P R O F I L E S
We are all wanderers, only with different names. Tourists. Adventurers. Backpackers. We trek, we ride, we fly, and go different ways in many styles and reasons. We brave the tall mountains, explore the deep oceans, go places for food, adventure, or work. One day, we help build communities, and another day, we get to know a different culture. We stumble upon treasures, learn lessons, find ourselves, and if we’re lucky, find someone else. To the many kinds of vagabonds, this section is for you.
YOLO—This has been the mantra of many travelers who believe life is short, so we better make the most out of it. Their goal is to find not only happiness but also meaning and purpose. They work hard to invest in experiences, not stocks. They save up for a long weekend trip, not a house and lot. They are the millennials—the bold, wild, free, and social media lovers— who have revolutionized travel around the globe.
One of those who caught our attention lately is Mark Ritual, a broadcasting student at the Polytechnic University of the Philippines. We threw some questions to him to know his views on travel. We were amused by what he shared—a unique festival in his hometown, why he travels solo, and surviving an earthquake among others.
We learned from your blog that your trip to Puerto Galera in 2015 was what fired you up to travel. That was your first out of town trip. Can you tell us about that?
I declined the invitation at first, because back then, I believed that money is better spent on things or a night out with friends. That changed when I went to Puerto Galera. That was my first time at a white sand beach, first time to do island hopping, first time to snorkel and touch a starfish. Those simple things made me genuinely happy. It’s a beautiful place. I was blown away, I even wrote in my blog “that time, that place was perfect”. That trip started my travels and adventures.
You seem to be having the time of your life traveling and starting to build a career. Do you subscribe to the YOLO mindset? That we should seize the day—
I do. It’s now or never. We only live once, so we better make the best out of that one chance. This time—while I’m still young and I’ve got all the energy—is the time to travel, swim in the ocean, climb mountains, and enjoy life to the fullest. It’s boring when you get older, I realized. You go to school, you get a job, you get stressed. Good thing I can temporarily escape by traveling.
How does travel make you see yourself and the world differently?
One of the reasons I travel is to meet people and see different cultures. I love talking to strangers because they teach me to see the world from a different perspective. That it’s more interesting than what I see on TV. Travel has made me discover more about myself and it made me more independent.
You seem to have no strict preference in the destinations you visit. You go everywhere. What do you consider when picking your destinations?
I’m a working student so schedule is a big consideration when I travel. I go for beaches and far destinations when I have a long vacation. When I’m free for a day only, I usually hike to the mountains nearby Manila. I also look at the expenses, since I got bills to pay myself. Of course, I make sure that the places I go to will give me satisfaction and adventure. I wanna experience everything. I don’t wanna limit myself to being a beach boy or a hiker. The world is perfectly designed such that no two places are exactly the same, so going many places would be great.
Among those you’ve been to, which destinations stand out?
They’re all unique, but there are some that are unforgettable because of the experience. One is Masasa Beach in Tingloy, Batangas. When we visited, we were welcomed by a 6.3 magnitude earthquake, and it was non-stop shaking the whole day. That was my first time to sleep under the night sky, our roof were the clouds and the stars, out of fear that our accommodation would collapse. The people in the village also cared for us like we were part of their family. That was memorable.
You grew up in Quezon, one of the provinces I have not explored yet. Tell me, what should people know about Quezon?
Quezon Province has got more than beaches, waterfalls, and mountains. We have a rich culture and great festivals like the Pahiyas of Lucban and the Niyog-Niyogan in Lucena. You can’t miss our lambanog and dancing in the Mayohan.* My province is home to many exciting discoveries. But, aside from great destinations, I love the people of Quezon the most. We’re happy and hospitable. And we have a sweet accent. (Editor: The Mayohan Festival in Tayabas is a celebration of bountiful harvest. People parade around the town while people throw suman (ricecakes) and fruits to the crowd.)
What’s in your bucketlist?
I have a lot. I wanna try skydiving, diving in the deepest ocean, and climbing the Everest. To live in United States or any country in Europe. To surf in Siargao, climb Mt. Apo, do stargazing in Batanes. I want to visit all the provinces of the Philippines and all countries in Asia!
What are your thoughts about solo travel?
I’ve tried solo travel. And I think everyone should try it once in their lifetime. It’s a good way to know yourself better. It can train you to be more independent. You’ll realize you can do things on your own without your friends and your family. Simple things like waking up on time, fixing your stuff. Solo travel also allows you to reflect about life and find peace within yourself. It teaches you to be happy about yourself.
How about joiner tours organized by travel companies?
I’ve done that in most of my travels. If you’re a busy person like me and does not have a private car, group tours are recommended. Choose well, get a legit and trusted travel company and thoroughly check their itinerary. It’s a convenient way to travel, since they’ll be the ones to prepare everything from hotel to activities, food, and registration.