My Beginner’s Travel Guide in The Philippines

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People have always been fascinated with other places thanks to the power of internet. People traveling to tourist spots of other countries share not just their photos but also their experiences with various people and their culture. The more people share their travel experiences, the more other people become curious and plan to such places. I heard from my friends that traveling to other countries, such as France, UK, Japan, South Korea, Singapore and Thailand, would be a great experience. Well, I definitely agree since we get to learn several things that we couldn’t learn in our own country but great beginner’s travel guide would be to explore one’s neighboring region first before going abroad.

Mati Oriental in the Philippines

Other than it really takes time and money to travel to distant places, we still need to question if we really understand our own country, whether its ethnic groups, local cultures or history. A great beginner’s travel guide is to start within your country to gather information from different local regions as it saves time and money while simultaneously enjoying and understanding the culture of various neighboring areas by conversing with the local people and the foreigners staying in that region.

Let’s take a simple example here in the Philippines – a very diverse country. My dad grew up in Manila while my mom in Davao city but we, the children, mostly adopted our dad’s culture. We have been staying in Davao city for as long as I could remember. When I was a child, I was very fond of going to my neighbors’ house (just a few meters away) and play with the kids. I was not only enjoying my time with them, but I also learn their interests and behaviors as if I was learning their culture. It was my beginner’s travel guide.

davao city
View from the Plane of Davao city 2017

Then as I we became closer friends, I got the opportunity to get know other neighbors who lived about 50 meters away, without feeling intimidated. Then I started to gradually keep up with their behaviors, which are a bit different from my neighbors who lived a few meters away. The kids on the other side of our fence were playful but reserved while those who lived a few blocks away were also playful but quite boisterous.

Somehow, these two groups of kids were adjusting their approaches with each other for the sake of friendship, but of course, there were times that I got to see some of them fight over an outdoor game. I guess this is what makes us come into compromise – having to play outdoor games that we enjoy. It was the culture of the kids those days in Davao City. Every weekend, it seemed like it was part of our schedule to play, at least an hour or two for the day, outdoor games like hide-and-seek, tag, dodgeball or kickball. However, it was different when we went to Metro Manila.

Our family traveled by land going to Manila (thousands of kilometers away) in order to visit a deceased relative on my father side. We had a few stop overs in some regions in the Philippines only for a while so we really never got to explore the cultures of the places we passed by. Since we stayed longer in Manila, we had a chance to get a glimpse of their culture, specifically the kids’ culture. My cousins were not fond of outdoor games so they stayed most of their time playing board games or computer games. For us who lived in Davao city, it was a surprising culture and it was quite intimidating. Later, I found out that my younger sister and one of our cousins fought over decisions on what to play. In addition, having different dialects, Tagalog and Visayan, would make both sides reserved in speech whether they are children or adults but as they say, “When in Rome, do what the Romans do.”

The idea here is that if going to a distant place with different cultures would make one intimidated and form unpleasant relationships, it’s a best beginner’s travel guide to start wandering within your country from your nearest locality to the farthest regions in your country before going to foreign countries in order to lessen culture shock. Although we were taught to study the places, people and culture of other countries, it’s very different when we experience them first-hand, especially if the target area has a unique culture.

 

davao city
my friends in Davao city

.. He met people from different ethnicities and gathered information about the neighboring localities bit by bit. Slowly traveling farther and farther every year gave him courage to start traveling abroad alone and met various individuals without feeling intimidated because he already had second-hand information on the country he planned to traveled to. From Philippines, he went to Hong Kong, the next year to Macau, the year after next to Singapore, then China, Thailand and its neighboring countries, and lastly to India but this time, with new friends who also like to travel. What’s advantageous about taking small steps traveling distant places is that you get to meet tourists who have been to several countries and naturally collect information.

Tourist Spots that are close to your region is a nice place start exploring for a beginner’s travel guide. They do not only have breathtaking surroundings but also have various people who lived in or traveled from other local areas or from foreign countries in which the travel guide to start within your country would make it seem like you’re traveling abroad. Conversing with foreigners is the good way to start gathering information about other countries. First, guide them about what you know within your country, whether about the places, people or your culture. It’s also a way of building trust.

After giving them enough information and established at least a handful of trust, the next step is to start asking questions about the countries they know or they are familiar with. How many foreign countries have you been to? What’s your country like? What’s the most attractive or the best place to hang out in your country? What are your native delicacies that you would recommend for foreigners to eat? What can you say about the people in your country? What’s interesting about your culture? These are just some of the questions to start the discussions about the country they came from. Assisting foreigners in your country creates a give-and-take relationship, which also serves as a beginner’s travel guide. As you delve deeper into obtaining information, you will have the opportunity to at least understand a bit of the place, people and their culture.

. It’s a Japanese school located at the north of Davao city. When I studied there for one and a half years, I was able to meet Japanese descendants who have been going in and out of Japan. Other than acquiring information from Japanese professors, those descendants also shared facts, their ideas and opinions about Japan and their people, although books and internet also helped me a lot in information acquisition.

 

 

They talked about how different their culture is compared to the Philippines, especially when it comes to discipline. Whether it’s the government or the citizens, everyone there works hard to build a better society not only because they strictly follow the laws but also because it’s already their habit since childhood. I was informed on how Japan’s school system practically and meticulously trained primary school kids about manners and discipline before they proceed to High School. Even though those were just second-hand information, I was still refreshing to hear what it’s like to be in that country and with the help of imagination, it’s as if I was residing in that developed country.

Currently, when people I know talk about the places they have been to, I simply smile and nod because I already understood what it’s like to be in that certain country they were discussing. However, I do not disclose second-hand information easily because it’s not like I was really there and those second-hand information I obtained might not be entirely true, although I share information from the books I have read and state my source. There are times that second-hand information are not well elaborated, so the next step in a beginner’s travel guide after gathering data is to experience what you have heard from those foreigners, that is, if you have the time and money to finally travel distant places. Then follow the same travel guide – gather information from various people who have been to the neighboring areas or countries, and travel to the nearest local region if you have the time and money.

I have been traveling only to my neighboring local areas, and had witnessed the similarities and differences among those regions while I collected information from people about the neighboring areas in Davao city and some ideas about foreign countries. For me, I still need understand my own country because of its diversity, which is why I ask questions from people who have been to several places if I have the opportunity, while saving time and money simultaneously. And when I went to places I’m interested in, it was not that surprising to encounter such people and experience their culture. I was able to blend in naturally. It is a great beginner’s travel guide to start within your country in obtaining information to avoid, or at least mitigate, culture shock.

 

It is not easy to adjust one’s attitudes and behaviors when staying in a country that has a completely dissimilar culture which is why the best beginner’s travel guide without much intimidation is to understand your locality and gather information from visiting foreigners, then slowly taking steps from your local region to the neighboring places until you have visited all the regions in your country. Traveling to neighboring regions one at a time could help in gradually familiarizing a unique set of habits from different ethnicity and in obtaining ideas about what the visiting foreigners shared about their country.

How music affects to our day to day life

Music never ceased to become a trend all over the world and people continue to love it more and more as various individuals compose songs with different genres of music. From generation to generation, talented or skilled people compose songs that suit their current period, and there are songs that will never be outdated because they were specially created from their hearts. So what makes songs really special?

It is still a mystery why music has positive effects on our body, and recent studies show that listening to certain music not only eases the mind, but also serves as a treatment for mental problems such as depression. Researchers are still trying to completely uncover the reasons why different sound waves affect our body differently or why our body reacts to music positively.

There is even a study that listening or singing sad songs can actually help in releasing happy hormones such as endorphins to counter anxiety and depression. Other than exercising, improving life by playing musical instruments is also an alternative.

We can’t deny that music has a great impact to our mood whether our purpose is to try to relax, to exercise or to alert ourselves in work. Listening to songs, depending on the beat per minute (bmp), could yield a certain kind of ambience within our body and our surroundings.

I had observed some of my former classmates before the class begin and only few of them listen to music using earphones. It would seem that they do not want associate with our other classmates but to me, it seemed like they were indulging themselves in a world of relaxation. I think it’s a great way to start a lesson.

One of them even talked to me, telling me things about classical music and how it affects his mood. It’s not simply for relaxation as he told. It’s also for improving focus and concentration. I understood immediately as I experienced same things. Then I remembered what people know more about the effects of listening to classical music – when pregnant mothers listen to it, there’s a great possibility that the baby would be born highly intelligent.

At first, it was difficult to give intellectual explanation about the effects of listening to music but when I consistently access online information about the topic, it was scientifically proven that such activity really does improve focus and concentration, with the bonus of memory enhancement. This shows that playing musical instruments could really improve life.

History of Music

How do you feel during exercise while you listen to workout music at the same time? Have you ever tried listening to your playlist after having a bad day then all of a sudden, those negative energy vanished? Or maybe when you can’t sleep at night that you felt like listening to your favorite song and slept comfortably afterwards?

Those beautiful sound waves that we listen to, somehow lead us to a euphoric state that took long for science to be able to provide explanation. Scientific explanations about the benefits of listening to music were only given during this era but people have been attached to music since the Renaissance.

In addition, latest study presented that playing musical instruments could improve life better than the latter. Those professionals are not just talking about an added skill but more on the improvement of the functions of our brain, which could support us in day to day life.

Ever since I could remember, listening to music has been part of my lifestyle not only because my dad loves to play various songs everyday, but also because I have considered it like my twin as if I couldn’t stand not listening to a single song in a day.

When my dad bought an electronic keyboard for the first time, it’s hard for me to look away every time I pass by our living room. And since he also bought a book on how to play piano, I was willing to learn on my own. Of course, it was hard to learn for the first time but I was gradually learning the basics because of my desire to learn playing musical instruments in which I never knew until now that it could improve life.

Before starting to learn playing piano, I was addicted to playing a recorder (flute) during my elementary years. I’ve always been awe of the people who can play musical instruments professionally. Well, I couldn’t play songs right during my first year of learning to play piano so I was looking for people I know to help me with it.

I only play when I feel like it and even though people would say I’m good at it, I’m still not satisfied with my performance since I don’t practice everyday.  I only play once a week or twice a month and it won’t take an hour for me to spend time with the keyboard (since I have to balance studies, doing chores at home and engaging with my other hobbies), which is why I’m not confident enough with my skills every time people praise me when I play. They would usually say “If I have that talent, I would definitely play it (piano).”

Somehow, I do not understand what those people were trying to say. I mean, I do believe everyone was given different talents the moment they were born, but if they pursue something with passion and hard work, anyone can be great in doing something. The problem is that people easily give up after the first time they try something they think is impossible to accomplish because they already experienced difficulty.

I would usually hear people say “it’s hard” or “it’s tiring” after trying a few times. Well nothing’s easy to do for the first time, but once we get used to challenges, they will eventually become easy tasks like how we read and write from our childhood to adulthood.

Everything can be learned but of course, with limits. Other than passion, patience and perseverance are also very important factors in learning something new. Without them, we can only look from afar and feel envious of those people who can do the things we desire to do. “The mind gives up before the body” as the saying goes, so in order to accomplish something, one has to start doing it with optimism but also expect to experience hardships so that we could prepare for the worst case scenario. If it means improving life better, I decided playing musical instruments.

After analyzing the book on how to play guitar and piano, I was able to memorize the chords in no time (and I know anyone can do it) but the problem is in performing. I had to get used to moving my hands to catch the rhythm and stretching my fingers to press keys and I think this is where people usually give up.

Although I don’t usually practice, I set a rule on myself that every time I do, I should be strict on the timing of the melody (using the right hand) and the accompaniment (the left). Years passed, I could easily play songs that I encounter for the first time maybe because I think of playing piano frequently even though the electronic keyboard is not always in front of me. Perhaps this is how passion works.

I imagine playing the piano in my head just like how boxers do shadow boxing. When I was working as a receptionist, I even drew piano keys just so I could imaginary play during my free time. Later, my dad bought a guitar and I was also totally into it. Again, I gradually learn playing it and alternatively with piano playing. Then I realized that I became good with multitasking and this could be related to what researchers have found out about How Playing an Instrument Benefits Your Brain.

Yes, I am encouraging anyone who reads this article in playing musical instruments because the benefits are quite valuable to our lifestyle both in work and in leisure time. It increases the capacity of our memory, refines our time management and organizational skills, teaches perseverance and discipline, boosts team skills, enhances body coordination, improves mathematical ability, enhances reading and comprehension skills, exposes us to cultural history, sharpens concentration and focus, fosters self-expression, relieves stress and promotes happiness, serves as a therapy for depression, creates a sense of achievement, promote social skills, boosts listening skills, and enhances respiratory system.

I mentioned before that most people get discouraged when they experience difficulty in playing musical instruments, and I can’t simply force people if they do not want to just because I said something about its benefits. Words are encouraging but doing something difficult could actually diminish the motivation. So how can one motivate oneself if passion in playing musical instrument is not even there?

There was actually a time where I got really depressed that I didn’t feel like doing anything. I became a shut-in, simply sleeping in my room after classes without a care in the world. I tried motivating myself to be productive but the feeling was so negative that my body simply shut down, lying on the bed comfortably that even passion cannot overpower.

However, with my few friends around, I was somehow energized to do something. When they were staying in our house, they suggested that they sing while I play the piano. There were also times I was the one who suggested because the ambience at home became positive when friends you think who can understand you were there supporting you at all costs.

You could have the motivation to play musical instruments when you do something with friends you can trust, so pull a friend or groups of friends to play along with you, especially those who are already interested in playing musical instruments other than what you can play because learning is fun in groups with the same interests.

There were also times when my sister requested me to play piano while she sings, which not only helped me in enhancing my skills but also helped me relieve stress that the outside world was giving me. From there, I realized that music draws people together (unite families and friends), and enjoy life as we should. Playing musical instruments does help in improving life based on my experiences.

One thing that most people didn’t notice is that when everything seems lifeless, music is always there to save mankind. Whether listening to it, singing, or playing musical instruments, it is always there to uplift people in just a few moments.

The magic it gives simply encourages people to look forward and take on life’s challenges with positivity. So if you desire a more fulfilling life, don’t simply settle to listening or singing songs. Play musical instruments!

If playing a guitar is harder to learn, start with playing a piano. If it’s still hard learning to play a piano, start with a recorder. There’s nothing bad about facing a little challenge compared to the benefits we acquire, don’t you think?