What Traveling Taught Me about Life and Love

Last week, I celebrated my 28th birthday. To be honest, I actually didn’t expect to be “surprised” on that day. But it happened, and I ended that day with a REALLY BIG SMILE ON MY FACE! Haha! 😀 And then just yesterday, I came across a meme on social media depicting two aisles: a church aisle (for a wedding) and an airplane aisle (for traveling). The former described people who transitioned from being single to getting married, while the latter talked about singles who, although haven’t walked on a church aisle yet, at least have walked on countless airplane aisles and embodied their wanderlust — and that’s where I belong to as of this writing! Hahaha! And you know what? Nothing wrong with that. After all, I’m so much better off this way, enjoying my single and waiting season, than rushing and being miserable because of marrying the wrong person out of societal pressure! Whew! And one of the best parts of being 28 and single? I realized that if there was one thing I love about this single season of my life, it would be my ability to reach my travel goals easier and faster.

That, and these other lessons I got along the way:

  • I am but a small speck of dust in this big, wide world.

I was literally small, as in five years old, when I first stepped foot on a plane and traveled outside the Philippines with my family. But even if that was more than 23 years ago, each boarding time makes me feel “small” — but in a good way. Traveling taught me that there are many places to go to aside from my beloved Manila, and even more cultures and people to discover and get to know outside the Philippines! Sometimes, it even makes me think that my “problems” aren’t even “problems” compared to what other people are going through in other parts of the planet. It’s a very big world out there, indeed. But what I like about it is that each “wander” is always accompanied by “wonder.” Even the earth itself is just a small speck of dust in the vast universe! *mind blown*

  • My past does not define my future.

I’ll be honest with you. Before, I didn’t dream of going to Japan and Germany at all. Why? For a very obvious, but also judgmental reason: their involvement in World War II! And being the history buff that I am (I even went to graduate school to study it! Haha!), I had prejudice against the two aforementioned countries for as long as I could remember! But God really has different ways of teaching us lessons — humility included — in this life. Guess what? This year alone, I went to both countries in two consecutive months: Japan in June and Germany in July. And guess what again? I LOVED THEM BOTH!!! In all my travels, I find the Japanese people as the kindest I’ve ever encountered, and the Germans as the most good-looking and sophisticated (but more on that later! Wahahahaha!). Seriously though, I felt ashamed for judging them before. Sure, their past may not have been peppered with sugar, spice, and everything nice, but that’s exactly it — it’s ALL IN THE PAST! Present Japan and Germany are two of the cleanest and most advanced places I’ve been blessed to go to, and I wouldn’t think twice about visiting them again!

And just like them, I know that my past does not define my future. This truth also applies to you!

  • There are “many fish” in the sea! Heehee!

As mentioned, I almost didn’t want to leave Munich, Germany because of all the good-looking, not to mention Roman Catholic, men at every corner! Haha! I don’t know about you, but after my last failed long-term relationship, I’ve seriously thought of my non-negotiables, and I won’t budge this time around. And my number one non-negotiable? MY FAITH. It’s not enough that he’s part of the Roman Catholic Church, he should be a practicing Catholic and someone who has a personal relationship with Jesus. In short, someone who can journey with me in my same walk of faith and help me reach sainthood in heaven at the end of it all (and vice versa). As a person living in a predominantly Catholic country, it’s sad that finding someone like that may not be impossible, but is definitely hard. I still prefer a fellow Filipino (and I think I already “met” him! Mwahahahahaha!). But traveling taught me to keep my “options” open — especially when in Europe! 😛

Seriously, though, traveling taught me that there are many people from different races and all walks of life I can be friends with and learn from. I’ll be marrying only one person, so my non-negotiable/s will apply to only him. But friendships? I can form as many as I want, with people from all over the globe!

  • God is present everywhere.

I once read this quote and instantly loved its message:

“Some people think it takes mindless faith to believe in God, but it actually takes blind and reckless faith to look at this beautiful world and amazing universe and believe there is no ‘God.'”

I loved it because it’s so self-explanatory with regards to what traveling taught me about God. Again, wandering opened my eyes to the many “wonders” of this world — which in return has made me more in awe of our Creator. ‘Nuff said. 🙂

  • Home, really, is still where my heart is.

I once shared on my social media accounts that whenever I’m asked about what my most favorite city is, my answer’s always Manila. Maybe I’m biased. Maybe I’m playing it safe. I’ve been a Manila girl all my life. But I’ve been to London, I’ve been to Sydney, I’ve been to other cities, but that song always rings true to me, “I keep coming back to Manila.” Why? Because it’s my city, it’s my home. I know its history and victories. It’s the first place where God entrusted me with to be a steward of His creation. As our national hero, Jose Rizalonce put it, “Ang hindi marunong lumingon sa pinanggalingan ay hindi makakarating sa paroroonan.” And isn’t that what we’re called for? To learn to appreciate all the things God blessed and entrusted us with, and to always love and look back where we all came from. And hopefully, inspire others, especially my fellow Filipinos, to do the same.

Yes. Traveling made me appreciate my hometown more. That whenever I leave it, there’s always a sense of joy and peace in me when I think that there’s still this place called Manila, Philippines that I can always go back home to… back to my friends, back to my family. ❤

  • Life is finite, so make the most out of it!

Death and loss are two things that can either make or break us in this life. I already lost both of my parents to cancer when I was still in my teenage years, so I can say that I know how it feels to experience heartbreak from a very tragic loss such as death. But more than that, and because of that, I’ve become so much stronger. So strong, that other heartbreaks (especially romantic ones!), are like drops in a bucket when compared to my heartbreak of losing my parents at an early age. And what has traveling taught me about this, you think? Well, simple. I know my parents would’ve loved to see all the places I’ve been seeing now, but since they weren’t able to do so anymore, I guess I can do it on behalf of them. I know that traveling enables me to make the most out of my life, one country at a time! As of this writing, I’ve been to 19 countries already… there are so many more to visit and see! 🙂

  • At the end of it all, it’ll be all about how we all LOVED.

With all the wars going around the world, even in my own country, it makes me question, “WHAT HAPPENED TO LOVE?” 😦 And no, I’m not just talking about romantic love here. Something more like Mother Teresa‘s kind of love. They say, “all’s fair in love and war.” Perhaps that’s true. But traveling has made me more aware about world issues and because of it, has inspired me to focus and show more love to my fellow world citizens, regardless of nationality, race, and even religion. Why wage war if we can promote love instead?

Those are just some of the things I learned, thanks to wandering!

A few years ago, traveling — especially traveling to my dream continent (Europe) — was just a dream. Now, it’s as real as it can be! I’ll even go back next year — third year in a row! That alone has taught me that if I surrender my dreams to God, combined with obedience and prayer, truly, nothing is impossible with Him! So here I am, surrendering my other dreams to Him and enjoying the current season He has put me in. Who knows? A few years, maybe even months (months talaga?! HA HA HA), from now, I’ll be writing about a new season in my life! But until then, at least I’ll always have my life lessons with me — some of which I definitely learned while I was traveling.

And when I finally walk on that church aisle toward my future husband, I can also proudly say that I walked on countless airplane aisles before that… and of course, after! So why choose one if I can walk both on an airplane aisle AND a church aisle? #BestOfBothWorlds 🙂


How about you? What has traveling taught you?

7 Steps for a #GUAM-azing (and Affordable) Vacation!

This is a long overdue post, so forgive me! In fact, it’s so long overdue, it’s even 30 lbs. ago — at least for me! Haha! Yaasss, friends! Meet my tamsy version — a.k.a. nung ako’y isa pang matabang sexy! Wahahahaha! But now you know that even if a lot of changes have occurred in my life in the past year, one of the things that remains consistent is my quest for adventure! Traveling will always be something I’ll do as much as I can, and I don’t need to explain myself to anyone about that. If someone couldn’t accept that, then #kthxbye! I’d rather be in the company of people who respects and understands the value of traveling (and my other values) than be surrounded by negatrons! Okay, dami ko na namang sinabiKaya nga WORDY eh! Mwahahahahaha!

ANYWAY, let’s get down to business.

When I first found out that Philippine budget airline, Cebu Pacific Air (CebPac), would be flying to Guam, United States of America (USA), I won’t deny that I got really excited! Haha! And guess what? When CebPac released their promo fares for MNL-GUM and back, I didn’t think twice and immediately scored round-trip tickets for less than Php8,000 (or around US$150 only!). Of course I was confident with that because I already had a US visa prior to booking my plane tickets, but as a rule of thumb, it’s best to NOT purchase plane tickets if you don’t have any visa yet — and this applies to ALL countries that require Filipinos to have visas, not just the US.

Now that we’ve got that covered, here are some steps I suggest you do to make #GUAMazing not just a hashtag, but actually a reality! Hahaha! 😛


First, get a US visa.

Again, I’ll repeat, Guam is a territory of the USA. And for Filipinos, it’s not a surprise anymore that going to any US territory requires acquiring a US visa! So yes, if you want to go to Guam, you must first have a US visa — no exceptions! Please don’t believe any fake news concerning US visa applications. Trust me, if you don’t see it on any of the official pages/websites endorsed by the US Embassy, then it’s probably best to NOT treat any “news” as legit.

The complete step-by-step process on how to apply for a nonimmigrant tourist visa at US Embassy Manila can be found here! And NO, I WON’T ENTERTAIN FURTHER QUESTIONS CONCERNING US VISAS! My only answer would be, “GO TO THE OFFICIAL WEBSITE!” 😉

Second, book your flight/s.

As mentioned earlier, I booked via CebPac. I’m in no way affiliated with the aforementioned airline, but I really like flying CebPac despite its sometimes “infamous” reputation for delayed flights, etc. PEACE! Besides, it’s a Filipino-owned company, and I’m all for supporting Philippine businesses!!!

There are other airlines that fly to Guam, but of course that choice will be up to you already. I call this “different flights for different folks.” Basta, book your flight/s! Wahahahaha!


Third, stay at a budget hotel.

Since we’re talking about budget travel here, I’ll suggest staying at a three-star hotel or even a hostel. I haven’t tried couchsurfing or Airbnb-ing yet because I have trust issues (HA HA HA), so next to a luxury hotel, my fallback would be an affordable hotel!


My friends and I stayed at Oceanview Hotel and Residences (which is half-hotel, half condo! haha!), and I can say it wasn’t that bad. After all, we only used it to sleep, take a shower, the usual. And the shopping malls are just a stone’s throw away! Speaking of which…


Fourth, shop ’til you drop (or not!).

Guam is known as a shopping haven (or even heaven! haha) for shopaholics everywhere — whether you prefer designer brands or outlets! Of course if you’re on a budget, you’ll stick with the latter, and that’s what me and my friends did!

GPO was one of my favorite places when I was in Guam. I was able to buy a pair of brand-new Nine West boots for just a little over a thousand pesos! I was also able to score a Michael Kors sweater for less than a thousand pesos, too!!!

Before going to Guam, I was eyeing the Tory Burch fragrance for women but found it too expensive in Manila (around Php6,000 for a small bottle). When I went to Micronesia Mall in Guam, there was a Macy’s store, and you guessed it — I was able to buy the fragrance for a cheaper price!

one of the signs inside Micronesia Mall

one of the signs inside Micronesia Mall

This mall isn’t really for budget travelers (even if it’s supposed to be “duty free shopping”), but it was the closest to our hotel — and that’s where I was able to buy a Guam-exclusive Pandora charm! Heehee!

a Guam-exclusive Pandora charm with the traditional greeting "Hafa Adai!" (pronounced as "half a day")

a Guam-exclusive Pandora charm with the traditional greeting “Hafa Adai!” (pronounced as “half a day”)

Fifth, EAT.

Because CHOCOLATE ICE CREAM!!!

Because of the interiors (haha) and their platters (chicken, ribs, etc.)!!!

Because it’s a diner-style restaurant chain that’s not yet in the Philippines! HA HA HA

  • McDonald’s

Because of their McWrap! (That I wish will be available in Manila, too! huhu)

Sixth, explore…

If you were to choose only three destinations that could fit your limited itinerary, then I’d suggest you explore three out of the four following places:

It was raining when we went to the most popular tourist spot in Guam (hence the umbrella), but we still went because like I said, it’s a “must” when in Guam. Haha! There’s a legend behind Two Lovers Point (mala Romeo and Juliet ang peg!), and you can also have a great view of Guam’s waters (for a fee, though).


And yes, you won’t be able to miss these love locks, which have become a famous “tourist spot” in different parts of the world! ❤

  • Ritidian Beach

Next to El Nido, Palawan, Ritidian Beach probably has one of the clearest waters I’ve seen in my life so far!

Guam has a lot of World War II history, and this park is proof of that. There was an event when we visited, which explains the mini flags planted on the ground.

  • Chammoro Village

The Chammoro people are the natives of Guam, and visiting their village will give you a chance to learn about their culture and even buy some of their traditional products. Unfortunately, we weren’t able to visit it because of time constraints, but I heard that it’s an interesting thing to do when in Guam so I still included it here. Maybe I’ll visit it next time!

(Optional) Seventh, meet with and make new friends!

My travel buddies and I were fortunate enough to have some friends based in Guam, and this is the part where I’d like to express my gratitude to them for being amazing “hosts” while we were there!

To Kuya Nonie and Ate Nette, THANK YOU for bringing us to places in Guam that we wouldn’t have been able to go to if it weren’t for the two of you! Hanggang sa next #GUAMazing trip namin! Hehe!

To my long-time-no-see girl friend, Jian, kaloka! It took us almost half a decade to be reunited! And this post is so long overdue that you’re already based in Chicago, mainland USA! Hahaha! But yes, thank you for taking the time out of your busy schedule to eat, drink, and be merry with me while in Guam! Alam naaa ‘pag nagpunta rin akong Chicago! Hahaha!

And after meeting with your long-time friends, you might even make a new one on the road! Jian and I were walking the streets of Guam when we met Alejandro! That “meeting” was a really funny story to tell, but then again, that’ll be just among us three. Haha! After all, one of the good things about traveling is the priceless memories you make, which no amount of money can ever buy. Pak! Ganern!!

with our new-found friend, Alejandro

with our new-found friend, Alejandro


Have you been to Guam?
Share your #GUAMazing story, too! 🙂

Euro Trip 2017: Imperial Highlights

Time to take a break from all the #hugot posts you’ve seen and read on my blog! I’M BACK, FRIENDS!!! Back to my beloved Manila. Back to reality. Back to my travel-loving single self (MWAHAHAHAHAHA!). And most especially, back to my own kaloka and unapologetic blog writing style! That was evident in my posts from early 2012 and before! Love it, then thank you! Hate it, I. don’t. care! 😛

So what’s the topic for this one? If it wasn’t obvious enough, well, I’ll spell it out to you: E-U-R-O-P-E. Yes! Two years in a row! Even I was amazed at God’s provisions in my life despite the setback I’ve encountered later last year/earlier this year. After my UK-Ireland trip last year, I thought I’d be seeing Europe again in, say, five years? But no, obviously, God’s plans are always better and THIS TRIP was just another testament to that! I’m claiming, though, that my third Euro trip will already be my honeymoon! So future husband, you better be reading! I want to go to France and Italy for that! Don’t worry, I don’t expect it to be next year (but who knows?! haha). I won’t even expect it the following year. In that year though, I’m claiming that I’ll be in Panama for World Youth Day 2019! Maybe you can come along? Haha! 😉 After that, then I think I can start to think about settling down. “Start” being the operative word! Char!

Rambling aside (serious muna ulit!), I went to Central/Eastern Europe — the “heart” of Europe they say because this region used to be part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. Not just a kingdom, but an EMPIRE!!! Did you know that the last “empire” remaining now is Japan? I went there, too, in June, and I’ve yet to write about it! Hehe! Anyway, this entry will serve as a “teaser” of what you can expect to read and see on this blog in the next few months. Since pictures paint a thousand words, I’ll let them do the “talking” for me for now until I can finally write separate blog entries for each country. In summary, I traveled with two of my sisters in a tour group to the following countries: Germany, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary, and Austria.

GERMANY

Munich

Regensburg

Bavarian Alps /
(Adolf Hitler’s) Eagle’s Nest

Berchtesgaden

CZECH REPUBLIC

Prague

SLOVAKIA

Bratislava

HUNGARY

Budapest /
The Danube River

Szentendre

Gyor

AUSTRIA

Vienna

Salzburg

To be honest, my pictures don’t really do justice to the actual beauty of each place we visited. And that’s what I’ll try to capture through my words in the coming blog entries. Until then! ❤