The year 2011 was full of milestones for me. I’d been to 15 cities in the Philippines, attended three festivals for the first time (Masskara in Bacolod City, Buglasan in Dumaguete City, and Begnas in Sagada), and finally got my certification as an open water diver. I had also gone to Beijing, China; Bangkok, Pattaya, and Sangkhlaburi in Thailand; Singapore; and Kuala Lumpur.
Indeed, 2011 was full of fantastic trips and memorable experiences. Rather than focus on them, however, I’ve decided to list down the major things that I learned in the past year.
It pays to meet new people and make friends. I know it’s obvious, right? But for someone like me who lives in the boondocks of Montalban, Rizal, going to the cities of Manila and Makati just to meet up with new people can sometimes be too much of a challenge. It means hundreds of pesos in transportation expenses, as well as around five to six hours of traveling.
When I made the effort, though, it was more than worth it. I’d made a lot of friends from my Pinoy Travel Bloggers group as well as from Couchsurfing. I met and talked with people who shared my interests—we hiked, we camped, we went to food fests and street dances, we drank, gossiped, and exchanged blogging views. It didn’t matter what age we were; there were teenagers and people who’d never see 40 again, but we all had a good time. In those moments when we were together, we celebrated not only our similarities and common interests, but our differences as travelers and bloggers, and as human beings as well.
There were unforgettable people I met in Sangkhlaburi, for example; the very loving couple whose relationship I’d envisioned (or at least, hoped) my own marriage would be, and the two men whose passion, dedication, and commitment I can only envy and admire. I’d met them for a week only, but when I left, I felt like I lost some good friends already.
The world is so big and beautiful and I have only explored a small part of it! I had always wanted to travel the world, and the only thing preventing me from doing so had always been the money and the visa restrictions. Maybe 2012’s the time to take a new perspective, see it as a challenge rather than as a hindrance. I had waited too long, but I know it’s not too late. The coming year will be a time for change; that I can vow to myself!
I must take care of myself more. Up until I injured myself in training, I had always taken myself for granted. I slept only a few hours, ate unhealthy foods, and didn’t pay attention to what my body was telling me. However, when I injured myself, I found that I couldn’t do some of the things that I enjoyed before, like running. It was very much a wake-up call for me; will I wait till something worse happens, something that can prevent me from backpacking and traveling, for example, before I learn to take care of myself? Definitely not!
Blogging can bring me income. Until a direct advertiser from the UK contacted me in January, I had thought that all blogging would bring me was cents, not hundreds of dollars. It’s not a lot, to be honest, but it did buy me my Nikon D3100, my Kindle, funded some of my trips overseas, and deposited more in my savings account. And I wasn’t even a prolific blogger to begin with! How much more will I earn if I take my blogging seriously?
There are action plans in all these learnings, plans that will hopefully make themselves clearer soon to help me plot the path I will take in 2012. Some of the things I want to undertake are small—from learning a new language and a new sport—to bigger ones like longer-term travel. Whatever I decide to do, one thing’s for sure: because of all the things that I had experienced in 2011, things are gonna change for me in 2012.
How about you? What were your learnings in 2011? Happy new year!
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Aleah Taboclaon is a freelance writer and editor. She likes running (completed one marathon, training for the next!), diving (PADI open water diver), and traveling with her Kindle. Connect with her on Facebook, Twitter, and Google Plus. You can also email her; she would love to hear from you!