a nomad in search of...

2017: A Year in Review Dec 31, 2017

2017: A Year in Review

Location: Philippines

In A Nutshell
I'm usually out of the country backpacking my way across Southeast Asia, but this year, I didn't leave the Philippines. I've only been to 4 provinces and towards the end of the year, I've decided to stay put in a place for 30 days before moving on to the next. Increasingly, my challenge was to be productive and thrive no matter how bleak the situation might be.

2017 Highlights

Sure, a life of travel is exciting and adventurous, but it still has its low points.

While in the Philippines, I didn't really meet too many people. Usually, I interact with travelers, but I didn't see much of them where I was going. I also use Couchsurfing for coffee conversations but that hardly happens either. Still, I came upon interesting lives that shaped my peoplescape.

2017: A Year in Review
meeting magnificent lives

jeanne torrefrancaJeanne
My platonic friendship with Jeanne is a permanent fixture in my life. Wherever I end up, no matter how isolated I am, I feel assured there is Jeanne. We always spend time together whenever I am in Cebu City, but even when I'm not, I invite her to come join me if I'm not too far away. She joined me in Moalboal, Panglao and Loboc. We decided that if we're too old to be doing what we're doing and need to settle down, we'll get us a land where we'll have our own individual nipa huts, a yoga center and a cafe. We can spend our mornings over coffee and our Theosophical talk like we always do. Friends will come and visit and it'll be like Friday Milk and Juice Night all over again.

Juan and Jeffrey HuerteJuan and Jeffrey Huerte
Father and son, Juan and Jeffrey, were my landlords in Loboc. But they played a bigger role. Unselfishly and with open hearts, they opened up Loboc to me, taking me into hidden nooks and crannies, telling me about its history and riding with me to interesting spots. In their own way, they exemplified the life of contentment, simplicity and peace. They live as much off the land as they can - their own veggies, making their own sikwate from their cacao, pounding their rice harvest, etc. Loboc was special because of them.

Kins and Ludwig
Kins and Ludwig are both good friends from Theosophical Society and Vipassana Meditation. We don't need to explain much to the other - we already know where each is coming from. They would join me for breakfast talks, tag me along community gatherings, or just sit in meditation. They are my mainstays in Tagbilaran.

Judith and I don't hang-out much, but we don't need to. Ever since I left Bohol for Cebu to hold a meditative space to help her get that competitive edge that led her to win the championship in Manila's major dance event, we've become good friends. I cannot visit Cebu City without having her across the coffee table to catch up with.

charlotte alysshaCharlotte and Alyssha
I met these two wonderful souls during my 3-month stay in Camotes Island. We became instant friends - hanging out for pizza, going out to the beach, meeting up in Cebu and almost connected again in Bohol, if not for a typhoon. This friendship is definitely long-term and for keeps. Can't wait to see them again.

Grant and MitchellGrant and Mitchell
In Camotes, I would while away my time hanging out at Mitchells's Kay Lami food kiosk where Grant, me and Mitch talk about world events as well as local events. They were embarking on an exciting project in Camotes shortly before I left. I'm sure things have come a long way. Grant and I managed to stay in touch and connect online. The horizon is broad for future possibilities.

Mystery LadyMystery Lady
I was surprisingly reunited with someone I've always wanted to be with. For years, she remained one of a few I would have abandoned my nomadic life to settle down with. The reunion made me realize she was far from the romanticized notion I built-up in my wild imaginings. It would have been better if I never saw her again but kept the idealism alive...if only in my head. She remains a friend but I keep my distance.

Michael PatoMichael Pato
As a client, I stayed in Michael's hostel for a few days. That also gave me a glimpse of him as a person, his friends and the idealized position they hold as the next-generation movers and shakers of Cebu.

Frederic and JoanFrederic and Joan
I met this dynamic Belgian-Filipina couple in Loboc where they run an upscale SUP river resort, Fox and Firefly Cottages. We had dinners a few times, checked-out their SUP and yoga scene and got better acquainted. I was surprised when they asked me to resort-sit their place during the holidays while they're gone. They just met me! They said we have common friends and they checked me out. Turns out I wasn't too bad.

Jean Jacques Gautier
As part of the Plongeurs du Monde, JJ included me in his class for a freediving certification course in Apo Island. I reached 16m and got me stoked into serious freediving. I could imagine working with JJ next time he visits the Philippines again.

I don't know if it's me, the individuals I talked to, or collectively, it's a millenial issue. But I noticed that when they say YES, it doesn't mean they are committed to it. I've invited a few millenials for a meet-up on several occasions. The ones who said yes hardly showed up - they forgot, last minute cancellation, showed up late or simply didn't care. They had to be followed-through or be reminded. I hate to generalize, but I feel wary when I'm dealing with a millenial - except the ones who have been proven reliable.

Mejul is a faculty of University of Bohol who appreciated my lifestyle choice and has invited me to give a talk to his students about my own brand of philosophy and spirituality. He further invited me to conduct a yoga class for some 60+ students. I would have wanted to hangout with him, but despite a standing offer to be my breakfast guest, it didn't happen.

I don't dwell on the 'could have beens' or the 'should have beens' of life. If it didn't happen despite my due-diligence, then it probably wasn't meant to be - and that's that. I don't lose sleep over it. But just for keeping tabs, my misses are as follows:

  1. durian - I missed durian season in Davao. Perhaps it's also because I renounced Duterte and a friend advised me not to be in Davao for the meantime. It was explained, "It's rabid here for now."
  2. Vipassana and Himalayas - I usually do my 10-day Vipassana silent meditation course every 6 months but I haven't done it in years. I thought about taking the advanced Satipathana course in the Himalayas but I was rejected for not having meditated 2 hours/day.

On the Horizon
I don't really subscribe to a future or make too many plans for it, but on the horizon, I see a few looming possibilities:

  1. resort/hotel optimizer - As eyes-and-ears for resort owners gone on vacation, I plan to study whatever system they have and optimize things - it's a gift I have. It could be as simple as having their mountain bikes cleaned, tuned and lubed after every ride, or system changes that might reduce cost and optimize earnings. I could make a manual out of it and add it to my tool box.
  2. Himalayas - the Himalayas continue to excite me. I can simply attend a basic Vipassana course just to get there. I have a feeling wonderful things await me there.
  3. responsive website development - with my new skill as a web designer who can hand-code from scratch a responsive website, I can be more aggressive in taking in new business. I don't mind having a little more disposable cash.

Ending Thoughts
I wouldn't be surprised if I stay longer in a place before moving on. Traveling doesn't excite me as much as it used to. In a perfect world, I'd have a comfortable working area with high-speed internet by the mountains in my nipa hut overlooking the waters. Morning sikwate, tuba and a decent nearby cafe. Within my grounds is my own yoga space and calisthenics playground. My shire will be a revolving door for friends to stop by and chill. I'd have a few ducks and rabbits freely roaning around my space. I don't have the funds for it, but it's not too expensive to realize. One day....

--- TheLoneRider

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Next stop: 2018!!!

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