Intrepid days and nights

Christmas Karaoke with Allan.

Last month, I officially began work as a tour leader for Intrepid Travel, one of the best travel companies in the world. Their main philosophy is all about responsible travel, which I think is more relevant today.

In the early months of 2012, I learned a lot from a tour leader named Andy Sawchyn, an Aussie guy who really is a master of his craft. He’s been at it for more than 10 years and I bow to his wisdom. He recommended me to work as a tour leader for the succeeding trips in the Philippines. I had a one-week training in Bangkok last November before heading off to handle a group in December.

Bob and I. A photo with Thai tour leader Bob who hails from Chiang Mai. This guy showed us around Bangkok and helped me get acquainted with their cuisine. He cooks too!
My first official Intrepid group.
My first official Intrepid group. (Top left to right): Local guides Johnson, Jay-R, Don, Emma, Kristian, Katrin, Hannah, Graham, Lis and Peter. (Bottom left to right) Phillip, Pat and Amy.
Christmas Karaoke with Allan.
Christmas Karaoke with Allan. Spent my first Christmas away from my family with my second group. The fun I had with them made the holidays at work bearable. Photo by Dana Westphal.
My other job.
My other job. Cameras! Cameras for sale! ;-) Photo by Peter Lowe.

So far, I have handled three groups and I have grown to love them all. Each group is unique and all I can do is to describe and not to compare them.

One of the hardest parts I guess for a tour leader is to let go of any attachment to the previous group and reset one’s mind for the next one. To this day, I still remember their names and the qualities that make each of them special. There will always be a running joke; a conversation piece; a karaoke song; a tattoo; a dance; and daily observations about food and the people they’ve met. Their insights are fresh, exciting and sometimes controversial. It’s also a re-affirmation of our qualities (good and bad) about being Filipino.

When asked if I get tired visiting the same old destinations, I always tell my guests that it’s not really these places that I’m looking at; it’s their reaction upon seeing them and their interaction with one another.

I’ve been lucky so far to have really great groups. I miss all of them and I don’t mind seeing them soon. There are certain qualities that Intrepid travellers have: they’re fun, open-minded and interesting. They have seen the worst toilets, endured bad roads and survived different types of food. I want them to have fun in my country.

I have been away for so long from the comforts of home and my wife. I try hard not to think about these things too much because I want to honor my commitment. I’m crossing my fingers that I accomplish my task with flying colors because one of my biggest goals is for Intrepid to offer more itineraries here.

I want to show the world that we deserve a visit.


Mga nakakadinig, sila ang sumatutal
Pagkakataong humukay ng panibagong bukal
Na humuhubog sa isip ng mga batang may pangarap
Kahit anong mangyari wag kang bibitaw sa yakap