To The Young Traveler

My brother and Mang Romeo of Batad, Banaue
My little brother and Mang Romeo of Batad, Banaue

To the young traveler. Oi! Kamusta?

I have friends — mostly on Facebook — who are about your age. They like posting pictures of weekend trips to mountains (usually) and beaches (sometimes.). I get it. I was once like that. I was once brimming with curiosity and excitement about seeing what’s out there. What’s this magical Boracay I’ve been hearing of? Why is everyone climbing mountains when it hurt like h**l days after?

I was curious and adventurous so I went out. I experienced it the best I could. And I learned.

The road has been my best teacher. I won’t be who I am now had it not been for the people I met on the road and the experiences I was fortunate enough to have. I would not be doing this project if it weren’t for the immense love that being on the road brought out in me.

I’d like to say three things to you. Call them the ‘meandering thoughts of an aged (ahemm) traveler.’ Whatever. Let me just say it.

Always remember that you are a guest. Be thankful and respectful to your hosts. I think that much of the uncare that we see in ‘tourists’ won’t even happen if they just remember that they are just guests. Hiya — or our sense of propriety — is one of our accommodative surface values, according to Filipino psychology experts. If we apply hiya in how we deal with the places and people we visit, we won’t trash oceans or disturb the peace in a quiet mountain setting. We would respect local culture — their heritage, food, betel chewing or whatever else comes off as odd to a non-local.

Be generous. Many of the people we deal with on trips rely on you for income. He/ she could be a guide, a trike driver, boatman or someone trying to sell you buko, among others. In the same way that you don’t haggle with your resort or that beachside buffet place you love, don’t haggle with them. Be generous. Be kind. It almost always karmically comes back to you anyway.

Trust that  you will seldom run into scammers on your local travels.* I’ve been at this for about two decades now. I’ve focused on solo travel for more than five years. And for the most part, I have been the recipient of immense hospitality and kindness.  It never felt like I paid too much or was being duped.

* Of course, it is SOP to always be safe in your travels. 

K.I.S.S. Expect life in the rural areas to be slower, simpler.  You are likely to spend hours trekking, or just soaking up the beach. There is no rush. There is no place to be — because you’re already there. So, relax. Kiss your blings and gears goodbye and leave them at home. Let go of the urbanite in you for a bit, and just enjoy life’s simplicity. It’s what you came for, right?

Let me share with you a big influence in what I’m trying to do now with my travels. Watch the whole documentary if you can.

It was important for me that I had influences, that somehow I had people and works I can look to for some guidance. I am not aiming to be that — I still have a long way to go. But I do want to share. Hopefully you can find something useful out of it. See you on the road!




Post Author: Roda Novenario