Editor’s Note: This is a guest post from Janella Domingo.

I travel most of the time. It’s my nature, it’s in my blood. I guess I inherited it from my parents, since they both love visiting different countries. Actually it’s a very tiring hobby and passion, yet it fills the void that keeps eating my heart everytime I yearn for something. Like a Polaroid camera, it flashes light in my eyes everytime my eyes start to close. You never know what’s behind you so I suggest that you learn to look back because something nice might just be right behind you.

Immersion travel

My Visit at Pantabangan – Dressing as the Locals Do

My latest travel was in the Philippines and I can definitely say that this was the best and most unforgettable experience I’ve had in a country. My mom is actually Filipina and she was the one who suggested that I visit our home country. I obliged without any second thoughts because I’ve heard that Filipinos are very nice and hospitable to foreigners, well actually I’m only half a foreigner since I have Filipino roots. Before I left though my mom told me something that actually made the trip unforgettable, she said, “When in Rome, act as the Romans do.” At first I was confused, I didn’t get what the cliché meant, but after a while, I realized that my mom was telling me to immerse myself among the townsfolk. And it was actually a good idea.

Immersion when travelling helps you become more comfortable with the country you are visiting. It gives you freedom to taste the lives of others and makes you more aware of the world that you are living in. also, it builds rapport with the locals and gives you more information on how they go through the day in their own unique ways. Six out of ten people will surely not try this, but if you are reading this, make sure you’re not a part of the 60%. You’ll just be neglecting yourself from the true beauty and purpose of life, and that is to live it.

During my stay in the Philippines, I was able to make some friends other than my cousins. My aunt introduced me to a few of the townsfolk and told me to go with them because they will be giving me a tour of our “barangay” or village. At first I was kinda hesitant to go with them since I barely know them, and to be honest I was afraid of immersing myself with the locals because they might make me do something that I do not like. Having no choice, I obliged and went with my aunt’s friends. They showed me around the metro and urban areas as well as the poor areas known as “squatter areas”. I was deeply moved by the situation these people where in because even though they do not eat three square meals a day, they still live their lives with a smile. I was able to talk to one of them and I asked him, “How do you do it? How do you keep smiling despite the poverty you are experiencing?”

The man’s reply blew me away, he said, “Well I still get to eat, why should I ask for anymore, I’m lucky that I’m alive! And I’ll be living my life to the fullest.”

Honestly I don’t know what came over me but after hearing that from a man who basically has so little in life, my fear of mixing in suddenly disappeared. The day after, I was singing, chatting, drinking and even eating “balut” with the townsfolk. And through that I have won their trust and hearts and earned a memorable place in the village.

Immersion is indeed the best way to experience something in life. Without it, your trip will lack something that no travel guide or package can give you, and that is an unforgettable experience.

About the Author:

Janella Giselle Domingo is a travel blogger from Expat Intelligence. Aside from blogging, she is also currently employed as a Chief Pharmacist at Wesleyan University Hospital and Cardiovascular Center.Despite of her busy schedule as a Chief Pharmacist, she never forgets to indulge in her wanderlust. Connect with her at facebook or drop a line at janellagdomingo@gmail.com.

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