Around Ph in 100 Days

Manila Bulletin, October 27, 2012 | Go to article overview

Around Ph in 100 Days


His catchy blog headline is enough to send travel-crazy wanderers either wondering in disbelief or drooling in envy: "I traveled around the whole Philippines for 100 days, non-stop, the cheapest way possible."

Having gone where no other backpacker has gone before, travel writer and blogger James Betia has now become the expert on budget travel anywhere in the country - from Batanes to Tawi-tawi.

Budget Traveler

Indeed, his journey of a thousand miles began with smaller steps. His passion for budget traveling took off three years ago, embarking on a tour of the Visayan region that lasted for 14 days at P250 a day. At that time, he had just quit his job as an English teacher, with only P4,000 at his disposal. In 2011, James took on a bigger challenge--a cross-country Mindanao adventure around Gen.Santos, Davao, Agusan, and Butuan that spanned 16 days at P400 a day. All the while, he had been training himself for what could be the journey of a lifetime.

His blog (journeyingjames.com) was instrumental in making this travel mission possible. Through travel blogging, which he has been doing for two years now, he was able to raise enough money to cover the 100-day trip around the country.

A seasoned backpacker, he traveled as light as possible, carrying a 7.5 kg backpack containing his camera, a life-size Philippine map in tarpaulin, five t-shirts, two pairs of shorts, a pair of pants, a pair of slippers and shoes, and his laptop which he used for updating his blog so his followers and supporters could keep track of his journey.

So how much exactly did his whole trip around the country cost? According to James, he spent P49,641, all-inclusive. On the average, it cost him about P500 a day. Half of the journey he would sleep in local homes and the rest in his hammock in true backpacking style.

One Road, A Hundred Discoveries

Through this epic journey, James wanted to prove that travelling is not only for those who can afford it, but for anyone who has the passion to explore and discover the immense beauty of the Philippines. Hence, the idea of ISANGDAAN journey was born.

With all the logistics and finances taken care of, James set out on the journey of his life on February 1 this year, beginning with Metro Manila, then moving on across the whole Luzon island. He traveled mainly by bus, especially in the Luzon and Mindanao routes, and by boat around the Visayas. The only times he boarded the plane were when he went to Zamboanga from Tawi-tawi, and going back to Manila from El Nido towards the end of the journey. Throughout his trip, James shunned all touristy spots and uncovered hidden terrains and territories. In fact, he discovered that the more remote the area, the more preserved not only its natural beauty is but also its cultural heritage.

Travel Highlights

How does a backpacker who has traveled to 80 provinces even begin to describe the richness and vastness of his travel experiences?

Thanks to modern technology. With his blog, or the modern traveler's diary, he could record all the details of every place, its people and their culture.

In Kalinga province, for instance, James discovered the living heritage of the Kalingas. In the tattooing village of Buscalan, he met a tribe of women, the Butbut, whose bodies were covered with tattoos.

Of course, his travels also led him to gastronomical pleasures. …

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