7 Most Inspiring People I've Met While Traveling in the Philippines
ULTIMATE BLOG CARNIVAL REWIND:
I have seen more than I have traveled. I look outside and always find myself looking in. I have slowly grown to become someone whose mind has flourished not in the miles I have sailed across seas but with the lessons I have to come learn.
When you’re out there, eager to learn and experience, the memories of that great temple, that historical landmark, or that deep turquoise waters, all fade into a horizon. As the sun rises the next day, you will re-discover the real essence of traveling, after all. When you go back home, you know already the answers to the questions you never had the courage to ask.
I have been travelling across the archipelago for almost 50 months, and my experiences have molded me into someone whose mind and heart have been immortalized by the kindness of people I met while I’m on the road.
I hitched on the back of his polished motorcycle, one which he has bought from his three years working as a public driver. He took me to the highest mountain and waterfalls in Negros, cruised right across the highway while the sun was rising from Mindanao Sea. Alex was the gentle fellow from the land of gentle people. He was my tour guide/ driver for days while I was roaming around this beautiful province. Once, over dinner, he shared with me his life story and how he sees his future. It’s not like many of us dream of, to be honest, but he was proud of his small achievements. For one, he is eager to make the promises he has made for his family come true; a house that’s filled with love and enough money for his little one’s education. We made a detour before going back to the city to introduce me to his family. There, I saw in him the sparkle in the eyes as he gleefully tours me around his simple abode. As my time in Negros was coming to end, I cheers beer with him for the very last time. It was like leaving a family behind for me, in a place I have no one to call one. Money was never an issue. He let me decide for myself his earnings from the days we’ve been travelling together. How can one refuse gold when it can inherently make the person a king? I guess, money isn’t everything.
The Japanese School Teacher
You leave your home to call another one yours. How do you do that when you had a choice? He was a grade school teacher in the land of the rising sun, earning more than enough while teaching proper math to kids. Leaving all the luxuries in life, he exchanged his life for a place where no one dares to go. Setting up a quaint little resort in the land infamous for witchcraft and sorcery, he continues to live and share knowledge to the local people. Through his commitment, he was able to establish his vision of proper education and facilities for the school kids of Siquijor. I walked into the resort on a hot midday sun, feeling the warmth in an instant. I was greeted by part-time students whose education was being sponsored by this man’s foundation. Others may believe in supernatural, while some oppose it. The real magic of Siquijor I’ve come to know is that kindness may exist without waiting something in return. I’ve recently talked to one of his students who’s now in Manila pursuing higher studies. Dagman made a way for him to go to Manila and continue living his dream of a better life. I couldn’t help but realize that indeed, kindness and generosity shall make this little world of ours better again.
They say, “No man is an island”. In life, relationships are always questionable. It gets the best of you, sometimes that it becomes too hard to deal with. And leaving isn’t the easiest thing to overcome, right? I’ve come to learn from one person that life is also about tragedies. People come and go. You meet them, and they may sometimes leave you. Whether it is done on purpose or not, be thankful because it happened. As you look back, you recall not the hard times but only good memories. These tragedies become beautiful as you continue your journey in life. I’ve come to learn how it is to travel alone, to look out for myself, and to embrace what has been bestowed upon me. We don’t always win. That’s the greatest lesson I’ve come to learn. But sometimes, losing becomes the unexpected answer to the question, how to forget. To you who has passed, be reminded that I don’t look forward to the future knowing I haven’t learned yet from the past.
She’s beautiful, she’s sincere, and she’s young and intelligent. She’s perfect. She crossed the other side of the world to help, not because she was forced to do so, but because it has become her vocation to reach out. I met here through a common friend as she helps around poor little kids of Manila learn. I often meet up with Andreane, with her charming smile that’s so infectious it’s too hard to ignore. On her last night in Manila, she hugged the old lady manning the bar where she often goes to. I started to wonder how much she has made an impression to the old lady, and the other people she has come to know. I wonder what these people feel about a foreigner loving them so greatly. It was sad, almost heart-breaking to see a daughter leaving her second mom behind, knowing the future isn’t planned out yet. I never knew travelling can inherently make you feel the love you never expected to have. Acceptance isn’t about finding the worst and loving it. The true sincerity of a person emanates from within. When love and honesty is shown, there is truth. Months have passed and I would often talk about her generosity to the people I know. As I order a bottle of beer in one of the noisy, crowded restaurants in Manila, I just smile and show my courtesy because I know it is the right thing to do.
You meet a person and immediately judge them. You tell right away, what this person likes and what this person hates. We are all a judge of characters. I am guilty of that. You meet a person whom you thought is just someone you will meet at the spur of the moment. This person is fun to be with, wild sometimes and most of the time, unpredictable. He would walk barefoot in one dirty alleyway in Manila, yet you would somehow understand why. That free-spirited guy is Matthias. You see him and immediately realize, this person doesn't care about what other people think. He is a lover of life and lover of unexpectedness. He bids goodbye and you know it’s going to be alright. Little did I know, the other half of his life is waiting to be discovered online. Passion isn't about advertising yourself to the world. It’s natural, it’s unique and it’s inspiring. I never knew he plays the piano. Moreover, I never knew he plays the piano damn good. He is on the road now somewhere in New Zealand, not waiting to be discovered, but waiting for people to get inspired. If there’s one person I know who’s making a huge impact in the lives of many, it’s him. Inspiration doesn't always come full on, it’s slicing little bits of pieces to discover the littleness and subtlety what is called a dream we all aspire for.
Discovery isn’t earned but learned. You pay for the price when you’re going through the hardest hurdles and toughest obstacles because you have a goal. Yet, it somehow feels worth it. If there’s something great about it is that you begin to live again. It may be a risk, I know. But if this risk is going to put me down, so shall be it. I’ve learned to become fearless! I will confront what I don’t want to see, hear or touch. I realize what's working for me is living life to the minute. I don't believe in plans because they just ruin surprises. I believe that everything happens for a reason. And if i find what i am searching for, then it must be blessed. I am looking forward and sincerely ecstatic for I know the best is yet to come. Everyday i am learning, and everyday i am thankful.
“So, how do you find the Philippines?”, I asked this bloke from Holland what he thought of the country. I never knew his answers would make me ask questions for myself and hit me right in the core for a long time. He has been travelling around the Philippines for a few weeks now and has been to unspoilt beaches and plush mountain ranges up north and south. He’s on a relax mode in Southern Philippines, staying in a lovely shack opposite of mine in the island of fire. Apparently, we have the same flight going back to Manila. With relatively nothing to do so far when I get back, he tagged me a long on his first cruise around Malate. I would often catch him glancing at street vendors and beggars. I would see him smiling at women whose eyes have a funny wink. We checked out one Japanese restaurant and ordered beer and sushi. We started talking about first impressions about the country and his views of the city called Manila. I let him talk and i only answer back when asked. Mostly, he was telling me how he views the country. He asked me one question which I failed miserably. He stopped and said, "never mind". He must have sensed I lost myself when he asked me something I wasn’t prepared to answer. He knew I was giving my best shot explaining to him the differences in my country. I thought I was being interviewed for a second. But Gus loves everything about the Philippines. He said the people are nice but not too nice it’s hard to know whether it’s honest or not, just like in Thailand. He said the food is varied but he loves the seafood plus it’s cheap. He said the culture is different from other Asian countries so it’s closer to home. He is amazed by the natural wonders of the country and the lack of tourists exploiting them. Later that night, I bid him goodbye so he can sleep for an early morning flight back to Holland. A few hours earlier, we were looking for a hotel in Ermita that he had booked from a local travel agency earlier that week. When we got there, the place was run down and non-existent.
When the September blog carnival theme was released, I found myself confused who to choose for this blog entry. With thousands of miles reached across the archipelago, and the number of friends, acquaintances and random people I’ve met, it’s hard to pick one that has truly made a mark. There are seven people whom I’ve met so far that has made a lasting impression in me. The thoughts they all left behind have been my fuel to continue on, finding excitement in this unexpected world and giving back kindness to the people I will still meet in the future.
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Host: Marky Ramone Go of Nomadic Experiences