About 70 percent of my trips are work-related. There are advantages. I don’t worry about itineraries, food, or souvenirs. I can go and come back home even with just a hundred pesos in my wallet. I am taken to life-changing places, to cultures without spending for it – a luxury most family women, including me, can’t afford.
But there is also something about being taken to where your feet decide to carry themselves; about finding a secret spot and keeping it safe in your memory – to go back to when you want to reminisce, to forget. A tree, a street, a jagged rock, a quiet morning or dusk, a conversation with a stranger you will never meet again.
There is something very human about making mistakes and being schooled when you are at your most oblivious. During travel assignments, you experience the joys of being sheltered from the modern inconveniences of traveling. On self-conducted trips, you learn the opposite.
In these journeys, you learn that survival requires as much trust in humanity as doubt. You learn that for every 10 people who refuse to take your hand when you’re drowning, there will be one who will save a lot more than what can be salvaged. A collective of such people, even if negligible compared to their opposites, will change the way you view mankind.
Every year, I strive to make it to mountains, seas, and strange territories with Lia to relearn these. With closed eyes, I book bus or plane tickets twice – one on my birthday and one during the summer – for personal multi-day trips. Sometimes, I do not end up where I envision myself to be. But sometimes, I also end up where I should be, even if it’s a place that I initially hated, like Siquijor.
I will yearn to go back there. For even in the moments when we are filled with disappointment, the Universe is constantly teaching us that in order to truly see a place beyond the promise of a postcard, we must see centripetally. To truly know how it is to walk the earth, we must walk it alone.