Wednesday, January 11


Sometime in March of last year, I spoke to a lonely old woman over the phone. She spent almost 2 hours telling me various crap she must've been repeating to herself like a mantra, to make herself believe she's happy and fulfilled, when it is close to fact she had lived a limited life -- in experience and emotion. I recall this because it was sometime around my birthday and I was thinking how, like her, I am educated and live with dogs for company. And I said a heretical prayer to all the gods that I do not grow old empty like her.

Do you ever feel that there is something out there for you? You do not know what or who, but it is out there. And you must go and find it. You must go and meet it.

I do. And a general panic would come over me; like when you've missed out on something critical. Didn't get something done that's supose to be done. Or when trapped in an impending doom, like slow death (by thirst and starvation). Overcome by the helplessness and ignorance to save yourself. That's how I feel, trapped in the city.

I travel with a simple objective: To Know The Lives That Others Lead -- A campaign to swim out of the depths of my own existence. I want to discover things I've never experienced before. I want to meet some truly amazing people. I have this hunger to know. See. Feel. Be overwhelmed that I do not know where I am or what to do for a moment. Like Alice in Wonderland. 

Each trip I take I wonder if this trip will take me there . . .

In the last couple of years that I have been traveling (in 2010, I've spent every month working for 3 weeks and taking off on the 4th that I've fallen on the routenary preparation of a departure -- check my toiletries, pack my clothes, charge my batteries and grab my passport), I have become more experienced. I've even set upon myself  a new level for traveling, something I haven't done since college: I decided to go to Boracay on my birthday with nothing useful but the clothes on my back, a toothpaste and a toothbrush, surviving by the kindness of the company I keep. To disappoint you, I'd have to say I don't feel wiser. If anything, I am hungrier! I want to see more. Know more. Be more, that sometimes I find myself in a panic knowing that I DESIRE.

I read this somewhere in the occasional blogs my friends would refer:

"I'll keep writing these articles to give you the inspiration and 
motivation to make your life as interesting and exciting as possible"

I was stopped by the arrogance translated to me by those words. 

He had categorized himself as the inspirer of other people. Suddenly, I felt apologetic to anyone whom I may have delivered the same message to, without knowing so. To say that you are an inspiration is just conceited. You don't have to spell it out to be it. In my world, the moment you say you are, you become NOT. To have other people envy him, killed his style!

Let me be the first one to say: I am a hard person to impress. I have been surrounded by so many people who travel; who make a difference in the lives of others - if not the world - with their own personal contributions as an environmentalist; or social-worker; or those who are culturally concerned, dabbling in anthropology, desiring community awareness; and those who exceed their personal best in each campaign they pursue. People I actually interact with, conversed with, and at one point traveled with, and not just read about in the papers or online, that I can no longer swoon over the slightest trips others do to impress their friends. So do not hold it against me if I do not give empty compliments or play on the vanity of others. 

Don't be misled. I too want to be encouraged and be influenced and gain insight on others' brilliance. I do recognize campaigners who've known lives beyond the ones they lead. Fearless. Only a few had truly inspired me to be out there. The Balangay Team, for one -- to spend months (a year) of voyage in a pre-hispanic watercraft retracing the migration route of our ancestors across Southeast Asia. Britain's Mike Perham, Australian Jessica Watson, American Zac Sunderland and Dutch Laura Dekker -- teenagers aged 18 and below who have circumnavigated around the world solo are on the list of people I am impressed with. How can you not respect those who embark on such campaigns?

I've watched Motorcycle Diaries -- a story of a young Che Guevara traveling across the continent of Latin America with his cousin for 6-month, before he became a revolutionary commander. At the end of the movie, he wrote a line that said:

"I . . . am not myself anymore."

I long for an equally cathartic experience in my travels. I am not looking for a world changing role. Only something to transcend the things that currently bonds me.

I want to do something similar in this archipelago -- a road trip from Aparri to Sorsogon, Catarman to Maasin, Surigao to General Santos and Zamboanga, Dumaguete to Bacolod, Iloilo to Caticlan, El Nido to Brooke's Point, San Jose to Calapan, Mariveles and finally back to Manila.

My friend Yra (from one of the WAY OF THE SUN trips) often says, "siguro dati kang ulap" (roughly translated as "you must've been a cloud in your previous life"). I've never been thought of as a cloud before and the idea tickles me. It's a beautiful thought. Such a beautiful idea to think of someone as such.