"Story of two women" Personal Page by monina_c

March: Women's Month

It's become almost like a mini-tradition for me and Aida to attend the YTrip monthly meeting. So when they sent out invitations to their March installment of 2009 Backpacking Series, I didn't hesitate to accept. This time the topic is women travelers, the easy way to do it and survival.

Two exceptional women were invited by the organizers to share their experiences and hopefully encourage women to go forward and travel alone without fear! One of them raced a train and won and the other had to radically revise her way of thinking and reached the top of the world!

I was glad to have been alerted to this series by Aida who also came to the ROX-CORE At Bonifacio High Street, Taguig, Metro Manila to listen to this latest installment in the 2009 Backpacking Pilipinas Series.

Below are short versions of the guests' life and travel stories.
Thank you for sharing them with us, Tracy and Karina. :)

The woman who raced a train!

Tracey Santiago, according to her own words, is: a theater artist, cultural worker, art educator, life coach, and traveler was the first speaker.

She shared with us how she started traveling alone at the age of 11. She said that her curiousity about places led her to taking her courage in hand and got herself lost in the different sectors of the city (first Manila and then later further afield). She would take jeeps randomly and get off at interesting places and explore then take another jeep to see if she can find familiar signs so she can go back home. Her parents were understanding enough and liberal enough to give her the freedom to explore her interest.

During her high-school years this interest led to her being the resident authority on traveling using public utilities... her classmates (sheltered and well-heeled) willingly followed where she led when she took them through the nearby towns and cities using buses and jeepneys. Her weekends were spent leading her classmates ala-Pied Piper of Hamelin around different interesting places in the Metro.

Her professional life echoed her interest. She said that if you married your passion with your work, it will seem like you're not doing work. In the course of her job with the National Commission for the Culture and the Arts she got to explore more of the Philippines and to marvel at the richness of our heritage and finally revised her travel motto, "Travel to see the world" to "Make the world see the Philippines".

For me one of the highlights of her sharing was her story on how she raced the train and won by a pinch! It got the most laughter as well!

As Tracy tells it, it all began when she decided to do a favor for a friend who was studying in Parson's School, NY at the time. She took the train to Bicol to buy native bags to be shipped to New York. When she got to Bicol, she was persistent enough that she was able to find out the source of the bags being sold in the native markets. She completed her buying spree (with cash to spare!) and with 43 pcs. of bags, her backpack and lunch in hand tried to catch the train back to Manila. To her extreme disappointment, she missed the train by a scant 2 minutes! Turns out her watch was slower than the train's. ;D

She took the bus to Guinobatan hoping to catch the train there (her account of how she had to endure the ribbing and teasing of the bus driver and conductor is another story!) To make the long story short, the bus she was on was running parallel to the train she missed. The conductor, ever helpful, pointed out to her, "There's your train lady! ).

She and her 43 native bags and backpack and empty lunch box were let off in the middle of the railroad tracks about 200 yards from the train station with an admonition to walk the rest of the way. :) She was thinking, "I better beat the train or I'll have to slide straight down to the sides of the gravel track." As she tells it, she ran flat out praying all the while that she reaches the station before the train does!

I can just imagine Tracey and her 43 bags bouncing along the railroad track with the mammoth train roaring behind her! She beat it by 30 seconds! She threw her bags and leapt up on the train platform with the train practically on top of her! When she finally got on the train, the conductor asked her (deadpan) "You were the lady who got left behind?" Duh?!

She reminded us, it's always the right time to start traveling... If one wants to begin exploring the country, NOW is the right time to turn off the 'puter, drop the phone, buy the tickets and go! Traveling need not be expensive. There're a lot of places which are easy to reach and quite easy on the budget. All one needs to do is research and maybe ask around.

Woman who stood on top of the wor!d

Also in the evening's gathering was Karina Dayondon, one of the three Filipinas who traversed Mt. Everest (please see more info at: MountEverest.net by climbers) 3 years ago. She also placed first in the Tenzing Hillary Everest International Marathon-Women's Foreigner Category. Carina spoke about her team's historic ascent and their current plans.

She shared the experience of their training and the hardships that they had to undergo to fulfill their dream to conquer the giant that is Mt. Everest. She spoke of sitting in one of the tea houses in Tibet and coming to the realization of how lucky she is to be living here in the Philippines where she can do anything she wants: climb mountains, dive in the ocean to commune with teeming sea life and live her life to the fullest. She spoke of how they would talk (with pride and love for country) to the other summit teams about what they will find in the Philippines if they do come to visit. She spoke of how the Philippine team's shared hardships forged a bond so strong that nobody dared die because that will let the group down! ;D

Carina and her Everest team are currently training in preparation for their voyage to retrace the migration path taken by our ancestors across the oceans 6,000-years ago using a balangay.

The balangay will be built of native materials (without metal nails) by traditional boat builders (whose skills have been handed down from generation to generation) from the islands of Sibutu and Sitangkay in Tawi-Tawi.

This year the plan is to do short voyages hugging the coastlines of the country until they are acclimatized to the boat. The final replication of the migratory voyage taken by our ancestors-- who braved the waves and the unknown to settle and build their communities in this part of the globe-- will be in 2012 when the team will sail for Micronesia and Madagascar. They will be navigating using the ancient methodology (astronavigation) taking with them only the supplies and implements-- although satellite phones and safety equipments like life jackets and hydrostatic rafts are permitted.

Carina, a sun-burnt diminutive woman, conqueror of giants and a proud Filipina told us that if one is passionate enough and has the conviction to see things through... nothing is impossible! And I believe her!

  • Page Updated Jul 27, 2010
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