A person I used to travel with passed away today. My feed was awash with messages conveying sadness and dismay at the news, and photos were posted as a tribute. I was never one to post anything, so I usually just read what people have to say.
I don’t know if this attitude has made me insensitive or just too realistic. Too aware that no matter what you do in this Earth, no matter how healthy you live your life, how far you’ve traveled, how little you’ve done, the end result is still the same: death.
I sometimes wonder about this nonchalant attitude: is it because I have accepted that death is inevitable or I have gone completely apathetic.
I was ecstatic when I found out that we finally have wired connection here in the boondocks. No more depending on a mobile wi-fi with a very limited daily data allowance, no more paying extra for more data and more speed.
Now I can use my computer any time of the day, stream videos without having to count megabytes, scroll through Instagram on my phone, without fearing that I will pay several thousands pesos to my telco again.
Of course, that also meant I no longer have a reason to head to my hut to work because I have better mobile signal there. No more reason to head to the beach because I have shitty reception inside the house.
My fiber internet has boosted my work life, but has taken away my life.
The year 2017 was a struggle. Not that life was particularly hard, but I found it hard to be motivated or determined to do anything. I literally just let the time pass me by.
I started 2018 with a cautious optimism — still afraid to make big pronouncements in fear of failing spectacularly, but determined to at least do something. I am starting a business, and since I am not quitting my job, I can afford to take it slow. Afterall, what’s most important to me was the official documents that state I am a legitimate business owner for visa application purposes.
I have been slowly telling friends about it, which was rather out of character for me, as I am still quite private. Out of the blue, and acquaintance contacted me about the province, and I offered my services. It’s a challenge, and I found myself promising things that aren’t there yet, but instead of folding and referring other companies that have more experience, I found myself accepting the challenge. The voice at the back of my head that used to whisper not to give up is steadily firming up and is growing stronger.
There’s still hope for me yet, it seems.
My work requires me to talk to English speakers, and write for English readers. While I use Filipino in everyday conversation, most of the media I consume are in English. The only times I read and write in Filipino is when it’s required for a local client, or when chatting online and texting with people.
When I opened the link for this New York Times article, I was surprised to see it in Filipino. Though there is a link for the English version, I decided to challenge myself and read it in the local language.
It’s a completely different experience.
I feel like if I read it in English, it’s much easier to feel detached — it’s happening to them; it doesn’t concern me. Reading it in Filipino really drives home the gravity of the situation.
This year, I’ve so far spent 8 months out of the country, and I have to admit to the feeling of detachment from all of these atrocities. In less than a month, I’ll be back in the Philippines, and reading the article made me realize the reality of what I am coming home to.
I like to think that I travel on my own terms — not fervently working down a checklist of countries to visit, but traveling to places that I love and genuinely have an interest in.
It’s been 10 years since I started traveling, and it was only tonight that I can remember joining in a hostel activity. I just had my early dinner, and was all set to head back to my room, when A, a traveler from Germany who I chatted with yesterday asked me if I want to hang out or play games.
Instead of making excuses, I found myself saying yes, even if I was already yawning. We ended up joining the other backpackers in the lounge room, watching a silly vampire movie. It wasn’t a big thing, but I am patting myself in the back for that.