By reason of the fact that thousands more of our countrymen are, or will be, working abroad in search of a better life, Filipinos can very well qualify for the title “most traveling race.”
There are good and not so good stories about Pinoys in foreign lands but what probably distinguishes us from the rest are our travelling quirks. They say you know it’s a Filipino at the international airport when that person is standing next to eight boxes. This person also has carry-on luggage that requires the service of a small forklift. Because of our penchant for shopping as well as bringing home souvenirs and gifts for the whole clan, our baggage is usually overflowing to capacity, so much so that we sometimes have to jump up and down the poor bag at home to be able to close it. But it would be unfair to say that it’s only Filipinos who collect hotel shampoo bottles, soaps or what-have-you because even people from the First World do that.
There’s nothing wrong with travelling to pursue a dream. When I was younger, I left my cushy job as a senator’s spin doctor to grab the opportunity of working as a casino dealer in Europe. Every night, I would smile and say “place your bets please!” while imagining the English castle I would go next, the nudist beaches, the Dutch windmills, the beautiful tulip gardens etc. After two years, I would go back to The Homeland, having savored the experience of a lifetime. What mattered most was not only seeing those postcard-pretty sights but also living and breathing the culture of a people different from ours.
Although I don’t consider myself a seasoned traveler in the league of those frequent fliers, travelling all these years has equipped me with insights on what to do and what not:
TRAVELLING LIGHT. Issa is aghast over the fact that I practice this to the extreme. On Day Two of our vacation in Bora, I had no more choices on what to wear whereas she was parading down the beach in a new outfit every four hours. I do choose clothing which I can easily mix and match, also tops and dresses which don’t need pressing. I also collect miniature toiletry bottles because they don’t take up much space in the luggage. The only thing I have to avoid is bringing book(s) because it seems I don’t get to read when I am busy having fun!
PICTURE! PICTURE! It’s good that I have gotten over this mentality. In the beginning, I had to have a photo in every corner and in every scenery. But I realized that a table is a table and a beach is a beach, unless it’s very unique. So I’d rather much leave things to memory. These days though, I take my photos for the sake of this blog.
TRAVELLING WITH KIDS. My friend Eileen and her pilot-husband have deliberately chosen not to have kids for the simple reason that it would cramp their peripatetic lifestyle. It’s a matter of choice. There was a time when travelling made me realize just how many k-i-d-s I have. Thankfully, I have gotten over the challenge and have in fact been travelling more and more without the nanny while enjoying it every step of the way. There’s no greater joy than seeing my child happy at experiencing a place for the first time. And I am glad they listen to mom when I say “You can poo or you can pee but definitely no tantrums allowed.”
MEANS OF TRANSPORT. I had to turn down an invitation to go to Cagayan Valley this year because I had to travel 11 hours by bus (ugh!) I am sorry but I can only travel by plane or by car if it would only take me three hours. Time is simply precious and if you do not have time to waste, so am I.
TRAVELLING TO SAVE THE ECONOMY. Trite as it may sound but Filipinos should really be seeing more of their own country. We help the country’s tourism better that way. There’s really no use wasting precious dollars in shopping in Hong Kong or Bangkok when the goods there can be found in Tutuban or Greenhills. As my own contribution to our own economic recovery, I vow to travel more local places and patronize local establishments.
My travel wishlist: Batanes (they say the greenery is just wonderful there); Hundred Islands in Pangasinan; Sagada and Banaue (it’s about time I see the Rice Terraces, 8th wonder of the world); Palawan (to get to know what The Last Frontier is all about); Vigan (I would love to taste their food and see those vintage houses and shops); and Bohol (to see the Chocolate Hills, what else?)