My name is Isa, I’m also from the Philippines.
I discovered your blog through your recent travel essay on leaving everything behind to travel the world. Consider me a new follower of your blog; while I envy that you have seen as much of the world as you possibly can (a goal that I’m setting for myself); I’m also thankful for the piece you wrote which echoes my own thoughts on the constant in-between-ness of indulging one’s wanderlust and the constraints that real life presents. I used to share the same mentality of filling one’s passport with adventure and what-not, and while there is nothing wrong with that, I’ve learned through my own travels that traveling and being able to leave everything behind is a privilege more than anything for those who can afford it and that there is nothing wrong with not traveling. I bookmarked your piece for future reading, for when I want to remind myself that seeing the world is not the end all-be all of a good life.
So thank you, thank you very much for your piece. I hope to see the world someday, but I hope my restlessness will not prevent me from thinking that I am somehow unfulfilled if I must leave much of the world to its mysteries.
I hope you are well.
I am here in one of my favorite cafes in the city, where I meet online content work deadlines. On Mondays and Thursdays, I meet a fifteen-year-old who sometimes sounds like a thirty-year-old. We talked a lot. Our conversation is like our minds: forking to different destinations: HP Lovecraft and Neil Gaiman in one minute, then to #rpfanfiction. I am supposed to be his writing mentor, but dang, I see myself as his fellow learner on the craft of writing though I am paid to do this.
I just attended a five-hour forum sponsored by Payoneer [affiliate program] on how to grow as a freelancer and run a business online. I am more interested in digital nomadism, knowing that by December, I’ll be a full-time digital nomad—a label that is contradicting in so many ways. Before the event, I met my father and older sister in the hospital: my father had a problem with his kidney or prostate gland. I left some money for his pills that he must take for two months straight. It is hard to say no to emergency expenses in the family, but that is one of the many things that make us Filipinos. Although we are not the best of friends, I hope his is nothing serious. I spent the morning polishing an essay on Misunderstood Mindanao, cooked brunch, drank coffee, and talked with my cats. A lot of burying-my-face-on-their-tummy moments.
My apology for the late reply. Do not mistake my silence for nonchalance though. Far from that, when I received your email, I was so happy. I read it aloud to T on Skype. A writer’s happiness springs from the readers. Thank you for finding inspiration from my work. But since I got back from our four-weeek Indonesia trip, my mind was so dangerously focused on how to make money to fund the one-year trip this coming December. I am a worry-wart, Isa, so I drew inspiration from your words:
I hope to see the world someday, but I hope my restlessness will not prevent me from thinking that I am somehow unfulfilled if I must leave much of the world to its mysteries.
You are right. Not traveling the world is not a failure on our end. Not at all. I do not have even the world in mind. My dream destinations come in pockets and parcels. Not the entire world. And our country is already very beautiful to begin with.
People travel for different reasons. And social media made it look that it is a life, lifestyle worth pursuing for. But I never see traveling as the ultimate goal; rather I see it as a link to that goal—whatever that is: the closest I could think of, is writing, and writing damn well.
I know, traveling is highly romanticized: very instagrammable, envy-inducing. But people like me travel because we are restless. And it is not a good thing, I tell you. It means there is something missing in our life that we cannot find by staying put in one place. When others said, traveling is for the brave and the bold, that is not really the whole truth, if you ask me. For me, it is harder to grow roots and stay in one place, doing so requires more courage, therefore, braver and bolder.
Traveling, Isa, is not instagrammable most of the time. That moment when we had to endure a fourteen-hour bus ride—not the Victory Liner or Ceres kind of bus ride. The cramped kind. Or that moment when I had a bad case of diarrhea and could not hold it in. Traveling sometimes entails shit. Literally. Or that moment when someone stared at me like I am some kind of prostitute for being who I am: dark-skinned, long-haired (I am now bob-haired!) with the company of a foreign man. These truths that are rarely talked about because traveling is perceived as a synonym of glamor. I am not saying, there is something wrong with glamor travel; but my way of traveling is far from it, for two reasons: it is more human, humane to travel as close as possible to a local’s way; and I cannot afford a five-star hotel.
I know, there is a lot of pressure to travel nowadays. When I open my Facebook, there is always that post, mostly sponsored, telling you that there is a bucketlist to follow, that there are top five beaches you must see before you die. Do not buy that bullshit: it is business. It is consumerism. Traveling is the most profitable business nowadays: I should know, I am part of the industry. I am sorry, when BWAB sometimes makes room for listicles: it is my main travel fund source.
Isa, it is all right to not travel. But it is never all right to not live a life of passion. Traveling is not the only passion out there. There are many. As I a said, I have a friend who is crazy about snails and frogs. The fifteen-year-old I met on Mondays and Thursdays is crazy about different languages. I am very passionate about cats, books, and gardening. My friends and I can talk about our favorite poets and poems until the wee hours in the morning. Writing is my ultimate insecurity and frustration.
Here is hoping that you have that one passion, one love to hang on to. Cling to it. Fight for it.
Thank you for inspiring me.
I hope you are doing what you love the most.
One restless soul,