As mentioned in her articles, there are thousands of backpackers around the world mostly from the western countries with the exception of Japan and Singapore but where are the Filipino backpackers?
I’ve traveled a couple of times, backpacking style (the only way I could afford it) and I have never met any Filipino travelers. I did meet some Filipino working in those places though. I met some Filipina prostitutes in Nepal, teachers in China and Thailand, domestic helpers in Hong Kong, entertainers in Japan and Phuket, architects and engineers in Singapore and the list goes on.
In my observation, we’re travelers by the virtue of need not by pleasure. We need to travel overseas to work and send money to our families back here in our country. According to a report from DOLE, OFW remittances from more than 190 host countries worldwide reached more than US$1.265 billion in January 2009. Most of us travel outside so we can bring food back to our families’ tables. The first reason is definitely due to our current economic condition.
Another reason that I have observed is that most of us can’t afford to live afar from our families. We have this strong bond to the point of having extended families all living under one roof. They provide us the comfort which I think is good but at the same time got us stuck in that comfort zone. A couple of years ago, I invited some friends to travel with me but most of the responses include, “I’d love to but I’m not sure if my parents would allow me.” The answer was insanely odd considering that we’re done with our universities and part of the working community already. The second reason is cultural.
Our strongest advantage is also our weakest point. We’re inclined to stay in our comfort zone.
Most of us won’t also give up a job just to travel, even if they’ve been dreaming of traveling ever since they were born. We fear the repercussion of what perceived as just a leisure activity. Traveling was not seen as part of our continuous education. We try to hang on to the usual measure of success, family, nice car, kids, a nice house with the white picket fence, and probably a dog. We’re conformist. Again, it’s cultural and psychological. I don’t know if it’s directly related with the fact that we’ve been colonized a lot of times and got used to following what other people tell us to do.
However lately, I met some fellow Filipinos that are planning of hitting the road. I’m so excited for them and proud with their decision of living their dream. A dream that no one else could ever understand except for the dreamer himself.