Old Spanish-era houses surrounded me as my steps echoed along the cobbled street. I was too early, but at the same time, I realized I was just on time. I savored the crisp morning air, the light just beginning to creep beyond the ornate eaves of the east-side house. I held up my camera, composed the scene through the viewfinder, focused the lens and lightly pressed the shutter. I thought to myself, I have the photos but I can also write about this.
I worked on a cube farm and was treated like a machine. Everything was so robotic; we weren’t even allowed to personalize our workstations with photographs and mementos that remind us that we, after all, are still humans.
And then I heard about it. A guy from another team stamped his foot down and signed a resignation paper. Well, this is really not extraordinary; resignations are a normalcy in our industry. But what differentiates this one from the rest was that he wasn’t just about to transfer to another robot job with a higher pay, he was going to travel the country, photograph the places he visits, write about the colors of its festivals and get paid to do it too. All this without a boss hanging around his every move.
And so I got intrigued. If he can do it, surely, I can too? And after years of maybe I should, maybe I shouldn’t, I finally followed suit. I started gathering my thoughts into words and my pictures into essays. I started Lakad Pilipinas.
It somehow miraculously grew. From ten viewers, eight of which are my office friends—the ninth my mom—it eventually reached figures I never knew it can attain. I was still working at the cube then, but I always managed to sneak in some minutes to write and post on my new project. The goal ultimately is financial gain—I wanted it to earn and maybe somehow someday, I can also turn in that resignation paper.
My pet project was almost two years old, gaining momentum on readership and a bit of respect from peers. It was, however, not earning me anything. It was surely disappointing on that aspect, but on the other hand, after more than seven hundred days of photographs and writings, things had changed. Sure, I was still hoping that the blog would produce some dough, but the priority shifted.
I was resigned that Lakad Pilipinas wouldn’t be the cash-cow that I thought it would be and the focus eventually went to the blog itself. Somehow, it morphed into a life of its own. I was unable to just let it be; it had be the best it can be, content and design-wise, money or not. I have grown to love it, as a struggling artist would love his paintings. From a money-making-scheme, it turned personal somehow.
And I never realized how personal until a fellow travel blogger suggested I shift to a different blog platform as advertisers are more likely to publish there than at my current one. I said, okay, yeah, why not.
But then it got my thinking. What would happen to my site should, knock on wood, something untoward happens to me a few days or even a few years later? Due to the nature of that other platform, Lakad Pilipinas would immediately get flushed down the Internet drain after a year or so without someone renewing its hosting.
Do I really want that? I’m gone anyways so who cares, right? No one’s gonna be earning off the site anymore anyways. But I feel that my travel blog can be so much more. It’s definitely not the best of its kind out there, but it is special to me.
And so I took back my yes and replaced it with a no. I won’t be changing platform for better online earnings. I’d rather stick it out here at my current one, which has free hosting and is relatively stable, where I knew my photos and writings would still be viewable years after my time; earnings be damned.
Have you ever seen an old photograph of Manila? The crumbly and frayed black and white ones? They’re wonderful aren’t they? Makes you nostalgic for that lost era. Makes you imagine what the city was like back then, how grand and elegant it must be, how simple life was (or maybe it was also already complicated back in those days). Your mind wanders and gets lost imagining the city that was, but there never were enough photographs.
I want Lakad Pilipinas to work that magic for future generations, even if only for a small few, like my future kids and grandchildren. I wanted them to view it and see wonder in their eyes. Let them have a peek as to how the Philippines looked like in the days before the culture of boxed malls and skyscrapers totally take over; the lush green fields, the pristine beaches, the small idyll towns, the windy plazas, the old stone architecture. I wanted their minds to wander through the words and photos I took decades back.
It is a lofty ambition, I know; and not a few would probably even raise eyebrows over it. But it is what it is. You thought you were doing it for money, but before you know it, it becomes larger than you. Now you are doing it because you need to do it, you feel compelled to finish its never ending cycle; for yourself, your kids, their kids, the generations after everyone else’s and the inevitable passing memory and history of our beloved country.
And so the morning finally burst. Hoofs clattered on the cobbled street, century-old doors opened, tourist wearing I-love-name-of-place shirts started posing in the middle of the street as the sun steadily slanted through the red tiles of the east roof. And not unlike the streaming light of the sun, after four long years, my story, at last, has also broken through.
Christian S. | Lakad Pilipinas
October 13, 2012 | 10:31 PM