This trip almost got cancelled. A few weeks before the date of our departure, my dad got diagnosed with liver cancer. I thought of saving my money for his medication and deemed it inappropriate to push through with the trip while the whole family is hurting and carrying the burden.
I remember the sleepless nights of consoling my dad in his painful ordeal, praying with him and watching him until he sleeps. I was emotionally wrecked. What made it more confusing is that this happened nearly before my scheduled vacation to Taiwan. I already told my friend Kit that I will not be able to go because of this concern in the family. I already even spent a portion of my travel funds for household needs and bills.
But God is gracious, my dad’s condition improved and his episodes of pain became lesser and lighter. I asked my parents if I can still go to Taiwan, having observed that Dad was feeling better. They gave me a go signal! Their approval prompted me to decide to go. So immediately, I packed my things — just one day before the trip!
Coming up with this decision is never easy. At the back of my mind, I am praying nothing too critical will happen while I was away from home. I also wanted to show my trust in God, that He will take care of my dad and my family. I was also ready to go back home anytime something “emergency” happens, reserving my cards for ticket booking. I had doubts, questions, thinking if I will really enjoy the trip despite all my worries about my father’s health. On top of it all, my parents’ “YES” made the difference. I just made it sure to relay the important reminders to my siblings, and video call my dad daily to check up on him.
Been judged but yes, I understand
I know, even if I don’t hear it directly, people would commonly say: “I thought her father is seriously ill? Why did she still go?” In reality, “mahal gamot ng daddy niya, bakit inuna niya pa magtravel travel?” (Her father’s medication is expensive, why did she prioritize traveling? Sadly, not everyone would understand. It is easy to throw words based on the situation that they see on the surface, but it ends there.
First, the trip was planned ahead – ticket was booked in early 2018 before we knew about my dad’s sickness. My departure was March 25, and his diagnosis was heard at the first week of March. Secondly, I already paid for the ticket, the accommodation, and some necessities before the trip — using my hard-earned money from my job.
Pursued my dream, with a huge faith in my heart
I was in really bad shape few weeks before my trip. It was a roller coaster of emotions from the time we heard about the doctor’s diagnosis to seeing my dad in pain everyday, to thinking how can we survive financing his medicines. My family is unprepared for this emotionally and financially.
But despite it all, I wanted to move forward. I don’t want to be entrapped in the situation when you know there is a big challenge but you choose to stay there — sad, frustrated, and worrying. I still have my dreams to pursue. I still have a job that is waiting for me so I can support my family financially. I needed to be strong and bounce back to my normal routine because some people are depending on me. I also did not want to linger in “what ifs” and missed opportunities just because I was too coward to jump in.
Also, I wanted to exercise my faith in Him. So to cut it short, I decided to go, leaving all my baggage of worries and fear in His hands.
Taiwan, a Dream Come True
Even before the implementation of the Visa-free entry for Filipinos in Taiwan, it was a dream destination for me after I traveled to Thailand, my first out-of-the-country trip. I don’t know but I’ve been to several beautiful islands in my hometown, Philippines, but it’s a totally different experience when you’re in another country. Getting out of your comfort zone learning about the food, language, and culture of other people brings lessons you won’t learn anywhere.
I chose Taiwan because among other Asian countries, it’s one of most affordable in terms of food, accommodation and other basic necessities. Being a foodie, I know it is a haven for food trips and night markets!
Here are some of the things I’ve learned from the Taiwan culture in a short span of time.
- DISCIPLINE. Taiwan is an organized country because its citizens follow the rules. People adhere to rules in public transportation and proper waste disposal. Even if the train gets crowded, the priority seats will never be occupied by the regular commuters. You also won’t see litter on the streets.
- CONVENIENCE IN PUBLIC TRANSPORTATION. We tried all methods of transportation to experience what is it to be like a local — riding trains, the buses, and cabs. I could say they are all efficient and easy to use. It’s not hard to get from one destination to the other no matter the distance, because everything is connected to the train station.
- DIVERSITY IN FOOD. We loved trying all the food our hands and budget can get on! Taiwan has night markets with a wide range of street food and Taiwan delicacies. We even tried the famous milk tea shops in the Philippines. I will write a separate post for my food trips in Taiwan.
- PRIVACY OF PEOPLE. I like that the people are discreet, low-key, respectful, and quiet generally.
- IT’S INEVITABLE TO COMPARE YOUR COUNTRY, BUT LEARN TO LOVE YOUR OWN. Kit and I tend to do this a lot during the entire trip, haha! It’s inevitable to do so, with a progressive country like Taiwan. We wished to see the same order, advancement in technology and cleanliness in our mother land. However, I guess we have to settle for the things we can’t change (or hard to change) and just learn to appreciate what we have — like the positivity and resilience of our people despite hardships, and the abundant beauty of our natural resources, etc.
The Travel that Moved me
Now I clearly understand where my love for travel comes from — it is from the innate yearning to appreciate the beauty of the world, God’s magnificent creations. I may have said in my year-ender post that I will try to lessen my travels to prioritize the house in Cavite but I don’t think I’ll ever stop or retire from this passion.
Not only did it introduce new sights, food or culture to me, it also paved the way for my healing. Travel is also an endless source of inspiration, which can be emotionally healing in its own way. Meeting new people, seeing great art, viewing magnificent landscapes and realizing you’re strong enough to get through the challenges that arise on the road can all offer positive effects that last well beyond the span of your trip.
Traveling has benefits that cannot be attained if you’re always on the same location. I was able to talk about my heart’s burdens to Kit and her brother. Those conversations inspired me in some ways. It also made me more compassionate of other people even in their small needs.
Back in Manila, braver and stronger =)
Thankfully, my dad’s health is improving through God’s grace. Although the pain is intermittent, we’ve found ways to manage it. Please pray for his continuous healing.
After the trip, I’m now back to my usual routines and I know I was made a better person after this trip. It’s also a “small celebration” for my achievements at work. Now, I am more motivated to work harder. Recharged. Blessed. Inspired. All praises to God.