I used to believe I could find the cure for cancer. And diabetes. And win a Nobel prize for it.
Then I went out of the hospital.
Then I discovered the road. And enjoyed it.
Now, (almost) everything I do, I do to get me to travel.
Who knows, I still might. But currently, I am enjoying what I'm doing. So it would most likely take a while.
...especially now that I'm off to a new adventure here in Ethiopia for a year-long volunteer stint.
Hope you can join me in this new journey!
(Note: Being a procrastinating duchess, I am unable to blog as often as I want. If you want to follow me for other non-travel related stuffs, please do check out the links below.) Tumblr
I'm also on Couchsurfing. So if you find yourselves in our country, just hit the message button.**A special section will be dedicated to my life in Ethiopia -- on volunteering, travel, food, and living. Two years worth of travel backblogs will now have to wait.
(Disclaimer: The views expressed on this blog are my own and do not reflect those of VSO.)
June 2nd 2013
Like on cue, tears shamelessly trickled down as the vehicle carrying me and my colleagues left my house for the airport. "Sorry, I'm crying," shyly wiping away the tears that clouded my eyes. "I'd be concerned if you did not," said my fellow volunteer who came down for a visit. If that was a movie, I swear I would be up for nomination for best actress. Hands down. As we cruised by the patches of green and brown fields, I could not help but reminisce the day when I first got the taste of life in Ethiopia. "Chocolate crepes!" I felt my heart beat faster with delight after seeing the brown piles of rolled-up thin cake-like dish on the table among the spread on the table. I had to give in. One, two. Wait, one more. ... read more
August 13th 2012
It feels so long ago when Shakira's "Waka waka"started my day -- weeks of getting soaked in African colors and spirit, hoping to get a good placement somewhere in the country of my choice. And it worked. It has been six months since I got here in Ethiopia, and almost a year since the start of my journey to volunteering in a distant land. The jitters of the unknown, concerns about fulfillment of expectations, and excitement at new things to come are but a faint memory now. (Partly because it is so far from my vibrant idea of Africa, though that is another story.) Deglamorizing It Most of us have this romantic idea about volunteering -- share your time and skills, make a difference, save lives. Or, as Heroes' Hiro Nakamura got told, "save the cheerleader, ... read more
May 4th 2011
I am no stranger to poverty, coming from a place where it is breathed in the air and served daily. Slums and cramped spaces; poor wages; dirty and chaotic city streets; local farmers, fishermen, and laborers toiling to feed their families at least once a day; diaspora of people to other countries; and poor, if not lack of access to health care and education. These are but some of the palpable realities faced by many back home. As such, I often need to reconcile what I see here in Kyrgyzstan countryside with their own realities. The greeneries, spacious white-washed houses, orderly villages, well-dressed residents, and sprawling jailoos are somehow tricking my mind into believing that people here live very easily. However, behind the beautiful façade are communities and people who are also very much struggling to ... read more
April 30th 2011
Only the occasional "shish, shish" and "drrr" to tell the horse to go and stop break the placidity of the surroundings. The gallops of the horses seamlessly blend with the hum of nearby river and the melodic hymns of the birds. The sweet scent of pine trees permeates the air. Verdant alpine mountains and poplar tree-lined valleys splash color to the framing snow-capped peaks. Chilly air contrasts with the heat of the sun upon the skin. Resistance is futile. I give in to the irresistible invitation of Kyrgyzstan mountains and join a number of other backpackers from couchsurfing in horse-trekking part of the Central Tian Shan mountain range in Karakol up to the Altyn Arashan hot spings in the middle of an alpine valley (3000 m) for camping. Karakol is an idyllic but sleepy town in ... read more
April 27th 2011
"Life here is difficult," said the young, good-looking driver. "Not many jobs here. Many go to other places." "Well, the situation is similar in the Philippines. People also go to other countries for better opportunities," I replied, as we cruised down the picturesque tree-lined road from the airport to my couchsurfing host's house. Made it at last to Kyrgyzstan. If there is one word that can describe the country, it is GREEN. Trees, steppes, rolling hills, and pasturelands are in all directions -- laced by very tall snow-capped mountain ranges at par with the Himalayas. The verdant landscape is just occasionally broken by white to beige houses. All worries brought by not planning disappeared as soon as I stepped into the country. "Are you Russian or Kyrgyz?" "Do I look Russian? They look so yellow to ... read more
April 4th 2011
This is not a travel blog. At the risk of sounding melodramatic, this is the story of a class struggle: of ordinary people versus those in power; of the poor versus the moneyed; of the uninformed who chose to become enlightened versus those who are keeping them as such. This is the story of poor farmers and their fight to keep their lands from those who are grabbing it from them. And of the first man who dared to speak and stand up. "Are you the ones from Manila?" A small man shyly approached as I got off the cramped bus. "Yes, for the fact-finding and medical mission," politely shaking my head and declining his offer to carry my backpack. The other locals who were with him in welcoming our group, carried the rest of the ... read more
October 9th 2010
If jumping off the edge is your answer, you're wrong. Big time. Answer? Being sweaty on a treeless mountain summit (and using a mobile phone) in the middle of a brewing rain and peppered with lightning and thunder. We were on the summit of Mt. Pico de Loro waiting for the rest of our climb mates to get back from scaling the rocky, vertical mountain's "beak". There was not much to see and do as thick fog and grey clouds hid almost everything. Yla was ruminating by herself. My cousin Hazel and I were taking pictures at a lower area. And Estela was speaking with someone on her mobile phone. On top of the mountain. Really. "What was that?!" shrieked Estela. Estela and Yla all suddenly freaked out. Static electricity jolted them. Thunder filled the air. ... read more
August 21st 2010
Even if one is born with an uncanny ability to twist the head around, checking on the back of the head is nearly impossible to do without using external help from, let's say, a mirror. Despite its nearness, the eyes often miss out on a number of simple yet obscure pleasures that can enhance appreciation of one's self -- like how the hair glows with each golden ray of sunshine, or how a ribbon dances with every sway of hair strands, or how that haircut perfectly hides unflattering balding spots. A lot of people set their sights too far in search for something new, fascinating, exciting, or spectacular that they fail to see what nearby areas have to offer. Such is the fate of the Polilio Group of Islands, which is known among biologists and conservationists ... read more
May 23rd 2010
Do you have chocolates?" "Where are you from?" It must have been a non-school day as many kids greeted me along the "trail" while trekking Sarangkot's hillside. Pressed for time due to delays caused by the bandh or strike on my way to Pokhara, I opted to just take a day trek after watching the sun kiss Annapurna. The trail is actually the road that cuts through about five villages. Quaint houses made of mud and bricks, corn fields, milk cans, goats and occasional water buffaloes dot the path. Overlooking Pokhara and Fewa Lake with clear view of the Himalayas, the villages lie at an altitude of 1,592 meters above sea level. The villagers are economically and socially underprivileged, with 90% living below poverty line (Quality of Life Nepal, 2009). Among the things I learned from ... read more
May 22nd 2010
Lack of money means no luxury to pay for entrance fees to anywhere. No more temples or durbar squares. It means missing my date with a Sadhu. It is like being in Tibet without seeing a monk. Have you encountered photos/videos (or in person) of weird-looking men in dreadlocks, covered with ash, sometimes with painted faces, in yellow or orange robes (or naked), who are either begging for alms, doing yoga, or with raised extremities, and most of all, look stoned? Yes, those are Sadhus. And they really are stoned. Seriously. (To make it easier for you to imagine since, sadly, I do not have any picture of them, here's a link to wonderful photographs of these interesting men.) Sadhus, or holy men in Hinduism, have renounced earthly possessions and desires in pursuit of spiritual devotion ... read more