|Traversing Tonlé Sap Lake. Photo by Ryan Dayrit
It was on this day four years ago that my lackluster performance on a Philippine travel mapping tool – I got a Lakbayan grade of C – egged me to see every corner of the country and share my exploits through a travel blog, a spontaneous endeavor that brought together three things I’ve long enjoyed – traveling, writing and photography. On March 2, 2008, I wrote my very first entry, 7,107 Reasons to Travel. It was unimpressively short, but certainly the beginning of bigger, more exciting things.
Since I first started, I’ve gone to 63 of the 80 provinces of the Philippines, exploring destinations that are perennial favorites like Boracay, El Nido and Sagada, as well as under-appreciated ones that I find more intriguing to explore like Kalinga, Capiz, Sarangani and Tawi-Tawi. The last time I checked, I now score an A– on Lakbayan! But there’s much, much more to cover, and several places are certainly worth more than a single visit, for, as the old adage goes, the more you know, the more you know you do not know. It will truly take a hundred lifetimes to fully comprehend the wonders of our incredible archipelago, let alone the entire planet. In retrospect, independent travel has undoubtedly deepened my love and understanding of our nation – and the world we live in, which is something I always strive to impart through the narratives and images I create.
I’ve also rambled farther than our shores, “capturing people, places and perspectives on and off the beaten path” – a phrase that somehow sums up what my blog is all about, or at least what I envision it to be. And I’ve come to realize that, more than ticking off that next locality on my bucket list, the real rewards of independent travel stem from the compelling experiences we embrace along the way. Not just the Angkor Wat or Taj Mahal or Taipei 101, it’s mustering the culinary bravery for fried tarantulas or stinky tofu, or simply realizing you have more in common with that stranger sitting beside you on the train. As in the words of Henry Miller, “One’s destination is never a place, but rather a new way of looking at things.”
|Surviving Caramoan with friends
I would like to take this milestone opportunity to thank the people who have made my journeys all the more rewarding. First of all, my trips wouldn’t be great adventures without the awesome people I’ve traveled with and the amazing acquaintances I’ve made on the road. To my travel buddies, thanks for making the journey more insightful and enjoyable! Contending with outrageous flight lay-offs, finicky weather, pushy touts, moody cameras (that decide to die on you in the most beautiful of locations) and other travel mishaps have fortunately taken a much lesser toll on my sanity.
Without a doubt, this blog became a springboard for me to reach a wider audience through print media and – on a couple occasions – television as well. Since my first commissioned travel feature on Catanduanes published in May 2009, I’ve been regularly contributing stories and photographs for travel and in-flight publications here and abroad. From the maddening streets of Kolkata to chasing furious volcanoes in Java to immersing in the cultural watersheds of Burma, some of my most unforgettable travel experiences have luckily made their way in print. To the magazine editors, thank you for giving me the chance to turn my story pitches into full-fledged travel features. I hope more opportunities of this kind present themselves in years to come.
|My Burma story made it to the cover of Travel 3Sixty, the in-flight magazine of AirAsia!
And, lastly, I extend my gratitude to all my readers who, whether by chance or affinity, end up perusing my humble patch of cyberspace: a massive thank you for sharing your time and thoughts. While I may not always be as diligent and responsive as I want to be, your words of admiration and advice never fail to be an inspiration to me. Again, thank you all for tagging along for the ride, and for sticking around this far into the journey. I surely look forward to more adventures together down the road. Keep in touch here, or on Facebook and Twitter!