“Live It High, Take It Low” from My Blogging A-listers

The local travel blogging
scene has entered a different era of self-expression.  Splashes of brilliant ideas are born to keep
restless and more discerning blog readers busy. First came itineraries, then a
whole new market of photo essays. Prose and poetry found its place. 
With the plethora of sites
out there, does anyone still care about the personality behind the blogs? I DO.
Bloggers come and go, but
there is one basic principle that is crucial in making the cut: INDIVIDUALITY.
Let’s face it—that’s the secret to making a mark in the blogosphere. You can
be good at your craft, spew a hundred words per minute, and amass followers
that will make Justin Bieber cower in shame, but if your posts are robotic and
devoid of character, one day you’ll find the spotlight shine over someone else.

A handful of unfading bloggers have crawled into my desktop and
stubbornly clung to the bookmark like a leech. These vagabonds have not only
inspired me to keep up a semi-nomadic lifestyle, but they have, in more ways
than one, influenced the way I dive into the world outside my window.
And here they are, my Pinoy travel blogger A-list (part 1),
rocking their travel highs and lows of the year that was, like real travel
superheroes.

Hot momma Eileen with Happy Meal in Kota Kinabalu

 Why I Envy Her
So she’s blessed with such
elegant beauty, so she’s witty and funny, so she’s hot and sexy, so she cooks
up awesome blog posts. Those qualities might add to Eileen’s already enviable
persona, but the one thing that tops all that is an aura that radiates strength
and grace as she fashionably juggles a career and raises her daughter “Happy
Meal” the coolest way possible.
Her Highs and Lows

2012 gave me a few travel highs and lows. One of my lowest lows
would have to be this trip to Capiz that I did for a travel writing assignment.
Everything that could go wrong went wrong. I woke up at a resort with 8
humongous bed bug bites on my leg (like, HUUUUGE), I got a very bad sprain
trying to help some people out and I think I brought home some bad juju from
that place because for a full month after I got back, my daughter had these
out-of-this-world tantrums that could only have come from bad juju from that
beggar in the Roxas City Mall that got to touch my arm. Was it real? Maybe.
Maybe not. Was it a real low? Defiinitely!
But 2012 also gave me the other end
of the proverbial wheel.

This year’s definite high would have to be our Kota Kinabalu
trip. It was the first time that we had a vacation that it was just me, the
Happy Meal and ZeYaya. It was a high because we all relied on each other and
that I didn’t have the financial fallback blankie-wankie that was ZeMom. It’s
no coincidence also that this was ZeYaya’s first plane trip and first international
trip at that! I booked the tickets a year in advance just so we could prep in
getting her very first passport. As for the trip, even if I had to cover all of
our expenses by myself – meaning 3 travel taxes and 3 terminal fees to start
with – I didn’t really mind because the trip was awesome. It was awesome to see
ZeYaya experience a whole new world and it was awesome just to see the Happy
Meal on the beach again.


Rockstar wife Rain at Avoca Beach Rockpools, New South Wales, Australia
Why I Love Her
Rain’s writing has a
peculiar way of growing on you.  She
pulls together words, ideas, experiences, throws them into a word processor,
and allows her eclectic wit and poetic knack to bind them together.  She then puts them on display not to show
off, but to spark some inner longing among her readers for things and times of
small dreams coming true. Rakistang Nars offers us a rare chance to savor the
most ordinary things turned into a romantic concoction of emotions.
Her Highs and Lows

2012 was generous. It was peppered with gifts tangible and
otherwise. What with a new year’s marriage proposal from my most ardent travel
buddy; a vineyard winter wedding where we gathered gypsies in a bohemian
shindig; and a series of mini-honeymoons which included a skiing trip to the
treacherous slopes of Turoa (New Zealand), a spa retreat in the volcanic region
of Taupo (New Zealand), The Great Ocean Roadtrip (Victoria, Australia) and a
driving getaway to the upper half of New South Wales (Australia). 

But having said that, it was the rough parts of the road that
defined the traveler A TRAVELER. My nomadic dreams was put to a real test when
a split-second decision to relocate to Australia saw me leaving behind almost 5
years worth of investment (material and emotional) in New Zealand. I welcomed a
new city; country; continent. And while it was fun imagining all that was
beautiful in the horizon, it was challenging. I roamed around Sydney for a while without the husband and
realized in the process that after spending the past year backpacking with him,
solo-traveling wasn’t my thing anymore. So when he finally came over, we bought
an SUV and filled the boot with the tools of the trade– beach bags, camping
and fishing gears, a bicycle and a surfboard– and have not stopped traveling
(on weekends, at least) since.


My idol James with rescued “pawikan” in Dahican Beach, Mati City, Davao Oriental
Why I Salute Him
No stranger to the world of
missions, James sweeps through one place to the next with the powerful force
of a hurricane, but leaves not destruction but charity and compassion. James
became synonymous with practical and responsible travelling for the man who
gives ample regard to his meager resources, but also prides himself in not only
having the most meaningful, but often exotic, of experiences.
His Highs and Lows

What a year it has been! As I look back to all the experiences I
had, I can’t help but cry—hahaha kidding, of course—smile. Anyway, I don’t
want to be a blabber so I will just share 4 highest and 3 lowest points of my
travel life this year 2012. 

Highs 

1.    Swimming with the whalesharks in Donsol, Sorsogon. It was a
dream come true and I ticked off one from my bucket list. The experience was
bliss and it was a solid 10 minutes of paradise—me, the whaleshark and the
sea.

2.    Rescued Turtle Laid 156 Eggs under my Hammock. I was in Dahican
Beach, Mati City- a safe haven for sea turtles, dolphins and seacows. During my
first night of stay, some locals invited me to come with them to rescue the
strangled pawikan. We brought them to Dahican Beach and let it look for a
nesting place. After 3 hours, it finally laid her eggs- under my hammock.
Unbelievable!

3.    Finishing my epic 100-day journey around the Philippines. After
2 hours of planning, I finally pursued my dream of exploring the whole country
and visiting all its 80 provinces. It was one crazy journey and it forever
changed my life and outlook in life.

4. Helping the school in
gubat, sorsogon to build their library and fill it with books with fellow
travel bloggers and blog readers as well. Through the partnership of friends
and private companies we were able to inspire the young kids from Rizal
Elementary School last September. It was a dream come true for them and an
encouragement for us travelers that indeed, we ca change the world in our own
little ways. I would be forever proud as traveler with that library.

Lows 

1.   
One, those times when I
find it hard to look for cheap accommodations because of my limited budget.
When I would walk for miles with my heavy backpack trying to make ends meet. 

2.   
When I was off-loaded by
Airphil in Butuan. Because of this, I missed another flight and some job
opportunities along the way. Until now, Airphil hasn’t done anything which is
really really sad. 

3.   
Seeing the devastation that
Typhoon Pablo did in Compostella Valley and Davao Oriental. Monkayo and Trento
were like ghost towns, both under the province of Compostella Valley. In Boston
and Cateel, Davao Oriental, I cant help but cry inside as we give out relief
goods to the families affected. Their bodies weak and eyes blank, everyone
wished that what had happened is just a bad dream. The stench of the dead was
so strong I was forced to wear a face mask. Far from my memories of what I have
seen a year ago when the locals here are all smiles.
 

Truly Madly Deeply Marky of “Nomadic Experiences”


Pensive Marky with Lauren at the Great Mosque in Cotabato City


 Why I Follow Him
Truly heartfelt posts
matter. It need not be said that Marky is among the few bloggers who put their hearts in every blog post and evoke powerful responses and  lasting impressions on their readers. He delights
in the most simple things and transforms mundane encounters into unforgettable
experiences.  Ironically, this man of few
words (in person) is eloquent in his blog posts.
His Highs and Lows

Lows:
During the back end of our El Nido trip. We just got back to Puerto Princesa
and stayed at an Australian couchsurfer’s home. Our host is genuinely friendly.
We went out that night together with his neighbors. During the night, while in
the middle of drinking in a bar, the American friend of our host head butted a
girl. In the ensuing confrontation we were almost hauled off to the
Police precinct. It was a downer moment seeing how some of them acted
arrogantly in spite of committing a flagrant offense to the woman and
the knowledge that I went out with them in the first place. 

Highs:
Would be the Coron trip and our 6-day Mindanao trip to Cotabato, Sultan
Kudarat, Pagadian and Iligan City. Memorable to have spent these trips with
Lauren. We may be separated by continents now, I still have these wonderful
memories to reminisce once in a while and keep on my memory vault forever.



Convivial Lauren takes you on a spin in Coron, Palawan

Why I Adore Her

Somewhere between drop-dead
humor and a string of fluid narratives, Lauren takes off with you in an imaginary
convertible and head for destinations as exotic as Tawi-tawi or Coron, with
stops in Siquijor and Bohol. New friends are made and love(s) found and flutter
around her head like those birds right after you get a concussion. My point is,
Lauren is one of the coolest and wackiest of the travel bloggers I’ve known.
And her fresh and candid take on writing is uniquely addictive you won’t know
what hit you until you come to the end of every post and start craving for
more.
Her Highs and Lows

How would i measure 2012?


In drunken nights, or sordid love affairs?


In places seen, or adventures sought.


In the countless sand of an empty beach.




 

Or do we measure it with the exact calculating algorithm
 of a math prodigy.



 

I prefer the latter.



 

Awesome-est Human Encounter: Canelar Airport, Zamboanga
City
Most Heart Palpitations on theRoad: Coron, Palawan


Highest Point Above
Sea Level
: Bongao Peak, Tawi-tawi


Lowest Point Above Sea Level: Basement of
Abreeza Mall, Davao City
Longest Train Ride: 7HrsPNR Naga City-Espana Stn.
Manila


Longest Bus Ride: 14 Hrs Cubao- Gubat, Sorsogon






It’s my year in botched statistics, promoted as great memories and epic stories to
be told inwriting or as stories shared with new friends over beer while on the
road. Cheers to you, soyou’d measure your year not by numbers but by those
awesome moments of clarity that madeyou say f* it, 2012 was a great year.

Travel blogging is a neat institution. I have high respect for
it, and the people who make it so. Bloggers come in two types. Those who shrink,
sizzle, and fade away with time, and those who remain inert and unyielding. Which
one are you?

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