Of the Earth

Traveling was a luxury when I was younger. We didn’t have the extra fund to go on vacations as a family, and my parents would rather spend on our school expenses than on any other, much less travels. Growing up, I only traveled by reading books and going to these beautiful and far away places without really having to go out of our house; and if it counts, I also traveled going to and from the school! 🙂

I cut out magazine pictures of azure seas, vast mountain ranges, picturesque buildings and pasted them on my notebooks. I read local newspapers’ Lifestyle section and kept write ups about the writer’s domestic and international travels. “I will go here someday,” I said in one of the notes, “I will see and experience the world.

The idea of going somewhere someday was planted in my brain, little by little.

San Juanico Bridge with the family

MAKING IT HAPPEN

Fast forward to when I was fresh out of college and with some savings, I booked my very first legitimate travel outside Metro Manila! I went to Bohol to see the Chocolate Hills, Bilar Man Made Forest, and Loboc Church. It was a dream come true to see in person the places I only laid eyes upon on televisions and magazines! It’s a memorable experience for me, and there, looking at the magnificent hills, “I will go to places I have never been before and collect memories of them,” I said to myself. And I did. I collected memories through writing about them, or how I felt while I was there, and freezing moments by taking pictures.

Not all of us have the resources to travel abroad, but we don’t need to have much to go to local destinations that are great for vacations or even a short weekend getaway. There are destinations that are only a few hours away from Manila and are accessible via land travel. I  dipped in the pools overlooking Manila in Luljetta’s Hanging Garden, seeing skyscrapers in a distance and being thankful for that pause from work. I went for a bulalo spree in Tagaytay, camped by the stars in Nagsasa Cove, experienced Baguio’s cold breeze while sipping strawberry taho, hiked Mount Ulap in Benguet and realized that I was this small dot in a big, big world.

Enjoying the pool at Luljetta’s Hanging Garden
Gungal Rock, Mount Ulap
Cowrie Island, Palawan

When there’s enough savings for an out of town trip, I booked plane tickets going to Tacloban, Leyte for a city tour and went to Kalanggaman Island with family. I’ve seen the Underground River in Puerto Princesa, dived in Coron, and saw the beauty El Nido has to offer. Island hopping in Boracay with friends was a joy, as well as seeing Islas de Gigantes and the watchtower in Iloilo.

WHY TRAVEL?

While writing this post, I scanned through my journal and saw the reason why I travel. It was scribbled in there, it read:

“I am here, but not really. I like the freedom movement gives me. I am at point A, transitioning to Point B, I am somewhere but nowhere.”

I didn’t edit the sentence so I can give you the raw feeling I had when I was writing this during my bus ride from Ho Chi Minh to Cambodia. While I was looking outside and seeing the contrast of the country side, I felt this sense of belongingness to the world. I am here. I am of the Earth. I haven’t reached my destination yet, I am moving but I feel calm and in control. I like the transitory feeling of being in two places at the same time when traveling.

I saw the world differently.

By speaking to locals and knowing their dreams and fears, I have become more sensitive. By observing how other tourists take care or trash the place, I knew what I had to do to be a responsible traveler. By immersing in the local culture, I appreciate the history and heritage of a place.

Seeing the magnificent Angkor Wat made me giddy

Traveling has enriched me and helped me grow. I accepted the fact that things won’t always go as planned, itinerary and all, and that I have the power over my reactions. It taught me how to be practical – I don’t pack “extra” clothes anymore, I only include the necessities in my backpack. I don’t buy on a whim during trips just because “it looked cute” or “I may use this someday,” aside from having very tight budget, it also saves space. It enabled me to try different dishes I am not accustomed to – from the local delicacies of our provinces to the exotic street foods!

It breaks the routine of work and home. It gives me a tiny glimpse of the world outside the comforts of my home and office. It makes me miss my workplace and appreciate the job I have.  Despite all the negative things in the news, it shows me that there are still locals who are kind enough, and strangers who would help you in times of trouble.

Met wonderful souls in Bangkok

It assures me that the world is still a beautiful place to live in; and I would see parts of the world whenever can, one place at a time.

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