2011 was a Year of Unexpected Journeys.
2012? What a year it has been! 2012 has been a life-changing year for me, my life journey has been truly enriched by lots of experiences that would have happened if I stayed in the comforts of my house.
Without further ado, here are the 12 Life-Changing Moments of 2012:
1. Swimming with the whalesharks.
Made me think of how small and insignificant I am.
Nope, not in Oslob where they torture these gentle giants but in Bicolandia. Having a close encounter with the Whalesharks of Donsol is a dream come true. The experience was so surreal I felt I was still dreaming underwater. Finally, I am crossing out another item from my bucketlist. If I would summarize it in one sentence, “It was ten solid minutes of bliss.” There were three whaleshark sighting before I was able to swam with one. I was speechless on the first encounter. For some seconds, no, for a minute, I forgot everything, I was in awe, bedazzled, amazed and yes add all the synonyms of the adjectives I just said.
2. Rescued Turtle Laid 156 Eggs under my Hammock.
Made me appreciate turtles’ important contribution to the ecosystem.
I was in Dahican Beach, Mati City- a safe haven for sea turtles, dolphins and seacows. During my first night of stay, some locals invited me to come with them to rescue the strangled pawikan. I haven’t seen a live turtle as big as that before. Not only that, after three hours, the mother pawikan laid 156 eggs just below my hammock. Unbelievable!
3. Becoming a Big Brother to the Victims of Typhoon Sendong.
Made me cry and be emphatic with the orphans.
It was in Iligan City where I saw these kids taking a rest in the comforts of hammocks near the bus terminal. I asked around and found out that they were mostly orphans courtesy of Typhoon Sendong that struck Iligan months ago. I wanted to show concern so I planned on staying at the Tent City, where most are relocated to have their temporary homes. Here I met Honey, Connie, Heidi and RJ who offered their tent for me to stay for two nights. In return, even with a tight budget, I brought them to Tinago Falls to somehow help tem in their recovery.
You can check out the short video I made below:
4. Visiting all the 80 Provinces of the Philippines.
Made me thankful that I’m still young when I did this feat.
Yep, last April 20, 2012 I was able to finish setting foot in all the 80 Provinces of the Philippines. Making me part of CLUB PH80, a feat that only four Pinoy Travel Bloggers has done and documented as of today. I ticked off all the provinces after being addicted to traveling for 3 years. To cap it off was Siquijor, an island province full of beauty and mystery.
5. Fulfilling my dream of backpacking the Philippines for 100 Days.
Made me believe more in myself and trust humanity for its generosity.
I guess I will be known as the guy who traveled the whole Philippines for 100 days straight the cheapest way possible. This will be forever etched in people’s minds. But then again, this is not yet done! I’m to publish a book and release a short documentary film about it. Watch out for those next year!
6. Being interviewed by three of the largest TV networks in the Philippines.
Made me instant celebrity! haha *just kidding* Made my blog readers doubled, no tripled.
Kapamilya, Kapuso and Kapatid was able to interview me because of this epic journey around the Philippines. It was life-changing as I never knew that my crazy adventures would give me airtime. Plus, watching the replays still gives me goosebumps. Really!
7. Becoming one of the Finalists for Globe’s TattAwards Explorer.
Made me realize that I’m doing something noteworthy.
I didn’t win but being among the finalist with big names such like Bogart the Explorer, Byahilo.com, PinoyMountaineer and Anton Diaz was enough for Globe to let me know that I’m doing something worthy of the award right? Again, I thank those who supported me!
8. Helping Rizal Elementary School in Gubat, Sorsogon have their library.
Made me proud as a traveler/backpacker, knowing that simple acts like this can really make a BIG difference.
Three months ago, I was in tears as the kids cut the ribbon of the newly built and furnished library in Rizal Elementary School. I can’t believe that a small group of bloggers and friends an do such work after I blogged about Travel With A Purpose: Book Sharing Project 6 months ago. DepEd and the Alumni pitched in and what we saw that day was a dream come true- A Bayanihan Library, built not with lots of money or under the name of a particular politician, but with heart and soul. I would be forever proud of this bayanihan project.
9. Having a colored full-page feature on Manila Bulletin.
Made me WOW! Yep, my family, friends and loved ones included. I was humbled by the feature.
I almost forgot that I was featured on Manila Bulletin’s Lifestyle section last October 29.haha Thanks to Sir Alvin for the 2-hour interview that brought a full-page feature in one of the countries dailies.
10. Visiting the typhoon-ravaged Provinces of Compostella Valley and Davao Oriental.
Made me appreciate more of life and understand how deeply we humans are connected with one another.
Seeing the devastation that Typhoon Pablo did in Compostella Valley and Davao Oriental. Monkayo and Trento were like ghost towns, both under the province of Compostella Valley. In Boston and Cateel, Davao Oriental, I cant help but cry inside as we give out relief goods to the families affected. Their bodies weak and eyes blank, everyone wished that what had happened is just a bad dream. The stench of the dead was so strong I was forced to wear a face mask. far from my memories of what I have seen a year ago when the locals here are all smiles.
11. Being a Featured Story on Cebu Pacific’s SMILE magazine.
Made me SMILE and a perfect ending salvo to a year well-lived this 2012.
December issue, the thickest and most-read of all the issues had me for a 9-page feature article about the highlights of my epic 100-day journey around the Philippines. Sorry for bragging, but I think I deserve it as I look back on how I sacrificed a lot during the entire trip. It was tiring and I almost lost my life before I was successful in the challenge. Ohh well, you can read the full story when you fly with Cebu Pacific Air or order your fave frappe at Starbucks. No money like me to do any of the two? Read the Ultimate Budget Tour: Around the PH in 100 Days
12. Branching out of www.journeyingjames.com.
Made me plan for my future.
I guess it just fitting to end the year with me being entrepreneurial about my passion for travelling. Please don’t get me wrong, I have needs too and a hungry tummy to fill. :p
So I decided to organize tours in Palawan, sell shirts and hammock to fund my wanderlust as blogging alone can’t fund my incessant desire to go out there. Hope you support me in this endeavor too. Don’t worry, I’m still a backpacker and will continue to help less fortunate communities in the country. 🙂
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These unforgettable moments are not only written in my blog, it is forver etched in my heart and mind. Twelve stories that I will be proud to tell and re-tell to my future kids and grandkids.
“COLLECT MEMORIES, NOT THINGS.”