Parallel Planets

Let me take a commercial break from my travel posts for a little promotion. Parallel Planets is a web-zine run by young creatives who have very distinct visions and very unique interpretations of reality. It’s an arts and literature hub of sorts and a repository for alternative, edgy, and fresh events in pop culture. Naturally, […]

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Postcards From Bagan

There was something cinematic about the clunking of hooves against pavement as the horse drew our cart across Old Bagan. Dawn was coming, and across the indigo sky the sun slowly stretched its rays in streaks of pink and orange. We were still laughing hysterically at the turn of events right after we got off […]

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Yangon Imagery

Fantastical and exotic images filled my mind as our plane descended onto the runway at Yangon International Airport. Myanmar was my most anticipated destination in our trip because it seemed so far removed and untouched. Having just “reopened” to the rest of the world several years back, it has yet to be eaten up by […]

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Postcards from Luang Prabang

My friends Nica, Bernice, and I left Dien Bien Phu in a whirlwind 24 hours after our fateful arrival. We were properly scrubbed, rested, fed, and properly ready to get the hell out of there. We boarded the bus to Luang Prabang, Laos at 7am, and excitedly waited for the next leg of our journey […]

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Steps to Sapa

I opened my eyes to rolling green rice fields. Our bus wove through the quilted landscape of terraced paddies as the sun’s pale yellow rays lightly kissed the mountain face. Inside the murmur of awakening softly buzzed, but was quickly blanketed by the quiet of the Sapa dawn. The endless whirring motorcycles and crawling crowds […]

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Soppy Welcomes from Hanoi

It was a year in the making. It was the biggest undertaking of our lives thus far. I and two other friends, Nica and Bernice, would put our normal lives on hold for six weeks and travel through Indochina. Our first stop: Hanoi, Vietnam. It was an empty airport that welcomed us when we arrived […]

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Malaya

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When my friend, Bernice, and I started talking about going up to Kalinga, she was still unsure of whether to get a tattoo. She wanted one but her parents were against it, and so she didn’t know if getting permanently inked was worth the trouble.

As we went through the harrowing journey however, and finally reached the tiny village nestled at the mountaintop, it gradually became a different story for her.

Bernice’s parents were protective and quite conservative, as was common with Filipinos. It took them a while to warm up to the idea that she wasn’t intent on pursuing a life like theirs; a life with stable income produced from routine hours at a secure job. When she decided to travel alone for the first time last year, it wasn’t easy to get them to allow her to go. But she persisted.

It was our trek up the mountain that cemented her decision this time around. It almost became symbolic. More than getting a badge for an achievement; more than being part of a lost tradition; she was conquering a challenge, shaking off impediments and, in the process, claiming herself.

She got a tattoo in Baybayin, an ancient Filipino script, that says “Malaya“. And malaya means free.

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Kalinga Making Marks

In late January, my good friend, Bernice, and I traveled way up north of the Philippines to the mountains of Buscalan, Kalinga. Getting there took one night and one day, three different vehicles on countless cliffs, and so many miles on foot, all totaling 15 hours of travel from Manila. Buscalan, Kalinga made for an […]

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