Jo here, writing to you from my brand spankin’ new office space, aka my studio apartment in Los Angeles. While I unpacked boxes, and built furniture, I was genuinely looking forward to hitting the pause button on all of the home improvement shenanigans to meet a reader of our blog, who’s this month’s We Fly High feature.
Today, we’re hanging out with Bryan, who’s extremely motivating story about traveling despite being a cancer survivor since 2010, a college graduate (let’s not get me into college debt), and an immigrant from the Philippines, will make you rush to shut up and go book your next flight right here on our site. For a 26 year old, this guy has got a lot of wisdom he’s ready to spit, and we’re ready to get wise.
Bryan, you seem like the sweetest person, and I’m bummed that I couldn’t do this interview in person.
Let’s get down to the good stuff, as an immigrant myself, I’d like to hear more about your immigrant story.
I am currently 26 years old and I came to the US about 10 years ago (November of 2006). I was 16 years old back then and was supposed to be graduating from high school. Moving high schools and let alone in another country that speaks another language was the hardest part of adjusting my life here in the US. But through the years, it all worked out and I am now I guess what you call a “working young adult”. Low key still can’t believe it because I don’t really feel like an adult inside. I am just a kid that pretends to be an adult. :))
I’m a grown woman myself, who still wants to run to my mommy and watch Spongebob when things get out of control in the adulting world, trust me, I get that life boo.
What about your family, what’s happening there?
My parents worked abroad in Saudi Arabia and left us to the care of the greatest grandparents in the world! It is common for a lot of Filipinos to go abroad for work because it pays well, which means it will not only provide better opportunities for them but also to their families back in their home country. It gave families more resources to look forward and plan for a better future. It was hard being away from my parents, but it is the sacrifice that they decided to make in order to ensure a good future for me and my Brother.
I also get that struggle, in Brazil, my mom was constantly working to pay the bills, so we were raised mostly by our grandparents as well. When we moved to the USA, she was a nanny raising kids for a living, while we fended for ourselves. It makes you stronger in the end.
What was day-to-day like in the Philippines?
I pretty much grew up with my grandparents in a secluded farm by the mountains in the Southernmost part of the Philippines with a TV that only has one TV channel. Life was pretty simple back there, my grandparents farmed most of the things we eat from eggs, fruits and vegetables. Occasionally, we get our need for protein from our goats and chickens in the backyard. I am proud to say that life as a kid in the Philippines was the BEST! Because I get to play a lot outside, climb trees and just pretty be an actual KID having fun outdoors! After years of working in Saudi Arabia, my parents finally got a chance to move to the US. Even though life in the Philippines was great and all, I always had that longing to move here and experience that “American life” and more importantly to be with my parents. They worked so hard to bring me and my brother to the US, which is believed by most Filipinos as something that will give us better opportunities and success in life. Years have passed and the day of moving to the US finally came and I remember it as one of the best days of my life. I was so excited hearing the news that we are finally going stateside!
I will be forever grateful for my parents for working so hard while being away from their kids for years in order to give us better opportunities such as, to be able to move here and live that “American dream.” To be honest, it was really one of my dreams but things change and I can say that I have a better perspective now. And also of course to my grandparents for raising us back in the Philippines.
Love this story, it’s truly 100% the essence of what it is to be an immigrant in the USA, and carrying your culture wherever you go, while adopting and loving a new one all together.
You’re a cancer survivor, congratulations, I’m THRILLED for you! That’s really profound that you’ve found the strength and courage to travel, tell us a little bit more about how you overcame all of the struggles?
Yes! I am a Cancer Survivor (*Cheers to 7 years of Cancer Survivorship!!! :D) but I am not any different or special than everyone else. We all have our own struggles and it just happens that one of mine was Cancer. I was diagnosed with Stage 2 Hodgkins Lymphoma and did about 1 year of chemotherapy and 15 days of radiation therapy. Looking back, I think having cancer gave me more strength and courage to travel, explore and just live this life by trying my best to live it right! Cancer gave me the motivation I needed to not give up and continue fighting for the dreams that I want to be my reality. After cancer treatment, it took me a while to save up some money and enough courage to finally travel solo abroad because I wanted to finish school and get an “adult” job first to make the people that I love proud. But I always had travel in mind and promised to myself that I will hit “book” and have the time of my life.
As a cliche as it sounds, life really is too short and you never know when it is your time or when something like cancer just hit you and puts a paused in your life. The best that you can really do is to be positive, think of the things that makes you happy, let go and trust God that everything will be alright. I mean I had my days or months of being all depressed and sad, but being those two can’t really do anything good… Because cancer already got me and it got me good! It was not easy, but just like everything else, sometimes the best that you can do is to let go and let it be. It already happened and there is not much you can do but to help yourself to choose happiness and positivity and use it as one of the tools to continue your battles and overcome them. I didn’t really overcame all of my struggles and I can say that I am still a working progress and probably will always be. I think that is just the cycle of life! But I did gain valuable life lessons such as the following:
1. Life is not measured by how much time and “stuff” you have in this world. It is rather measured by the valuable and unforgettable life experiences and adventures that takes your breath away.
2. Everyone has the power to do a lot of things and become a better person that will try his/her best to make a difference in other people’s lives!
3. Always be grateful for the big or little things you have and make it worthwhile because not everything really last forever.
Did I not tell you guys, this man is wise! Spittin’ some serious truth right now, and I’m loving every single word.
What would you really like people to know about travel?
I would like people to know that traveling can be GREAT, AWESOME and THE BEST but at the same time sometimes, it can be a bad experience. But you will always learn something worthwhile out of it that will help your character grow with a better perspective in all aspects of life. A lot of people or travel blog like Shutupandgo.travel (Aka the best travel blog) already mentioned this, but traveling is the best education you can get. It is not just learning historical facts, cultures and languages, but it is also about learning real world experiences that will test you… Traveling gets you out of your comfort zone because you are sometimes put in situations that doesn’t make sense, but it is what you need to be forced to think and act beyond your current ability. This is very valuable because you will discover and learn new things that you’ve always have the ability to do. I travel to be able to experience and learn these kind of things and to be able to use it to become a better version of myself.
Dang, it’s like your name is really just DamonAndJo! Seriously, you know we agree with 100% of what you just said!
How did you make the move to finally book your first solo trip, was it a moment in particular that made you click “book?”
I think reading your blogs and watching you guys on YouTube is one of the main factors that made me click “book”. If you guys can I do it, I can do it too! During the time I booked my trip, I literally told myself to “Shut Up and Go” and “Life is too short to wait around, I got to make this happen”. I did made it happen and I plan it to be able to do this for the rest of my life.
You’re going to make my cheek muscles cramp from smiling so hard, awwww stawwwppp ittttt Bryan! Thank you for watching and reading, it’s amazing to know that your story is now a part of the Shut Up and Go story as well.
What was the best travel tip you learned about while on your journey?
Travel as much as you can because life is too short to not enjoy what the world has to offer. Don’t let anything hold you back!! Keep working hard and do whatever you can to be able to travel! I keep hearing all the excuses that I don’t have the money, I’m too busy, or I am going to wait until I’m older… Why wait? I think your younger years are the best years to travel and experience something unforgettable and rewarding!! The best advice that I’ve heard so far are from the best travelers and goes something like this “SHUT UP AND GO.”
The wise-o-meter just hit an all time high here, ladies and gentlemen.
Ok Bryan, last thing: what’s the next trip for you?
This year I am going to Greece and I am also planning to go to Japan to finally bust out my Japanese language skills after taking 3 semesters of Japanese back in college (5 years ago).. But my Japanese is pretty much almost gone now and I need to practice!!
Well, arigatou for your beautifully worded answers on this month’s We Fly High feature, it was truly a pleasure. You go on with your bad self, and keep conquering the world with all of your positive energy that oozes through the screen! I feel those smiles all the way from here.
Hopefully all of you at home are pumped up about Bryan’s stories, and check out the best flight deals to keep shutting up and going.
If you’d like to be featured on the next We Fly High, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org with “We Fly High” in the subject.