I don’t know exactly when the travel bug bit me. But I remember exactly those moments – when I was a preschooler –
how I enjoyed sitting in a bus; watching the places we passed by, amazed by every sunset and sunrise I witnessed on the places where our parents brought me and my brother and how simply going to different places excited me. I was just a 4 or 5 maybe and my parents are amused every time I told them stories of my childhood,and the only things I remember are the stories of my family’s adventures in far-away places.
When I was in grade school, I preferred reading Atlas than playing video games that annoyed my cousins. In my heart, I knew then that when I grow up, I’d visit those places which names fascinated me. “Ever heard of Yugoslavia and Czechoslovakia?” I often asked my clueless classmates and the look they gave me is similar to “The F*** you’re talking about?”.
In my small hometown, and maybe the rest of the Philippines as well, dreaming of going to another country is common. I say dreaming because most people don’t have the means to do so. But it isn’t about discovering the place or pursuing an adventure. Instead most Filipinos want to go abroad for greener pasture. The 11 million plus Filipinos working abroad (OFW’s) is a testament how most Filipinos view “going abroad” as a means to improve their lives back home. Even if means throwing away their diplomas, passions and professions back home in exchange of cleaning toilets abroad for bigger remittance monthly. I really think there’s nothing wrong with people giving up their dreams in exchange of putting food in the table for their loved ones – especially if they are doing this through legal means and not hurting other people. I get it. But what I personally don’t agree with is how most people just settle for “I’ll go abroad to WORK” mentality. I have heard a thousand times how people just say “Take up Nursing so you can work abroad” or “Don’t take 4-year course, just take 6-month care giving course then work abroad. It’s useless to work here” even if they don’t dream becoming any of these and worse “Just marry a foreigner so you can go abroad to have a better life”. Again, there’s nothing wrong about working as a Nurse neither as Care Giver abroad or even marrying a foreigner. My only point is when people settle for less than their worth. So while the rest of Filipinos are dreaming to work abroad (regardless if they like it or not), I dream of exploring the world.
I worked hard to travel abroad as often as I could. But my ultimate dream is to go to Europe. It all started when I was a kid and became a fan of European bands. I knew someday I’d get there. And step on those places where they shot their music videos, or simply go to the places that helped them develop their artistry. Eventually, I became fascinated with European architectures, arts and histories as well.
But dreaming is easy. The road to fulfilling your dreams however is not. Especially if you come from a country that doesn’t have a strong passport and getting a visa is a hard work. But one thing I’ve learned in life is giving up is a more expensive option for your dreams. So with that thought in my mind, I pressed on.
And this was how this adventure began.
And few hours later…
So what made the embassy changed their mind?
When I thought that I couldn’t apply to any Schengen embassies anymore, I resorted in applying for a Croatian visa instead. But I had a hard time finding the consulate in Manila due to limited information on the internet. And when I called them several times, no one answered the phone except one who promised to send me the requirements and other details I was requesting for but they didn’t send anything on my email. I even got their correct address from the embassy in Jakarta. So to get the details fast as I was running out of time, I went personally to the consulate. And that was how my nightmare that day began. The taxi drivers didn’t know the address so we relied on google maps. And someone pinned the address to the complete other side of Gil Puyat (which I only learned later). The second taxi driver dropped me close to Mapua as the addressed was pinned closely in the said institute and I just decided to walk to inspect the building numbers closely. More than one hour later, I found the building to the other side of the long highway. I was walking the entire time without umbrella under scorching sun at around 1pm. I was thirsty, hungry and tired beyond words so when the Croatian consulate told me they couldn’t process my visa since I’m one day late for the minimum day requirements, I was beyond frustrated. And that when I decided to send a letter to the embassy where I applied first.
And lastly I want to share this quote from a special person. This statement inspired me to pursue my dreams more than 2 years ago.
“I learned that the things most worth having in life do not come easy. Sometimes you have to fight for them.”
Keep fighting for those dreams.
The Backpacking Executive,