Less than 2 hours left.

At 1:10 am, I’ll be starting my journey to travel around South East Asia. It’s still surreal that it’s actually happening.

It’s been around 10 months since I started planning for this trip. I did a few research here and there to see which countries and cities to visit. But the more I research, the more questions I had about myself. Is it even possible for me to this? Am I independent enough? Will I have enough money saved? How about my job security? Am I ready for this? For every question I answer, dozens more pop-out. While I may not have the answers to all the questions I have, one thing is certain. This is something I truly want to do. Never would I have though that this is something that I would want to do 8 years ago.

My origin story

It’s April 2009. I just graduated high school in the Philippines and got accepted into the big 3 universities in the Philippines – University of the Philippines, De La Salle University and Ateneo de Manila University. It was natural natural for anyone who graduated Xavier to gravitate towards Ateneo. Considering their striking similarities in values and demographics it was an easy decision. It didn’t make it harder when I got into the Management Engineering program – a prestigious undergraduate program offered only to those who score in the top 10% of the Ateneo College Entrance Exam. It was the the program that I was eyeing when I was taking the entrance exams for all the universities. I thought it’ll be a long shot for me to get in the program. Getting into the program made it an easy choice. I chose Ateneo.

The curveball

I plan on enjoying the summer. Going to Baguio with friends, watching the latest movies in Green Hills and playing Defense of the Ancients in Katipunan, the standard summer activities! It was shaping up to be a great summer until a curve ball delivered arrived. It’s a letter from Simon Fraser University (SFU), a university in Vancouver, saying I got accepted into their arts program. The result of this was a summer full of back and forths between SFU and Ateneo.

Ateneo is the safe choice. I’m in the program that I want, I’ll be with like-minded colleagues and most of all, it’s in the same country that I spent that last 18 years growing up in and getting to know. SFU is the wild card. I have no clue what the school looks like, I’ve only been to Vancouver once before and I knew no one there! Plus, I got into the Arts program and had to work hard to get into the Business Program. Ultimately, I decided to play it safe and still go to Ateneo.

Happy with my choice, I sought validation from friends and colleagues.

What began as a simple post on social media ended with my most commented post to-date. Friends whom I have known since I was a kid pushed me to go to Canada for a better education. Acquaintances that I only met once or twice said that I shouldn’t miss an opportunity of a lifetime. They were pushing me to go out of my comfort zone. They were pushing me to go and take a risk.

Back to the future

And here I am, 8 years later, graduated with honours from Simon Fraser University, moments away from boarding a plane and taking yet another risk. I’m scared, nervous and worried.

But most of all, I’m excited.


I will be writing about my travels within South East Asia in the upcoming months. Follow me on my travels by following me on Instagram, Twitter and subscribing to my travel blog! Find my Instagram posts using #MarkBackpacksAsia

Leave a reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *