(I had to explain my situation with the tiger)
I went to Bohol for very specific reasons: to see my cousins, see the world’s smallest primate- the tarsiers, chocolate hills and of course Panglao beach. However when I got to Tagbilaran, I didn’t have any idea that my cousin’s home is located three hours away from Tagbilaran City. I didn’t mind at all since I haven’t seen them in 17 years! All I know is that they have been a pride and joy to the family and to the Philippines when they won the Ramon Magsaysay Award or an equivalent of a Nobel Prize in Asia with their Institute for providing sustainable education to a rural area in Visayas despite daunting poverty in the country. During lunch, I told them that I was in the middle of my Asian tour and that I was so excited to tour the Visayas region. Right then and there they asked me to give a talk at their school. I didn’t have any inclination that they would ask me to be a guest speaker at their foundation. With less than 24 hours notice with only my backpacking clothes with me and knowing that Nobel awardees and even NASA astronauts have given talks in their school how could a traveler like me even say no? When a great opportunity is right in front of you, wouldn’t you grab it? Of course I said yes right away. But then I thought, what am I supposed to say to these kids? One thing I know is that I wanted it to come from the heart and to inspire the students (most of them coming from poor families) to dream bigger dreams. So I talked about my travels and how I got there.
I was so happy that my talk was well received by my cousins, the teachers and the students (or it might have been the cool pictures). Speaking in a group of about 120 junior high school students about my travels, unconventional views on life and take on going after one’s dreams, was one of the most nerve-wracking experiences in my life as a traveler. But it has also been one of the most fulfilling and most fun travel experiences I ever had! This is also one major reason why I travel. I travel so that I can also reach out to people who cannot travel for different reasons, to learn about these people, to help broaden their thoughts and have them teach me life lessons too. I’m so grateful for being able to touch so many souls that day and most of all ecstatic and grateful for the life I’m living. As John Lennon says- "Life is what happens while you’re busy making other plans." Well all I can say is that life can be really really good!