2013: A Milestone Year For Stories Of The Wandering Feet & Mind

December is quite a demanding month for travel bloggers not only because of the holiday season but because of that special composition we have to make this time of the year: A Year End Post.

Last year, I have shared about my best pictures, photographed in some of Saudi Arabia’s tourist spots, that have somehow marked my improvement at taking photos. These are the ones that brought in the highest number of views and comments. (Weekly Photo Challenge: My 2012 in Pictures)

This time around, I will look back on the lessons I learned in my visit to the special places I was able to set foot on and on what I had achieved this year.

 1. Every place holds a treasure trove of insights.

The Tweig (Red Sand-19 October 2012)

When I was starting this site as a travel blog, what I do was just narrating how I got to the place or how I made it to the mountain’s summit. Furthermore, I tend to copy information from other bloggers’ stories for my backgrounder or, worst case scenario, for the most interesting part of my story. I can only write about the literal sense of making it to a particular destination. But then, as I hit the road more and more, not to mention land to another country here in the Middle East, my eyes developed some kind of x-ray vision, which enabled me to look beyond the things around. I have learned to dig that treasure. I have learned to apprehend the significance of a place, what it mirrors to us; it made all the difference.

The Ushaiger Heritage Village paved the way for that lesson to be infused into my blog posts this year. The village made me realize how ruins exquisitely serve that road to transformation. It made me understand that, indeed, all things come to pass. The blow of that fleeting moment was visceral. (The Doors and Mud-Built Houses of Ushaiger Heritage Village)

2. The best gift that we can give to our loved ones is time.

IMG_2129Leaving the country more than a year ago was an epoch in my life. So many things took place from then till now and the most noteworthy is I was back for vacation last March to April. A few days before flying home to the Philippines, I prepared an itinerary where I included scaling five mountains, meeting special friends, and embarking on a solo travel for the fifth time. What I saw at home, after a couple of hours from the airport, soon turned the big plan into a minute plan. Before I went to bed later, I reviewed the itinerary and made a long, fixed stare at the part that underlines putative climbs, meeting friends, and solo travel. I realized one thing: The 30-day vacation was for no one but my family. Hence, climbs, meeting friends, and solo travel were crossed out. There’s only one palpable course on the piece of paper since: To wisely spend my time with family no matter how banausic it may be. I must say there was no tinge of regret in doing that.

3. The more you travel, the more your horizons expand.

One of the most remarkable things that happened to me this year was going on a blogging hiatus—unintentionally—from March to June. This later introduced me to trying something new.


Truth be told, one of the primary reasons why I went abroad is for the heck of traveling until budget constraints struck me for some time. It’s where I embarked on a new endeavor. And I couldn’t be happier I did. I am talking about getting into a sport called badminton.

Badminton taught me a lot of equally life-changing lessons: humility on top of fame and victory (“The Tournament: The Culprit for My Hiatus“), cheerfulness amid defeat, being a team player, and sportsmanship. Writing about my experiences for the tournaments I became a part of fueled my muse more. (The next tournament is already around the corner and I couldn’t be busier by then.)

The good thing is, it transcended my travel narratives. All my regular travel accounts contain more than 500-1,000 words this year. Those may not be excellent but being able to execute my evocation of a journey now with a theme or a lesson is already more than enough. The links below will help you out just in case.

Let There Be Light!


A Hideaway Amid the Slaving Corporate World


Revisiting the Most Famous Cave in Cagayan Valley On A Whim


When Things Are Bright and Beautiful


The Playground of Demigods and Nephilims: Tarak Ridge

Through Earth and Sky

4. If there’s a will, there’s always a way.

ScreenshotI never truly understood what that means until October–when I pulled all the possible strings to get one of my sports articles published in Arab News‘ print and on their website. Let’s not dig the details but it’s suffice to say, “Just when you thought you did everything you could to realize a dream, think again and this time, double the efforts, triple by the third, then follow the sequence.” Click this link for the full text of the article: Indians dominate the 1st CFO Badminton Tournament 2013.


On the flip side, I should not forget to make mention of the recognition given by the Bicolano Writers when they featured one of my travel blog posts titled “When Things Are Bright And Beautiful” last December 17 on sililoquy.com (a reputable website that showcases the musings of prominent Bicolano writers and the soliloquy of lesser-known but equally-gifted Bicolano wordsmiths) via its Bicol Travel Destinations page.

5. It’s damn good to experience new things.

Traveling in groups with close friends–with the exception of a few from the office and my mountaineering buddies back in the Philippines–more than 24 hours is something I’ve never done before .

Recently, a close friend and I traveled with a group of people who are new to us and I was surprised with what was unraveled: Traveling bonds people quicker before we know it. Sharing stories; singing Jason Mraz’ songs; throwing cerebral jokes and mind-bending trivia; and exchanging spontaneous pranks and intelligent remarks while on the road…How can you resist that?

I am, by nature, a rigid person, but traveling in groups helped me loosen up. It showed me how liberating it is to break out from my comfort zone when I immersed myself in the world of the younger crowd (i.e., riding the Waveswinger) even just for a while.

Blog Carnival Badge

This post is my entry to Pinoy Travel Bloggers’ Blog Carnival for December 2013 titled  “The Pinoy Travel Bloggers’ Closing the Curtains on 2013: Love, Learn and Living” hosted by Ms. Brenna Bustamante of The Philippine Travelogue.


32 thoughts on “2013: A Milestone Year For Stories Of The Wandering Feet & Mind

  1. Sony, you’ve done really great and your posts have been exciting, written with greater finesse and sophistication. Congratulations for all of your publications and recognition as a writer! So proud of you!!! God bless you with a GREAT NEW YEAR in 2014!!!
    Aloha from Hawaii,


  2. I like this post so much, Sony! I learned so many things. To think I am older than you are.
    And I learned that me yearender pala ang mga blogs. I once read a yearender post like this pero I completely forgot about it na. Next year, I will make one. 🙂


    • Pinauso actually ng mga miyembro ng Pinoy Travel Bloggers. It’s been there since 2010 if I’m not mistaken and this is my first time to join.

      I assure you it is something you will love to do. Looking back on the places you have visited or on your achievements and failure…memories that highlighted a year. It is such a treat I tell you.


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  4. what a really wonderful round up post my friend.You have been so active even when you’re out of the country..I salute you for that..I just wanted to greet you and your family happy holidays .


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  6. Looks like 2013 is a year of blessings, adventures and new horizons for you bro. I’m happy for you. I did sense a bit of sadness/home sickness when you mentioned leaving home and your family. That is the hardest feeling to overcome of anyone who choose to seek greener pastures aboard. When I left the Philippines, it too me months to overcome missing family. I wish you and your love ones the best for 2014.


  7. I did notice how you write much deeper, more words, and honestly, more eloquently. Not that you haven’t been before per se. This year for you may not be greater number-wise, but it looks like it has more heart and substance. Way to choose family-time over anything else. Keep it up, and cheers to 2014!


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