When you're not updating your travel blog, you should only have one excuse for that. You have to be traveling. That's exactly what i did for almost a year. And God knows how thankful i am to have traveled far up north and down south of my country, the Philippines. I have also traveled to one South East Asian country and have a few worthwhile experiences i am proud of. I was on a blog hiatus all for the right reasons, and now i'm so shaped and amped to share with everyone what i was doing. Enjoy!
Sablayan, Occidental Mindoro, Philippines
I remember playing with these little kids. They know nothing about what i was going through. Heck, that's none of their concern and i wouldn't want my sorrow to dampen their favorite afternoon activity. What else? Playing with water! In Sablayan, Occidental in Mindoro, life is about excitements and journeys. I asked the kids if they can show me their best moves as i was shooting a video, and want them to star in it. Luckily, as i was taking photos, i was able to capture one of my most favorite travel pics of all time. I will never forget this afternoon, for once i realized how lucky i was and that i was able to relieve this moment through my videos any day i want.
Panglao Island, Bohol, Philippines
My brother from Canada finally came to the Philippines to check my home country. If i could take him somewhere in the country, there's only one spot i could think of that will surely be an awesome experience - Visayas. There he was flying to Cebu, onwards to Bohol to meet up with me. When i finally saw him after two weeks, he was able to travel around Leyte, Negros Oriental, and Siquijor. It was my second time in Pangalo Island in Bohol and it sure was a trip i was looking forward to. I got intoxicated and swam like there's no tomorrow. In between, i grabbed burgers and grilled squid to go. It was a welcome adventure for a relaxed holiday. Whatever happened to Balicasag and it's beautiful marine world? It slowly is depleting, mind you. WTF!
Oh Manila! My love affair with you will never end. I was found roaming the dirty streets of capital for the nth time, doing absolutely non-touristy stuff. I was begging off to see the popular attractions and always looking forward to discovering new alleyways. All for me to discover more what makes this city so enigmatic - Dirt and Grime but lots of Adventure in between. That's my kind of trip. Not a lot of people would want to be there, but i do. Why? I reckon being too safe is the least of my priority nowadays.
Virac, Catanduanes, Philippines
If you calculate the rain drops in this province for a year, that's roughly the same amount of reasons i could think of why Catanduanes is indeed one place i was glad to have visited. Everything about the quaint town of Virac and the little pocket sandy beaches along the way was just unforgettable. This year, i discovered that i always gravitate towards these little kiddos, perhaps my goal to have one of my own in the next five years is the reason. Teaching these kids what frisbee is and how to play it, was the best education i could give them. Focus, determination, physical strength - all these are the qualities i want to impart in them. As i bid these kids goodbye, in my rickety pedicab, a handful of them started running towards me, saying goodbye. How can you ever, ever forget this province? Never!
Caramoan Islands, Camarines Sur, Philippines
From Catanduanes, i found out that it's a few hours by boat to the lovely islands of Caramoan. Yes, Survivor of all editions shoot theirs in the islands. Yes, i wasn't able to go to all of them because they were shooting. Yes, all i could ever do was try to sneak in with our boatman at the back of the islands. Only to find out, a few minutes later, the security was on the way. So, we had to say goodbye. Sad! During this trip, i realized how life can be less complicated if only you can accept defeat. Fair enough.
Laos is the 7th South East Asian country i have traveled to. Vientiane is a lovely capital, where it seems i never left home. That's exactly how i felt, at home. Besides the delicious ice cream, exciting tuk-tuks and the warm people, i find Vientiane shy, bordering on being a loner. That said, i think i finally found my perfect match.
Vang Vieng, Laos
If Vientiane is the introvert, Vang Vieng is definitely the hyperactive, poppy-addict brother. Everything about this province is exciting - from the mountain trekking to the water tubing to the Laos Beers and everything in between. I spent my days doing what every young man at his prime should be doing, living the best of his youth and enjoying every minute of it. I reckon, i was on speed when i traveled to Vang Vieng.
Luang Prabang, Laos
I met a man named Khao? Chao?, anyway it sounds like Cow. He doesn't know how his stories changed my perception of life. He was my boatman along the Mekong. He was gentle, kind and quiet. He doesn't speak English well, and his math is not good. But as i was cruising with him, he began to talk about his family, how the river is during high tide ( no work), and how he can only see his family every six months. I couldn't tell him those inspiring words, because that would be bullshit. How can i help him when my own country is also facing its greatest battle - poverty. Of course, i would prioritize the people from where i am. But i told him something, i haven't told anybody from all the countries i've visited. I will be back, and you will take me to your family. His number is written in a cigarette paper which he handed to me, he cannot write well so i had to coach him a little. As i bid him goodbye, he was finishing his second pack of ciggies for the day.
Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
If there's one country i think i have misunderstanding with, i think it's Malaysia. It was my second time in Kuala Lumpur and i still feel a little aloof. I can still remember how i became a witness to 2 people having sex in my hostel, and how absolutely awkward it was. I don't know why. I visited the Petronas again because i just love it. I walked around, and bought ciggies, and found myself wandering around this vast metropolis. Less than five years ago, when i was here i didn't realize how much it will change. It was beautiful then, it's more beautiful now. I met a Malaysian traveler online, and if plans push through, I will be accompanying him around the Philippines in February. I'm still fixing my itinerary, but if weather permits, will be back here for the third time real soon. Hopefully, this time, i could finally find that something i couldn't figure out what.
Amidst my wacky demeanor, i'm probably one of the most chilled-out person you will ever meet. Although i give in to occasional adrenaline rush, i never expected that the Merrell adventure run in Rizal would be the toughest run of my life. This photo says it all how i managed to run 14 kilometers of trail filled with mudwater, and how i managed to grab on a lone branch to save my life as i was climbing the peak. I survived. When i went home, my family said i look like shit. Exactly, and very proud about it.
Okichi is my second tattoo. I never name my stuff, only my tattoos. She was the product of my imagination and memory of my trip to Japan - One of my most unforgettable trips ever. And now there's no forgetting about her. 私は愛されて忘れてもがないです。物事は決して起こらな
かった。私たちは美しい話だった。ない開始、ない終了と 開始を終了します。それは愛以上のものだった。それは運 命だった。OKICHI
Alicia, Negros Occidental, Philippines
Just because i've visted Negros Oriental, i reckon i have to visit its sister province. I flew in to Bacolod, not in time of Masskara, actually 1 month earlier. I was there, with very little tourists in sight, and all the glory of this beautiful province to myself. I actually gained five pounds here, as everything i ate was topnotch. I felt lonely at times, watching heaps of people enjoying but this is the kind of life i chose to live with. As i was climbing the third waterfalls in Mambukal, it dawned on me, that some things are better left unknown. That makes life more exciting, eh?
Dipolog, Zamboanga Del Norte, Philippines
2012 was a year of many firsts for me. Believe it or not, it's my first time in Mindanao. And boy, Zamboanga Del Norte blew my mind away in a whole new level. I loved Dapitan and Dipolog - the beautiful islands of Aliguay and the many friendly people i've met are seriously unforgettable. Ripping the highways on a motorbike at 9pm has never been this fun. Although, going to Gloria Fantasyland alone was a bummer, I couldn't leave Dapitan that afternoon. I stopped for an hour and watched people by the boulevard, and had another epiphany. Whatever your trouble is, think about those whose future is uncertain but still manages to survive because of faith. Then, i told myself maybe, just maybe, at the end of a rainbow is a pot of gold.
Sabang, Palawan, Philippines
I have a confession to make, i am a Palawan virgin. My original plan was to visit this province for a month in a few years time, but you can't expect not to go here when you're invited by your friends. So there i was, exploring this little gem. The waves hitting my face, the giant crabs saying eat me, and Gangnam Style being played from the center basketball court, made my trip to Sabang such a beautiful one. The lack of electricity past midnight was actually the least of my worries.
Lake Sebu, South Cotabato, Philippines
Going to Lake Sebu would probably be my most adventurous trip yet in the Philippines. As a solo traveler, it's quite different you know. I managed to find a place to stay for a few nights, and asked where i could go. I've heard about him, and his prowess. I vowed to visit him when i get to Lake Sebu. Less than an hour, and up in the mountains of Barangay Tasiman, i was already talking to the main man. Mafil is one of the best Feglung players in the country today. Feglung is a native instrument from the T'Boli tribe. In the photo above, Sarah and her father are etching Mafil's name on my Feglung. Yes! I bough his Feglung, and it's right here in my room where i can see it everyday.
Isulan, Sultan Kudarat, Philippines
Everybody was a calling me crazy for planning to visit Sultan Kudarat. They tell me horrible stories about the province. Yeah right? I was here even for short time, and never did i once feel afraid, shocked, stunned or any of those negative stuff. All i can say is that this province has so much to offer, and the people here are absolutely like anybody else in the country - smiling people, a little shy but very accommodating I went to see birds and admired that beauty of the provincial capital. Only in the books have i read about Sultan Kudarat, one prized accomplishment i had was actually being face to face with the greatest Filipino fighter of all time. So i took so much photo to remind me of my favorite hero of all time. Before i headed back to "safety", i drank and smoked. Woke up at a bus with this lovely woman telling me "hey, we're in front of KCC Mall already in Marbel. Fun times!
Glan, Sarangani, Philippines
I never expected this beach would rock my world. I've heard about Glan in Sarangani and how Gumasa beach is often coined as Boracay of the South. But dude, nobody told me it was this beautiful. Besides the pricey accommodations, and less than helpful staff at my resort, i couldn't point a single flaw to this beach. It has the superlatives of a great beach, and the lack of any non-local tourists just proves how unexplored and non-commercialized Philippine beaches are. I loved my stay here so much, i am actually going back the second time this year.
Vigan, Ilocos Sur, Philippines
The prized possession of Ilocos Region, Vigan in Ilocos Sur was the second to my last trip in the year 2012. I stayed in a room, in a dungeon, where a hundred year old ghost must be sleeping with me. I had a few hours of sleep, and my room seemed as if it was where the slaves sleep in. Yet, when you go outside, you feel even more transported back in time. It was actually bordering on weird, but for the photo enthusiasts, it must be a wonder to roam around as every corner of the UNESCO world heritage city of Vigan is just picture-perfect. I didn't buy much besides the Ilokano blanket. Oh, and packs and packs of tobacco. Rock star!
Pagudpud, Ilocos Norte, Philippines
Abel was persistent that i share his number to all my traveler friends. He was my guide and moto-driver in Pagudpud, Ilocos Norte. He took me to the best places, and even patiently waited for me as i was meditating in Burgos light house. He drank with me in Blue Lagoon and took my photos on the viaduct. Last night, it dawned on me, his persistence is actually working. More and more, i realize how i should help out this man. Not because i was getting tired of his kind words, but because this man, i know, will soon prosper. I think his request might just be the trigger for him to succeed. He actually inspired me to continue on with my vision, he inspired me to blog again.
Now, where to go next? Hit me up with your best suggestion. Your beer is on me!