Changes I Wholeheartedly Embraced When I Started Traveling (which made others’ eyebrows raise)

Two years ago, I conquered my fear of stepping outside my four-cornered room. A million thanks to my bestfriend, Greg, who started it all by booking a flight to Hong Kong and Macau, my first ever trip abroad. It was fulfilling! From then on, I kept rewarding myself epic trips in and out of my country to quench my thirst for traveling and to see what’s really out there for me.

Being constantly on the go, I realized (I guess most travelers do) that some things about me have changed. I have accepted these changes, but others lift their brows. They think it’s peculiar.

My Tanned Skin

Growing up, I always had fair skin. For most Filipinos, it’s called “maputi or white skin.” In the Philippines where I was born and raised, having white skin makes you stand out. It’s true!

Before I developed my love affair with traveling, I made sure that my beauty regimen contained whitening agents.

It was during a trip in Bali, Indonesia that I started not to care. I was so excited to stroll on the beach that I forgot to put on sunblock lotion. When I went back to my room, I noticed that I had sunburn! I was brown from head to toe!

Then, at the airport, on the day of my flight back to Manila, an American guy approached me and enthusiastically said, “Oh, you have a very beautiful skin color.”

I was surprised to hear that since I didn’t know that foreigners liked brown skin.

I blurted, Oh, no, you’re kidding! When I go back to Manila, my friends would say I’m ugly.”

Then, he laughed.

I wasn’t wrong at all. When I came back to Manila, everyone thought I looked ugly. Even my family aren’t used to my skin color now.

And still, sometimes I would received this kind of compliment or maybe insult ” What happened to you? Why are you so brown? maitim?!

But from then on, I’ve learned to love my brown skin. It’s something that I will always be proud of and I will never feel insecure about it. A friend once told me, “You’re a living proof that not all those who had white complexion before are ugly. You’re beautiful!”

I may no longer have white complexion, which has become a Filipino standard, but it doesn’t really matter. It’s a proof that we, girls, love to travel! Having this tanned skin is something we should be proud of! Who cares?!

I’m not sure, though, if I should take it as a compliment or insult whenever they notice my skin color. Somehow, admiring you solely for your skin color is relatively “cheap,” but instead of taking it as an insult,  take it as compliment. We’re beautiful.

Disclaimer: I don’t have anything against white skin. I believe every woman is beautiful regardless of skin color. Love it. Embrace it.

Criticisms that I don’t Give a Fuck

One of the things I noticed about travelers is that, they mind their own business. Some of them mingle with other travelers, but they don’t necessarily meddle with their business. Later on, I learned to apply it to myself.

Here’s an example.

On my way home from a 3-week trip to the Southern Philippines, I had to take the MRT since cabs were scarce. It was only a station away to my destination.

When I boarded the train, I felt that all eyes were on me. A moment later, a woman said, “Miss, nakikkita ko ‘yang p’wet mo (Miss, your butt is sticking out).”

I was wearing shorts underneath my dress and was carrying a 7-kilogram backpack. I smiled at the woman as I lifted my shorts. It drove her nuts. Then, I said, “Is this fine with you now?”

She and her friend murmured to each other, but I didn’t listen to what they were saying. I just shrugged them off.

The same scenario happened when I was having coffee with my friend at Starbucks. At that moment, I didn’t give a fuck about what people would say. They love to criticize others without looking into their own mess. Remember the golden rule: What other people think of you is none of your business. People are gossipers. Don’t give a fucking fuck and tell them to fuck off.

Having a Foreigner Admirer/Ex-boyfriend/Friends

Changing friends? Not really. But being in a new place and environment, you will meet interesting and different people. I began making tons of friends, especially foreigners, when I started to travel.  Sometimes, they visit Manila and other parts of the Philippines and I hang out with them.

When people see me with a foreign guy, they study me from head to toe as though I were a slut. I already knew what’s boiling in their judgmental mind and I just laugh at their ignorance.

Nothing’s wrong with making friends with foreigners. Nobody should stop anyone from doing that. In fact, it’s more fun to be surrounded by people coming from different Nationalities. Choose your own friends.

And who wouldn’t love to have an admirer who looks like Thor, or Adam Levine? Ahh, blue or green eyes (wink!). It’s also a big factor when some foreigners admire you, because you have the same passion as they do—traveling. I’ve absorbed the reality that my world will never be the same again, as new set of friends surround me.

Never ran out of stories (especially about travel)

I’m naturally talkative (madaldal). And sometimes, I must admit, I don’t make sense at all. But when it comes to travel stories, you can never go wrong with me. I love sharing stories, but my being madaldal became more intense when I developed a love affair with traveling. For people who are not open-minded, you are boastful. What they don’t get is that you’re sharing stories because you want to encourage them to go out and discover the world. Sharing is caring, right?

My Addiction to the Beach and the Island Look

In some remote part of my brain, I’m a beach bum. No doubt.

Living in an archipelago for 28 years added to my affection for the beach, resulting in this island look. Believe me, I’ve been rarely combing my hair since last year (haha). I won’t comb my hair unless, of course, I try to look good for important meetings, gatherings or meet ups with friends, or for special occasions.

Don’t judge me, it’s okay not to comb my hair. I use a hair dryer and my fingers to make it look natural. And my mind is always bloating with many random trips. I was told, “Alis ka ng alis. Para ka nang si Dora! Beach ka nang beach, ang itim itim mo na!” I almost died laughing. Also, the Philippines is made up of 7,107 islands. So, everywhere you go, you can literally hit any of them! Especially for a city girl like me, how can I not crave for blue water that’s always calling my name? Tell me and try to explain to me (haha!).



The Feeling of Overstaying at the comfort of your home

My traveler friends and I always share the same sentiment. You know when you’ve been constantly on the road and you’re stuck in your flat, you feel like you’re overstaying and your routine is getting monotonous. You wanted to book that flight or buy that bus ticket right away!

I had this superficial feeling one time I was teaching online. That moment, I thought, Ah, I wanna hit the beach!” and “Which place should I go to next week?!”

I learned to embrace the fact that I cannot stay and be stuck at one place and situation forever. When I was in high school, all I wanted to do was go to college, find a handsome boyfriend with a car to pick me up from school, and after graduation, all I wanted was to find a good stable job that would pay monthly.

But traveling has taught me that regardless of the job you have, for as long as you’re happy doing it, it motivates you and makes you look forward to it, then it’s an honor of deal. It’s okay not to have my own house for now. Anywhere can be my home. Some people think that having a nice house, a good loving husband and a nice care is the definition of a good life. No. It’s not all about that. I’m aware that people have different priorities. Say for example, whenever my non traveler friends always ask me where I am, I’d say, “Oh, I’m in Siargao.” Sometimes, it still surprises them. They, perhaps, can’t grasp the idea of travelers’ unexplainable thirst and hunger for a new environment and adventure (don’t get me wrong, I’m speaking from my single life side).

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I used to think that I wanted to go to a top University, study hard, passed all the exams, be in the top class and students and be one of the most popular girls that's chased by guys. In elementary days, I've experienced being bullied because of my short hair like a boy and because I was a transferee and I had 63 pieces of different colours of crayons that my distant relative sent from the US and I didn't want to break any of it so I didn't want my classmate to touch or borrow it because otherwise I will be pinched by my aunt. I was little and weak and I was always the prey and poked fun at. In college, all I wanted was to get my own computer laptop since my family couldn't afford one. In those times, facebook was just blooming and I wanted to update my profile every now and then. Some of my classmates wouldn't let me borrow, so I told myself that if I ever get a job in the future, I will surely get my own so I don't need to beg anyone to lend me her personal stuff. After college, all I wanted was to find a job that pays really well. My first job was a company secretary that didn't really pay well and wasn't appreciative nor care about its employees. I quit. And I found not a job but a career that's been so rewarding. I am so much grateful for that. But growing up as a real woman, I figured that happiness doesn't only depend on the money that you make, the expensive material things you buy but the also the things that you love the most doing. Now all I wanted to do is to book my flight, pack my bag and leave. Travel. Travel. Get tanned, be a beach bum and don't really care about other people's thinking. I learned to love, explore, discover and find happiness in every little thing even the cutest ref magnet that I could buy during my trips to seeing a snake in front of my eyes crossing the bulky forest I was walking off. I dream to travel the world, not only for the purpose of writing things about it but also because it became a passion of me. Travelling is the only thing that arouses my soul. Do what you love. Love you do. As they say, you only live once. Savour every moment. ♡♡♡ #escapesanddiaries

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The Way I dress and My Bikinis (and Photos)

When I was in college, I was too shy to wear a skirt whenever we had a presentation in the class. I almost cried whenever we were required to wear formal attire.

I’m not sure how travelling got me wearing bikinis and where I got the courage to do so. But since I was raised in the province, some of our neighbors who see my photos on Facebook constantly report to my mom. Say for instance, when I was wearing a bikini on a beach in Boracay, and came back home to see my mom, my mom just blurted out, “ Xx saw you’re wearing a sexy bikini on the beach!“ And I just laughed. Not only that, some friends from elementary and high school would suddenly send me a message, applauding me for a sexy photoshoot while some commented, “Too daring!”

I respect old beliefs. There are some old fashioned people who can’t accept the trends and the changes in the society. But change is inevitable.

Becoming more Optimistic 

Not all things are nice when traveling. Some unpleasant things can. Sometimes, I must admit, I’m too optimistic. It’s alright. But when things go wrong, I still remain positive no matter what that others think. Some say I’m being too positive and not realistic. I believe that filling yourself with positivity would never let you down. Of course, I must be realistic, I believe that everything will always work out in the end. Don’t let negativity win.

And the sweetest of them all, Me, Myself and I

I became more self-aware when I started working and lived on my own. When I worked in the corporate world, I was more conscious and insecure about my body and appearance. I also bought a lot of scar erase to get rid of the little scars on my knees. I also wanted to have fairer wand whiter skin to look attractive and a little bit be competitive to the girls I was working with.

But all of those insecurities went away. When you learn to love yourself and embrace every bit of it, you’ll feel good and look good, no matter what other people say. Just be confident and loving. Mighty thanks to traveling!

I fully embraced all the changes that happened with the body of a goddess that I have.

On a sweet note, after much reflection, I think nothing’s wrong about me. (I’m not mental, although sometimes I think I am. HAHA!) I can’t please everyone. We have different interests. Nobody needs to stoop dwn to anyone’s level. Nobody needs to adjust to anyone. My scars, scratches, burns, and tanned skin are souvenirs from my greatest adventures.

Be yourself. Be carefree. Be crazy. Wear bikinis, hit the beach and you’re good to go! Keep those travels coming and embrace the changes. Then, love yourself even more!

What about you? What changes have happened to you when you developed your love affair with traveling? Did you like it? Love it? Did you in a way relate to mine? I would love to hear your thoughts! Please feel free to comment below! I am waiting for you! Let’s talk! Thanks for reading! If you liked it, please share it! My heart will jump in joy if you do so! You’re awesome!♡

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  • Obert Engada
    February 8, 2017 at 08:30

    I am applauding you for embracing and loving the woman that you are. This is my first time on your blog and promise, it won’t be the last. Enjoy life!

  • LJ
    February 8, 2017 at 08:48

    I remembered my own “bikini” story. hahaha., growing up in a province people tend to be more conservative. Growing up I’m always the dark skin, curly hair child in the family. In short,the not so pretty one. Pretty is equivalent to straight long hair, and white skin. Those I don’t have. It’s not surprising that I have a very low self esteem, That the farthest I can go with “bikini” was just to buy one. Not to wear one cause I am not confident enough. But after mingling with people who travels I found myself wearing a bikini in photos that end up posted in social media that surprised my friends big time, that even an old flame added me in Facebook after seenzoning me for a long time! The biggest realization of it was when I found some old notes of “Things I want” buy a bikini was on the top ten. It was sad how we all fall onto the category of beauty based on looks that is acceptable by all.
    Now I have a separate bags for bikinis and beach essential that is ready to be carried out of the door! I am beautiful and I will wear a bikini for all my heart content!

    Continue what makes you feel beautiful Cathay!

  • Andrei
    February 8, 2017 at 17:10

    Great read! I, too, stopped giving a fuck about my skin color. I went instantly from mejo maputi to konti-na-lang-uling-na level. Haha.

    What you said about “nothing’s wrong about making friends with foreigners” is oh so true! I remember when I was in Ifugao, I was the only Pinoy (and the tourguide, of course). I made friends with a guy from the UK, Canada, friends from Pakistan and a couple from France. It’s interesting to be surrounded with people of different Nationalities – i definitely learnt a lot from them as much as they did from me.

    I admire you exploring different places. I started traveling January last year and have set a goal to visit all the 81 provinces of Pilipinas nating mahal. Haha. Let’s go and be Dora. The world is big and sabi nga nila, YOLO!

    See you on the road and stay safe! 🙂

  • Catherine Mendoza
    February 13, 2017 at 11:11

    hi Andrei! Thanks for your comment! haha I like that Konti na lang e uling level na! haha I so love brown skin color, for me, It’s very attractive and sexy. Ever since I had it, I loved it! Sabi nga nila, ” Once you go black, you never go back! hahaha and yep! Foreigners are coolest people, sometimes, they are more open minded than us, Filipinos. Keep the travels coming, have fun and enjoy every bit of it! The world is so big! And Pilipinas of course! Hindi papatalo! The beaches are just so world class! See you on the road too! X

  • Catherine Mendoza
    February 13, 2017 at 11:14

    hi Lj! Rock en roll! Bikinis are one of the greatest invention by humans! hahahaha It’s so true! On a Filipino standard, being beautiful and sexy is having a white skin, long and straight hair. Just like you, I was curly and had a hair cut like a boy and even got bullied on 5th grade! hahaha but now. Come on! I’m sexy and I know it! So keep embracing sexy bikinis and photos! Remember, if you have it, flaunt it! Thanks for your comment Lj! Really appreciate it! Keep rocking sexy girl! X

  • Catherine Mendoza
    February 13, 2017 at 11:29

    Hi Obert! Thanks that’s very nice of you! Indeed, we should love every bit of ourselves! Happy travels !

  • Trisha Velarmino
    March 24, 2017 at 04:00

    May it be good or bad, embrace whatever comes your way! You’ll learn from them anyway!

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