There's something about the 20s that I find both bitter and sweet. There are contrasts, conflicts between the real and ideal. I had to deal with days filled with disquiet, restlessness, and rage. But on some fine days, my thoughts blossom with a kaleidoscope of dreams, hopes and wishes.
Nearly 8 years ago, I finished my college degree with honors and with this I thought I was more than ready to face the world of media. I was filled with enthusiasm to be the change that I hope to see in everything and everyone around me. I dreamt of seeing my "by-line" on a major broadsheet, to cover an important "beat", and to be able to travel around the country in search for exciting stories to publish.
But as life rolls in this tragicomic world, my dreams started crumbling in a slow crescendo. I had duties in my family that I need to fulfill and I had big shoes to fill in. Right after graduation, I found myself applying for a post in a place I least expected to be in -- call center. I became a nocturnal employee braving the dangers of EDSA commute and working for American clients. The by-lines, beats and travels were soon locked in the recesses of my mind like a faded memory.
But the dream kept hunting me, the restlessness kept growing. I didn't get to pursue Journalism, but I found myself chasing a dream that I feel so drawn to. I challenged myself to pursue travelling, to continue sharing my stories, and to make an impact in any way that I could.
I am currently on the road to completing 80 before 30 in which I am challenging myself to visit all 80 provinces of the Philippines before I turn 30 years old. As of today, I've visited 61 provinces already. It's a long way to go but I'm too fired up to not push through.
And since I love writing, first and foremost, I've started compiling my travel photos and stories which gave birth to my personal online journal, www.backpackingpilipinas.com. I told myself that If I couldn't be a journalist by profession, then I'll be a blogger with a definite advocacy which is to help promote Philippine tourism. I felt that despite the rants and rage against our country, the ugliness hurled upon us, there's still so many flowers hiding in those rubles, so many amazing layers of beauty behind the rogue textures, so many interesting places yet to be discovered. And these stories have to be shared to the world.
Aside from travel blogging, the most important project I'm working on now is BookSail. It is a literacy campaign which aims to bring books to fur-flung islands in the country. We also aim to raise awareness about the state of literacy in the country, and hopefully to inspire others to act in our own ways. In a poor country as ours, even the most basic needs in education like books, classrooms and teachers are not given the utmost priority. Schools without libraries are aplenty. And it is in knowing these facts that drove me to do what I could to help out, somehow.
Along with some of my closest friends, we are initiating online campaigns and fund-raising activities to promote the project. We are looking at the huge potential of the internet --social media like Facebook and Twitter -- to get our message across to a broader audience. And since our project launch last February, we have been receiving a lot of donations and massive support for the cause.
Our initial book drive will to send books and school materials to the 333 schoolchildren of Palumbanes Island in Caramoran, Catanduanes. As of today, we are still in the process collecting donations, and we are set to distribute the books by June.
In retrospect, I may not have a carrier in media, but I still get to see my "by-line" in my own travel blog and I get to share stories from the best "beat" I could ever be assigned to -- our country, the Philippines.
I'd be turning 30 exactly 9 months from now. As days go by, a part of me wishes to stay in the adventurous crevices of my youth and the other wants to move forward to the more matured and responsibility-filled 30s. Despite the qualms and challenges, I have a lot of beautiful memories to look back at, and too many exciting times to look forward to in the years ahead.
My life is not perfect in my 20s, but in so many levels, in between triumphs and failures, it's awesome.