15 Nov This Blog is Taking a New Direction
It’s been about six months since my last post. Friends and random readers from different parts of the world have reached out, wondering what the hell happened to me.
So here’s a quick update for those of you who care.
Last May, I finally came home from Latin America after a year of backpacking. I was exhausted both mentally and physically. I wanted to slow down for a change, hug my mom, catch up with friends, see if my nieces and nephews still remember me. I am back home, safe and sound in Asia.
Where exactly is home, people ask. Here, I have three places I consider home. #1 Lombok, Indonesia — my favorite island in the whole wide world. #2 Baler, Philippines — where my mom currently lives, and most recently #3 Siargao — an up and coming surf destination southeast of the Philippines.
Earlier this year I was so torn on where to settle, it broke my heart to have to choose. However, after much reflection, I have come to accept that I don’t need to choose just one place. And that I am quite lucky to have a community and well, a bicycle in all three places.
I came home to Lombok and was deeply disappointed to find out that the government has tightened its working visa regulations recently, making it too expensive and almost impossible for companies sponsor foreign employees. That ought to be a good thing for the local people, you’d think. Less foreign workers = more jobs for locals. Great. But there’s a tiny void in this assumption. What about the yoga industry? 90% of Indonesians practice Islam and let’s just say they are not that open to the idea of yoga yet, much less want to teach it. With many parts of Eastern and Western Indo being developed as tourist hubs, every resort is practically looking for a yoga teacher nowadays. Very few people from Jakarta and Bali are qualified and willing to relocate to lesser known islands that offer lower salaries than what they’re used to. This leaves a huge gap for the supply and demand of yoga classes across the whole of Indo, and zero work for me. Sadly, I was left with no viable options.
I stood at the Kuala Lumpur airport along with my trusty old 28-litre Deuter backpack faced with two paths: go back to Indo and be a bum my whole life or come back to the Philippines and do something productive.
I could no longer afford to just chill, I have been traveling for the past year without a salary! So I flew back to my home court and started looking for opportunities around here. Things are looking quite promising.
Tonight, while the supermoon rises, I am writing from my condo located in one of the world’s most overpopulated and polluted cities, Metro Manila.
It’s probably one of the most coveted addresses in the city, I’ll tell you that. I enjoyed living here while still working in the corporate world. My late father and I chose this exact unit from the pre-selling stage and hand picked everything, from the custom-fitted furniture to the bamboo-inspired kubyertos. I loved coming home to this kind of comfort and luxury every few months between visa runs. But as I traveled further and exposed myself to the real world, this place started to feel inauthentic. It felt less and less like home to me. Sometimes I would stare at the walls and think, “Oh my god, how can people live in this concrete monstrosity? How did I live here?”
The value of the land in this part of the city is currently Php 175,000 or US $3,600 per square meter. PER SQUARE METER!!! Now I realize that’s not even half of Tokyo, San Francisco, New York or Paris. But we have to consider the fact that this is a third world developing country with poorly planned urban areas and very little infrastructure. I’ve heard some expats complain that the cost of living around here is about the same as Europe.
So the first few nights back home, in my memory foam mattress bed that used to feel like a cloud… I suffer from insomnia.
Tonight, I'm sleepless in a concrete jungle. When did it become normal for human beings to dwell stacked on top of each other, to have nothing alive around us but cold hard concrete floors and walls? Our bodies are designed to rise with the sun and rest after sunset to function well, but we've become so unsynced with nature. After being away for a few years, living and seeing different parts of the world on a budget, I woke up in the very condo I loved living in for 5 years feeling claustrophobic and suffocated. The air in the city is so polluted, I can feel it in every breath. There's visible smog all around us, the sky is dull and colorless even the powerful sun fails to shine through. What bothers me the most is how people just walk around on autopilot mode, mindlessly walking or driving. When did we start to think that it's normal to be constantly rushing, swerving from one lane to another to get ahead and violently beeping at everyone who gets in the way? An hour and a half of traffic, to and from work if you're lucky. That's three hours of your day completely wasted when you could be spending it doing something you love. People seem to compete with each other for everything. To earn more money, be more popular, have more power. Like they've forgotten how it is to just be human Romanticism aside, there are many places where life is easier, the quality of life vastly better. And you don't even have to move out of the country. You just have to be open to all the possibilities and maybe sacrifice some luxuries. We don't buy things with our money, we buy them with hours from our lives. You are not crazy to want to live differently.
Land is about $10 per square meter in the rural areas. So my one square meter in the city will easily buy me about 350 square meters of land in the less developed parts of let’s say Baler, Zambales, Siargao, Bohol, Siquijor or Sorsogon which are all ripe and ready for eco and geo tourism.
We have been fooled, people. And many of us are falling even deeper in this societal trap.
So I have decided, after five years of living here and another four years of renting it out on Airbnb, it’s time to finally sell and reinvest the proceeds.
What’s next? I have a million plans running through my head at the moment, sometimes I’m up till 2 am researching, planning, sketching designs. But I don’t want to jinx it, so to speak. One thing is for sure, I’m moving to greener pastures and looking for the perfect place to set up my first affordable, sustainable, eco-friendly home somewhere ah-ma-zing! Hopefully, this project will prove that you can sustain a comfortable life and have your own version of success away from the city, outside of the corporate world.
A friend once asked me over a conversation about finances “Do you like writing?“… without thinking or hesitation, I replied “It’s like breathing to me.”
You may have discovered this blog because of traveling, but as they say the only constant thing in this world is change. So as with my personal growth, this blog is inevitably evolving into something else and taking a new direction. As I enjoyed sharing my travels with you, I would love to give you glimpses of this new, life changing journey as well. So many friends I met traveling the world are also now in different stages in their lives. Some are starting families while others are simply tired of traveling and just want to slow down, maybe find a place to call home too.
Love and light,