Featured Traveler: Rica’s Third World Travels

This is a long overdue post (almost a year, sorry!), but here it is anyway. 😛

My “travelers” are back this year, starting with one of my graduate school friends (and travel book author!) Ma. Patricia Yulo or simply Rica.

Rica in Singapore during her

Rica in Singapore during her “no bag” travel challenge

I met Rica when I was still taking up my Master’s Degree at this university along Taft Avenue (ahem, #animo!), and we were classmates in one of my electives called Creative Nonfiction. We kept in touch with the help of social media (I also found out that she’s a relative of one of my friends from college — who was also one of my featured travelers before! What a small world!), and I’m so glad she agreed to do this despite her busy travel schedule. Hehe!

So let’s get down to business. How did all the “travel” start for her? Rica said, “I started traveling when I was a kid but my life changed when I backpacked the Banana Pancake route covering Thailand, Cambodia, and Vietnam in 2009. For the first time in my life, I felt free — free in a sense that I was able to unchain myself from oppressive worldviews because I was exposed to different cultures and met so many beautiful and friendly people from all over the world.”

Rica's first visit in Bangkok, Thailand

Rica’s first visit in Bangkok, Thailand

with the Hmong Tribe in Vietnam

with the Hmong Tribe in Vietnam

Rica has been around Asia (she loves Southeast Asian countries), Australia, and North America. But what makes her standout in a world full of “travelers” (aside from the fact that she has written a travel book, but more on that later!) is she actually dared to travel to a foreign country without any luggage! She shared, “Most Filipinos I know bring big suitcases with them whenever they travel even for just a short period. I wanted to challenge that and prove that you don’t have to bring your entire closet with you if you’re traveling short term. So in May 2012, I traveled to Singapore for three days without bringing a single bag (not even a cellphone case!). I used a vest with many pockets to carry my passport, a few pieces of clothing, toiletries, and the most important gadget of all — mobile phone (to call loved ones in case of an emergency).

“I went around Singapore alone without carrying anything which made my walks easy. I didn’t even have a hard time entering or leaving the airport because I had no luggage. Plus, I saved a lot of money because checked-in luggage can be a bit costly. The biggest lesson is this: for a short vacation, you only need one backpack. Laptops and other gadgets are unnecessary. Do away with things you spend a lot of time with at home while you travel.”

After sharing that, Rica also mentioned what traveling is for her and how it affects her. “Traveling for me is a form of spiritual nourishment. Traveling gives me a reason to live because it challenges me and makes me see or experience new things. My travels have also helped me become more conscious of dealing with other people from different backgrounds. I’m not saying that I’m perfect but because of traveling, I’ve become more sane… and sober.”

chillin' at a hostel in Malaysia

chillin’ at a hostel in Malaysia

made a friend in Burma (Myanmar)

made a friend in Burma (Myanmar)

elephant ride in Laos

elephant ride in Laos

Her next dream destination? “I always say Norway due to its contribution to metal music (which I love), but right now, my dream is to backpack Northern Pakistan, the Kashmir region, Israel, and Iraq. Some of the places mentioned are quite dangerous but give me a black belt travel companion, a translator, and a bulletproof vest and I’ll go there in a snap to eat, explore, and ask questions. I’m not the type of tourist who simply wants to take a photo of a monument. I want to talk to the locals, share a meal with them, meet their families, hang out where they hang out, and I would love to do these things in the places mentioned.”

lunch with locals in Indonesia

lunch with locals in Indonesia

More about the photo above: “After exploring a Javanese village in Jogja by bicycle for four hours, a local invited my tired legs and my two lovely tour guides to have lunch with her and her ‘org mates.’  She served authentic Indonesian food, which was too spicy, but I enjoyed the entire experience.”

with tea pickers in Sri Lanka

with tea pickers in Sri Lanka

with friends at the summit of Mount Pinatubo, Philippines

with friends at the summit of Mount Pinatubo, Philippines

Her travel tips (aside from the things you can read in her book):

Know your priorities if you want to travel. Yes, you need money but you don’t have to be a millionaire. For example, if you’re a smoker and a drinker but love to travel, don’t buy cigarettes and alcohol for two months — that’ll definitely save you a lot of money! [And you’re health, too! See next tip. Haha! -Ed.]
Stay healthy.
Be curious, but don’t be stupid.
Travel SLOWLY — spend five days in one city if you can.

The 3rd World Traveler

As mentioned earlier, Rica has written a book about her travels (particularly in third world countries). Here, she shares what inspired her to do it and all that comes with it.

She said, “I spent a year saving for a one month trip, and I made it happen! Then I came home and wanted to share my story — focusing more on how I was able to save money. I didn’t just want to write about what I saw in Myanmar or what I ate in Laos. I mean, seriously, who gives a shit? I have my blog for that, and interested readers can always access it. I wanted to create ‘a manual’ that teaches people how to save money so they, too, can travel. I thought, if I could do it despite all the obstacles I had to face, anyone with a dream would be able to do it as long as they’re disciplined enough to know their priorities.

“I wrote the manuscript two days after my month long journey — with a little push from the book entitled, Who Moved My Cheese which I read while I was in Bangkok. After a month of writing and polishing, I sent the first complete draft to my college professor Dra. Lilia Sevillano for a review. It was somehow her ‘approval’ that gave me the motivation to take the entire thing seriously. And because I had to make it readable/comprehensive, I sought the assistance of a published writer named Roel Cruz who did a fine job editing the entire manuscript.

“Around April of 2013, I was looking for a publisher when Ces Cabangon of Art Initiative approached me. That was the turning point. She offered to publish my work without asking me to change anything. She simply wanted to make the manuscript reader-friendly and more marketable so we got Louella Tumaneng of National Bookstore who guided us in our decision-making and added graphic designers Myish Endonila (IxM Collective and Design Brewery) and Jack Policarpio to the team for layout and illustration.

“It took us months to finish everything but we’re happy that the manuscript finally saw the light of day last January 2014. The book, The 3rd World Traveler, is now out in National Bookstore and Powerbooks branches throughout the metro.”

Know more about Rica‘s book by visiting
the official Facebook page.

Disclaimer: I do not own this photo.


You can also check out my other featured travelers HERE.

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