a journal on hiking and traveling around the Philippines

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Travel Tips from a Healing Mass

My mom was tuned in to the Healing Mass aired after the New Year’s Eve festivities in ABS CBN and while washing the dishes, I listened to the homily of one of the priests. He was comparing life to a journey. He enumerated tips on how we could successfully travel our way through life and I believe, same stuff applies to backpacking so let me share these with you :). Let me know what you think:

1. Travel Lightly – avoid bringing things you don’t really need. As with traveling and as with life, these unnecessary baggages just cramps up space and prevents us from acquiring other good things like new relationships or room for souvenirs. It’s so hard to move around when you have a lot of “stuff”, be it excess clothing or grudges, burdens from the past. It prevents you from going farther.

Sometimes, we also worry too much and we feel responsible to do something about the bad things that are going on around us. Thing that I learned last year was that, shit happens to some people because they make themselves vulnerable to receive it. We can only do so much and help someone so much. We got to let go of them at some point and let them learn for themselves because if we’re always at their back, we are depriving them of their capability as a human being to decide and care for themselves.

2. Travel with Joy – be optimistic! If you’re not an optimistic person, let me tell you that this does not happen overnight. Remind yourself to look at the bright side of things and it will eventually become a mindset as well as a “heartset”. Trust that whatever happens, things are going to turn out right. All travels are not fool-proof. Setbacks happen but with a joyful mindset, you can overcome anything and you will end up having a great time.

3. Travel with Trust - avoid controlling others and situations which we could entrust to God. This prevents you from enjoying anything because you’re too scared. 

You know, I started as a paranoid traveler. I never leave without my Swiss Knife and rope – that’s to tie someone just in case get attacked. My back up weapon was a pen so I can stab someone in the eyeball if I needed to defend myself. I used to lie about my circumstances. If I am in a new place and people ask me if I’m alone, I would lie about meeting a friend at a later time. Well, it’s actually a good tip not to let anyone know you’re traveling alone because it makes you less vulnerable. Thing is – lying is still lying whatever the circumstance is. 

I was always watching people. If someone looks at me strangely, I would put out a defensive stance. I was always jumpy. There was also a time when I would move the furnitures from the room towards the door – like the drawers or the extra bed. That’s to prevent criminals from easily going to my door. As a result, my first few travels in 2007 and 2008 were not as fun as my travels last year. I knew I wanted to see a lot of new things but my lack of trust in people made me too scared to enjoy it fully.

It’s been a while since I lied about being alone and you know what, though I traveled by myself around Mindanao and everywhere else in which I told people the truth about traveling alone when I was asked, everything turned out okay. I met a lot of new people and I learned more things. It’s always good to be careful but don’t overdo it. Do your share in protecting yourself and entrust your adventure to God.

4.Travel with Hope – never lose hope; though there are times when you get screwed over, you can get back on your feet and be a better person. Similar to traveling, though you find yourselves in situation which you are not prepared, you can make the most out of it.

In 2007, me and my friend were in Legaspi and we got left behind by the last morning bus trip back to Manila. We could not afford the plane and though we needed to be back early because of work we had to settle for the afternoon bus which was around 5:00pm. Being a typical planner, we were initially bummed but after letting the disappointment sink in, we turned the situation around by moving to Tiwi, about 45 minutes away from Legaspi, where we were able to eat the town’s legendary halo-halo (fruits with crushed ice and mik and arguably the best in the entire Philippines. You know how it we found it? We only had to ask the jeepney driver for the best halo-halo in Tiwi and he drove us straight to its vicinity. Personally, DJC halo-halo is the best I’ve ever tried.

And that's it, tips from a Catholic priest for our journey through life plus some of my insights on traveling.

Happy 2010 Adventures everyone!

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