Why do I write?
The writing bug bit me first. I would cringe today if anyone found the angsty poems I wrote as a teen, but back then, these were my prized pieces, immortalized in a ring-binder notebook I guarded like a hawk. I worked year after year for our school paper and devoured books left and right, following my mother’s lead. Although I was a bit more boyish compared to my four elder sisters, I never really quite had the talent needed for sports. I was quite happy to play tag outdoors with my neighbors, and stick my nose in a book when indoors.
At the crossroad when I had to choose my major for university, I took the practical route and chose Computer Science over Journalism. We didn’t have a lot of writing assignments, so for a few years, the writer in me was muted. Meanwhile, my code-crunching geeky side took over.
I really felt like something in me died during those years when I hardly jotted down anything resembling poem or prose. However, it was also during college when I first met another love — travel. Inspired by a trail walk I’d taken on a field trip, I decided to sign up for a mountaineering group. Remember, I wasn’t exactly Sporty Spice, and I almost gave up when they made me run 4.4 km around the school track for a diagnostic test. My heart threatened to jump out of my chest, and I staggered to the finish line dizzy and short of breath, but I stubbornly still went on with my application. We moved on to run 5.5 km. Then 7.5 km. Then a tenner. Soon, I was officially a runner.
It was at this point that adventures came gushing into my life. Long jeepney rides to far-off peaks became part of my weekends, and I felt at ease dangling off mountaintops. Adventure and travel became my why and wherefore. I consider myself very lucky to learn the ethics of travel from one most the most principled group of people I’ve ever known. Tread lightly. Take nothing. Carry your own weight, but know that your survival can rarely be credited solely to your own efforts. Be gracious.
Looking back now, that turning point seems to be ages ago. I’ve left the university and lost touch with the group, but my wanderlust was far from quenched. I’ve moved on to organizing my own out-of-town trips with friends and colleagues from work. In 2009, I moved to Singapore to live on my own for the first time, and solo trips became an eventuality. I loved it — the freedom it gave for me to linger or move on whenever I wanted. Because I was alone, it was easier to join new groups, make friends out of strangers, and celebrate my sameness and differences with my newfound kindred. Again, in 2016, I packed up all my belongings and moved to Germany, certain that life is going to throw me something new and exciting to teach another important lesson, as it always has.
What I found was that the more I allowed myself to get lost — to push myself beyond the grasp of what I know — the more I discovered about who I am. That sensation, for a nerdy know-it-all like me, is always thrilling. I’ve come to think that my addiction to it shall never cease to grow.
Here’s a video I made for an assignment for a travel filmmaking course. Making an “Introduce Yourself”-video sounded simple, but there I was, gnawing my nails. What if I just seem shallow or boring? Why would anyone care what I make? Also, why the heck does my voice sound so strange?!
Thankfully, I got to brush the bad vibes aside, and was actually quite happy with what I came up with. Even if it was just meant for an assignment, this video was a nice marker of where I am right now in my life, and of where next I’m raring to go.
My imPossible List
This used to be called the ‘My Bucket List’, but after stumbling on the nothing-less-than-awesome Blog of Impossible Things, I kind of shook things up. I thought of ideas that would seem crazy or too big to me; it might be really fun to prove myself wrong. I put in things that are really close to my heart as well. Do you have any suggestions or tips? Dares are welcome, even!
- Visit all 7 continents before I turn 30 — Asia,
Africa, Antartica, Australia, Europe, North America, South America
- Meditate in Bhutan or go hiking in Nepal.
- Watch the Aurora Borealis.
Dive with the whale sharks in Donsol. Go spelunking in Sagada and hike in Batad.
- Join a pilgrimage to the Holy Land.
Chill in Santorini.
- Go to Latin America and Spain, and learn as many Latin dances as I can.
Eat as much gelato in Italy. Join the Oktoberfest festivities in Germany. Witness glassmaking in Venice.
- Camp in an eco-house in the Amazon.
- Bike through the park connectors linking the whole of Singapore.
wild penguinsand blue whales in Antartica. Watch a pro surf competition.
Mountains, mountains, mountains!
- Climb the Three Peaks.
- Climb the 4 highest peaks of the Philippines:
Mt. Apo, Mt. Dulang-Dulang, Mt. Pulag, Mt. Kitanglad
- Hike in Machu Picchu.
- Mt. Kilimanjaro!
- Mt. Fuji!
- Of course, Everest!
Frolick in the peaks of Vancouver. Climb a volcano!
Go on a gap year.
- Learn sign language.
- Teach at least one hiphop class.
- Publish a book.
Zorb! Bungee jump.(did this twice!) Skydive!
Jason Mraz, DJ Earworm, David Guetta, Jack Johnson & Alanis Morissette perform live.
- Run a sub-60 10k.
- To borrow from a friend, be internet-famous.
- Find a way to live that is location-independent.
- Dance with Channing Tatum.