When travel becomes a pursuit for storytelling

How did travel change my life?

Please let me share about it via this photo timeline below.

May 2012 – The Ruins of Talisay

The Ruins of Talisay (3)
Photo courtesy of Dos Ocampo.

THAT MOMENT. Rappler published my story. It was the second piece I submitted and was picked up the same day I sent it. That made it more memorable, especially that I didn’t hear about the first piece.

But I tried again. Thanks to my personal editor, who is also a dear friend, for her feedback. “Nice read!” she wrote in an e-mail with the attached edited article.

July 2012 – Swimming with whale sharks

Swimming with whale sharks
Photo courtesy of Angelo Ayugat.

NEVER SAY DIE. The first piece I mentioned above? This was it.

I did not know that Rappler picked it up until the editor e-mailed me. She asked for my bank account details and TIN.

That was one month after this was published and my third piece came out.

August 2012. Where to capture postcard-worthy photos of Mt. Mayon

Swimming with whale sharks (1)
Photo courtesy of Ely Cuela.

POSSIBILITIES. It was only the time I received my payment I started believing I could earn from doing this. That, I admit, added to my motivation. I couldn’t help but think of the possibilities.


My succeeding pitches did not get it to the PH Travel page. In retrospect, those were too personal; thus must belong to a personal blog. So I focused on my blog, where I penned my story ideas and later developed them for sites like Rappler. As such, my blog also served as a training ground.


tita mary
Photo courtesy of Gin Riobuya.

GRATEFUL. My first article as a regular contributor for Rappler’s travel section. I remember I sent my editor this SMS when it came out: “Thank you, miss Kai.”

I felt the need to tell her just because.To which she replied: “Stay the same. You’ll go far.” This, along with some pieces of writing advice.

I felt the need to tell her just because.To which she replied: “Stay the same. You’ll go far.” This, along with some pieces of writing advice.

I was beyond grateful at that time.


Photo courtesy of Gin Riobuya.

HARDEST LEAD. Sometimes good story leads are hard to come by. It was one of those that it took days for me to start it right.

JUNE, 2013 – Badoc’s Hidden Gem: The Juan Luna Shrine

Photo courtesy of Lili Ramirez.

WORTH THE HASSLE. Research. Draft. Delete. Repeat. I swear it was the most exhausting writing process I experienced in writing a travel story. After that two-week struggle, I was finally satisfied.


badoc (1)
Photo courtesy of Carol Caudilla.

EASY AND BREEZY. Listicles, especially if direct to the point, are one of those articles that are easier to write.

Let me sum these all up with these lessons.

  1. The best part of having the right (personal) editor is she would not spoonfeed you. She would spend time reading your stories. She would not merely proofread it, but also give suggestions how you could improve on your own. As such, they deserve more than thank you’s and cups of coffee.
  2. Even regular contributors get 60% of their pitches rejected. Trust in the timing. Or better yet, learn how to make your pitches relevant. That means writing for several editors.
  3. Never hold it against your editor if they can’t say yes to your pitch. Like I did when I sent Rappler’s former editor an e-mail. I asked her why my stories didn’t get publish when I was already a regular contributor. Thankfully, she accepted my apology and still considered me good in her book.
  4. Trust your writing process. I don’t know about you, but I know I am on the right track when I already know how my article will start and end.
The chosen 14 young journalists from Southeast Asia together with the organizers.

Eventually, the focus of my travel stories shifted to sustainable tourism with reporting style. Both became useful in my application for training on climate change reporting in Southeast Asia.

The UNESCO-sponsored training brought me one step closer to becoming a journalist. It is a big responsibility, I know. But I am giving it a try like I did with travel and storytelling.

DOT Representatives
A reporting experience during Madrid Fusion Manila 2017. Photo courtesy of Adrian Ocampo.

While I am not a full-time travel writer/reporter yet, these experiences have defnitely broaden my options besides web content. There haven’t been plenty of  money coming in, but life has been interesting.

Photos used with permission from my travel buddies.

Thank you Traveloka for this motivation to share our stories, especially on how travel changed our lives.

#TravelokaPH #WhyITravel #TravelokaSeries


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