Few months ago, I’ve been designated as the Travel Editor of a budding online magazine set in a virtual office. Most of the people in the editorial board, I have yet to meet in person but already I feel like we’ve known each other forever, most especially my associate editor, Chiki. Last August, we were able to meet in person after he took the long trip from Baguio to Manila. Chiki girl, as I fondly call him, is as cheerful and likable as he is online. And I’m sure that you will like him too, so I made the business of including him in my travelers series. So ladies and gents, meet our 14th Travel Bug Series feature, Aldrick “Chiki” Agpaoa.
Tell us some things about you
I am Aldrick Agpaoa. People know me more by the name “Chiki.” I live in Baguio City and I’m 24 years old. I am a former flutist of the SLU Marching Band (2005-2013) and former editor of a University-wide publication in SLU (2009-2013). I have a natural love for traveling, which I think is because of the mole on my left foot’s sole. People say I am gregarious and I can make friends in less than 5 minutes or so. I love trying out new things especially when I am with my friends and I also love to hike mountains (although I have only been to a few, it just gives me that kind of rush when I hike mountains and see the view from the summit). A trivium about me is that I am also ambidextrous, which means I can write both with my left and right hands!
What inspired you to travel? How did it all start?
I think the thing that inspired me to travel is my own gut. I believe I have this “mission” to visit and explore all the provinces of the Philippines first before fulfilling my mission to travel and see the world. It started only in college when my High School teacher introduced me to the crazy world of blogging in 2009, but I formally started my blog 6 years after because I have to prioritize my studies that time. My fondness to travel also started when I met several travel bloggers along the way, urging me to travel the country ASAP because they said it’s not too late to travel but it would be “now or never” if I would not start my journey in exploring the world.
Do you like traveling solo or with a group?
Sometimes, I like traveling solo (it’s an opportunity for me to meet new people and make connections with them) but most of the time, I like traveling with a group so that expenses would be cheaper. (Hehehe, budget traveler here!)
How do you prepare for a trip?
Before going to a destination, I research on a place I want to visit. My goal (sana) is to discover the lesser-known tourist spots in a place where I would be going, in that, I would be “serving a new flavor” to my readers so that they would also see and experience the new sites in a place I would be visiting. Also with the advent of the Internet (thank God), I also email the tourism officers of the provinces I would be going to and ask them on the places that should be visited in their locale. In that, I would now prepare a list of the things-to-do and places-to-go so that my travel would be less hassle when the day comes.
What are your travel must-haves?
Some of my travel must-haves are: 1) Camera (of course! But I usually borrow a DSLR Camera from my friends in the College Publication where I once belonged); 2) Laptop (I also borrow this from a friend of mine. I just buy her souvenir items for the favor she gives me ’cause it’s really hard not to have one); 3) Cellphone (for communicating the people I would be with on the place I would be going) 4) Clothes and toiletries (of course) 5) Pocket Money! (I usually bring extra money for emergency purposes and I also bring my ATM with me in case something unfortunate happens).
So far, which destination is your favorite and why?
So far, in my 1 year of traveling the country, my favorite province is Quirino because the place is not yet well-known to tourists and there are only a few people going there (which I love because it is not that overcrowded and you can take pictures of nature without people in or on it. Hahaha!) The people, too, are very welcoming given the fact that Quirino is still a “young tourist destination.” Surprisingly, I was also amazed by its natural beauty because everywhere you look, mountains surround the province and the roads are also challenging as it is steep and curvy in some parts, adding to the thrill of the ride. I like Quirino because the province is simple yet it delivers to be a promising destination once developed.
You’re from Baguio; is there any unpopular place there that people should check out?
I think there are a few. Some people/tourists/travelers do not know about the Emilio Aguinaldo Museum. Just so people know, it is where the first Philippine flag (used by Gen. Aguinaldo in declaring Philippines’ Independence to Spain in 1898) is placed. There is also a sculpture in front of the Baguio Museum where an artist carved a tree trunk with the faces of the “3 witches” of Baguio etched on it. This, is I think to remember the “witches” in shaping Baguio’s colorful history, making them the epitome in their respective fields and by making Baguio what it is today.
How do you balance work with your passion for traveling?
I balance my work and my passion for travel by scheduling my trips ahead of time and by maximizing the “long weekends,” if there are. This will also help me budget my travel expenses, unless the trip is sponsored.
Tell us some things about your blog
My blog, Turistaboy, for now basically features the places I have been to in the Philippines. As of this writing, I have been to 18 out of the 81 provinces in the country. I also have a section called the “#1000PesoChallenge” wherein I challenge my own budget during my trips whether it can go less than or equal to PHP 1000 without compromising the experience itself.
Do you have a role model? If yes, who is it and why?
My role models as of the moment are Mervin Marasigan (Pinoy Adventurista), Melo Villareal (Out of Town Blog), and Trisha Velarmino (P.S. I’m On My Way). Once I read their blog posts, I just get inspired to travel and write more creatively than ever before. They can serve as my inspiration to become a better and more sensitive traveler and to become a good writer as well. They are the ones who bring out the creative juices in me that makes me keep going. (Cheesy! Hehehe!)
Where do you plan to go next?
I am planning to go to the provinces of Nueva Ecija, Aklan (Boracay), Batanes, to the island of Panay (Iloilo, Antique, Capiz, Aklan), and Guimaras.
What is your non-negotiable term when traveling?
I think my non-negotiable term when traveling is the date/s of travel. If ever I would travel, I often ask my friends usually a month before if they’re available to accompany me during my stipulated dates of travel (especially if it involves riding an airplane because re-booking is difficult and expensive).
When you go to a place, what is the first thing that you look for?
When going to a new place, the first thing I look for is food! (Hahaha!) It’s because I don’t eat much while I’m on transit. Next thing to food is that I look for the person that I have coordinated with beforehand. This is to ensure a smooth flow when touring around the place I am in.
What is your dream destination?
My dream destinations would be Tonga, Samoa, and Maldives! Paris and Iceland, too!
Any traveling tips you wish to impart to our readers?
Some of the traveling tips I can impart to our readers are:
- You should have the heart and soul in traveling and writing. (It will really take you to places and it will open very cool opportunities for you, like this one!)
- You should also be flexible in talking about the terms and conditions of the person you are talking to (it pays forward that you would have new friends after your trip to a new place, eh?)
- RESEARCH, RESEARCH, RESEARCH! (Always research on the place/s you want to visit. Know the place’s dos and don’ts and always respect their local culture.)
- Be emotionally ready. Always exude good vibes! (Wear a smile always and be kind to everyone you meet, just be careful not to fall to unscrupulous guys out there. Know your and their limitations, too.)
- Be financially ready, too! (Always have extra money with you. You should also have extra money in your Credit/Debit/ATM Cards in case an emergency arises – you’ll never know.)
- Always ask. (As my colleagues and mom would say, “When in doubt, ask.” It’s not good to know everything. This would also be a chance for you to learn new things and insights from other people.)
I’m not trying to make a month-long celebration so you don’t have to greet me belated happy birthday. Indecision got in the way so I wasn’t able to post this right away. Anyhoo, I celebrated my 34th birthday in a coffee shop; nothing fancy, just met a few friends over coffee. I was supposed to go to La Union but I decided to reschedule it the next day so I can hang out with my friends. But it’s my birthday so there should be something special about it. I looked for a coffee shop that I’ve never tried before, one that offers specialty coffee. From consulting Google and Looloo I found Habitual Coffee. [Read: A Weekend Solo Travel Guide to San Juan, La Union]