A Backpacker’s Photo Diary: Bais
Absolute highlight of this trip: having live chickens beside me, as I sat in a battered van with the windows rolled down, to get to the Manjuyod Sandbar in Bais. I still couldn’t figure out what made me decide to stay behind in Dumaguete, when the rest of my friends had already headed home after our Siquijor getaway. I had no clear cut game plan, no (silly) existential crisis of the month, no desperate need to escape from everything. And yet there I was, traveling solo, brushing off the occasional stray feather, enjoying listening to all the clucking, and hopping on a small banca upon reaching the port.
It was just me, the fishermen, and this slice of paradise.
Traveling by myself had been part of my job for the past seven years, and you’d think that I’d get so used to it, nothing would amaze me anymore. But my heart still beat wildly as I saw the clear waters, and felt the sun burning my skin. I couldn’t help but feel small and thankful talking to the locals as they pulled the fishing net together, and cheered as they checked their fresh catch of the day. I thought that this trip had no purpose, but it turned out it was one that I needed all along.
Brave the waves,
To All The Bridges I Crossed
The more that I cared about something, the more likely I’d experience a certain kind of hopefulness that used to make me guarded. I’d hide my optimism for safekeeping—in my pocket, under my feet, between my fingers. Maybe if I acted like I didn’t want it as badly as I actually did, it would just work itself out.
After an opportunity would present itself to me, I’d have missed chances because I’d wuss out, choke, or wish that it would just happen without any effort. You could just imagine how those instances turned out. So, I made a conscious decision last year to be completely present in the moment, even when emotions and problems got too palpable that confronting them would be terrifying…
And especially when I had to acknowledge that I had my heart on something important. Perhaps it was just me, but opening up, and letting the world know what I really wanted would scare me—because if I’d fail, the gravity of the disappointment would be magnified.
Declaring my dreams aloud also meant that I had to work twice as hard to achieve them because I now felt accountable to the people who knew about them. Which was why my 2013 annual list of goals resonated with this theme. Even if there were times when I wanted to give up, these helped me soldier on:
This year, I continue to attempt to reach these goals daily (with some days harder than the rest), and they motivate me to have more faith. As to having high hopes and letting everyone know about it? I now wear them on my chest—never scar free (when I do get hit with setbacks, I hurt a billion times worse, and that’s okay). Staying shamelessly (grossly, really) positive got me to all the bridges that I’ve crossed. And while I’m far from having arrived, I’m closer to where I need to be.
Brave the waves,
Coming Out of The Water
I spent the past year swimming through monumental highs and lows, monstrous fears and self-doubt, and extraordinary love (magic!) to get to where I was today. Somewhere in the middle of it all, when the struggle was at its peak…I ran out of air and lost my voice. I collapsed inward, and stopped doing one of the things that I loved the most—sharing stories.
By some miracle (and lots of answered prayers, rain dances, stars aligning), I could breathe again. The words that I needed to say were patiently waiting for me; I just had to travel back to them. Funny how, even if I was halfway around the world now, regaining my voice was able to give me a sense of homecoming.
For the past month, I’ve been getting settled in the U.S., adjusting to the new environment, people, and culture. Have you ever gone through this huge a change as well? I moved here to take up postgraduate studies in the University of California, Los Angeles for a year. I’ve still been trying my best to get used to things here…Although it hasn’t been easy, undeniably, it’s been a dream realized.
The break thankfully made this clearer: Brave The Waves would continue to be about my loved ones who helped make all of this happen, the places and experiences that urged me to have more courage to swim against the tides, and the challenges that kept me grounded…
And the thrilling, life-changing milestones that have been waiting in the wings, taking shape, poised to take flight.
I have so much more to share with you. Thank you for standing by me as I strove to come out of the water, just so I could return to it once again—healed and whole.
Brave the waves,