“Let’s get married so you’ll have a US passport. You don’t have to pay me. It’s on the house.” a friend volunteered.
“No. That requires living with you. You’re too gay and you probably have more beauty products than I do. Plus, I don’t want to exchange awkward glances with the different men you bring home every night.”
“Go back to Spain. You can continue your residency. You have more edge now that you speak Spanish fluently,” Javier, my ex roommate in Barcelona said.
“That ship has sailed, Javi. I was rejected a Spanish visa last month, in case you forgot.”
My mother suggested: “Go to the Netherlands and study Dutch. You are good with languages. I am sure you will get a passport in 5-10 years.”
“Hmm… what do you expect me to do in those 5-10 years? Stay in one country to get a citizenship? You know I can’t be normal, mum. I will be bored as fuck. By the time I get the ‘golden’ passport, I will be 40. And then what? No, thanks.”
“What will you do then?” She asked.
“I will continue traveling to visa free countries for Filipinos.”
I’m used to getting crazy remarks from people who receive this. Djibouti? Iran? Georgia? Armenia? They look at me like they want to say “you don’t even know if human life exists there. Or the internet. Or macaroons.” Yes, I fucking love macaroons. But I’m sure I’ll get by a few years without it. Duh, it’s 2016. I am sure Internet is pretty decent every where. Not reliable but tolerable. My ‘work’ aka blog is Internet dependent so I will never think about going to a country where it doesn’t exist.
But those who get me and understand how my mind works agree. “You’ve been to exotic places. Places where Filipinos wouldn’t think about going. You will be fine, Trisha! I believe in you. Just skip Afghanistan, Syria and Pakitan. Please?”
For the past 6 years, I’ve been traveling to visa-free countries (not including my study abroad trip in Europe) because I never want to feel not welcomed. I don’t want to go through all these processes where people are looking at you like you are a dumb, moneyless, jobless cunt who will probably end up working in their ‘wealthy’ territory. Even if there is no way that is true, that’s how the whole world looks at Filipinos — they would go AWOL after being granted a visa.
I’ve enjoyed traveling visa free countries for Filipinos in Asia, Africa and South America. For 6 years, I stayed in these countries freely, without boundaries, without a tanning, without being asked to leave because the visa is expiring. This is what made me get to know a certain country better. I stayed longer. I stayed until my ‘feelings’ told me to do so. I can say I truly know a country, culture and food because I was there for an ample time to experience it. It sucks that people who travel Europe or the USA for 3 weeks, 10+ countries/states are the ones who tell me, “Don’t go to Iran. It’s not safe. Go see the Eiffel Tower. Oh, I’m sure you are going to love Trafalgar. Europe and the USA are safe.” Ha! Europe is safe.
To each his own.
I’ve been to Europe but why I haven’t been to the USA is a question for many. I don’t have any reasons to go yet is how I always put it. Until two months ago, I found a reason. The Young Philanthropists invited me for a 3-month road trip (all expense paid) that will start from Los Angeles, CA and will end in Savannah, GA. That sounds exciting, right? Three months on the road? All expense paid? Why not! The reason of visiting USA finally came. But mainly, I was excited because I can go to the Caribbean ‘visaless.’ Some countries accept a used and valid US visa in that side of the world. It means I don’t have to apply for a visa to Mexico, El Salvador, Belize, Panama, etc. Having a US visa will definitely save me time, money and effort.
“You have no ties in the Philippines” is a phrase that stings. It annoys me just how Kyle is super irritated with the word “glitch” in Jodie Foster’s Money Maker. (You should see this movie. I watched it alone 2 days ago.)
I have no ties in the Philippines? My family and friends are here. All the people I love breath and exist here. But you know I can’t say that. You know I can’t prove my ties unless I bring every member of my family in all the visa interviews. And if it was allowed, it wouldn’t be sufficient. A single, childless, ‘houseless’, ‘propertyless’ woman like me still need to prove my financial capability. I don’t have papers for that either.
So there you go, folks. I was rejected a US visa. You can read the full story here.
Now, I have all the reasons to follow the Universe’s instruction. I am going to travel the visa free countries for Filipinos. I am born to do this. I now have all the enthusiasm to start over. Hence, I renewed my passport last week. I am starting fresh.
No visa? No problem! is a series I pitched in a well-known digital publication in the Philippines but has been put to trash. Meaning, the Editor rejected the idea. “This won’t click, Trisha. It’s not clickable. Filipinos want to read articles that involve the USA and Europe.” This, I feel, is belittling the capabilities and understanding of the many thriving citizens of this country. This mentality makes us limit ourselves to the greatness this world has to offer.
My parents and I were driving to Subic from Manila yesterday. We stopped in Petron in NLEX for food and toilet needs. There are shitloads of restaurants there but everything were full. We did not even have the chance to park. We had to go to the toilet one by one so that someone will watch the car.
“There are many establishments here but they miscalculated the need for more parking slots,” my father said.
“Darling, it’s because Filipinos are not used to success. They didn’t think people will come here. They don’t think big.” My mom responded.
And my mother was right. At that moment, we are still stuck in thinking small. This is how this society shapes its citizens — with limits.
5, 4, 3, 2, 1…
Dear Editor, the offer is down the drain. I am now publishing this series on this blog and I am sure you will ask for exclusivity when this one pulls off. Well, I don’t really care if it doesn’t pull off. I just want to empower my countrymen with options. That maybe, just maybe, visa free countries for Filipinos (aside from Southeast Asia) will one day be socially acceptable and understandable.
I am leaving in a month! And here’s what I have so far (subject to change).
You know me, I can be all over the place without thinking. And sometimes, it’s a bad thing. However, it’s good enough for me, for now.
I will first stay for a week in Dubai to meet friends and bloggers alike. It’s also the cheapest route to my new Middle Eastern adventure: Iran, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Armenia, Turkey, Israel and Jordan. Take note that Dubai, Azerbaijan and Turkey are not visa free countries for Filipinos but it’s easy to get one once I am there. Sure enough, it won’t be boring. I am going to give you a peak on what it’s like to travel to these strange countries through the No visa? No problem! series.
The last 7 months visiting friends and family back home has been a great ride. I was able to reconnect and recharge a little. But that charge is slowly short circuiting. I need to get out of here before the battery pack goes empty.
When I wrote about the harsh reality of home after years of traveling the world, I thought things will change but everything stayed the same. I was patient. I was kind. I gave love and light to everyone around me. Then I realised I’ve reached my limit. I can’t be the person who absorbs all the negative energy. I don’t understand this language anymore.
I need to recharge so I can be helpful, loving and good company to the people I love. I’m tired. I’m weak. I’m lonely. I’m drained. Therefore, I am leaving again.
ANNOUNCEMENT: Meet up in Dubai by the end of June!
To all readers, bloggers, friends who are currently based in Dubai, I am arranging a mini gathering by the end of June. If you are interested to have fun with us, please e-mail me at trishavelarmino[at]gmail[dot]com with subject “Dubai Meet Up” so I can put you in the loop!