May 12, 2014
Time flies when you’re traveling and writing. Hard to believe it has been five summers since I decided to collect my travel notes on Friendster and Multiply into one site: my own travel blog. Harder to believe that more than 120 posts later, I’m still at it and into it.
As soon as I got the blog going, the backlash caught up with it. “Blogging is passé” was the first put-down I ran into. It soon escalated into dismissing my post-sharing on Facebook as a case of attention deficit. As if writing and publication were obsolete human endeavors! Antidote: turn a blind eye to the evil eye.
My writing style got the most flak, which ran the gamut from “too campy” (for using vermilion as a color word) to “nosebleed” (for every other word I used).
That said, all the time and energy…and heart…that I poured into my blog have paid off in unexpected ways. I never set out for my blog to be more than a personal, mom-and-pop website. Nevertheless, it has loved me back. Let me count the ways.
1. It got me published. Thanks to a friend’s recommendation, I got to contribute articles to an architectural magazine. Honestly, I never imagined I’d see my name in print, except perhaps on a research paper. What an unforgettable experience it turned out to be; I had the nastiest intestinal flu as I was beating the deadline. That would account for my articles being no more than a diarrhea of words. “No passion,” as my sister curtly put it. Tough love from my toughest critic. Here’s one of the articles: Keeping the Faith and Heritage.
2. It got me published abroad. Who knew I’d have a byline in a New Delhi daily? An email from an Indian editor asking for permission to publish a couple of my articles (with altered titles) was as random as it could get. A bigger surprise was the choice of articles. One was a personal account of an obscure place. I scratched my head at what appeal it held to an Indian audience. Here’s one of the articles: Eat Pose Love.
3. It got my photos into print publications. The first time I was asked for one of my snapshots (yes, snapshot) to be used in a book, I was floored. One, I was never into photography. Two, it would be for an American publication. And three, it wasn’t even a photo I particularly liked. The other time was no less surprising – my snapshot would appear in a locally-published textbook. One of the photos is from this post: Upon This Rock.
4. It got me sponsored trips. I’m no pro so I rarely get freebie offers, but one of the few times I did, it was for a trip abroad. For once, I got to travel in a way I had never done: fancy accommodations, multicourse meals, guided tours, the works! All I had to do was show up. Here’s one of the sponsored articles: Drawing Inspiration from a Water Town.
5. It got me an interview. Not in national media, but in a school paper. Still! This time my sister made it up to me by sharing the link on Facebook with this caption:
My brother, the only Green in a looong line of Maroons. But so proud of him and what he has achieved; and happy that DLSU has given his passion recognition.
My brother chimed in: “So proud of you, my little brother!” Such sweetness from my sibs was as rare as calls for an interview. Here’s the interview at the Lounge: The Transcendental Tourist.
This post is a celebration of my blog, so let me present these honor rolls for posterity’s sake.
My Top 5 Hits:
A sleeper hit. It slow burned my stats until it figured in Google searches for National Museum and Spoliarium. Now I wonder how many times this article has been plagiarized as a high school reaction paper.
A Paeteño emailed me a letter of appreciation for my article that shed light on the faded, crumbling works of art in their church. Thankfully, I was not alone in my interest in the restoration and preservation of their heritage, as evidenced by continuing internet searches for them.
Years after the release of Ringu, the infamously terrifying Japanese horror film, searches for Sadako still reaped consistent hits for one of my early posts.
I was telling my colleagues about this heritage house when one of them googled it in her tablet. Lo and behold, the first photo that came up from the search results was of me in that house!
There’s usually a spike in this post’s stats once a year. Guess when? The title gives it away.
Top 5 Most Commented Posts:
My piece and photos on Bohol churches were an eye-opener for people unfamiliar with the colonial heritage of the province. The post was resurrected through Facebook shares after the devastating Bohol earthquake on October 15, 2013 that damaged some of the featured churches.
This is my best post, hands down, because it is about two people I love most. This is also the first entry in a separate folder I created specifically for personal pieces. Relatives and family friends, even those who would never visit my main travel page, came to read this post in droves and left thought-prints on the comments section.
Somehow this post was well-received by fellow bloggers.
A personal post that pulled the heartstrings of family members and strangers alike. This post has put me in touch with relatives I never knew I had and random people who still remember my grandfather. Good thing I decided to publish his name, which has become internet searchable. Surprisingly, quite a few have googled our obscure last name and landed in this post.
I have a blog that only my mother can love, I say in jest, but it might be true because she figures in most of my posts as I usually travel with her. Most readers have categorically expressed that they follow HER, not me. All fine by me because I am a stage son. This post is about her as much as it is about the place.
Top 5 Countries Based on Unique Visits c/o Flag Counter:
1. The Philippines
2. The United States
The top 5 states: California, Washington, Texas, New York, and Florida.
The Canadian top 5: Ontario, British Columbia, Alberta, Quebec, and Manitoba.
5. The United Kingdom
Top 5 Commenters:
1. Susan Deborah of Meanderings and Reflections
This blogger, teacher, and researcher from southern India has been the most consistent and insightful commenter.
2. Edcel Suyo of SoloflightEd
I blush every time this famous blogger gives me time of day to comment on my posts!
3. Nelieta Mishchengko of Nelmitravel
Our circumstances couldn’t be farther apart, but I’ve found a common ground with this writer-photographer who’s ethnically Russian but raised in South Africa and now living in Argentina.
4. Nehha Naresh of SongstressNehha
This singer from India manages to relate any topic I write about to an Indian perspective.
In travel blogging, these gals are known for their beauty, brains, and bravura. I might add benevolence in spreading blog love by commenting on my posts.
Thank y’all who have joined me in this enriching journey. Despite the lack of promotion, my blog never lacked in supporters. Here are the Top 5 fellow bloggers who have given me the most touching, encouraging, and mocking votes of confidence. In no particular order:
Yoshke Dimen of The Poor Traveler
Another personal travel blog that I have fallen madly in love with is the Transcendental Tourist by AJ Poliquit. He masterfully fuses useful information and entertaining experiences in one article that can be taken by the reader without getting lost. His beautifully woven sentences not only grab the readers and teleport them to that place but also make them think, feel, and appreciate it both as a physical space and an experience, transcendental or otherwise.
Jim McIntosh of Holes in My Soles
(He) stands out for me as a travel writer. He’s eloquent with words, not grandly so, but engaging and at times funny.
Lauren Gaile Denoga of Pandelicious
If you miss your English professor then I strongly suggest you visit the TTT, regal as a monarch can be with a touch of Cher’s flamboyance of all his posts command attention from every country imaginable. Can you say SEO? No the TTT just has amazingly high-brow content.
Vince Gutierrez of The Wandering Nurse
He is an awesome storyteller and his writing is impeccable. He has taken me to the places he has been to through his posts.
Francis Balgos of Pala-Lagaw
This guy is a natural born poet. His words make love with his photographs. What’s more endearing is he brings his Mom to his own travels and makes her the central figure to his travel stories.