National Geographic caused it!

If you are looking for someone to blame for my wanderlust, I suggest you blame the National Geographic. And probably my family too because they never stopped me from reading it.

I have come to realize that it is not traveling that makes me happy. It is the things that I learn when I am traveling that make me happy. More than I like adventure and a great view, I love to learn. I love history and culture. I love learning how people live in other places. I love learning their customs, traditions, beliefs , etc.


When I was a child, I read a lot of National Geographic magazines. I remembered being especially drawn to stories of the ancient civilizations: the Egyptians, the Mayans, the Incans, the Aztecs. I would read their stories over and over and stare at the photos of ancient temples and burial sites. Most of the places in my bucketlist are there because of this magazine.

I would spend hours just reading the magazine. I would imagine the Incans and their golds; the Mayans and their sprawling cities and temples; the Aztecs and their pyramids and blood sacrifices. I would also read about the people in remote places of the world and how they live their lives and keep their traditions.

As a grown up I would spend hours watching documentaries from the History Channel and the National Geographic. When I travel I am more drawn to historical places. I love taking photos of century old buildings and be amazed every time at the thought that these were more than just buildings. They were part of our past.

What fascinated me more about Sagada is not the view but their burial rituals, the history, traditions and culture. What made my trip to Zamboanga memorable are not the seafood and the white and pink sand beaches but the stories and dreams of the people who lived there. The dreams of that driver in Malamawi and the stories of the people I was with in Sta. Cruz Island made my travel more worthwhile.

I long to travel abroad not because I want to see the sights but because I want to see how they live. I want to learn their culture firsthand. I want to see the historical sites and learn history where history actually happened.

I remembered visiting the Diplomat Hotel in Baguio. I have always wanted to visit the place and this is not because of it being haunted, I have a really vivid imagination and I don’t need a haunted hotel to scare me. I do a great job scaring myself. Besides, if I want haunted all I have to do is go home. I was drawn to it because of its tragic history. (Apparently, I am also morbid.)

I guess I am truly blessed to be born in a family where I was always encouraged to learn. I am blessed to be born in a family where I am encouraged to see the world and learn whatever I can from it. I was taught to go out of my comfort zone and they have always supported me both in days when I prefer to stay at home and read and in days when I prefer to roam around places I’ve never been to before.


I invoke my right to freedom of expression

There was a time in our history when speaking against the government can get you killed. These days, it is not the government that’s censoring us. We censor each other. I bet this is not what our elders were thinking when they marched in EDSA in 1986.

We are living in a society where having an opinion that goes against the majority is considered retarded, stupid, and unpatriotic. And all along I thought that I am living in a democratic country where I am granted the freedom to hold and express an opinion. Last time I checked, I am still living in the Philippines, a democratic country and not in a communist dictatorship like North Korea.

I am not afraid of the government. I am more scared of the people who find it normal to harass their fellowmen who do not share the same opinion as them. If you did not vote for the current president or express an opinion that disagrees with what the president said or done, you are harassed and shamed. You are called a “yellow-tard” even though you never even liked the Liberal party. Likewise, when a pro-administration supporter expresses his/her support for the president and/or the president’s recent activities, he/she is called a “dutertard”. And some of us can only watch, shake our heads and scroll down because, honestly, they all sound like retards.

Let’s put it this way, we don’t see things the same way. We all see the world differently. It is normal to have differing opinions on matters. It is good that citizens are actively taking part in these discussions but I think it would be better if we can keep it decent. Just because someone expressed an opinion different from yours does not make them retarded.

And you know what is worst? Character assassination! You know those moments when you find someone disagreeing with you and you share their photos or profiles so everyone else can start harassing them? You call them stupid and retarded. You bully them to submission. You shame them to silence. And slowly people just either keep mum on the issues that matter or just ignore the issue altogether because they no longer want to risk.

Are you so desperate to live in a country where everyone worships the president and anyone who speaks against him is executed (in social media or in person)? I think you would fit well in North Korea.

You can’t shut people up. You can’t stop people from having an opinion and expressing themselves, the same way that those people can’t and have no right to stop you from expressing yours. You have the right to express yourself but you do not have the right to be an asshole. You do not have the right to harass people nor have the right to threaten and bully anyone who does not agree with you.

Just because you do not agree with my opinion doesn’t mean you can go ahead and call me names, insult or threaten me. If you think about it, harassing and threatening people when they have a different opinion from you sounds more retarded than simply having an opinion.



Musings of a concerned citizen

The death of former Senator Miriam Santiago has hit me harder than I thought. I first found out about her death while scrolling through my Facebook newsfeed. When my brain finally caught up with what I was reading, I felt this overwhelming feeling of dread and fear.

For as long as I can remember, there is always a Miriam Defensor-Santiago in the Philippines. Growing up, I frequently see her on TV, read about her in newspapers and hear about her on the radio. She was a constant. In this country where politics is a bit crazy, you can always rely that there is a Miriam Defensor-Santiago who will put them all in their proper places regardless of who they are.

I knew she was sick but I have always hoped that she would get better and scare the living hell out of these jackals in the senate. Whenever I see the telecast of the senate hearing, I think of her and imagine how she would grill these people and drill some sense into them. She was never afraid to speak her mind. Nobody could ever take her place in the Senate.

Now we are left with spineless politicians. We are left with ass kissers who will not hesitate to change color just to make sure they get the sympathy of the people. I see them increasing in number. I can see where my country is heading and though I know that millions of my countrymen believe that we are heading for a brighter future, I am seeing a different picture.

I felt that her death has sealed the fate of this country. I have felt this dread since the start of the campaign period and now it is a full-blown anxiety.

I can only hope that I am wrong. I can only pray that my fear does not become real.

I am preparing for the worst but I am still hoping for the best.