traveling solo, devirginized!

When people ask us why we travel together, our answer is plain and simple. We travel together because we complement each other in a lot of ways.

We tell stories in our own styles, we crave different adventures stretching wide across the id-anal continuum; one has a hunger for exotic food adventure while the other is contented with a quaint quiet time on the dinner table; one gravitates toward extreme activities and the other will fall silent in a cozy corner with a good book at hand. It is a good equilibrium from both ends, having a check and balance of some sort and someone to knock each other off to reality whenever the other loses track of the limitations.

What will make us travel separately will only be of two reasons:

1. Our work schedules. One works in Manila and the other in Singapore. A travel buddy once quoted Brook Silva Braga, “(T)ime and money are commodities with an inverse relationship; you need to spend one to have the other. And traveling cheap makes you realize that time is more valuable than money.” As much as we applaud the concept, we still have to work our asses out because we need the effing paycheck. And our jobs require a lot of nose bleeding and sleepless nights, not those types of  jobs that an employee can just sit, stare stupid on the desk and fart rainbows the entire shift.

Filing for a vacation leave equates to a 1000-word email to the boss, followed by a head to head battle for work endorsement to avoid annoying calls while we scratch the beach sand out of our butts.

2. The rare moments that we just want to wander aimlessly without the presence of Monette whining about the spicy breakfast we had two days ago, and Ron complaining non-stop about the long waiting time for the bus to arrive. The need to travel alone is a healthy catharsis for us. Don’t get us wrong, we love traveling together and we see each other doing it from time to time when Monette is on her late stage of Alzheimer’s and Ron popping pills like MnM’s for his hypertension and diabetes.

Way before our solo stints in China and Indonesia, we started trying out flying solo in our very own third world paradise.

Year 2001

It was another hot summer in my home province of Rizal. I, for the love of Tony Braxton, woke up one late morning and doesn’t know what to do with my life. Another emo-shit moment when I refused to jump off my bed to start my pre-determined monotonous day, locking myself under my post-juvenile bedroom drowning myself with self pity: I hate my course in college; I don’t know where to go after graduation; I am tired of chasing after a failing relationship; and I do not know who I am (and no, I did not sing “Reflections” in front of the bathroom mirror). That was the lowest point of my life as a Homo sapiens.

I am LOST…

Then it hit me. Why not get really lost? Literally!

So I grabbed my primordial Canon film camera, slipped it in my jansport backpack, with some randomly grabbed clothes, pager, PLDT phone cards and some cash I saved from my school allowance. Then I punched in the dark.

HERE GOES NOTHING… I hitched on the first jeepney that passed by without looking at the destination signboard, the driver asked me where am I heading and I demi-confidently shouted back “SA DULO PO!” (to the last terminal). I did this routine terminal after terminal. After 6 jeepney transfers, an overnight bus ride and 20 hours of solitary guessing game of the towns I passed through, I found myself staring up from the foot of Mount Mayon.

The Church of Penafrancia in Naga, Camarines Sur

I never felt so independent, all my sphincters pump wild every time I encounter new things. There is a good feeling of liberation and delectable fear. I spent several days exploring the region, from Daet to Virac, Naga to Legaspi, Tabacco to Sorsogon. I stop whenever I feel like stopping, I reached places I never intended seeing.

Long before the age of digital SLR’s and Laptops, I never had a slightest digging in taking pictures, I don’t have the emotional quotient lest the simplest form of patience waiting for the films to be developed. So I only keep my handy dandy notebook and sketchpad and I only take pictures (of myself) when necessary, budgeting two rolls of 32 shot films is not easy, hits and misses were all counted.

Me inside the Hoyop hoyopan cave in Camalig, Albay.

It was the happiest time of my life, I walked around day in and day out. But the highlight of the trip was that one night in the wilderness of Gubat Sorsogon.

After my late siesta doze along the shores of Rizal beach, I finally stood up to go back to my hostel. It skipped me that 5PM was the last trip back to the city. So I walked towards the main road. It was rough, dark and en-caved with lush acacia trees, I was praying for a private vehicle to pass by so that I can hitch back to civilization, but to no avail. Until I came across a man wearing shorts, plaid shirt, rambo flip flops and he was carrying a riffle. I initially thought he’s from the armed forces, but soldiers would not carry guns if they are off duty. I think I know what or who he is. My joints lost hold, I was in a verge of bursting in to tears. He asked me if I am lost but I don’t want to answer his question, we were the only two human beings on sight, and there might be bloodshed if I brush him off. So I reluctantly answered –YES!

He told me that he can accompany me to the nearest parish church, and at the same time, offered his hut for the night in exchange of the canned goods in my bag. I was so horrified for my life that my knees were wildly trembling. But after walking several hundred meters I saw kindness and sincerity reflecting in his eyes. I know it was a crazy decision to have chosen to stay in an outpost looking shack. But it turned out to be the night when I finally made a pivotal turn in my life. He cooked a native chicken and my can of spam for dinner. We downed a bottle of nasty tasting cheap tepid gin, but his stories of adventure kept us up all night. It was the conversation that inspired me to get out of the box and try new things.

After two weeks on the road, I finally decided to go back home.

I sworn to travel once I start earning my own money.


Travel only manifested itsef in my later years. It makes me sad because I could’ve covered a lot more ground had I started traveling earlier. But at the same time, I feel happy because I have means to leave whenever I want to and wherever I want to, because now I have an account that mysteriously gets filled with goblin money every 15th and 30th of the month.

My experiences in traveling alone are pretty much the same everywhere I go. It seemed like I was an entirely different specie of woman when people found out I was traveling without anybody with me. Excuse me for not being so needy… But this is not to stop anybody, especially girls, from diving like a cannonball into the world. I always look them in the eye. In my mind, I have more balls than they do for braving the unknown.

I just look like a lonely freak, but what the hell…

Vigan, Ilocos Sur: After a whole day of answering questions from strangers “why are you alone?”

I remember a few years ago when I was overworked for 16 hours a day for four consecutive days. Aside from that, I was in a state where I wasn’t sure of what I want, if I was happy where I was, and if I was still contented in what I was doing. It was then that I decided to leave everything behind, including Ron who actually suggested I go to Banaue and Sagada.

And so I did. I got hold of a tourist guide and hopped on his motorcycle to go around. It was the most unrestricted feeling I’ve ever felt. I got stares every now and then, but it did not matter. All I know was I was out to find myself. And although I traveled with a conpanion when I got to Sagada, the feeling of being amongst strangers is the same as being a little girl lost in a big world. I felt empowered. I realized I can do solo travel more. Now, I don’t get the jitters. I just have to overcome going to the gym alone, then I’m good.

I think everybody needs to travel solo. Like writing, the hardest part is just drafting the first two paragraphs. Everything else follows after; like a stack of dominos set, there won’t be anything to stop you. It’s like a favor to yourself. Wait, no… you owe it to yourself to be able to spend sometime with your ghost and come to terms with yourself.

I saw mine, she wasn’t a pretty sight, but we were one at the end of the day.

So although Ron loves challenging himself to a one-man Amazing Race show, and I still value my alone time so I can curl up in fetal position and finish my book; Fliptravels shall continue to travel together… That is if we don’t get to each other’s nerves and kill each other.

This is Fliptravels’ entry to the 5th Pinoy Travel Bloggers’s Blog Carnival with the theme “Solo Travel” currently hosted by Nina Fuentes at

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  • pinoy boy journals

    April 19, 2011 at 4:15 pm

    i can perfectly relate to you both. i have a female travel buddy. besides the fact that everyone thinks we’re together or married on a honeymoon, we fight a lot. i travel solo most of the time. there are places i wished i was traveling with her, but there are also destinations where i wished i was alone.

  • Supertikoy

    April 20, 2011 at 12:44 am

    my first time to travel alone was back on Aug. 2010… I went to Batanes. Sometimes travelling alone is like freedom, you can wake up late, eat where ever you want, what you want and explore the place whenever you want to… and you can easily gain friends.

    naalala ko I want to get drunk one night in Batanes, good thing the local canteen serves beer and good timing ’cause a group of tour guides is having their “session”. I remember during the “session”, Batanes is admiring Palawan when it comes to tourism and they would like to reach the same level as Palawan when it comes to this kind of industry. But still as they say “marami pang kakaining bigas ang Batanes” to reach that level.

  • estan

    April 20, 2011 at 1:30 am

    ron, i really would like to try that get lost, terminal to terminal thing 🙂

  • thepinaysolobackpacker

    April 20, 2011 at 10:28 am

    kakatuwa yung old pix ni Ron. haha Now I rmmbr your comment sa Sorsogon post ko date, eto pala yung kwento about the militante frm Gubat. They’re actually nice, so long as you dont harm them. =) Naalala ko rin kwento ng Vigan ni Monette–the receptionist asked her, are you sure you’re alone? wala bang susunod? haha

  • The Nomadic Pinoy

    April 21, 2011 at 12:02 pm

    I like the idea of a buddy down the road but for sheer freedom to do it all, nothing beats solo travel. And no other person to blame later on.

  • grace

    April 22, 2011 at 1:50 am

    I’m actually hoping to find a travel partner soon minsan nakakapagod mag-isa. Plus mastipid sa accomo. But then again it feels so free to travel solo.

    I like the old school pix Ron!

  • flip'n travels

    April 22, 2011 at 11:27 am

    @jerik… true, it’s kinda funny every time they assume that we are on our honey moon!!!

  • flip'n travels

    April 22, 2011 at 11:29 am

    @jerome… getting drunk in batanes sounds cool. batanes is now a sought after destination, hindi na sila nalalayo sa palawan… agree?!!

  • flip'n travels

    April 22, 2011 at 11:29 am

    @estan… we should do it, then we document kung saan tayo nakarating, tapos compile natin. masaya yun!!!

  • flip'n travels

    April 22, 2011 at 11:31 am

    @gael, wow nakakatuwa ka naman, talagang naalala mo pa yung comment ko. your province is one place na gusto kong balik balikan.

  • flip'n travels

    April 22, 2011 at 11:31 am

    @den… yeah mukang dapat na nga yata ako masanay mag solo travel *wink

  • flip'n travels

    April 22, 2011 at 11:33 am

    @grace, true, that’s one advantage of traveling with a buddy, you share everything.

    the old school pics madami pa yan, nakakahiya lang i post most of them, hehehehe thanks

  • Ed

    April 24, 2011 at 11:34 pm

    Ron, ikaw ba talaga yan?

  • flip'n travels

    April 25, 2011 at 4:06 pm

    @ed.. akala mo artista no? pwede na bang pang gwapings? wahahahahaha (wasak!)

  • aleah

    April 27, 2011 at 12:45 am

    Guapo ni Ron sa old pics! hahaha. You look pissed off, Monette. I probably would too, if I had to keep on answering why I was alone 😀

  • inka

    April 28, 2011 at 1:37 pm

    Me thinks what I have to try next is to travel with some one. Never done that before.Who knows, I might like it.

  • Jeremy B

    April 28, 2011 at 6:09 pm

    I’ve been where you are. I have done the solo thing (will be off to Vancouver on my own in June) many times and have done the couple thing more times than I can count. My wife and I do have our differences and yes it has caused conflict. We’ve taken spontaneous days to do things on our own solo while traveling. I can say that I’ve learned more about myself traveling with her than I have any other time on my own. It’s good and we do balance each other but I totally understand the need for time to yourself and not killing each other. 🙂

  • Debbie Beardsley @ European Travelista

    April 28, 2011 at 6:29 pm

    My first trip to Europe was also my first solo trip. I have to say this was my favorite traveling experience of all. Since then I have traveled with my husband and solo and they all offer an exceptional experience different as they may be.

    Going to Europe solo this summer which is my first solo trip in quite awhile. We’ll see how things have changed now that I am older!

  • Renee

    April 28, 2011 at 7:03 pm

    You guys really do have the best of both worlds. Good for you that you both see the value in traveling period…whether it’s together or alone….as long as you do it!

  • John in France

    April 29, 2011 at 2:39 am

    Thanks for sharing this with us. I do both regularly – travelling on my own (with a tour group though) and with my wife – I love both, although better when my wife travel with me (with a tour group), and better when it’s just the two of us!!

  • flip'n travels

    May 1, 2011 at 4:34 am

    @aleah… bakit? gwapo parin naman ako ngayon ah… HAHAHAHAHAHAHA! toink!

  • flip'n travels

    May 1, 2011 at 4:41 am

    @inka, we would love to volunteer our company, hehehe. i hope we get a chance to bump on to each other on the road.

  • flip'n travels

    May 1, 2011 at 4:42 am

    @jeremy… agree! a trip to vancouver, by the way, could be our next project soon… we might ask for some pointers 🙂

  • flip'n travels

    May 1, 2011 at 4:45 am

    @Debbie, we were browsing through your site, and we are loving it. tell us about your european summer soon. it would be a perfect trip to reminisce your first solo trip. we’re excited for you

  • flip'n travels

    May 1, 2011 at 5:09 am

    @Renee, traveling is really something that keeps us sane, nomatter together or solo, we wander to rest our minds and nourish our souls. thanks for dropping by.

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