2016: A Year of Dreams


A vagabond friend of mine once said, “When you’ve traveled and seen that much beauty, it’s hard not to believe in a higher power. There’s gotta be something out there bigger than us that will explain all this.”

I’m not religious. There were times in my youth when I doubted if any higher power actually presided over this earth. But over the years, I have come to believe too that the universe conspires and intervenes to make dreams a reality. Because I have seen it happen in my life. 






2016 has been a whirlwind romance. Every month I was brought to places I only dreamed of: from luxury hotels in Cebu and Bohol, I backrode on someone else's Harley to Batangas. I woke up in Buscalan and had Whang Od breathe new life to a painful scar. I shared Mt. Pulag with my daughter.





I spent days in Samar and Leyte, with survivors of Yolanda, on Yolanda’s anniversary. I combed the streets of Singapore – my first out-of-the-country experience – and ended up in Fort Canning, watching a band that changed my life perform just inches away from me.





Brought. 

It is so easy to claim all the credit and say that I was the one who made all that happen, but I wasn't. There were times these were impossible – financially, physically. But by some sort of magic, things often worked out as I didn’t expect them to. A higher power was there pulling all the strings.




When people ask me how it is to work as a travel writer, I always say it's something I could never get used to. The opportunity to travel is and will always be so surreal to me, because I was once just a girl making ends meet, who dreamed of experiencing places and cultures in a tiny cubicle.



I am a breadwinner with loans and mortgage to pay. I didn't come from a moneyed family. I was supposed to take an entirely different path as a nurse working abroad. I spent six years of my life in the wrong courses, causing nothing but disappointment to my parents - all because my heart was set in the wrong place.




But then I started doing what I wasn't supposed to be doing. I wrote stories. I sought my place in secret hideaways with the little money I had. The universe did the rest.

Now I earn only a fraction of what I could be earning in the US. I don't have the luxury of a cozy apartment with a big yard or money to buy nice shoes and to enjoy weekly hot cuppas in overpriced cafes.




But what I have is more. I have memories of being in the skies, at sea, on mountains, among kind strangers. I have a life where I see dreams transform into something real and lasting. I get to spend more time growing up with my daughter and teaching her that chasing your dreams is the one key to truly having it all. It is a long and hard journey, but it is one that fills the heart with content and peace.




2016 was the year when the dream of travel came full circle. It was the year I realized really just how powerful that higher power is if we continue treading the path to our dreams, however impossible it seems.

Photo by Ferdz Decena


Saddled on a big bike from Taal to Manila, as the rain poured down on my unsheltered body, I looked up to the sky, closed my eyes, and thanked the heavens for extending the gift of travel to me. For giving me this gift of words and stories, the one thing that led me here.

For opening so many doors for this girl who only once dreamed of seeing the world. For always keeping me company so I can go home at the end of these journeys and share these beautiful memories with my daughter.




The universe provides when our hearts are set in the right place. It has brought me here and it can bring you there too - if you start believing and start doing.




This is also my entry to the December 2016 PTB Blog Carnival "2016: A Year Ender" hosted by Mervin Marasigan of PinoyAdventurista.




Gretchen Filart Dublin

Gretchen is a freelance travel writer and social media manager. She writes for print and digital publications for work and weaves travel stories on her blog for fun.

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