2012 has unfolded the realities of life. It was a bittersweet year of farewells and hellos, of sunrise and sunsets, of laughing and crying, of taking risks and embracing challenges.
My travel life in 2012 can be summed up in these numbers: 14 local and 3 international destinations covering 6,003 miles.
January was a glimpse to independence. I started the year traveling solo to Iloilo, where I witnessed the Dinagyang Festival for the first time. Since Guimaras was just 15 minutes away, I didn’t miss the chance visiting this rustic island known for its sweet mangoes.
February brought love in the air. J and I went to Clark to witness the Hot Air Balloon Festival. I happily took photos until I realized that my polarizing filter was missing. Oh well, my fault. I didn’t guard it enough. Or maybe, it was loosely attached to my lens. I was so upset. Thank God for the patient boyfriend who’s always there for me.
March was a busy month of traveling locally and abroad with just a week apart to pack and unpack. After eight hours on the road, I was acquainted with the pristine beauty of Mahabang Buhangin, Calaguas Island in Camarines Norte. The aquamarine waters was surreal. I was one happy camper. I promised myself to return soon this 2013.
The supposed one-week of backpacking in Kuala Lumpur, Indonesia and Singapore was shortened to 57 hours around Southeast Asia. Family’s important. I didn’t regret cutting my trip short to be with my family for my brother’s graduation.
April didn’t fool me on its first day as I got my story published on Philippine Star’s Starweek Magazine—Visita Iglesia on a Budget.
The days that followed were dedicated to adventure. April raised the adrenaline to the nth level as I went 6 hours spelunking in Sagada’s Lumiang and Sumaging caves and survived the death-defying hike to Pongas Falls.
Ain’t no mountain high enough. May tested my endurance as I conquered my first summit- Mt. Pulag. Despite the rainy night, I saw the sun rise above the clouds the morning after. It was a bliss.
It was also in May that I almost got cooked in Antique. hehe. Antique has lots of surprises to those who dare visit it.
June was not as rainy as expected. It was a month of fulfilling another Philippine dream destination–El Nido.Thanks to seat sales. Nothing is impossible especially if you book months ahead. Putting up a travel fund really helps.
June was also the month when I brought my family to the serene Lake Pandin where we enjoyed a bamboo raft ride amid the greens. We feasted on fresh tilapia, fresh fern and seaweed salad and ginataang hipon. Little did I know that it would be our last summer outing with Papa.
July and August
I dedicated the rainy months of July and August to working and being with my family. I was glad that I didn’t book anything during these months. Little did I know that these were the last months that we have with Papa. I can still remember how he initiated that we watch Bourne Legacy as a family one Sunday afternoon.
He was so happy. But according to him, the other Bourne series were definitely better. This was my last memory of him in a jolly mood. Two Sundays after, August 19, he suddenly fell into a coma due to brain aneurysm. I was shocked. In the five days that he was in the ICU, he taught us to keep the faith. On the 23rd, God has given him rest.
Death has become real for me when he died. But knowing that he would meet his maker and have eternal life made me accept the reality. When it’s time, it’s time. We have to be ready. Life should indeed be lived to its fullest. And he did live his last months traveling in Asia, Europe and the Holy Land.
I was supposed to go to a media junket in Malaysia but due to the untimely death of Papa, I didn’t push through. I promised myself to give the 40 days to him and just be with the family; thus, my travel hiatus.
While in grief, I devoted my September arranging tours for other people. Yes, my travel agency, Explore Eight Travel, became fully operational in the month of September. The entrepreneur in me has been awaken once again.
September has motivated me to start my driving lessons as well. In two weeks, I learned how to drive and got my license from the LTO.
As soon as my travel hiatus ended, J and I boarded a bus and survived the 12-hour ride to the landlocked province of Kalinga in the Cordillera Region. Kalinga may be out of the usual touristy routes but it definitely gave us a worthwhile experience.
It was another memorable trip as we met the 92 year-old traditional tattoo artist, Fang-od. Despite the grueling four-hour hike to Buscalan, it was worth immersing with them. Their simple life in the mountains maybe the reason why they have long lives.
November was a month to celebrate life as I turned a year older. I took the PLUNGE from a cliff in Bohol and felt how great it was to be alive as I swang back and forth observing the blue sky and the lush forests. It also felt good to travel with my friends. Thank God they were able to file vacation leaves.
The last day of November was a benchmarking event in my life as I led travelholics to Kalinga for Explore Eight Travel’s Captivate Kalinga Tour. We braved the rapids of the Chico River and got a glimpse of the tribal life in Tinglayan.
The last month of 2012 was a blessed month. December treated me to a kilig-to-the-bones (chilly) weather in Sagada. Sagada is one of those places that deserve another visit.
December was also a peacemaker. A friendship has been renewed and strengthened. Time healed the wounds. Humility was key. Friends do argue but in the end, the bond remains.
2012 has taught me to be stronger in the face of adversities. It taught me to see hope in times of hopelessness. My faith in HIM kept me standing on the ground to gaze at the sunset and wake up to a beautiful sunrise.