Travel Reflections: What is my “I was here!”?

I was here fronting the Manila’s old clock atop the historic Manila City Hall

So many times in the past and even today, I saw vandals on hostels, comfort rooms, bus seats and almost everything with the phrase “I was here” and usually, it accompanies a name. Worse, historical sites and UNESCO declared sites were not spared by these vandals and sadly, this is the manifested reaction of people who wants to immortalize their first memory of the place by mistakenly inscribing names and the phrase which resonates nothing of a legacy but sheer behavioral problem. Vandalizing on public places with the names and dates only show how selfish we are on this world that by writing our names on any auspicious surfaces will ensure that we are known for our deeds but it is not what one seeks in this life, rather it only showed poor judgment and misdeeds.

When we travel to distant places, our urges to leave our mark are taken into prints and write ups and that one too, immortalizes us and indeed a laudable inspiration is left. No one captures a sunrise so perfectly than those who carry with them the rare opportunity of seeing them beyond the human eye. All sunsets are made romantic because we read it and because many lives were built together through it. Legacy thus is inscribed on those who follow us, our footprints and our trails.

The second descriptions aptly apply to travel bloggers everywhere and no matter how we see the world, we captured it through our lens and scribble it through our pens. We inspire by aspiring those many others have not been fortunate enough to see. We inspire by making ourselves the agents of a perfect sunrise, a restful vista and a lively pace of living. They see through us and read through us the many experiences we weaved into magical precision and how we convey our experiences is also the same reasons why we are inspired doing it. Inspiration is a cycle and seeking it radiates freely to those whom we surround. Travel bloggers are the angels you see globetrotting who gets nothing but a wonderful life and sharing them to their followers. They are the ones who leave imprints of “we are here” or “I am here” rightfully and appropriately.

Recently, I have encountered travel ideas likes “voluntourism” which is a hybrid coinage for those who travel to volunteer or for some, those who volunteer to travel. Responsible tourism is one which allows many travelers to experience the local culture, food, climate, society and history yet allowing them to give back to the community they so choose to visit. It is a more profound way of leaving a distinct mark of “I am here” on the society and in the hearts of many people whom they came in contact with. I have heard of a lady travel blogger who went to a Latin American country to volunteer as a elementary school teacher to natives and in return, she was a welcome visitor where she saw places she otherwise will be unable to see if only as a tourist. She left her heart with her students and soon, in the future, those children will remember her for sure and that is rewarding.

Voluntourism is a new tourism trend which many countries have already started to give out to many backpackers and travelers. In exchange, a volunteer gets modest stipend or free meals plus accommodation. While voluntourism is a new paradigm in tourism, be wary of unscrupulous agents who collect volunteerism fee for these experiences. Nowhere on earth will one willing to pay for the services they volunteer to give out to the community. If one exact payments for volunteering then get out and walk away. Your “I was here” is never worth a dime when you are being robbed of opportunities to share your best time and your talents after paying to volunteer.

“I was here” is a phrase often abuse and over-use nowadays. As backpackers and travelers, it gives us more reason to give back to the community and society where we choose to visit in our moment in time. It reminds us of our obligation to sustain the communities we visited for the future generations to see what we saw and experience what we have experienced. It will be the best gift we can bequeath to the next generation and one which will immortalize us beyond the childish vandalism percolating in modern societies and in so many nameless walls everywhere.

Categories: Backpacker's Corner, Travel Reflections | Tags: , , , | 2 Comments

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2 thoughts on “Travel Reflections: What is my “I was here!”?

  1. True! it is a behavioral problem and selfisheness of the one who did it. Sobrang nakaka-irita lang nakapg nakaka kita ako ng ganyan. Di ba pwede enough na ang pictures? bakit kelangan pa nila mag-vandal? 😦

    • yes and unfortunate kasi ang dami nating heritage sites na na-vandal na nila including the ones you visited in Sagada. I hope they can go take on the road where their contribution is most felt by the locals and the society – voluntourism is the key. Of course, they can be like us Mervz, be responsible travel bloggers 🙂

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