Actually, then I was on a mission looking for outstanding adventurers blogs, Odyssa was one of those few, who actually shook something in me. On one of her posts, she wrote: "Sure, we excel in our jobs, we get applauded for our professional accomplishments but when the lights are out and you are lying in bed alone, what thoughts run through your head? What is your heart’s cry? What is that one thing that you know in your heart will make you not just happy, but joyful and grateful for life, for love? Have you (or I) figured out what that is?"
You come from a city Las Pinas, Philippines. For me, personally and probably most of the Europeans it’s hard to imagine how it all looks like: the childhood, schooling system, traditions, culture. Could you share a little bit about your way of life in Philippines?
I grew up in a small city called Las Pinas and had a very simple childhood. My father was away most of the time while I was growing up because he had to work overseas for the family. I remember wearing my brother’s clothes, playing with neighbours, running under the sun and getting chased by dogs, making imaginary houses with our playground.
I was fortunate to have studied in a private school that provided me a good foundation in academics. It is also where I met my best friends and we were together through life’s ups and downs, throughout our youth and adulthood. Studying in a private, Catholic school, we had to abide by school regulations that surround Catholic faith. Though I am not Catholic, I would say that the most important thing that I picked up from studying in that school is the value of respect, honesty and kindness.
Filipinos are known to be conservative in nature. We love staying close to the family and most of life decisions are discussed within its members. Utmost respect must be given to elders, especially to parents. We are a very hospitable people, known to be always smiling despite the many problems that our people face, whether it’s a calamity or tragedy. Food is a huge part of the Filipino culture. We love to share meals with family and friends. Religious feasts happen all over the country almost every month and there is always an abundance of food to share. We are known to be fun-loving, good-natured and always willing to extend help.
Travelling has taught me so much about life, even more than what I have picked up from years in school and work.
When I started traveling alone in the Philippine provinces, I learned that people are kind, helpful and good by nature. I can’t recall the number of times that a stranger helped me out and saved me from making a wrong decision while traveling, or a time when I made friends with someone I met on the road and we were engaged in a deep conversation about life, love and travel. These, I think, are the most special memories I have from my trips - the people.
My first solo trip outside the country was in Malaysia and this ignited my love for travel even more. Through the strangers that I became friends with, I learned that we are all the same. That we all want the same things. That we all care about those in need, we all like to laugh, we want to be happy, we want our families to be happy, we crave for love and attention from people who are important to us, we get angry and sad and disappointed and frustrated when things don’t go our way.
All this that I learned and still am learning about, is the most valuable lesson so far. It helps me create sound judgement, it helps me see people from a better perspective, and look at the world with an open mind.
What was your first traveling destination? When did you first got an inspiration to fill your life with adventures?
I did not grow up traveling to different places. My parents were always protective of me because I am the only girl in the family. I have two older brothers. Also, I was in a long-term relationship with a wonderful man and during that time, I did not think that I can go out and explore by myself.
My first traveling destination was to our family’s province, Pangasinan. My parent’s house is situated near the beach and I remember staying out under the sun for hours with my brothers and cousins.
My first out of the country trip was to Singapore and I did this with my parents. That experience taught me that there is a world outside my country, that there are people to get to know who are not just Filipinos, that it is possible to explore other cultures without compromising my values as a Filipino.
Since then, I dreamed of a life of travel. Money was always a concern but now that I am able to manage my money better and I also get to save a good amount for travel, I have more freedom to choose which places I want to go to.
What advices could you share with the hiking, climbing beginners?
Hiking and climbing are two very different activities. For those interested in trying out hiking, all you need is a good pair of shoes that won’t let you down in slippery situations and a backpack (if you don’t have this, feel free to borrow from a friend). Before going on a hike, I highly recommend going for a jog or a run at least a few days before the scheduled hike. It will prepare you physically. During your first hike, you will surely feel like giving up, but don’t! Just rest, eat, drink water. Replenish your energy - this is the key to strength. Don’t be ashamed to ask your buddies to take a rest if you feel like you need to. Later on, as you go on longer and more difficult hikes, you will know which things you need. You may feel like you need to get hiking poles, or get more sturdy shoes, or a new 1 litre water bottle. Don’t be pressured by getting items from popular and expensive brands and spending too much money on gear. You will eventually have what you need. What’s important is for you to have the mental and physical strength to keep hiking!
For climbing, shoes are essential. Stick to climbing gyms that provide shoe and harness rental. You can do away with renting for a little while, unless you want to take your climbing to the great outdoors. It took me a while to get myself a good pair of climbing shoes and harness. They are not cheap, so you may need to save up on these two. One needs a lot of physical strength for climbing especially the arms and legs. Keep practicing! If possible, attend a climbing class.
I imagine, it’s hard to put it into words, but what was that feeling in your heart when you reached the top of Mt. Kinabalu in Malaysia or walked down Mt. Mayon, an active volcano in Philippines?
When I reached the peak of Mt. Kinabalu in Malaysia, I was thrilled, elated and exhausted at the same time. After all, it’s one of the highest peaks in Asia! It was the longest and also the most difficult hike I have experienced so far and I felt like giving up and turning around a lot of times. I am glad I was with friends who are positive, energetic and encouraged me to go on! We started at around 2AM for the summit then it began to rain. We were more than 3 thousand feet above sea level and it became difficult to breathe, it was cold and close to 0 degrees Celcius, I was wet and it felt like the summit was impossible to reach. I also slipped several times! I definitely consider this as a personal achievement!
Hiking Mt. Mayon was one of my favourites, as I have always wanted to see this volcano since I was a child. I would only see its photos on textbooks. Seeing it standing in all its glory in front of me was magical. It was almost like I waited for that moment to arrive and when it finally came, I felt a surge of joy and contentment! I also went with a guide who also became a friend and we had very good and meaningful conversations while hiking.
What are your daily inspirations and motivations?
My daily inspirations and motivations are pretty much the same:
my dreams of traveling and learning about the world
my goal of making myself a better person not only for me but also for my family, friends and my community
being active in social development through volunteer work.
What would you like to wish for fellow explorers and wanderers?
My wish for fellow explorers and wanderers is really simple: follow where your heart leads you. Some people make the mistake of following a certain trend or a bandwagon and doing things that will look good on social media and make them popular. I think that the intention is more important than how you are perceived by other people. I wish for wanderers to find happiness in each place they visit, to be kind to everyone they meet and willingly share what they know with others!