How appropriate that my 100th post is about gratitude. 🙂
I am overwhelmed by all the responses to our “Do Not Delay Love” Birthday Giveaway promo. Each has his/her own compelling and interesting reason to win the Donsol Holiday Package for someone really special, I feel like inhibiting from the selection process because it is just so hard to choose among the entries!
I thank you all for taking time out, not just to join our promo, but also for valuing those people you want to win the package for. I understand it has been an emotional journey for some, recollecting why these special people should experience this once-in-a-lifetime adventure with the world’s largest fish for free, so I really appreciate everyone’s entry.
If only I had all the money in the world, I would gladly award the package to each one of you. Unfortunately, I don’t have a single cent to my name at this very minute, so it’s really impossible. But know that great things are on your way. I strongly believe that the Universe shall conspire to grant your hearts’ desires. 🙂
Again, thank you guys for joining and for spreading the love bug!
I can’t believe that I am able to somehow sustain this blog. To be working on this 100th post is a milestone on my end, considering how moody or emotive I am as a person. My friends know that they cannot really push me to work or write on this blog if I am not in the mood for it.
I learned from my very mature friend F though (and I have to thank her for this) that writing shouldn’t be based on the blues alone. People who become successful, she told me, are the ones who force themselves to excellence regardless of the situation. “You want to make it big? Get out of the bed,” she would lovingly remind me.
To be very honest about it, I am not working on this blog to make it “big” out there. I am just living out a dream. It’s very cliche, but aren’t we all pursuing our dream?
After some time dilly-dallying and an emotional massacre that I now refer to as “The Great Road to Being 30,” I realized that travel writing is that one dream I have kept hidden for a long time. I didn’t know what to do with that dream or how to work around it. Besides, I was satisfied and happy with my work as a young journalism instructor who intimidated his students by promulgating tough love that I totally forgot about that dream.
I will write every now and then and contribute some news features on the side, but it was something that I didn’t do out of passion. Baguio became my playground, the academe my comfort zone, I forgot about the world.
Until “The Great Road to Being 30” happened.
I don’t know if everyone who turns 30 gets to experience this emotional buffet but my research told me that when people turn 27 or 28, they usually fall into this abyss of confusion, anxiety, and restlessness like a ginormous effing change is coming their way without them really knowing how to address it. When I stumbled upon the concept of Saturn Return, I felt relieved somehow that I already had a name for what I was going through.
Saturn Return, as my research turned out, is an astrological phenomenon that people first encounter when they turn 27 or 28 until they finally hit 30. Per Wikipedia, it is an “astrological transit when a transiting Saturn planet returns to the same point in the sky that it occupied at the moment of a person’s birth.” Furthermore, people experience three transits: people enter adulthood, gain maturity, enjoy wise old age. In other words, we experience some sort of a rebirth!
I’d like to believe that it isn’t an abstract concept. I found out No Doubt had an album named Return to Saturn when its lead singer, Gwen Stefani, was 29. Even popular local band Eraserheads had a single entitled Saturn Return. Last Order sa Penguin was a book/play penned by Chris Martinez to chronicle his and his friends bouts with turning 30. (Image courtesy of guitargrl22.tripod.com)
2011 was really a bad year for me. I was down in so many levels and was experiencing problems with my career, family, love life, and other personal relationships. I suddenly lost my passion for life and found myself overly depressed. I came out with all the perfect excuses to be absent from my M.A. classes, one of my professors had to ask me to drop from her class. Twice. I was on a fellowship then and I really couldn’t afford to mess up with my studies.
I couldn’t get myself to travel either and it was really disappointing. Prior to 2011, I was this beach-hopping person who came back to the city darker than the previous version of his self. I just couldn’t understand why all of a sudden I’ve become this catatonic person who did not take delight in travels anymore. I had conquered all the possible seat sales for 2011, I had actually scheduled traveling around the Philippines every week for the first quarter of that year. But I wasn’t anywhere. My online tickets did not see print.
I was this wasted person who stayed up late in front of his laptop watching all the wedding videos he could find online. And when I’d wake up, I’d sometimes cry knowing that it was going to be another long day full of anxiety and restlessness. To divert my attention, I had embarked on a “Project Reconnect,” I would invite friends I had not seen for a while for some night out only to cancel during the last minute. I wouldn’t return calls from my family back home. I felt like withdrawing from the rest of the world was the best solution. I was really lost.
The biggest blow to my already battered self-esteem came in the summer of that year. My workplace has a 5-year-up-or-out rule which means that at the end of your fifth year at the university and you don’t have an M.A. degree yet to your name, there’s no other way but to get out of it. To cut the long story short, my university was getting rid of me because of that rule. I found it unfair, knowing that it wasn’t my fault that I didn’t get to finish my degree on time. You can’t expect someone to have an M.A. degree in three semesters, can you?
I was highly devastated. I love teaching even when sometimes I appear like this power-tripper who comes to class who does not value his students’ emotions. Believe me, I painstakingly staged all those intimidations because I wanted my students to persevere and to be better versions of themselves. I may not always show it, but I am always proud of all and every student who was once under my wings.
The academe is that one place where I couldn’t stop learning. That’s the one thing I really love about my job, I never stop learning. Even when I come to class all prepared for the day’s lessons, I leave my classrooms feeling that I still don’t know enough. Also, I love being surrounded by young, adventurous, and idealistic people. It just keeps me going.
It was also during this time that I came across this photograph (courtesy of iamsuperbianca.com).
That disappointing period, and this photograph, gave me enough time to think about my career. Do I really love teaching? Is there life after this university? Is it really my dream?
After some mulling, I realized I didn’t have a dream! You know, that one thing that they say you’d fight and die for just to have it? I didn’t have one. I don’t want to sound bragging but I was teaching because I know I was good at it. I know that even outside this university, I can land another teaching position somewhere else and I will be of value to other people. I need not fight tooth and nail for it.
Whenever I’d have troubles with my teaching profession, I used to turn to the performing arts. I thought it was my dream. I even went to Hong Kong once to audition for Disneyland and even when the Universal Studios Singapore was looking for a singer who can dance and not a dancer who can sing (I. am. not. a. singer.), I blindingly took the plunge.
Last year, while watching The Rocky Horror Show at the Universal Studios Singapore, I got to finally resolve that while I have the talents for the performing arts, it wasn’t my dream. I wasn’t cut for it. While thinking that their job on stage was easy and I can do all their moves and sing the pop songs they were performing, I also realized that they deserved to be in that profession because it’s something that they really work hard for.
I have those talents, yes, but I don’t have the same dedication and commitment that they possess. I would dance and sing on a whim. While them, they dance and sing every day, every day, just to be better at what they do and be inches closer to realizing their dream. I wasn’t that kind of person.
So, what’s my dream, really?
While rummaging through my old files back home last year (which I really love doing when I am home in Bicol because it transports me back in time when I stumble upon my old Backstreet Boys cassette tapes, among others), I found this.
On the cover was the last travel story I wrote before I took a hiatus from writing and it brought back so many memories of my young self reading the day’s newspaper with my father. My father was the biggest influence why I have this interest in the media. He was the biggest media enthusiast I know before his illness stopped him from watching the television and reading the newspaper. Everything that I knew about the media before I went to college, I got it from him.
I took up journalism because of him. I wanted to be a journalist because of him. When I was young, we will read the newspaper together. I will read the pages he had finished and sometimes we would discuss the day’s news.
I remember my father, who had just recovered from his first heart attack, bringing around a copy of that Mabuhay magazine which had my first cover story. He told me he was so proud of me. I felt proud, too, not because of that cover story, but because I was able to make him that happy.
I took a break from writing because I had very personal issues then and probably because I felt I was meant for something else. Writing for newspapers didn’t pay well, I couldn’t afford that because our family just went bankrupt that time. Also, I had a different “ambition” then. I wanted to land a job that had something to do with policy-making and legislative. I abandoned writing. I was wrong.
And so, I belatedly realized and finally reconciled (after around three years when I first thought of coming up with a travel blog) that my dream is to become a travel writer.
When 2012 started and I felt a new energy around me, I launched this blog. I put this up to remind me that once upon a time, I wanted to be a journalist – maybe not the type who makes police blotters his life, but maybe as a travel journalist since I love traveling anyway. And everything that has been happening in my life led me to thinking I am bound to inspire people, and writing to get people out of their comfort zones and discover the joy of traveling is an inspirational act that maybe I am good at.
Well, I can actually just inform my editors that I want to get back to travel writing but that would be kind of shortchanging myself so I wanted this blog to serve as my training ground as well so I can sharpen my writing skills. And besides, even if I don’t get to be a travel writer, travel bloggers have become legitimate go-to-sources of travel information, right?
Many times, I’ve been ask the question, “So, what kind of travel blogger are you?” It’s really hard to tell. All I want is to come up with travel stories that will inspire people to one day get out of their workplace and be somewhere enjoying the gift of traveling. I believe that no two travels are the same so one cannot ever duplicate someone else’s travel but he or she can be inspired by another person’s travels.
That’s why if you will notice, I hardly write about my travel budgets and expenses because I believe that money shouldn’t be the reason for traveling. It is that wanting to see the world and recognize a new part of our selves that should motivate people to travel. Because if you really want to conquer the world, you will find ways even if your money can’t get you a swanky hotel room.
Maybe I am part of that generation who grew up reading travel stories from newspapers and magazines which narrations of travels were enough to motivate their readers to cut that page and store it somewhere until they’re ready to travel. I used to do. And I hope there is someone out there who is also doing the same now: bookmarking some of my posts which have inspired him or her to think of exciting travels soon.
And so, I treat it as a bonus from God that after six months of travel blogging (I was absent for three months!), I got to write for one of my favorite magazines again. And this time, I am not just appearing as a travel writer, I’d like to think I am now a travel photographer as well. I wrote a round-up on Legazpi City.
A feature on Misibis Bay.
And a photo essay of sort on Calaguas.
And of course, I am just really happy that my passion for traveling went back this year. I didn’t plan any travel for 2012 last year given what I was going through so I was surprised to find myself raring to go to Cebu two days before its Sinulog. That jumpstarted my love affair with traveling again.
With very minimal budget, no hotel reservations, no planned itinerary at all, I traveled with my best bud A on the day of Sinulog, went straight to where the action was, walked until 12:00 midnight until we found a decent place to spend the night in. The succeeding days saw us traveling from Cebu City to Carcar to Simala and to Oslob.
Here’s a picture of me enjoying Sinulog, probably the only picture around here where you will see me smiling (yes, that’s a smile there).
After Cebu, I went straight to Iloilo for its Dinagyang Festival and made a side trip to Guimaras. I have never stopped traveling since, my latest travel brought me around Vietnam and Cambodia.
The best trips, of course, are the ones that I make to Donsol, my home.
As for teaching, it may not be my dream, but I dare say it is one of my life’s greatest love. After five semesters of being on fellowship, I got back to teaching last semester. I’ve missed teaching! I am actually more inspired to teach now.
I get a different high every time I am inside the classroom. I get ‘kilig’ when I hear my students say “Thank you, Sir.” I am humbled whenever I hear from former students who have long graduated and have embarked on their own careers. I feel proud when I see them on the television, read their works, know that they’re happy with their work, or they’ve started a family. No monetary value can ever replace that feeling.
So even when other people have tempted me to just leave this university and work for some high-paying schools, in all reality, I just really don’t see myself now working in another university.
Here’s a picture of me with my students when I took them on a photowalk tour around Ilocos last October. Spot the teacher! 🙂
And yes, it’s possible to live a life full of passion and love. And light. We’re never too young to chase our dreams. We’re never really too old to live our dreams. Thank You! 🙂
Love and light, everyone. Go, juanderlust! 😀