On Facebook, there is a group of travel writers called, Lakbaykada to which I am part of. There are only 10 members, one of us lives in Olangapo City. Out of all the members, he is the most intense when it comes to several issues. This passion translates to his blog, which has been getting quite a buzz despite the fact it’s only been around for under a year. This February, meet the man behind the blog, ice2big, Erwin Manalad.
Please tell us some things about you
I’m Erwin, (I’ll skip the age, thank you) from Olongapo City, Philippines, and yes I’m the one who made that TIN ID meme that went viral on Facebook hahaha! I have a lot of nicknames, I even have two nicknames at work, lol. And yeah, just like most of you guys I have a full-time job, I work for a shipbuilding company for almost 7 years now and it’s a bittersweet job; you know, you stay most of the time at the office, work your a** off, then sometimes go for an inspection inside the ship, literally inside the ship, get dirrrty, sweaty and all.
It doesn’t pay that much, but I get to work just half an hour from where I live so I’m cool with that, plus, I’m a small-town guy, I love small towns, and the ocean (sigh), it just calms you down and take away all your stress from work every time you stare at that coastline. But I’m still waiting for that right opportunity to level up my career.
Why do you travel?
First of all, I wanna ask everybody to stop comparing Tourist and Travelers! I’m just getting sick of that, you know, that Travelers are better than Tourists crap, just stop it people! We are all Travelers and Tourists, we became a tourist at some point and we are all travelers all the time, we just have different ways to do it, but, going back to that question, I travel because I’m f***** bored, haha kidding aside, for me, it’s HUMAN NATURE. Humans are born to explore, we are all born curious, so that crave for travel is natural, we always ask a lot of questions to ourselves, and to satisfy ourselves or to find those answers, we travel and we experience.
Your blog has a quirky name, ice2big. Why did you choose this name?
Oh that yeah, haha! Well I’ve been using that since college, actually, it’s my name everytime we play Counter Strike back in college, lol, been using that too for my Instagram way before I made my blog.
“Humans are born to explore, we are all born curious, so that crave for travel is natural.”
And it’s very Filipino, ice tubig, it represents how Pinoys live everyday, it represents the street, where I think you can see the real situation of the country, and tubig is water, so it represents everything; it freshens up your day just like my blog, so go follow my Facebook page now haha!
You are fairly new to blogging but your posts get comments and shares like crazy, what is your secret?
I know, I know, it is quite surprising and fulfilling at the same time, like my article, “Dear Traveler, Travelling is not a Competition” did really great. I mean, it made like more than 7K shares, I’m really thankful for that, and being new to all of this blogging thing is really awesome! But I think if you’ll write from heart and if you really mean every word you type, it will just show and people can tell that. Just be true to your articles and just be yourself, you’ll do great.
Your posts are not the usual itinerary or journal-type articles that we can see in most blogs? Why is it so?
I’m kinda bad with itineraries honestly, so I tried to go to a different direction, and it’s not not just for the sake of being “different” or “unique”, or something like that, I think you really have to find that niche or whatever you call it and offer something new on the table.
What is your take on click-bait posts?
Isn’t it annoying? Well, people have different strategies, but if you’ll keep on doing that type of article, people will be pissed and unfollow you. Readers are smart, and if you’re that reader who is on a smartphone, saving all your data, clicked that post, then found out it has a different content from the title, B**** I’m unfollowing you! Haha… Just kidding, but like what I said, bloggers have different strategies, and that doesn’t work for me.
Who are your favorite bloggers and why?
I’m lucky to have blogger friends before I started my blog, so besides from them being my favorite, ummm, Miss Aileen of I am Aileen, I call her Miss A, comes to mind. I think she’s a sweetheart, I got a nice postcard from her last year all the way from Belgium, and how can you not fall in love with her blog, it’s one of the best travel blogs out there.
Johnny Ward of OneStep4ward comes to mind too, I mean, come on, he is the true definition of a “Been there, done that”. He’s almost done with all of the countries in the world, brings her mom to some of his trips, and he became a millionaire, he is one good example of how traveling can change your life or your career and how travelling can open a lot of doors for you.
How do you prepare for a trip?
I don’t overplan it, I pack my bags, few hours before I leave, lol. But of course, booking cheap flights is a must before anything else!
What are your travel must-haves?
I always have Wet Wipes with me, the call of nature is an everyday thing for me, so… and Head & Shoulders Shampoo, seriously, it’s the only brand I use. I always have them “anywhere” I go, out of the country or just here, I get dandruff if I’ll use something else, and you don’t want dandruff to ruin your trip right? I don’t wanna keep on scratching my head while I’m talking to people. So if they stop the production, I don’t know what I’m going to do, I’ll just have to kill myself! Haha just kidding!
Do you like traveling solo or with a group?
Both are really great to experience, sometimes I go with my friends, but solo travelling is a great experience, it’s a special one. I always make it a point to have a solo trip whenever I can, and I’m really glad more and more people are doing it, so you’re not weird anymore when you travel alone. Solo travelling will just change your game.
What are the circumstances that may ruin a trip for you?
Going with the wrong people, I guess? But don’t let anyone or anything ruin your trip. Travelling involves a lot of unlikely circumstances, so you gotta learn to adjust and adapt.
How do you choose your next destination?
When you’re on Facebook and everytime you see those amazing places, they all become your next destination. But I always prefer a less crowded place, and a place I can just relax, and have a connection with people. I just love talking to people and have that good conversation and sometimes, don’t choose your destination, let your destination pick you.
How do you want to be remembered as a blogger?
Like what you said I’m kinda new with all of these, but the time when one of my articles was shared a lot of times, like way way way more than I expected, I just told myself, okay, so I think I need to be more serious about this, and to see people, trying to make a quote out of some part of your articles really means a lot. I’m like, so I’m a writer now?! They even send you personal messages, like thanking you for that article you wrote, for sharing your thoughts, and everything, I mean this is what blogging is all about. Sometimes I ask myself, why they are even thanking me? It’s just a blog, then I remember how words can affect people, how words can inspire people, how just a simple article can change people’s perspective on some things around them, and then eventually change their lives. I’m not saying I changed people’s lives haha! But to just inspire them and make them realize some important things in life, I think is really enough for me as a blogger.
Out of all the places you’ve been to, which one is most memorable and why?
Cambodia will always be special to me, it’s my first time to travel all by myself, and doing it in a different country really changed how I see things around me. Poverty is everywhere around here in our own country, but to see it in a different country will make you think, it is everywhere, it can be in any country, regardless of how much is it. Since it’s my first time, I realized that travelling teaches you more about yourself, it will open your eyes and fill your mind with all of those answers you’ve been asking yourself.
Do you keep a souvenir from your travels?
Not really but everytime anyone gives me something, I really keep them, I have this box for all of the stuff people gave me, key chains most of the time lol.
Do you have any advice to people who may want to start a travel blog of their own?
As a new blogger, I would say it’s not for everybody; it takes a lot of hardwork at first, it’s hard to write, and sometimes words just won’t come out, but then if you really wanna do it, do it now, like right now!
All of us are talented, we’re like the X-MEN with hidden powers, you have to find those powers within yourself and improve them. Be yourself, be true to your readers, and always ask yourself, what else is out there? Extract all of your talents and put ‘em to good use!
“We’re like the X-MEN with hidden powers, you have to find those powers within yourself and improve them.”
Blogging is another world, I’m telling you, you’ll meet different people and you’ll encounter some problems and issues, but if you focus on your craft and try not to focus on how you’ll earn from it, you’ll be fine. So keep on writing, share your experiences, focus on how you can inspire others, and rock the entire Blogosphere!
Follow Erwin’s travel adventures in his blog, ice2big.co