Chronicling the Learnings from the Year that Was, Planning for the Future that Will Be

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; BangkokPattaya, and Sangkhlaburi in Thailand; Singapore; and Kuala Lumpur.

Linungao Island Tandag

Learn to notice and enjoy the small things.

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.

Couchsurfing friends

Fellow travelers and Couchsurfers meeting up in Yogyakarta, Indonesia.

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!

Tianmo Desert near Beijing

The world is so beautiful!

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!

 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!


  1. says

    Happy new year and God bless Aleah! More power to you and your travels! I’m amazed at how far you’ve gone for the past year. It’s inspiring. :) And yes, we all have to take good care of ourselves though we’re caught up with our daily activities.

    See you around! :)
    Stephanie recently posted..Hello world!

  2. says

    You are inspirational Ms. Aleah! Although 2011 is a great start for me (and my blog), I’ve never done some of the things that would make me happier. I hope that in 2012, I can get a taste of backpacking. I love to travel too, but traveling with my parents and friends have always been ordinary. I bring my whole room in my luggage, and so do they. Hope that one day, I’ll be able to join you in one of your adventures.. :)

    Wish I can also get a decent earning from my blog. It’ll be extra hard though since it’s not yet indexed in any search engines, but I hope it gets there.

    Happy new year to you and to your blogs! May you have more blessings, opportunities and travel adventures this 2012.. :)
    Sumi recently posted..Toast Box: My Kind of Breakfast

  3. Gladys | says

    ’twas indeed a great 2011. hope you even have a greater 2012. cheers to more travel adventures! happy new year :)

  4. says

    @ Eileen: Don’t we all wish that! Congrats on your DNA scholarship! You totally deserve it!
    @ Gladys: Same to you and Barok too!
    @ Christian: You have a better one–a sponsor for a 9-day trip in Northern Luzon. hehe
    @ Pinoy Explorer: Loved those 2 too, only because they were bought with my earnings here. They’re still travel-related, right? 😉 Happy new year!
    Aleah recently posted..Chronicling the Learnings from the Year that Was and Planning for the Future that Will Be

  5. says

    Congrats on a great 2011! My resolution for this year is to travel more, hope I get to do it!

    Congrats too on what you’ve earned through blogging. I’m still trying to figure that out since WordPress doesn’t place ads and I have no idea on how to work with a hosting site :)

    Happy New Year!
    Carmel David recently posted..Change

  6. says

    i’ve always wonder if there is such a thing like traveling for a work like having a sponsor for my travel tips. as i come to encounter a few travelers, later did I know that it is really possible…

  7. says

    What I like best about travel blogging is that you’ve already received the reward before you even start typing. Making new friends, going on adventures and having fresh epiphanies is the content. So you only have something to write about when you’ve achieved something or progressed towards something.

    The writing is the motivator to keep going, to receive more rewards, create new narratives and reflect on the trails. Best of luck for 2012 everyone

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