I made some grave errors when it came to clothing. First off, I am a big guy. Big and tall. You will find most clothing here fitted to accommodate a smaller stature person, and the big and tall sections are few and far between.
I’ve heard of the Aswang before because, as we were driving through the Dumangas area, here on Panay island, my wife became visibly frightened as we went through a dark and gloomy neighborhood. It seems as though these Aswangs live in Dumangas and try to fit in with the population by shapeshifting into young, beautiful women with long hair. They like the dark, too.
As of this month, I have been living for most of 9 years in the Philippines. There were some necessary trips back to the States early on, but nowadays, I am a permanent resident. Since the pandemic started, there is no chance of leaving if I wanted, so it’s a good thing I like where I am.
I love everything about winter, and fall is a close second. When I lived in New England, I would take long walks through the woods and marvel at the brilliant color of the Hickory and Maple, spending hours writing in my journal as the wind tousled my hair and my foggy breath joined the mist in the valleys.
I was the kid who spent his weekends in the library reading encyclopedias and National Geographics and daydreaming about faraway places like Africa and China. I sat and planned what I would study in college, even though my parent’s religion forbade me to attend. I knew that nothing would hold me back from my dreams – that is until something did.
At almost 52-years-old, I never thought my future would be in question. I had everything planned out for the coming years. Until the time came to pass where I could not work, or travel, or enjoy the things I was passionate about anymore, and I am left to type my memoirs with a cold bottle of beer and a plate of steaming Sisig, I would do the things I knew would make me happy.
But this trip back to the States was very different from my previous trips. From the moment I left the terminal in Iloilo City, Philippines, I had doubts about my plans. When I was stuck at security in LAX, and everyone was so incredibly rude, I questioned what I was doing back in a place I didn’t want to be.
Think about it: the last thing on the minds of most people is where they are going to travel next unless they are in the middle of an around-the-world journey. But people who aren’t bloggers and influencers are only thinking about the Coronavirus, lockdowns, travel bans, and quarantines. They are concerned about their 80-year-old-mother living all by themselves. They are worried about where they are going to get toilet paper and groceries.
I was just like many of you: I was too poor, had too little time, too busy, too scared, and too unmotivated to travel. Being poor had factored mostly into the reason I had never even stepped foot on a plane. Tickets were expensive, and when you had trouble buying things like food, air travel was a dream you were not likely to experience.
I haven’t always traveled like a minimalist. I never used to be a one-bag ultralight traveler. In fact, on my first international trip across the sea to the Philippines, I was grossly overburdened. I have learned a lot since then, and even when I travel with my children and wife, you will never see me with more than a 30L backpack as my minimalist travel bag.