Why I Travel as a Filipino

Tuesday, May 15, 2012


Travel is my defiance.

As a Filipino , I grew up believing that travel was a luxury that's not within reach. Travel was for people with trusts funds, rich families and high-paying jobs.

The Odds are Never in Our Favor

As middle class Filipino citizens, the odds are against us to travel. The value of our currency, the Philippine peso, is very low especially when pitted against the euro or the dollar. The minimum wage is just around $250 so people struggle to make ends meet, leaving very little  to spend on useless trivialities like travel. To top it off, almost every Filipino is supporting a family member or is tied with familial obligation. 

The visa cost of going to countries in Europe or even the US is exorbitant. And even if we did manage to scrape up enough to cover that expense, we still have to go through tight immigration laws. We have to explain to the man in the expensive suit why we are going to these countries and have no intention of overstaying to find jobs as illegal immigrants.

My Canadian Visa Ordeal

I remember a visit to the Canadian embassy in New York and the consul asked me point blank: 

Where did you get your nursing education? 

I was taken aback. It was a random question meant to stun rather than inquire. I answered that I did not have a nursing degree or any education in relation to that. He hardly blinked before responding: "Isn't that what you're going there for, to get a job as a nurse?"

I joined him in the staring contest and said: "The only reason I want to go Canada is to see the other side of the Niagara Falls. I was told it was pretty on that side. I have no other reason than that." I can't blame him.

He found it incredulous that a single, 20-something woman from the Philippines would want to see Canada for Niagara Falls instead of its limitless possibilities.

Another huge misconception is that in order to travel you need an insane amount of money to start with. I'm often exasperated after having to explain time and time again that I'm not rich, neither do I have a limitless supply of cash. But I do have a couple of things that I have an unlimited supply of: Passion and Imagination.

Love Affair with Travel

I discovered early on that my number one passion is to travel and experience different cultures. At 26, I realized that the one indispens­able rela­tion­ship I should have in my life was not with a spe­cific per­son, but with the world. To step off the bus and become anonymous in a strange city, to meet fellow travelers that I shared greatest affinity with, to throw myself completely into a novel experience- these are the things that make me come alive!

There are people who prefer to live vicariously and enjoy the journey from the safety of their bean bag chairs. And then there are those who have had a few opportunities to go on amazing life-changing adventures, and though they won't do it again, they are better because of it.

And then there are people for whom a taste is never enough, the wanderlust is insatiable.

And then you add the constant need to learn, create and share. Then you know which tribe I belong to. For us, the end of one adventure only means the beginning of another.

I travel because it's my way of telling the world I can.

And that you can too. And with passion and a little imagination, we can do anything we set our mind to.

Can you relate to this article? Why do YOU travel?

Consumed with Wanderlust,
Sole Sister Lois

Main photo credit: Storm Crypt
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56 sole trails

  1. I travel because it's always a joy to immerse myself in another country's culture. Travelling allows me to discover bits and pieces about me which I think, I'll never get to find out if I won't travel. :)

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  2. relate na relate! i travel because Filipino conventions say i can't. well-written post, Lois.

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  3. I am French but originally from West Africa and even traveling with my French passport (especially going to the US or Canada)  I always get those weird interviews about why/how I am traveling...I find it very annoying because most people can travel to Africa without being asked anything. The world should be much more open and allow everyone to check " the other side of the Niagara Falls" ;-)
    I travel for work, for education, culture and grow as a human being. It is so important to learn from the others...Now thanks to this blog I can't wait to visit Philippines hehehe

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  4. I travel because it makes my world bigger. Our culture limits us with so much mindsets and traditions that I want to get out and check out what the world can show me. I endlessly challenge the world to let me see more. And yeah, you're right. Oftentimes, wanderers are tagged as rich in wealth, but people don't see that wanderers are just rich in desire to explore more. Nice post!!!

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  5. You know why I travel! ;-) I travel to eat, to get lost and to smile radiant in the knowledge that I found my way. I travel to talk with people in a thousand weird ways that never seem to never end. I travel when I can because there's no other way to best spend one's time than to sit and watch how other people live and get by. I travel to share what I know and what I've learned. I travel because I don't want to waste inspiration. I travel to be a witness to how the world can be beautiful.



    -Sanch (kitchengod na tamad mag log in)

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  6. Very nice post. You're really a good writer Lois. Thanks for writing this article. 

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  7. Amen to this.. "For us, the end of one adventure only means the beginning of another."

    I travel because it is in it that I get to experience and see the most extraordinary, the most breathtaking, the most amazing things that this world and this life can give me.

    i love this post Lois.

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  8. reading this article made my heart beat so fast.. all true..... feelings i cant put into words were all poured out here... thank you lois! u are such an inspiration.. and oh! i travel because like you, it keeps me alive! cheers to all wanderers!! ;)

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  9. love this post lois!
    bull's eye. btw, sir howie says hi

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  10. You know it doesn't matter what country you are from, some people always assume travel is too expensive but you are an inspiration that it really is possible for anyone.

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  11. ang galing naman, very nice post lois :)

    ang mahal lang talaga mag travel outside the country, kino-compute ko dati, one travel outside the ph would be equal to three or four inside ours

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  12. I travel because it makes me feel FREE. As simple as that. :)

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  13. you should've asked him what elementary school he dropped out from

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  14. I travel because the feeling of being insignificant in the immense world is overwhelming it humbles me. 

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  15. The world is too huge to just seat around that's why I love to travel and YOLO sabi nga nila.

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  16. I travel to experience the world. I like seeing and understanding the differences and similarities of the different cultures. Its fun. The people you meet makes it extra special. It opens up your mind to new things and gives you a much better perspective in life. Though I've only traveled in a few countries, it makes me want to save more to travel more. Thank God I haven't experienced much discrimination as a Filipino in other countries. I guess that helps in my perception and excitement in meeting a more diverse characteristics of people.

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  17. "I travel because it's my way of telling the world I can. "

    I've always had motion sickness. Nausea, vomiting, headache... I get dizzy even in a 5-minute ride. Every tricycle, jeepney, car, bus boat or plane ride has always been a challenge.  But every time I can, I always say "YES" to travel because I don't want a lousy motion sickness hinder me from experiencing what life and the world has to offer. :)

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  18. love this piece, Lois! you continue to be an inspiration.

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  19. The Nomadic PinoyMay 23, 2012 at 12:30 AM

    Excellent post!
    Reminds me a lot whenever I'm in the company of travelers from different parts of the globe and I get asked where I'm from. While I'm now currently based in New York City, I do proudly announce "I'm from the Philippines!". Most are surprised since they seldom meet Pinoys down the road - unlike the Japanese.

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  20. I travel because the world is entirely too big to stay in one place, and there are so many things to see that words and pictures just can't explain!  My family hides behind the "it's too expensive" excuse, too, and seem content with " enjoy the journey from the safety of their bean bag chairs", but that's not enough for me.  I have to see it for myself!! 

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  21. Thanks for sharing this Jobelle! Exactly! Travel can be a very introspective process.

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  22. Thanks so much Paul! This was something that begged to be written ;-)

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  23. Very well said! I agree that we are rich in our desire to explore. and the more we've traveled, the more we want to travel!

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  24. Thanks for dropping by and writing that beautiful comment Sanch. You have a way with words! Mag blog ka na ulit!

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  25. Thanks for the compliment Regin! I appreciate you!

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  26. Glad you loved it Apol! Thanks for dropping by and leaving a thoughtful comment!

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  27. So glad you could relate to this post! May we all have beautiful adventures!

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  28. Thanks so much James!

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  29. Thanks Ayngelina! This comment means a lot to me!

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  30. I agree Christian, it's a challenge din to raise funds especially if you're obsessed with travel. But that's another thing I admire about Filipinos, we find ways. Haha BDO ad lang.

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  31. I agree Angela, travel can be one of the most liberating things for me too!

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  32. Haha this is funny JJ. Well, I couldn't insult him, he did grant me the visa after all..

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  33. I know the feeling Aiza! Thanks for sharing this!

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  34. Super agree. I also know that feeling that I just want to go everywhere and see everything. Travel junkie nga talaga.

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  35. Thanks so much Justin!

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  36. I love this very thoughtful comment. Thanks for dropping by the blog. Next time, drop by the Philippines and we can exchange travel stories :)

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  37. I love the positivity in your perspective! Here's to hoping more doors open for Filipinos around the world!

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  38. This is so inspiring Morena! I've seen travelers with this condition and they never fail to impress me. Because you also defy the odds like me. 

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  39. Thanks Alexa! Wishing you happy travels!

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  40. I know the feeling! I used to be based in NY too and that's how I got exposed to travelers and couchsurfers! You can say the wanderlust got viral and Filipinos should represent!

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  41. So glad to have many like-minded people visiting this blog! I am the same way Craig, I don't believe in living vicariously.

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  42. Sir George Mallory was once asked about his obsession of climbing Mt. Everest and his famous reply was "because its there". I guess, same with travelers, the world is there to explore. Nothing more-nothing less. Great post Lois.

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  43. I grew up on a small farm in the States and dreamed of seeing the world, even though I didn't have much hope it was possible. Flash forward a couple decades and here I am living the Philippines and exploring Asia. I still remember my "AHA" moment when I realized it really was possible to move abroad. That's why I blog too - to encourage my friends and family back home to travel or simply just try something new too. :-) 

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  44. I am a big fan, Sole Sisters! :) Your love for traveling is effortless! I hope to be in the same path someday.. For now, it's the Philippines and Asia that I am conquering! :) Safe travels always. :) -- your sister in the traveling world, Mai of Budget Biyahera :)

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  45.  Do you live in Singapore now? I'll be there tomorrow - I mean, I'm typing this message at the airport in Istanbul. Will be leaving Singapore on June 2nd.

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  46. Love that story and quote Marky! I totally agree, something travel IS the reason.

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  47. Thanks for sharing this inspiring story Liana! Hope you can share that AHA moment story on the blog. Let me know if you would like to blog post. I'll be checking out your blog for sure. Hope to meet you in the Philippines some day...

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  48. Thanks Sole Sister Mai! Wishing you many more awesome adventures!!! Thanks for dropping by!

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  49.  I travel as a Filipino because I' am a Filipino.  Do I have to make excuses for that like you all do?
     

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  50. I guess the whole point of the title is that I identify myself as Filipino when I travel abroad. Not stating the obvious. Thanks for your comment Peter.

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  51. I can so relate to this. It's unfair to us travelers who only has the genuine interest to follow our passion...been declined visas a few times na din and it's quite sad and frustrating when all you want is really just to TRAVEL not find WORK! :( But yeah, I travel din (overseas) to prove that as a Filipina, I can and will do anything to conquer the world...there are no boundaries! haha

    More power to you Sole Sisters! :)

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  52. So glad you can relate Karen. It's really tough and it's not always fair. But we gotta do what we gotta do and follow our heart! Cheers to more traveling Filipinas!

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  53. "Travel is my defiance".

    Well said. You, are inspirational. Well done. 

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  54. I really connect with this. It's so true that it's extra difficult to travel as a filipino given the bias. Nonetheless, this inspires me to not see it as a hopeless setback but a reality that can be beaten by sheer desire & action to make travel happen.

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  55. I applaud your giving social expectations the middle finger! Travel breaks walls and biases and your post has inspired me to cross boundaries and make waves as a female and as a Pinoy.

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