’s need to reconnect with his roots, Lolo Ecoy offered to accompany us to Cangtugbas, where his centenarian parents lived.

Cangtugbas

The road to Cangtugbas was hilly and narrow; a perennial ascent that one would not expect of Siquijor. Lolo Ecoy sat on the passenger seat, his words calculated. My dad sat at the back, elated and uber excited.

Marcial Amantiad, the family patriarch and quite possibly our oldest living relative, was sitting on a balcony when we arrived. His wife, Lola Librada, pleasantly confused due to Dementia, was singing an old folk song on loop.

Off the bat, I was convinced we were family. It was as if seeing my father see his father again after forever. You see, my Lolo Agustin died when Dad was only 17. Since then, he only lived off his stories. We did, too.

It was Lolo Marcial, suprisingly sharp for a century-old chap, who was finally able to trace our lineage. He said that he was first cousins of Lolo Rufino, and had vague recollection of his kids. That being said, it meant that Lolo Ecoy was second cousins with my Lolo Agustin.

I took lots of photos, excited to log online so I can share Rainveill my good news. But we were too far off-the-grid to get internet connection; too off-the-beaten path to even get Waze coverage. But all of it didn’t matter at the time.

All that mattered was, right at that moment, in a bungalow in the hills of Cangtugbas, my father finally found his way— through Hilarion, Angelico and Marcial; through the stories of Rufino; and through the memories of Agustin— back home.

Parents - Words and Wanderlust

Experience, Personal Essay, Travel, Travel Tips

The Delusion of Long Term Travel

Imagine the romance in ridding oneself of material possessions; of nourishing the spirit through journeys from one destination to the next. And the next one after that. And so on and so forth.

The cycle would never end.

Long Term Travel. This used to be my one big goal— big enough that, in an attempt to fast-track the growth of my travel fund, I bravely interrupted a promising career ladder back in Auckland to start from scratch in Sydney.

The goal was lugged around even though limitations were despicable: inadequate finances, limited leave allowances and the hassles of carrying a third-world country passport, to name a few. Still, I embarked on small extended trips as a dry run of sorts. But each time, I went home.

Maybe I am not as brave as the few who seemed to have made a nomadic lifestyle work. I still wish to know the secret ingredient one day. But for now, all I have are shrapnels of truth from the big bomb of reality that befell many others who have left to travel the world forever, but failed.

1.Travel is a privilege.

Yes, there are ways to simplify other aspects of one’s life in order to (somehow) afford Travel; the most common example being, “foregoing the daily cup of Starbucks coffee.”

True. It is possible to travel cheaper. What with seat sales aplenty and blogs handing out free cheatsheets of what travel agencies charge a premium for?

But no, because the Starbucks coffee example for instance, is already a privilege in itself. One is merely redirecting the expense from one privilege to another.

The Delusion of Long-Term Travel | Words and Wanderlust - Sydney

Traveling the way I do began only after several wage increases; and only when my financial obligations have steadied down a notch. I tried many years before then, but even in the simplest way of living, I could barely afford to leave.

Now, if the very act of traveling already comes at a cost, how else can one sustain such cost to infinity?

2. A home base is a need.

Often, the decision to take root is way more courageous than running free. Realise that when one’s youth is over and though still as passionate, the eagerness to move may no longer be the same. There comes a time in life when the comforts of home become a necessity.

I realised this after around 5 weeks on the road a few years back. I was crossing the border to Cambodia from Laos, when I needed to leave a few things behind because it could no longer fit in my backpack.

The Delusion of Long-Term Travel | Words and Wanderlust - Newcastle

To the naked eye, it was only a pair of sunnies with a scratch on the lens or a tattered old book I’ve finished reading anyway or a bright yellow water gun that seemed to have lost purpose after Songkran. But to me, those were relics of happy days and happier nights. Leaving pieces of my story behind in favour of “traveling light” was heartbreak at its best.

As I made my way to the immigration counter at the end of the trip, and consequently, to the flight home, I knew I needed a place of my own. I wanted to go home to a house full of a lifetime’s worth of memories– may it be a cupboard filled with the right wine glasses for each type of wine, or marks on the door frame for each year my future kids grow tall. I yearned a bed to rest my head on; chores to hurry home to.

3. I cannot quit my job to travel the world.

I’ve been friends with a successful travel blogger since 2006. Inspired by his adventures, I have been wanting to start a travel blog almost as long as we’ve known each other. But I did not have enough material. My measly income from a small office cubicle in an ad agency in Cebu back then could not support a life of infinite holidays.

But income from that office cubicle paid for a bigger opportunity overseas. Until the cubicle turned into a nurses’ station, a coordinator’s desk, and today, a director’s suite— complete with a small lounge and an admin assistant of my own.

The Delusion of Long-Term Travel | Words and Wanderlust -Tasmania

What I am trying to say is, I am able to travel at whim because I have a full-time, regular and secured job. Sure, my obligations do not allow me to be away for more than 7 weeks a year. But that also means that I am allowed 7 weeks a year away, paid.

4. Location independence is a lie.

I can write. I am able to take decent photographs. I know enough of web design and web development. I have a profession that is in demand to almost everywhere in the world.

I can go anywhere right about now and land a job tomorrow.

But such bold a statement, however plausible, is not anchored on the security that a normal job in a normal life offers. My skills can take me somewhere, sure, but not for long and if I keep moving, not forever.

I dig the idea of looking forward to a holiday; of driving myself to work hard enough to truly deserve Staycation as a reward; of planning flights around long weekends months ahead; of staying up to get first dibs on a seat sale at midnight.

In the same intensity, I am glad that the journeys I make are finite. Because then, I am enticed to make the most of limited time; to squeeze as much juice from every goshdarn lemon. I find thrill in the idea of until-next-time; of how the very process of bounded travel mirrors the very beauty of mortality.

The Delusion of Long-Term Travel | Words and Wanderlust - Royal National Park

5. I am superficial. Whatever.

I am happy for those who can pull off a life of constant traveling; for those whose only consideration when they decide to travel full-time is themselves; for those whose #yolo branding on social media is also the truth of their offline lives.

Because my truth is, I have bills to pay. I come from a country whose culture expects children to support their parents, which I do, wholeheartedly. I cannot starve myself of good food. Some movies are best watched on big screens. I cannot un-love lipstick, gadgets, Oakleys, shoes and cookery.

I am female. As much as I believe I am of substance, I am also superficial.

I love traveling more than anything else in the world. But I cannot afford to hold back on life, however trivial, whilst saving to travel long-term.

Asia, Experience, Inspiration, Personal Essay, Philippines, Travel

The Journey that Made Me a Travel Blogger

On July 2, 2004, I wrote my first blog entry for Tabulas from a 20-peso per hour internet cafe. I will always remember that day for it unearthed a passion I never knew I had. Back then, when blogging was more passionate than it was strategic, I found my happy place.

When I eventually decided not to pursue the degree I studied years for, the link to my blog was the only arsenal I armed myself while traversing the big mad world. And I slew.

travel blogger - words and wanderlust - solar system
2005. The Solar System, my life-long friends and elite circle of wordsmiths and musicians

Blogging provided an avenue for me to bare my spirit without the pressure of awkward real-life introductions. I was led to friends of like mind, of people with whom I shared the madness with.

Together, we called ourselves The Solar System. Together,  we unraveled life while weaving art over coffee, Redhorse and sometimes, Marlboro lights. We explored islands, conquered cities and dreamt of, until now, unrealized Batanes.

Then matters of consequences happened. I left the country and took on a job that didn’t inspire as much writing. But I earned well. I earned well enough to buy myself tickets to everywhere. I took advantage of the privilege of having the currency to pursue a passion at whim. Traveling became the rock I held on to when making a living didn’t necessarily mean making a life.

Travel Blogger - Words and Wanderlust. Backpacking Bohol Philippines
2006. Maiden backpacking trip to Bohol with my bestfriend.

Since then, my blogs slowly evolved into travelogues and narratives. My poetry began to take root from the imageries of places I’ve been to. Not only did I redeem myself by traveling, It also allowed me plenty of brooding. As the whole world spun madly on, I kept pace by rereading my archives (to understand) , writing continuously (to grow), and seeing as much of the world possible (to live).

Years passed and I went on wayfaring. I went on until things began to be more traveling than writing; more of the present than the past; more creating than mending. It was in the spirit of this awakening that one day, I decided to break free from all that was going on to pay the happiness forward to the world.

Travel Blogger - Words and Wanderlust - Island Hopping Cebu
2007. Weekend escapes to Olango while corporate whoring on weekdays.

On October 15, 2011, I overhauled what was then a dumping blog of prose, poetry, photographs and turned it into a still personal, but more travel-related blog. My first post was a letter addressed to Kathmandu, a Kiwi Outdoor Adventure shop, after a shopping spree in preparation of my quick Southeast Asian escape later that year.

One day, while surfing the internet for ideas on how to kickstart a travel blog, I came across Ron and Monette’s Flip’nTravels. Right then and there, I was enlightened by the reckoning that yes– to move, to remind, to inspire and to have people relate to my travels like how Flipn’Travels resonated with me, that’s what I wanted. For days, I found myself digging up their archives, kicking myself for only knowing them then. Eventually, they led me to Pinoy Travel Bloggers. I wasn’t surprised I saw my friends Aileen, Marcos and Yowee in the group. I’ve known them to be wayfarers ever since.

Hamilton New Zeaaland
My first Road Trip in New Zealand was to Hamilton, Waikato in April 2008

Not knowing who he was to the travel community then, Journeying James added me to the group. But it was The Pinay Travel Junkie, GayE, who added me on her friends list first. When I think of it now, I cannot help but be proud, that it was actually PTB’s most famous who welcomed me first.

For a time there, it was hard to point a finger to the source of my euphoria– finding a community of vagabonds as travel-hungry as myself, girl crushing Gay Mitra-Emami, or being secretly thrilled by the fact that James Betia was (and still is) single.

It was humbling how, instead of imparting the ultimate travel experience to the world, the world imparted the same to me. Same, but different. The Rashomon Effect. It is by such principle that travel blogging is made possible– we see the same places, but we always tell different stories. It is in this fashion that a world so small like ours, is made bigger, boundless.

As for me, the wanderlust has just been rippling since. I am afflicted, and there is no cure.


This is my entry to the Pinoy Travel Bloggers’ Blog Carnival | Theme: The Journey That Made Me A Travel Blogger | Host: Edmar Gu Quibb of Edmaration Etc.

Experience, Mindanao, Personal Essay, Philippines, Travel

My Little Piece of Mindanao Called Home

minaulon lanao del norte philippinesThe tide was almost always low in the afternoons, as if the sea was a pair of palms pleading for the skies. Half of my barrio’s women were seashell gatherers and the other half were fishmongers. I was the odd child caught in between realities of the mundane, of survival.

My task, I felt, was to dream on behalf of those who couldn’t afford the luxury of reverie, the gift of marvel.