Travel One “Footstep” at a Time

TRAVEL. It’s both a noun and a verb, depending on how you use it. But one thing’s for sure, people love it. Thanks to the birth of those promo fares and whatnot, traveling is more common now than before. Be it domestic or international, as long as you take the time to explore a place, that’s traveling! I, myself, am one of those people who love to travel, whether it’s a few minutes away from home or several thousand miles away from my country of origin! 🙂 I first traveled to Hong Kong with my family when I was five years old but of course back then, I couldn’t care less! Hahaha! A few more family trips, both local and abroad, happened after that but it was only in 2006 when I was truly bitten by the travel bug. Yaazzz, for almost a decade now, I’ve been traveling AT LEAST once a year. I make sure I ride a plane or experience something new AT LEAST once a year.

traveled, TRAVELS, will travel ♥

traveled, TRAVELS, will travel ♥

To give you (and myself) a recap:

2006 – I spent one week (my short term break, no thanks to my school’s trimestral system! haha!) in Sydney, Australia with my sisters. This was also the trip when I finally conquered my fear of flying, thanks to our eight-hour direct flights to and fro. Before this, I was always “emotional” before every flight! Haha! Mabuhay!!!

2007 – It was my first time to travel with only my college friends, and we spent nine whole days in Hong Kong to attend the International Model United Nations, at the same time visit Disneyland for the first time!

2008 – After my college graduation, I traveled to Davao, Boracay, and Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia — all for the first time!!!

2009 – My sisters and I went on an Asian cruise, where we had stops in Singapore and Phuket, Thailand. We also went back to Boracay this year, after my sister’s wedding.

2010 – I fell in love with El Nido, Palawan and its then three resorts (they’re now four) — Miniloc, Lagen, and Apulit. (The fourth is Pangulasian, which is on my travel bucket list! #ElNidoResorts)

2011 – Back to Singapore, El Nido, and Hong Kong respectively. But this time, my then one-year-old niece tagged along! Yay!

2012 – Bandar Seri Begawan, Brunei / Bohol / Cebu / Ho Chi Minh, Vietnam / Siem Reap, Cambodia / Hong Kong — just some of the places I’ve been to before and after I quit my very first full-time job! Wahahahaha! My first so-called “travel year.”

my 2012 "travel year"

my 2012 “travel year”

2013 – Back to Boracay and re-“discovered its shores” (*hint, hint*), as well as went back to Hong Kong. Yes, the next time I go to HK, that will be my 6th or 7th time! I hope there’s something new in Disneyland every time…

2014 – Cebu with my family (finally with my two nieces!) during the summer, then Bangkok, Thailand for one weekend in November!!!

2015 – Haler BALER, baybeh!!!

2016 – I’m already booked for Bacolod and the three “lands” — England, Scotland, and Ireland. My boyfriend and I are also planning some hiking trips together. But I’m hoping I can also squeeze in some solo travel (or not) by the beach. Guam, perhaps? Thanks to Cebu Pacific’s promo fares, I can easily say taraaa! (Probably my second “travel year.” So I guess it happens every leap year? Hahaha! But this time, I have to juggle it with my full-time work. Thank God for annual leaves!!!)

So again, YAAZZZ. I love traveling. I may not be a “hardcore” traveler (at least not yet), but I have enough love for it. But you know another thing I love? WRITING! ❤

Combine traveling and writing together, and you get…

Well, in 2012, I actually started a blog project that focuses on featuring travelers here on the blog. It’s still on-going, although I’ve limited it to one feature per year. Yikes! I already have my next featured traveler, but I’m hoping to get mooore! So if you want to be featured, just send me a message! In the meantime, you can check out my FEATURED TRAVELERS by clicking HERE.

AND if you’ve got more travel stories to share, you can do so through FOOTSTEPS MAGAZINE!!!

#GoPlacesTellStories

#GoPlacesTellStories

Footsteps mag is the brainchild of my friend and former colleague, Kevin Tuazon. The one on the cover of the maiden issue is Ann Luna, another friend and former colleague of mine (but from a different company! #smallworld indeed!). Kevin considers this a personal passion project and while reading it, I was so proud to know a friend like him. It’s actually at par with all the travel magazines out there, and yet this one is for FREE!!! Well, at least for now. Like I said, it’s such a great read that I have high hopes for Footsteps. Like it’s tagline, I can truly see it “going places” and “telling stories” in the long run, one issue at a time!

According to Kevin, the maiden issue’s theme is discovering the passion for travel — whether in the Philippines or other countries. If that piques your curiosity and/or interest, I say go to this link — https://issuu.com/footstepsmag/docs/footsteps-jan2016/1?e=0 — and “travel” in the comforts of your own home or wherever you are right now. You can also download the Issuu app (on Android or iOS) for offline reading, just in case.

with Ann and Kevin :)

with Ann and Kevin 🙂

We hope you enjoy reading, and happy traveling!

Here’s to going places and telling (travel) stories this year! Ciao!!!

My Direction Infection

So One Direction. 😀  Ever since I got “infected,” I’ve written two 1D-related posts on this blog (HERE and HERE).  If those weren’t enough, I even acquired my very own “fangirl stuff,” which includes 1D‘s debut album, their two official books — One Direction: Forever Young (Our Official X Factor Story) and Dare to Dream: Life as One Direction, their first concert DVD, a baller, a fan magazine, and still counting…

So when Ms. Dyan Zarzuela of Candy magazine asked me if I could share my 1D “fangirl story” with her, of course I didn’t think twice!  There’s no better way to proclaim to “the world” my 1D devotion than with the help of the Philippines’ #1 teen magazine, Candy, right???

“Candy Girl Mika Chiong on 1D” can be found inside Candy magazine’s July 2012 issue!

The feature was short, but definitely sweet. 🙂  As for the interview itself, I kind of got carried away!  Hahaha!  But if you get to read it, you’ll definitely UNDERSTAND how and why I got “infected” in the first place!  So I decided to share it with yoouuu! 😉

And now I’m warning you…  what you’re about to read from hereon was pretty much how I gushed about 1D! 😛

The video that made me become a 1D fan.
I’ve to be honest…  my Direction Infection wasn’t a “love at first sight” thing.  In fact, I kind of overlooked their “What Makes You Beautiful” music video the first time I saw it on TV.  But on MARCH 21, 2012 (yes, it’s pretty recent; and yes, I know the exact date!  Haha!), THIS video made me see 1D in a whole different light:

“ONE DIRECTION Teaches You to Speak British!” was THE video that made me a 1D fan! 😀

The top 3 things I love about 1D.
First, they’re BRITISH — which is kind of a giveaway already since I’m a self-proclaimed Anglophile!  Heehee.

Second, their STORIES.  All One Directioners know that 1D was formed thanks to The X Factor (UK), but when I read their latest book, Dare To Dream: Life As One Direction, it was as if I was able to have a deeper connection with the boys and realized that yes, they, too, were just ordinary humans like most of us who once upon a time had big dreams…  and were able to make them come true!

Last but definitely not the least, their MUSIC.  Of course!  1D‘s album is actually what I play ALL DAY on my iPod!  And I repeat, not just their hit singles, but the ENTIRE ALBUM — no kidding!  I love the fact that each song in their album is distinct from one another.  For example, “What Makes You Beautiful” sounds very current, typical for a boyband…  but when you reach the last track, “Stole My Heart,” I actually get some kind of an 80’s vibe or something!  I can’t really explain it…  all I know is that 1D‘s music isn’t something people should take for granted or worse, underestimate. 🙂

My fave 1D member.
HARR-EH!!!  Yes, Harry Styles is my favorite 1D member because I love his (husky) voice, I love his megawatt smile, I love his hair, I love his green eyes, I love that he loves cats, I love his personality (such a self-proclaimed cheeky chappy!), I love his “Isn’t She Lovely” audition on The X Factor, I love the fact that he’s close to his mum, I love that he doesn’t think age matters (hahaha!)

Oh let’s face it, I love EVERYTHING about him!!! ♥

Things that make a real 1D fangirl AND things that a real 1D fangirl would never do.
A real 1D fangirl is someone who…

…knows all 1D‘s songs by heart.
…has a Facebook wall/Twitter feed full of 1D news/stuff!
…gets her hands on every possible 1D merchandise — whether it’s from the U.K., Australia, America, or just any part of the world (guilty as charged!  Haha!)
…smiles at the thought of 1D.  As simple as that.
…supports not just her favorite member, but ALL the members!
…will name her future sons Harry, Liam, Louis, Niall, and/or Zayn! =))

A real 1D fangirl would never…

…bash/trash-talk any of the boys’ girlfriends/love interests (no matter how much that sucks!) </3
…buy a pirated 1D album/CD/DVD.  It’s just plain wrong…  not to mention ILLEGAL.
…compare the boys to other artists.  Simply put, the boys are unique in their own ways.  1D IS 1D; they’re incomparable.  (Spoken like a true One Directioner!  Hahaha!)
…outgrow the boyband.  5, 10, or more years from now — even when they’re already classified as a “middle-aged men” band!  There’s just NO CURE for this Direction Infection!!! 😛

And actually, I once had a Facebook status talking about my decision to resign from my job:

“I contemplated…  and changed my mind.  Fight ’til the end!  Ika nga, use all possible ‘lifelines!’  You’ll be surprised that even One Direction played a big role in this decision-making…  That’s HOW MUCH they’re influencing my life right now!  But then again, only a REAL FAN GIRL will understand why.”

Believe it or not.  But yes, BELIEVE IT!

My friends actually found it “different” that I decided not to resign from my job because of 1D.  Obviously, the boys weren’t the only reason BUT they were one of the major factors.

First is very obvious.  How else would I be able to afford 1D fangirl-ing stuff and merchandise if I didn’t earn my own money?  At my age, I already pay for my own “wants” and asking money from others isn’t just an option.

Next, they inspire me.  To WORK HARD, that is.  We think that being a celebrity/superstar is all glitz and glamour.  True.  But it also takes a lot of hard work.  We all witnessed THAT (hard work) during the seventh season of The X Factor (UK).  We all STILL see that while the boys are busy traveling the world, satisfying each and every fan…  while enduring being away from their families and not having the same kind of privacy when they were still ordinary British boys.  Why do they do those?  Because that’s how DEDICATED they are.  Because that’s how they’re grateful for all the support they received, are receiving, and will receive from their fans!

But going back to my status, I’ve to say that the “fight” is over now.  I did use my so-called “lifelines,” but my decision to finally resign eventually became a “need” instead of a “want.”  I may be unemployed now, but I’m not rushing anyway.  It’s because when I land my next job, I don’t want it to be just another job — I want it to be where I can finally have a “career.”  Besides, I already have sufficient time to focus on my graduate studies now.  And guess what?  I still get to be my fangirl self and get my hands on 1D merchandise — thanks to my ever supportive family members!  Harharhar.

Like I said, only a REAL FANGIRL can get me!  Enough said. 😉

Ooh, while we’re at it,
why not grab a copy of Candy magazine’s latest issue?

Turn to page 70 for “A Fangirl’s Story” (photo courtesy of Candy magazine)

Available wherever magazines are sold for only Php100.

…was, am, and will forever be a Candy Girl ♥

Just last March, the Philippines’ #1 teen magazine — Candy — celebrated its 13th anniversary!

Next, next month, I’ll be celebrating a decade of being a loyal reader.  Yes!  It was in July 2002 and I was in my sophomore year in high school when I first became a Candy Girl. 😉

It all stared with THIS issue! Haha! (photo courtesy of CandyMag.com)

And then six years after that, I made my teenage dream come true when I was given the chance to be one of its contributing writers (as well as appear in the magazine itself from time to time!) 😀

some of my Candy features (articles not included)

It started in the year 2008, I was 18, and I just graduated from college.  And even though I decided to have some sort of a “gap year” by focusing on my Master’s Degree and not diving into the corporate world head-on, Candy gave me a sense of self-worth by helping me develop my writing skills, gain a new and once-in-a-lifetime experience, while getting paid all at the same time!  So you can say that my “glory days/years” were those when I was still with Candy. 🙂

Anyway, even though almost two years have passed since my last article was published, I still continue to be a very loyal Candy Girl. 😛  And just today, I finally got my last charm for my Candy bracelet!  Hahaha!

this “Keep Calm Candy Girl” charm comes with the June 2012 issue

The Lady’s personalized Candy charm bracelet!

Why PERSONALIZED?  Simply because during my Council of Cool days, Candy happened to celebrate its 10th anniversary (2009).  And that year, they also gave away a free charm bracelet.  You can say that for the past three years, I’ve been wearing my own Candy charm bracelet — which included acquiring my own charms, apart from the free ones.  And knowing me, each charm has its own meaning.  Haha!

5 charms; 5 meanings

The “C” (middle) was the very first charm I had.  It represents the Candy logo.  And well, it doesn’t hurt that my surname starts with this letter too!

The Mini Cooper with the Union Jack (top left) represents…  err…  my Anglophilia. 😛  It was also my niece’s Christmas gift to me, so that makes it extra special!

The Cross (top right) represents my faith.  Roman Catholic all the way, AMEN.

The Heart with the Universal Studios Singapore logo (bottom left) represents my family.  I bought it during a family trip to Singapore, and the heart shape just says it all.

The “Keep Calm Candy Girl” (bottom right) represents my two loves: the U.K. (Keep Calm and Carry On, anyone?) and of course, Candy!!!

For those who collected, collect, and will collect the Candy charm bracelet, you may ask what happened to the other bracelet and charms?  Well don’t worry!  I’ve been keeping them…

…and I’ve been planning to give them to somebody.
(I still just don’t know WHO!  HA HA HA)

So TEN YEARS, huh?  Well, I can truly say that it was the sweetest decade of my life!  It just amazes me to think how one simple form of media can affect not just my life, but the lives of many Filipino teenagers!  And I know that some of you may say that I’m already too old for THIS…  you’re right.  After all, Candy‘s main market is girls aged 13-21.  But for someone like me who actually grew up with the magazine, it’s a whole different story.

Yes, I’m 22.  And yes, I’m still very much proud of being a loyal Candy Girl.  In fact, I think that if there’s one thing Candy has taught me, it’s loyalty — loyalty to my family, loyalty to my friends…  but most of all, loyalty to myself.  And as cliche as it may sound, you can’t deny it: it always pays to be true to who you are.  And for that, I’ll forever be grateful.  Grateful for Candy for being my best-est friend for the past sweet ten years…  and for the many years to come.  May you continue to inspire the current and the next generation of Filipino teenagers!  More power to you!  And of course, Happy 13th Anniversary again!!!

Having said that, know that The Lady was, is, and will forever be a Candy Girl.  I, thank you. ♥