How Travel Changed My Life

Traveloka’s blog contest: “How Travel Changed My Life”

 Station 2 Boracay Island (Aklan 2010)

2010 when I had my first taste of this obsession called traveling. It was a 3-day trip with friends in Boracay. Back then, flights were still very limited and expensive, so we booked a one way flight and decided to go back to Manila via RoRo. It was my first trip without my family, first trip outside Luzon, first trip that I financed myself; a completely new experience for me. From then on, I make it a point to travel at least once or twice a year. I was so fixated in booking flights just to get that stamps on my passport, ride a plane, visit tourist spots and to mark off my vacation leaves. As it turns out, my idea of traveling was very shallow.

Ngong Ping Village (Lantau, Hong Kong, 2013)

April 2014, I finished my post graduate studies. After surpassing all the challenges in school while working, I decided to reward myself with a vacation on Holy Week. I longed to experience that kind of traveling where you are on your own, commuting, just your feet and your adventure instinct. While watching television, a travel show featured Pampanga and its delicacies. Given the accessibility and its sophisticated culinary creations, Pampanga seemed to be a perfect weekend getaway. I was telling one of my good friends about it and later on found out that he too wanted to get a taste on what the province has to offer. Although it was supposed to be a solo adventure but a friend’s company is very much welcome. I made a deal with him that I will be on top of the planning. I did my homework pretty seriously – Google, maps, blogs and friends from Pampanga were of great help. On the day of our trip, we found ourselves off to an exciting adventure. We wandered around Pampanga riding jeeps, walked under the scorching heat, got lost, congratulate ourselves when we got the directions right, endured starvation because most of the stores were closed in observance of Holy Week and made us extend our stay for us to taste  Gill’s Sherbet when it opened on Easter Sunday. I can go on and on to tell every bits and pieces of our travel but all I wanted to say is that, that trip changed my outlook in traveling.

Enjoying Gill’s Sherbet (Nepo Mart, Angeles City, Pampanga, 2014)

Planning your own trips will require you to be on top of every detail. As you go through the process, you will find interesting facts about the place, you will uncover its rich history and customs, the curiosity about each destination will ignite. Traveling made me appreciate the beauty of the busy streets, dining in carinderia with that long line of local eaters, riding jeepneys, tricycles, habal-habal or buses, visiting museums and galleries, unfolding its antiquity and experiencing how the locals live.

Balete Tree or Millenium Tree (Aurora Province, 2014)

As I discover Philippines and other countries, I also discover more about myself. Traveling helped me to gain control of my ability to plan my own trip. It challenged my patience, tolerance and fears. There were times when we got lost, rain poured hard, stomach ached, items misplaced and committed mistakes after mistakes. All these are there to test our judgment, our composure and our capabilities. Misunderstandings and disagreements are inevitable when traveling with companions, but you will be surprised on how at the same time, traveling will strengthen your relationships with them. While I have my own faith, travel has taught me to respect other’s traditions, religion and beliefs. Truly, a different perspective was unfolded in me.

Big Lagoon (El Nido, Palawan, 2014)

Most importantly, traveling imparts gratitude and appreciation. Reading blogs from other travelers equipped me on how to organize my trips. It readied my expectations, what to try, where to go, and what to do and not do, etc. As a way of giving back, I decided to create my own blog site where I can talk about my travel experiences and share my discoveries and takeaways. I made my Instagram page a venue where I can post places I visited and the story that lies behind it. I owe it to other travelers like me, that I may contribute even modest information to their future travels. More so, to the locals of the places that I’ve been to, it’s my own little way to help them promote their tourism. I maybe an amateur blogger and yet to explore more places, but I will do my best to advocate history and culture of every place that I will visit.

Chinese Temple (Chinatown, Singapore, 2015)

How travel changed our lives may differ, whatever it maybe, we are one more of a person right after every travel. Each experience will add up to a person we’ve become. For me, traveling is a responsibility. It’s up to each one of us on how we will make use of our experiences in traveling.

Kuya Din, our habal-habal driver who we had a deep conversation about Mindanao’s tradition and Muslim religion (Samal Island, Davao del Norte 2016)

Along the way, I not only found purpose in traveling but I also found someone to do it together with, my good friend who accompanied me in Pampanga. It has been three years that we have been navigating together and we are just getting started.

To more travels! (Patapat Viaduct, Pagudpud, Ilocos Norte, 2017)


#TravelokaPH #WhyITravel  #TravelokaStories

A fullfillment, yet unfulfilled

I wrote this article on May 27, 2012 after I had my first out of the country trip. For most, it will always be memorable. Im sharing this piece to inspire young people to travel, to have an insight on what it feels to have your first.


I wrote this article on May 27, 2012 after I had  my first out of the country trip. For most, it will always be memorable. Im sharing this piece to inspire young people to travel, to have an insight on what it feels to have your first.

There’s always the first time. And so they say. Indeed we had our first jaunt out of the country. Initially, all we wanted was to step foot outside the Philippines and to have our passport stamped. Me and two of my friends hurriedly booked our flight last February 2012, Manila – Ho Chi Minh – Manila, travel date on 11th to 14th of May, 2012. Excited. Thrilled. It was a 3-day trip, with the objective of visiting both Vietnam and Cambodia. We’ve done our researches, planning, asking people who have been there, coordinated with my cousins (where we’ll gonna stay) and financially preparing ourselves.

Day 1
Come May 11, we’re all energized for our trip. Eventhough our flight sched is at 11pm it kept us awake and excited. Ironically, the cabin crew that night was my bestfriend in grade school. We exchanged hello’s and small chats. The trip just made me more eager. 130am local time in Vietnam, finally we arrived! Since first bus trip going from Vietnam to Phnom Penh Cmabodia will be at 6:30am we took advantage of our time in Vietnam and took a walk along Benh Tanh market, we even ate the ever famous Pho noodles together with our new found Pinoy friends – Andy and Fil. Around 6am, we got hold of our ticket for 7am trip going to Cambodia.  Along the way, we had our passports stamped for Vietnam boarder and Cambodia boarder, the bus rode a ferry and after 6 hour drive we finally reached Phnom Penh. We had our stay in my cousin’s friends – Kuya Jojo and Ate Yvonne. As a true blooded Filipino, hospitality is an instinct. Our first day in there was spent taking pictures along Independent Monument. Cambodians are busy preparing for their King’s birthday on the 15th. We also visited Hotel Cambodiana (where my ate is working) and Phnom Penh Night Market, where we found cheap souvenirs like keychains and ref magnets. We headed back home for our early goodnight sleep to prepare ourselves for another exuberant day.
Day 2
The next day, we woke up early with plans of buying all our souvenirs in the morning. We shopped our hearts out at Toul Tompong Market. We bought bags, shirts, shorts in very reasonable prices. It is with great help that my cousin knows how to speak Khmer thus we had a good deal with the natives. The afternoon we rented a “tuktuk”, we call our driver Kuya Bong (Bong in khmer means kuya). Our first stop is the famous Royal Palace. We paid USD 6.5 for our entrance. Upon entering the palace, we were mesmerized by the structures of the palace. It was endearing and well scuplted. Unfortunately, visitors are not allowed to take pictures inside the palace. It remained very sacred to them and they value their culture deeply. We took a quick tour on each palaces and we were filled with awe upon staring at their heritage. Since we are Angkor Wat-frustrated goer, we took pictures on the Angkor wat replica inside the Palace and promised ourselves that next stop will be Siem Reap. After the palace, we headed to Toul Sleng (place where victims of the war were prisoned and tortured) and National Museum, but due to time constraint the place will close at 5pm we weren’t able to make it. Our driver, brought us to Wat Phnom, where the giant clock was located. It has the same features as that of our hundred steps in Baguio City. Upon reaching the top, visitors will pay USD 1.00 as an entrance fee. Me and my friends decided to take one last tour around the city. Of course, tours wont be complete without desserts. We stopped by an ice cream parlor named Lucky Ice Cream located along Toul Toumpong and ate their best seller Happy Friend. The name itself reflects our friendship. After indulging sweets from Cambodia, we headed home for our rest and readied ourselves for another adventure tomorrow at Vietnam.
Day 3
We were booked at 10am departure from Phnom Penh and arrived Ho Chi Minh around 4pm. The first thing we did was to go straight to Benh Tanh Market to buy souvenir from vietnam. With each of us carrying two full backpacks, we strolled the streets of HCM in hopes that we can at least see the famous spots such as War Remnants Museum and Reunification Palace. Luckily, we did but as rain starts to pour we headed back to Sapaco and had our dinner at ABC Bakery. In there, we met an English backpacker who had visited most of Asian countries except the Philippines. We hurriedly persuade him to plan his next stop in the Philippines where he can find tranquiliy in our beaches and sumptuous heritage. We bid Vietnam goodbye at exactly 11pm HCM time.

Indeed, the trip served as a not so bad for first timers. We learned a lot from planning, packing, travelling, respecting culture and appreciating beauty from other countries. Most of all, the trip wont be as blissful as it is without the assistance of our fellow Filipinos. With my cousins and their friends assisting us on our itinerary, feeding and sheltering us – was a heartfelt gesture. It was a bitter-sweet experience with us lacking time to do everything as planned yet, still felt the completeness of our journey. On my next trip, I know, I know better. Continue reading “A fullfillment, yet unfulfilled”