Top 10 reasons why 2011 is my travel year

The Marina Bay Sands and Art Museum in Singapore

The year 2011 is coming to a close and it’s time to look back and assess how my travels went during the year. Below are my top 10 reasons why I can proudly say that this year is MY YEAR OF TRAVEL!

Christ Church, Melaka, Malaysia

1 International travel
I didn’t expect that for this year alone, I was in three countries of which two, I got to travel twice. Airphil Express invited me for their maiden flight from Cebu to Hongkong and later Malaysia and Singapore for a cruising tour. It was a good opportunity to visit again these countries after a long while.

Later in the year, I got invited by a hostel in Singapore to visit their country plus a sidetrip to Melaka, all in the space of 10 days. It wasn’t enough though but it was an opportunity to know these two countries better.

A tamaraw in a sanctuary in Mindoro Occidental

2 Just 3 provinces more to go
I entered 2011 with just six provinces in the Philippines that I haven’t visited: Basilan, Mindoro Occidental, Biliran, Siquijor, Apayao and Zamboanga Sibugay. At the close of the year, only three remains with the first three in the list conquered! Unfortunately, it was the lack of time that hindered me from completing all, not even giving me a chance to drop by Zamboanga Sibugay when I was in Zamboanga City early this month. Next year, I will finish all these.

Jetski at Tubigon, Bohol

3 Its business plus leisure
What I do like about my work is that it affords me to go to places for business that can also be considered as leisure. It’s like hitting two birds with one stone. Early this year, I was in Tubigon, Bohol for a web design and photography client and, really, I was also enjoying the place, the sea and swimming.

The same reason that I was able to explore Calayan Island, Catanduanes, Mindoro Occidental and Maitum. These all started with some work related function and ended up as a leisure trip.

Caniwara Cove as seen from Nagudungan Hill in Calayan

Monkeys at Bongao Peak, Tawitawi. CLICK TO ENLARGE

4 Calayan + Tawitawi + Maitum + Palaui
Who would have thought that I will visit, finally, the Calayan group of islands in the Babuyanes! For decades, I’ve been wishing to go to these remote places. If not for Smart’s assignment of covering their activities there, I wouldn’t have visited it this year! And, oh, the memorable experiences and beautiful sceneries!

Surprisingly, I was able to visit Tawitawi twice this year, in a space of two weeks, after nearly a decade of first stepping on its shores. The second visit was a bit brief but it didn’t stop me from climbing Bongao Peak. When I came back for the third time, it was quite exciting with a sail to Simunul for the oldest mosque as well as spending a night at the police station was quite memorable.

Lastly, I was quite impressed with beautiful Maitum with its many tourism spots. Upon the invitation of Ms. Beth, LGU accountant, I came back a second time and went with them hiking, exploring waterfalls, caves and meeting native Tbolis.

My Lakbay Norte trip in January made my dreams come true with a trip to Sta. Ana in Cagayan. Of course, rugged Palaui Island with its lone lighthouse was in my bucketlist.

5 Travel photography workshop and blogging talks
I would want to consider it as giving back to the community when I was resource person for travel blogging and travel photography in some blogging and speaking events this year. First, there was the Cebu Blog Camp followed by the Blog and Soul Session. Then the traveling duo of the SoleSisters invited me to talk about travel photography at ROX. Spark 2011 also had me to talk about doing personal photography projects too.

In another development, I got invited by UP Film Institute to handle a short course on Travel Photography which I did early this year. This is my first and am looking for more schedules next year.

Windsurfers in Boracay

6 I came to love Boracay
Last year, I was asked by CNN Go to write about Boracay’s International Funboard Cup. This year, the organizers invited me to cover the event. Those few days in the island changed my perception, as one large tourist trap to one that I’ve come to love for its beauty and uniqueness as a travel destination. It will always be a place that I will always look forward to.

Pearl Ambassador

7 Ang Langyaw is a Pearl Ambassador
It’s a great honor to be conferred as a Pearl Ambassador, an environmental advocate of the seas, by Jewelmer together with two other bloggers. This puts us in the league of celebrities like Piolo Pascual, ahem, ahem, to cite.

A visit to their pearl farm in Palawan this year was an eye opener. Despite located in a remote and pristine area, the effects of global warming and climate change coupled with man’s greed and callousness is terribly alarming. Thus, the need to be concerned about our current state of the environment.

This is an honor with a deep responsibility and I’m thankful for Jewelmer for including me as one of their select ambassadors.

SoloFlightEd headstanding in Hongkong

8 Traveling and meeting other travel bloggers
It’s always a great thing to meet other travel bloggers either during meetups or travels together. In Hongkong, I was with SoloFlightEd who gamely posed for my camera doing head stands in several locations from as high as Ngong Ping to the MTR to the Walk of the Stars.

In Singapore, I was able to have coffee, and finally meet Solitary Wanderer and Ron, the other half of Flipn’Travels. Lost Boy Lloyd during the Blog and Soul talk, and several others, too many to mention. I’m hoping to meet more next year.

Pila article in Space Magazine

9 Travel writing and photography assignments and being published
I continue to be published with Space, Smile, Mabuhay, the Philippine Daily Inquirer (for the Calayan series)… these are just some of the publications where I saw my travel writing and photography work printed.

This is in addition to the international exhibitions, especially the highly regarded Noorderlicht Photo Festival and foreign publications like Geo (Germany) where my photography has also been shown.

Not to be forgotten, it was also heartwarming to see myself being featured in print as a travel blogger, a different kind of feeling. As for TV shows, unfortunately, I have to decline some guestings due to schedule conflicts. Maybe next year.

10 Traveling with my hun
With one ending early this year, another sprouted and meeting this beautiful person was one of the reasons that my travels have again been meaningful especially that both of you are together enjoying the food, the scenery and everything that happens during travel.

There you have it, the top 10 reasons why 2011 is my year of travel! Hoping to have a better and bigger year in 2012.

Estan Cabigas is freelance photographer, blogger and writer based in Makati City, the Philippines. A true blue Cebuano, he makes stunning images and meaningful photo stories. His work has been published in local and international publications including National Geographic Magazine, Geo (Germany), Sunday Times Magazine (London) and other publications.

He is also a peripatetic traveler and has traveled to all 81 Philippines provinces.

I’m open for work, collaborations and inquiries, including hotel, restaurant and site features and reviews.

13 Comments

  1. mervz | pinoyadventurista.com
    December 31, 2011 @ 16:34

    wow! 3 provinces to go nalang… Happy New Year Cheers! Here’s to more travels next year! 🙂

  2. Edelito C. Sangco
    December 31, 2011 @ 20:21

    Really inspiring Estan. Hope I can be given a chance to attend one of your travel photography workshops next year. Happy New Year!

  3. journeyingjames
    December 31, 2011 @ 21:12

    panalo yung 10 pre! cheers to more travel works and photog gigs for you

  4. Martin Flordeliza
    January 1, 2012 @ 23:40

    Wow! Ang galing talaga ng mga shots nyo! I hope I can attend your travel photography classes.

  5. Anonymous
    January 2, 2012 @ 8:56

    Thanx Martin! I usually post sa portfolio site ko: http://www.estancabigas.com

  6. Anonymous
    January 2, 2012 @ 8:58

    thanx again james

  7. Anonymous
    January 2, 2012 @ 9:03

    thanx mervz!

  8. Bonzenti Panganiban
    January 2, 2012 @ 16:03

    Master Estan as I often called you. Wishing you to have more travel and photography workshop gigs this year. More blessings to come and looking forward to meet you on the road. God Bless bai. Panalo ang no. 10 bai. :-).

  9. Anonymous
    January 2, 2012 @ 18:00

    hahaha… thanx bai 🙂

  10. Earl Bolivar
    January 4, 2012 @ 11:50

    Best reason ang # 10 bai. Now you have more reasons to travel because you have someone to share the experience with. Happy new year bai!

  11. Aleah | SolitaryWanderer.com
    January 8, 2012 @ 11:04

    Seems like you had a full and eventful year–I super love your number 10! More power to you and your partner, and wish 2012 will be better for all of us. Safe travels Estan!

  12. Anonymous
    January 20, 2012 @ 7:09

    Haha, thanx Aleah! and you too!

  13. Anonymous
    January 20, 2012 @ 7:15

    Sweet. hehehe. Thanx Earl 🙂

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