I've been writing a lot about how I quit my job last April 2013 to pursue this trip and eventually met the love of my life, Jonathan Howe, but today is the first time that I have written about my family, my childhood and my life growing up. Why? Because it's my mom's birthday today and she's turning 49, so what better way to honor her than by writing an article about how she shaped my life.
My mom traveled just a few times when she was younger as she dedicated most of her life to raising my two younger siblings and me. Now that my sister and I have our degrees and my little brother is in full-time study, it’s finally time for my mother to begin her traveling journey. She will fly to Colombia to join me and Jonathan backpacking around four countries this June 2015! I'm so excited; I hadn't seen her since before I left the Middle East, so I'm dedicating this article to my MAMA!
1. My childhood with my mom made me flexible and adaptable.
At the age of seven, my parents separated. I experienced unsettling moves between different apartments and schools from time to time, never having long term friends because we kept relocating! I was confused about my life and couldn’t understand why we didn’t have the same stable lifestyle as my classmates. We lived in a small room, a small apartment, lived in our relatives’ houses. All of these things upset me and being too young to fully understand the situation; I blamed my mother.
When I started University, I moved out of the house and stayed in a university apartment with some classmates, but the cycle continued I was changing houses every year - sometimes it was out of my control (the rent was too expensive, my flatmates were leaving). This continued as I moved to the Middle East for work and Ijust became accustomed to it - it all seemed so natural for me to buy stuff, sell stuff, settle for a bit and move again!
Now I know, at the age of 26, that I can only say thank you for my childhood experience and that maybe the Universe has been preparing me because I was destined to travel the world eventually. I can stay in dorms, tents, couch surf, sleep in cars, buses - anywhere; I can handle it! I was unconsciously trained to be flexible and adaptable to any places I’ve lived and been!
I'm so impressed with how my mom managed to adjust and move around with me and my two younger siblings in tow! So if you keep moving apartments, don’t fret with the inconvenience - maybe you're also destined to travel around the world.
2. She taught me how to be independent at a young age!
My mother was the first person in my life to teach me how to earn money and to appreciate it! I can still clearly remember the first time I earned my money; I was 8 years old, it was summer vacation, and I wanted to have money to buy candies, but she wouldn’t give me any (nor my grandmother) and told me I should earn my money so I can buy stuff that I want. I roamed around a small part of my hometown (San Pablo City, Laguna) with a basket full of garlic and onion which my mom harvested and sold wholesale to the wet market. She gave me a few kilos to sell to our neighbors and told me to return the capital. I earned my first money from garlic – Maybe that’s why I love it so much!
A few vacations later, I had the idea of having a BBQ business (isaw-isaw in Tagalog) outside our small apartment, so a few months before vacation, I started saving my allowance, so I could raise the capital to buy some meat and chicken parts. My mom gave me a table and lent me some of her kitchen utensils; she even helped me with the marinade and voila I was earning money from it! I even hired my sister to help me in my mini business; I was nine at the time. My sister eventually quit, claiming poor employee benefits and a lack of opportunities for career growth. (Code for me being too bossy!)
I had various businesses and side line jobs during my teenage years - selling Ice-candy, a color betting game on our veranda, I was even collecting my mom's Pampanga's best Tocino sales so I can get commission and even help my aunt's in their small grocery store so I could make my money! During my college days, I hosted and organized some events for extra income aside from the allowance that I had from my parents. The entrepreneur inside me was taking shape.
My mom taught me that if you want to have or to buy something, then you have worked hard for it so that you will appreciate it more. She would always tell me not to depend on anyone else to support me because I can do it! This lesson is a key foundation stone in our sustainable travel lifestyle.
3. She showed me how to handle savings smartly!
"It's not how much you earn but how much you save!"
My family is not rich, but they were able to support our basic needs and provide a comfortable life for us. Aside from the fact that at young age, my mom taught me how to earn my money, I learned a great lesson just by observing her - When I was young, my mom always had this Bamboo Piggy Bank, where she saved her small bills and coins, which would be spent on our special occasions - my birthday, my siblings’ birthdays and even for my 18th Debut birthday! She always had something available for those special days in our lives, no matter what.
Thanks to her, I've also learned how to allocate my money. She used to hide money in different parts of our house, which formed our rainy day fund. Unfortunately, there were also times that we didn’t have the money to pay for some bills and my mom had to borrow money from someone else. The pain in her eyes was and still is my motivation not to owe or borrow money from anyone. I've learned that I should always have savings to support me whatever happens. I've never borrowed money from people to buy something that I can't afford, maybe only from my previous banks when I had credit cards! I make sure that if I buy something, it is with the money that I have already saved up!
While working in the Middle East, aside from sending money to the Philippines, I really wanted to buy my house (My mom never owned a house, my father does!), so I invested some money into a pre-selling condominium unit (they discontinued it and refunded me in full!); I also invested some money in mutual funds and always followed my rule of 50-30-20; that’s 50% savings, 30% expenses and 20% leisure. I always had a planner and tracked all my income and expenses, all of which I learned by observing my mom!
Now, although Jon and I have been traveling the world for almost two years, we are debt-free and still have savings. We are also now investing in our insurance (we should have done this before) and are starting to invest our efforts and money into something long-term.
4. She always pushed me to my limits - to explore the unknown!
When I was younger, my mom and I used to fight a lot. I always cried and hated feeling like she wasn’t proud of me, which pushed me to do better and to achieve my potential. If I ever had a minimum passing grade, she would tell me that I should have done better, that anyone can simply ‘pass!’ I would get upset about her treating me like that but not my younger siblings (I'm the eldest!). I became very competitive with others, and my life was quite tiring!
Only after a few years, did I realize that my mom was only doing that to me because she knew my true potential and she wanted me to do my best at whatever I did! She always taught me not to compare myself to others and just focus on improving myself - I finally understood this after quitting my corporate job and just letting it all go to travel!
My mom taught me how to be passionate about everything I do and to always do my best, so I don’t have any regrets. Now I know, it was never really about the grades or academic awards.
5. Life is full of challenges but be optimistic!
My mom has been through a lot of life’s challenges, but she just calmly gets through them. ‘Just pray and be optimistic that something better is coming. The challenges are there to teach us a lesson.’ I remember this advice every day.
Having a daughter like me who always does whatever she wants, without even telling or asking her parent's permission, I can’t believe how my mom managed to handle my rebellious teenage years! I even ran away a few times when I was younger, but it never affected my education, as I was still very academically competitive during those times!
Now at the age of 26, I just finally realized that not all the things I want, I can get because everything happens for a reason. The Universe has its purpose whether that thing is meant for me or not. Whenever I think of something, I always try to remember to be patient and remember that whether something good is meant to happen or not, a life lesson will come to make me a better person. TRUST IN THE TIMING OF YOUR LIFE!
6. She taught me how to love!
When you travel, aside from trusting the universe, you also learn how to love life! My mom taught me what unconditional love is and I'm thankful that I've felt it from her. Backpacking around the world, you'll meet different people from all walks of life, and the only thing you can share with them is LOVE.
There are countless things to love when you travel; the food, the culture, the climate, the art, the challenge, the people and their differences…The list is endless. If you know how to love and you focus on what you love, then you never have to feel sadness, hate or any other negative feelings. Sometimes it can be challenging, but being able to love in the most challenging situations is the ultimate goal. I'm still working on it probably always will be!
7. The most important thing - she TRUSTS me and is always my number 1 supporter!
I remember when I told her that I was moving to Iraq for a career change, she just told me to go for it. When I told her I was going to quit everything to travel, she said, ‘GO FOR IT, I believe in you!’
I haven't seen her for two years, but she's still the first one to know if I'm going through something if we're getting featured somewhere or whatever crazy plan we have in mind! She always makes sure that I know she’s got my back!
When I was younger, if you had asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up, I would have said a lawyer, in University - a Diplomat and just a couple of years ago - an Oil and Gas Consultant. But for now, all I want is to be as beautiful and strong as my mother!
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