We first met Jon during a blogging meet up and we were immediately drawn to his fun and friendly charismatic character. Since then, he has launched his own blog and has gained traction because of his zest for promoting travel around the Philippines. We love the fact that he makes time to travel despite having a 9-5 and is constantly inspiring others to discover the joys that traveling can bring.
- Tell us a bit about yourself and how you got inspired to travel?
- You travel a lot around the Philippines, what are the top 3 places that you can recommend?
- How has traveling changed your life?
- Why did you decide to set up a blog? Do you think blogging has changed the way you travel?
- What is your favourite thing about traveling?
- Some people believe that traveling is all about exploring places out of their own country. What can you say to those people?
- How do you fund your travels?
- What has been your fondest travel experience?
- Why would you urge other people to travel around the Philippines? What would you say to convince them?
Tell us a bit about yourself and how you got inspired to travel?
I am Jonathan Espiña, or Jon. My journey to realizing that I want a life of travel and adventure has been a long arduous journey. I was a former Television producer and writer in a major TV Network here. It was actually a realization of a dream for me, to work in the media. But the problem was, patayan ang trabaho! (workload is literally killing you). Sleep was like a luxury. I shut down all my social and family life just for the sake of this ever challenging job. But after a long process of thinking, I realized it wasn’t worth it. I needed to find balance, so I quit.
So I transferred to a corporate job, the usual 9 to 5. I loved it. I finally had the chance to breathe and find the balance that I longed for. But there was another problem, I felt there was something missing. It was like the universe was telling me that there is something more that I should do aside from going to the office every day and doing the cycle over and over again. I respect the corporate workers. I am still one up to now, but I then realized that if you have a job just to pay the bills…you should also be doing something for yourself, you should do something that feeds your soul. That thing that makes you feel alive, work that truly matters, something that you are passionate about. For me it’s writing and travel.
Last year, I had a chance to travel to Thailand, and I literally went back as a changed person. I was not the same Jon that I was before that trip. In Thailand, I saw and met people traveling solo, people who were brave enough to do what they love, people who are doing the things they believe they are called for. I was so inspired that I created my blog, Jontotheworld! I am still a corporate worker, and I do my best at work, but my mindset is different now. Life is short. Life is an adventure, so I know for now, I will go on as many adventures as possible.
You travel a lot around the Philippines, what are the top 3 places that you can recommend?
The best for me is Batad, Ifugao. I traveled to this place during the time when I needed some clarity in my life. And Batad gave it to me! I also gained some tremendous friends. This is the place that I longed to revisit. I love Batad – the amphitheater rice terraces and its people!
Second is Calaguas. I love the beach! And I believe this is one of the best beaches in the Philippines. When I set my foot on the island, I was literally in awe of its beauty . Must visit for all Filipinos and foreigners.
Third is Mt Palay Palay or Mt. Pico De Loro. We all heard that phrase that being close to nature makes you feel connected – to yourself, to the universe. I felt that with Pico De Loro! Plus, it was an unforgettable climb at the monolith.
How has traveling changed your life?
Immensely! Now I walk into the world as someone who feels that he has meaning and purpose to fulfil. Unlike before, I was like a robot or a zombie, wandering around. It has widened my perspective, my view about life.
Why did you decide to set up a blog? Do you think blogging has changed the way you travel?
First of all, I love to write. I want to put into words every feeling and thought that I have when traveling. I want to tell stories, both my story and experiences which I hope would help people to follow the path they’re supposed to be following. I want to inspire others to create their own stories and not follow the one imposed to them by the society or other people.
Blogging indeed changed the way I travel because I am now more purposeful about my travels. I am more aware that I will be writing something about my travels which makes me more reflective. I am now more attune to every detail of the experience and it makes me feel more connected to what I’m doing.
What is your favourite thing about traveling?
The entire experience itself!
Ifugao made me realize that I need to be active and value my health more. It was also the place that gave me the clarity that I needed. Traveling for me is very personal. I always experience different insights when I travel. There are times that I also experience an epiphany! It’s just amazing.
Another highlight would be the people I meet along the way! Now, I feel that I am not normal anymore! I mean I don’t belong to the norm when it comes to my views about life as a whole, so it’s just amazing to meet like-minded people when I travel. People who have passions in life and who have the same beliefs as mine.
Some people believe that traveling is all about exploring places out of their own country. What can you say to those people?
Well, I also believe that one point in our lives, we must experience traveling to other countries, and not just going there for business. The journey is different when in another country. It was actually Thailand that inspired to follow my passions in life. However, traveling around the Philippines, also made me realize that travel is not just about going to faraway places. All you need is to be in a strange or different place as you explore it and you’ll definitely learn something valuable.
How do you fund your travels?
I have a day job. I have a stable income, but budgeting it wisely to allot something for travel is tough. I am a believer of simple and frugal living. I don’t eat out during lunch. I bring a packed lunch to help bring my expenses down. At the end of the day, it is a matter of priority. Some people buy shoes or clothes with their spare money. For me, I go to the mountains, or go for a weekend beach getaway. I invest more on moments and experiences than material things.
What has been your fondest travel experience?
It’s the people I meet along the way. I’ve met some of the most amazing people in my life through traveling. I also love traveling with friends, but most of my friends are not as crazy as me when it comes to adventure. So what I do is either join other people or do it alone. I also love traveling with my girlfriend. I love creating wonderful memories with her, it strengthens our relationship, our commitment to one another.
Why would you urge other people to travel around the Philippines? What would you say to convince them?
The Philippines is beautiful and it’s sad that sometimes foreigners appreciate it more than we do. Cliché as it may sound but explore and travel around the Philippines first. It will make you more connected to being Filipino. It makes you proud of our heritage and culture because you’ve experienced it first hand. So by the time you travel the world, you are certain of who you are.