Thursday, November 20, 2014

Footnotes from my travels around the 80 provinces of the Philippines

Growing up in a small, remote village in Catanduanes made me appreciate the value of travel through books and dreams. I remember leafing through my Sibika at Kultura book --  making sense of our country's history and culture, and enjoying the pages showing the "Magagandang Tanawin ng Pilipinas." Books taught me that the Philippines is dotted with famous tourist spots like the Banaue Rice Terraces, San Juanico Bridge, Magellan's Cross, Maria Cristina Falls, and Chocolate Hills.

Back then, my idea of Manila was not about huge shopping malls or skyscrapers or traffic jam. Manila, back then, was about Luneta and Fort Santiago. 

More than anything, books taught me to dream.

For the past five years, I've been fortunate to have visited all the destinations that I have once read about and dreamed of seeing when I was a kid.

But my travels did not end there. Instead, I challenged myself to visit the more remote destinations in our country. I dared myself to visit 80 (of the 81) provinces of the Philippines before I turn 30 years old, a challenge I have completed last year.

Let me share with you some discoveries and lessons I learned while doing the 80 before 30 challenge.

Saturday, November 1, 2014

Remembering Guiuan before Typhoon Yolanda

At 4:40 a.m. on November 8, 2013, the strongest recorded typhoon to have made landfall hit the shores of Guiuan, Eastern Samar. The town was never the same after that. 

It would take years before many of us could get over the devastation brought by Typhoon Yolanda. Unfortunately for many people in that town, maybe never.

With the magnitude of its strength and gust, Yolanda's wrath was unimaginable. Watching the horrific scenes of its aftermath shown in the news was heartbreaking.

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