“All journeys have secret destinations of which the traveler is unaware.” – Martin Buber
“Once you have traveled, the voyage never ends, but is played out over and over again in the quietest chambers, that the mind can never break off from the journey.” – Pat Conroy
Singapore. About five years ago, I wasn’t even sure whether this island-state was north or south of the Philippines. All I know was that it was very tiny compared to land sizes of other Southeast Asian countries. I never could have thought that this country would change my life forever.
It was November 2007, classes for the second semester have just begun when someone special to me told me that there’s a possibility that he might go to Singapore for an entire semester of exchange studies. To be fair to myself, I was very excited for him. Who wouldn’t be? He was one of the few (actually five) people who made it to the short list. It was quite an honor, and I felt very proud of him.
December came, and he left for Singapore. I was very, very sad. We enrolled in the same classes. We had lunches together. We went home together. Then I was there, living in the same spaces without him.
It was an aunt of mine who suggested that we go and see Singapore, and maybe have a chance to see him too. Fast forward to May 2008, I found myself sitting in the airplane bound to Singapore. I was going to see him, finally!
While Kuala Lumpur was the first city outside of the Philippines that I visited (KL was a side trip on the way to Singapore), Singapore gave me the reason to travel. If the guy didn’t go to Singapura, I wouldn’t have gone out of the country at that time.
I remember one of my Art Studies classes during my freshman year when my professor told us to dream big, that we’d travel one day too. She was showing photos of art pieces around the world, and kept mentioning cities and countries that we hardly hear of. Back then, I never expected that I would ever get the chance to travel abroad. I was an incoming junior by the time I first set foot in KL. Dreams do come true, and dreams come true faster than I thought they would.
That first trip outside my country was short, yet thankfully, I discovered how much I love to travel during that week that I was away. I never looked back since then. At least once a year, I get out of the country with my family.