February 6, 2020
photos Kieran Punay of STUDIO 100
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(Photo by Kieran Punay of Studio 100).

Traveling is an act of getting to know yourself better. From the time you start planning your trip and going through your itinerary to packing your bags, all of it is an exercise of introspection, elimination, learning, and living—it’s all part of the journey.

The luxury in travel lies in the choices one must make and how one defines luxury. Travel is highly personal, and for others, even sentimental. I know of a top chef who sent a limousine to pick up her son up from the airport during his son’s first trip to New York because that’s exactly what her mother did for her. Others like to post their boarding passes, take photos in the lounge, have arroz caldo or go to the noodle station, and many more—things that some people secretly frown upon online. But I’m totally okay with that. Whatever floats your boat, my friend.

For me, the luxury there lies in catching up with my thoughts, or seeing that blockbuster movie I missed in the cinemas, or in discovering whatever gems the inflight entertainment has. I also happen to like crying inside the plane. Nothing feels better than emptying out all your emotions before and after a trip. Somehow I get extra emotional when watching movies 35,000 feet high. Science also dictates that your tear ducts are more active when inside a highly pressurized vehicle. I cried the hardest watching Cinema Paradiso en route to Amsterdam and also bawled at the ending of Kita Kita flying back to Manila from Fukuoka.

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Siargao beach. (Photo from Agoda)
Mt. Pulag. (Photo from Unsplash)

Every Place is a Thrilling Adventure

Each place is steeped with history that explains to us why we are the way we are. It’s like finding your own family tree and hidden history book within your ancestral home storage space and finally piecing things together. Sooner or later you find out that the answers to life’s burning questions are just within you.

The first time I was in Siargao, I knew it was a gem of a place, much like the vast majority of Mindanao. The country has a multitude of treasures yet to be discovered. During my latest trip on my birthday, I saw some fireflies around our villa and so we ran towards the mangroves, just by instinct. And lo and behold, they were all gathered around this tree. Thousands of fireflies just flying around, like in the movie Avatar. I looked at that enchanted sight and then up at the sky, and it almost seemed like the fireflies were copying the stars in the night sky. It was just there, right in front of me, as if God or the Universe was talking to me.

When we climbed Mount Pulag, we were told that if we were noisy, the gods of the mountain wouldn’t show the sea of clouds when we got to the summit. The entire group of people I was with was the noisiest. Can you believe I was the only one quiet in the group? I couldn’t either. So when it was time for us to climb the mountain, it rained hard and when I told one of our climb mates that “Of course, what the mountain guides are saying is true. The spirits of the mountain don’t want to be disturbed.” Right after that, a branch of a tree just sprung out of nowhere and gently slapped me on the face, as if to say “Hell, yeah!” “Did you see that?” I asked my climb partner. “I definitely did,” she answered, with eyes wide open in disbelief. The mountains of Benguet have many secrets. And just going around it, I am mesmerized by its beauty and enthralled by its charm.

Tim Yap in Amanpulo. (Photo from Tim’s Instagram)

Finding Your Own Destination

I advise travelers to always have an open mind when you travel. Be adventurous. Go the extra mile. Don’t be scared to go on a different route. Do as the locals do. Never be afraid to ask. Filipinos love to answer their versions of the truth, so go with it till you find yours.

 I am most excited about this generation of travelers who are “woke” and care about the environment. I am excited about this new breed of Filipinos who are extremely proud of what we have and would happily show the world what we are about. We belong to a new age where Filipinos have come to realize their own value, and we are in the process of becoming even better.

Read the full story by Tim Yap in Lifestyle Asia’s February 2020 edition titled, “Exploring Our Island Paradise.”

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