There was once a land surrounded by trees, flowers and grasses in a quiet countryside in the Philippines. In the middle of it stood a small house made of half-nipa hut and half-brick. It has two small rooms, two doors and five big windows. The sunlight lit the rooms and the breeze cooled the place.
And there I was, sitting by the window, flipping through the pages of a magazine filled with vibrant images of places, food and culture. As I fixate my eyes on each photograph, I was imagining myself exploring those places, savoring those local cuisines and immersing in those unique cultures. It felt real. As if I was there. And I was in awe. That was the kind of escapade I was having 25 years ago..
Back when I was a kid, travelling was not yet a thing. Or maybe it was, but since Facebook and all other social media were not yet invented, I wasn’t informed. Not to mention that my first decade of existence, I lived in a rural place where I needed to travel for an hour and half just to eat pizzas and burgers. My only source of what’s beyond our neighborhood was the T.V. with limited channels, the magazines from my father’s travels and his stories.
My father used to travel a lot, and once he’s back, he was packed with stories.
I guess that’s how I built my curiosity on what’s out there, beyond our place. My curiosity on things that is unfamiliar; places that are known but haven’t explored. Like when I see something enclosed, I want to open it to know what’s inside. When I see a forest, I want to go in to know what I can discover. Whenever I see an endless path, I want to follow it to see where it leads. There is always something in the back of my mind that tells me, “I want to know.”
I love the outdoors, especially as a kid. We always played outside whenever possible: rain or shine, day or night (or dawn), weekends or weekdays, holidays or not – we always have something to do; we always have something to try.
I remembered that every weekend after my afternoon nap, when I was still lazy to do anything, I would sit on the top of a ruined brick-fence, watch the kids play in the rice field then stare at the mountains from afar. I was thinking that someday, I will pack my things, bring my backpack and conquer my way to the top. Sometimes I planned it with my friends; after our long hours of playtime, when the sun was starting to set, we would sit in the middle of the rice field and while looking at the mountains, we will chat about the things that needed to bring, things that needed to do and how to accomplish it – together. It was beautiful, that scene, that memory. It felt distant, now. But It was something worth remembering.
That is how I spent my childhood. Nothing much. Not very interesting. Not adventurous at all – not even close.
The closest to adventurous experience I had was the mini hiking I did as a sophomore. There was this hidden place my classmate told me that piqued my curiosity. One day we just decided to go without our parents knowing it. And that curiosity, my fellow reader, caused me to be grounded for a month! Ha! For a little girl like me, lingering off the road and stayed out after dark, was not allowed. But also through that experience, a realization came in, “I want to do it again.”
That’s when I built my dream of travelling; of discovering the unknown; of exploring the unfamiliar; of experiencing the things I haven’t.
I had no idea on how, back then. But it was decided – I will.