Monthly Archives: November 2011

It Happens to be My Anniversary, So There–

Time to conquer the city! (Caption from ‘The Climb’ performed by Miley Cyrus)

What’s the best thing about having a blog? I was born a blabbermouth so I can’t just give you a sole answer (no pun intended). However, what I have here is a list of experiences and values that a blog can bring to a blogger–and its readers, if any.

10 Soul-searching

Let me brief you as to why The Cole Walkabouts exists, in case you have just stumbled upon this site. I was based in Vientiane, Laos for two years. As a “young expat”, I was convinced that everyday is a potential memorable experience; equipped with my new photography gear fit to boot, I had to quench my thirst for adventure through bringing it anywhere I go and capture moments. Then one day in November of 2009, while I was browsing my photos to use for our company brochure, I thought “Wow, I have a lot of photos.” During that time, I was also starting out with Tumblr and I was definitely inspired by the photographs I see in my timeline. However, I thought that Tumblr is only for short posts and a couple of photographs. I wanted something along the lines of Blogspot or WordPress but was iffy to go for the idea because after a series of failed attempts, I can’t maintain a decent blog. I needed a reason to blog, a theme, for that matter. Then you know, it hit me.

At first it was just about pondering, or ranting about being away from the comforts of home, but then I thought the Web has enough of those. What I needed to do is to put up a travel blog with information that conventional travel sites don’t always carry–a first-hand experience on events and the life of a traveler/expat. Some travel sites, no matter how vivid their photography is or how comprehensive travel guidelines are, seem impersonal to me, for some reason. I felt that travel sites should be more of sharing experiences and stories that may persuade you to book a ticket. As much as guidelines are important, I believe that there’s that certain level of cultural understanding compulsory to every traveler. This is not only to condition themselves for traveling but also to prepare them in communicating with the locals and understanding the territory. So here I am, writing about experiences, posting photographs, and blurting unsolicited travel advice. From TCW’s inception up until my most recent post, I am constantly soul-searching. You see, blogs motivate you, as a blogger, to ponder about your next move and whatnot. It makes you think, if that makes sense.

9 Influence

Blogstar? Nope. Viral? Not even close to a tad close. However, readers dropping lines on my comment box is enough for me. Even checking out the search terms that lead to my blog makes me smile. A friend from my college organization once told me that when she reads my posts, it’s like she’s traveling already–my heart just swelled. Being an Internet icon would be surreal and just plain outrageous, but what I want is to open readers’ mind into traveling, not just being touristy, but learning about another culture and its ways; meet new people and realize, that the world is just waiting for you.

8 Progress

Whenever I read about my older posts, even from my now-defunct whiny-blogs from when I was 16, I can’t help but to laugh at my grammar and misspellings. I am a (kinda, sorta) writer, but my English is not perfect. But I try. And still try. Now I have to stop writing fragments because grammar nazis out there are off to hate on how youth today don’t give a rat’s ass to formal writing.

Also, I cringe at how ridiculous I sounded ranting about the mundane. That time I thought growing pains seemed to be the greatest challenge ever hit me, but now that I am facing yet another chapter of my professional life, I am glad I got over my teen madness. I will be damned if I am still crying over how I hate wearing jeans when it’s raining. Nowadays, I worry about tripping over my high heels in the bus. I’m kidding. Okay, just a little.

Since a blog is like a document of your thoughts and encounters, you can easily keep track of your personal change. It’s an amazing feeling.

7 Memories

They make you smile when you’re alone, which makes you look like a complete idiot in public. They make you sigh, not of regret but of missing those happy days. They make you want to aim higher so you can make your experience bank richer. They make you look back and move forward. Photographs fade, computers go haywire–but sites are very much alive. Unless your server’s database gets wiped out, which I sure pray will never happen.

6 People

It is when you meet people that change you. These new actors in your life, playing a major or minor role, they are never forgotten. Blogsites motivate you to write stories from time to time, so you put yourself out there and see what’s worth writing about. It doesn’t always have to be traveling abroad or shedding out your savings for a trip of a lifetime (although that’s pretty awesome!). Hanging out at random coffee shops, with a latte and a good read, you are bound to meet somebody. And it doesn’t always have to be a romantic meet-up. The people you meet are potential–you got that right–connections.

5 Mastery

Mastery is defined as the ability to execute and to accomplish an action on a highly skilled level. It’s like you can say “No one can do this better than I can,” Well, with a blog, you constantly improve points about your writing, message and delivery. You become an expert, as time passes. You become a source.

4 Responsibility

Maintaining a blog is never an easy task, especially if it has a particular line of thought. Having a blog is like having a pet that you have to nurture. Apart from feeding it with posts, you have to make sure they are factual to avoid misleading readers. Cheesy and cliche, but with great power, comes great responsibility. You already have that voice, make that voice count.

3 Adventure

You would do anything for content. But to take the pressure off your system, treat every day as an adventure. There is always something to be written about.

2 Inspiration

A blog inspires you to write more, read more and experience more. Once you’re done with posting the same content, it would inspire you to explore other possibilities for content. As for me, I’ve been writing about personal accounts on my Vientiane-days, but since I moved out last August, I am making the most of my stay in Singapore. Almost everything became insanely expensive from where I was coming from so I found inspiration in food blogging. That is still traveling–after all, food is part of a country’s culture. I also plan on joining a volunteer program for a new advocacy that will not drop the element of travel and learning.

1 Purpose

The Web is embedded in our lives and personalities. We may have different “selves” once we are away from the keyboard, but I can dare say we have this strong need to connect to our family, friends and even people around the world, hence the mobile devices. This “gift” that has been provided by our analog predecessors, I believe, should not only connect us but we should also extend our connections. Pay it forward, so to speak. If we have the perks of ICTs and use them at our disposal, make something out of it. It doesn’t have to be changing the world to help feed the hungry (although that’s pretty awesome!) but a simple message of optimism can change a reader’s life. Challenge yourself at what you can offer with your content. Surprise yourself with you can come up with. Be worthy of this space.

Happy Anniversary, Cole Walks! And thank YOU for being part of it!

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That One Day

111111

Just want to take a moment of silence and pray for my grandma. We miss you, Lola! Happy Birthday!

Right, a special date on the calendar. We, as in today’s generation, will only be able to experience triple-wonder-dates until next year. So I decided to reflect what I did on these special dates–if, in fact, they are boring and mundane, I have all the excuse in the world to book a ticket to any destination I want for next year, just cos.

01.01.01 Celebrated New Year with the family back in my hometown. I think I wished to get slightly taller. Yeah, I think I grew an inch since then. Oh oh oh, and I wished to get accepted to that particular Art School in the Philippines. Yeah, I didn’t get in. It was for a four-year acting curriculum; then I felt so bad that I failed the entrance exam, so I put all the drama and frustration on paper. Ah, funny how things work out.

02.02.02 I think we had an exam that day. I was a Freshman in High School.

03.03.03 Mmm, can’t remember. I was probably in my room, sulking about how I am not doing anything on a special day.

04.04.04 All-out preparation for the University of the Philippines College Admission Test (UPCAT). Yeah, I was always worried sick about exams and schoolwork.

05.05.05 NOW this one is interesting. On this day, I received the rejection letter from one international university I applied for. It was bad–I cried all night because I wanted to leave my hometown for college. This time in my life, I knew I wanted to travel already, so getting out of Los Banos at 16 was all I wished and hoped for. I don’t know what was with me and growing up fast. Well, six years after–guess where I’m working now *bats eyelashes*

06.06.06 Everyone thought the world was going to end on this day. I think people were panic-buying a week before this.

07.07.07 A high school batchmate’s 18th birthday! You see, 18th birthday is our ‘coming out’ party–the counterpart of Sweet Sixteen in the US. This was a big deal. I’m glad to have remembered that.

08.08.08 Probably worrying about my undergraduate thesis. And my upcoming birthday. *smiling sheepishly*

09.09.09 I was in Laos already. My mom, brother and I ate out that night. I can’t remember where exactly, but we went out. Because we always do HAH!

10.10.10 My brother got married! That was a special date for both families, alright!

11.11.11 Plans for today: Work, Blog (yey!) Gym, Sleep until 10 tomorrow. It’s going to be lame, you say, but for me–that’s the way it is.

12.12.12, I hope I’ll be able to complete this 12-year-date-craze with a blast not just for the heck of it but something to put in my experience bank. Although, seriously, it wouldn’t hurt to make every day a special day.

Happy 11.11.11!

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Unloading.

Never give up

I was sitting on my bed last night thinking of my next move to beat this person across me. I can’t seem to win this match. Pressure, intimidation, self-doubt. The opponent is, in fact, myself.

This year has been a pretty tough year. New responsibilities came in my way, decisions had to be made, transition from one career to another while balancing my Master’s classes online–I don’t have the right to say I’m bored, if you know what I mean. This year tried my patience and self-reliance; I felt that new challenges tore my self-esteem apart and I thought I was losing every single day. But last night, while I was trying to figure out what I’m going to be in the next five years, so I won’t sound like an idiot whenever the job interviewer asks me that question, I realized the problem is not where I’m going, but it’s trusting myself that I could actually pull off a grand plan for my life.

I came up with five pointers that, perhaps, could help me develop a stronger personality and tougher skin. If I were to become a successful travel writer by the time I’m 30, wallowing at how life is so unfair at the end of the day will not make me one.

5 Be Not Afraid to Make Mistakes

Being a self-declared perfectionist, I try so hard not to make mistakes. When I say try so hard, it’s bordering on desperate. I’m pretty sure this kind of attitude arose from my relentless pursuit to please people. But making mistakes is part of the learning process. Make mistakes but learn from them. Take criticisms gracefully and professionally. More often than not, the first output is not the best. Never doubt abilities; never overestimate them either.

4 Saving is a Lifestyle

I found the reason why I always run out of money–I save for one thing and one thing only. Once I purchase a not-so-expensive (I argue) pair of shoes or whatnot, I’m broke again. What about the next item on my list that says “Future”? My brother taught me this. Never save on one thing only, then spend it the next. Doing that encourages impulsive-shopping behavior. They say live everyday as if it were your last, but it didn’t say spend hard-earned money as if there’s no tomorrow. What if there is still a tomorrow? Be future-oriented. We save to help us stand on our own two feet (with pretty shoes on!). Point is, saving should be purposive and sustainable. Saving is a lifestyle, not a phase.

3 Traveling Should Be A Smart Choice

Connected with the fourth realization, I thought that saving for a roundtrip ticket to one destination is the most kickass thing ever. I was wrong. When traveling, travel good. There’s a difference between a tourist and a traveler. I want to be a traveler. My touristy days were already spent onboard tour-buses when I was a kid. If one is going to spend anyway, spend on something that will benefit one’s experience and enrich their worldviews–or something to that effect. This is exactly the reason why I’m considering joining Global Crossroad. At least when I travel, I’d be able to do something worthwhile, put what I learned in college to use. Help out, for what it’s worth.

2 Insecurity is Self-Inflicted

One person specifically pointed out that I’m low in self-confidence. That person doesn’t even know me or what pathetic problems I’ve been going through but s/he said it anyway. It hit me right in the gut because it meant that even though I’m trying to hide my insecurities, they still resonate in my every action. That’s how rotten I am inside. I don’t believe in myself enough for others to believe in me. It makes sense, you know. Why should they trust me to deliver tasks or favors if I already gave up on myself without even trying. “I’m a smart girl, I can do this,” is the mantra.

1 Don’t Rush

When I was 15, I wanted to be in college already. I wanted to study in Manila, live in a dorm and commute to my classes. When I graduated from college, I wanted to go back to being a teen. It’s not only because of how I missed not having to worry about deliverables at work but it’s because I forgot what it’s like to be young. I think I’ve been going through this future-crap since I was a teen that dreaming got old pretty fast. I’m still worrying about this. If I was a happy and carefree teenager, I could have had happy thoughts to reminisce whenever I’m stuck in a rut. Right now it’s all “Where the hell am I going?” It makes me tired, and stressed out and feel old. 23 is NOT old. So now, I’m taking one step at a time. One day at a time. This does not only make every load lighter, but it makes me think and function more. It takes away pressure. I still have time to smile at life.

In conclusion, low self-esteem is a total waste of education and experience. I shouldn’t take myself too seriously because no one else does. And by that I mean I shouldn’t be doing things to please someone. I should just do well. Period.

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