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Sunday, June 21, 2015

Thinking Thoughts: Make Traveling a Lifestyle With A Purpose

It's really nice seeing more and more foreigners visiting The Philippines and experiencing what our country offers - from culture, to food, to natural resources, and of course to people. We are not the most visited country in Southeast Asian Region, Thailand I believe, but we are slowly getting there and climbing up the pedestal - establishing the beauty of our country.

Batad Rice Terraces Banaue Philippines
Batad Rice Terraces

There were actually times where I felt alienated in my own country because some travel destinations are flocked mostly by foreigners and not locals. It's surprising how they have managed to research and pushed through with their travels in some of the less known and remote tourist spots in our country. 

How come foreigners can and we Filipinos cannot?

Why is it that they appreciate more the beauty of our country rather than us experiencing it personally and promoting it globally? Most likely economic status, as most Filipinos are living in the middle class, and traveling and taking some time to unwind are not on everyone's to-do list. Or probably we tend to visit places that are well-advertised and popular as we believe that popularity is one of the factors that determines a place's worthiness. Nevertheless, from mountainous peaks to crystalline beaches, we all have those. It just takes some time and money to explore these destinations.

During my recent travel to the Cordillera Region, north of Metro Manila, I've crossed-paths with several foreigners and also had some time having discussion with them. I've learned from their stories that most of them opt to work hard and save money as much as they can, and take a long day off from work, usually 2 weeks to a month. And surprisingly, though language may project a huge barrier to them, a lot of them choose to visit South East Asia because of the cheap way of life and unique culture and tradition. Foods taste differently as well which amaze them more.

Ramons Homestay, Batad, Philippines
Ramon's Homestay, Batad

On my stay at Ramon's Homestay, there was also a foreign family having their vacation in Banaue. It's amazing to hear them speak Filipino language including their two kids. Due to my persistent eavesdropping, I've heard that their family has been living here in Pangasinan because of their connection with an NGO group. They even sent their kids on a local elementary school around town. Such a delight!

When I trekked down the Tappiya Falls, I also met a female traveler from Israel and she's been in the Philippines for four days. As the conversation moved on, it's nice hearing her travel plans in the next two months exploring the beaches we have here in our country. She's planning to visit Palawan and Bohol as these are some of the popular destinations she found during her online research.

On my last morning in Banaue, trekking uphill and going back to Batad Saddle, I've met a Canadian man who was also on his way back to Banaue town proper. He shared a lot of his travel stories from all over the world, and it was his first time visiting our country. "Why Banaue?", I asked. He said that the Banaue Rice Terraces is one of the well-known tourist destination of our country and he had seen it on post cards several times already. I was surprised that he has already been traveling for 6 months straight, and still plans to continue it on the coming months. He's a retired man and he just wants to splurge his savings and retirement funds into something memorable.

I do hope that we, Filipinos, can also experience the destinations we have here in our country. I have nothing against people visiting other nearby countries first before exploring places in the country. After all plane tickets are now becoming cheaper and cheaper.

Sumaguing Cave, Sagada, Philippines
Sumaguing Cave, Sagada

Let's be the personal ambassadors of our own country - the marketing and promoting core of local tourism. We have more than a plate to offer in The Philippines and its just up to us in making the first move!

Keep Traveling!

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