Storyteller Kathleen | Da Social Climber Travel Blog


Today on Culture with Travel, we’re delighted to share our interview with Kathleen Grace de Gracia, the owner of Da Social Climber Travel blog. Kathleen is from the Southern part of the Philippines, but a Filipina in the Maldives.

Tell us a bit about yourself! Why do you love travel? How do you think travel unites us or teaches us more about the world?

I am Kathleen, born and raised in Iligan City, South of the Philippines. I grew up in a big family where travel is a luxury. At the same time, I grew up being an introvert. So, when I got the chance of joining my first trek, I got hooked. Since then, I joined every climbing and trekking adventure I could fit into my schedule. Until I got curious of solo traveling and traveled to the rest of the country and started my own blog  and joined blogging.

Traveling has opened my eyes about the other side of the world. The Philippines is located in the middle of the ocean and with my small city, we don’t see many foreigners. When I finally backpacked Southeast Asia, I got the real world up close. It is like a melting pot of young adventurers. And, it made me curious about working abroad. When I got the chance, I moved to Maldives and worked there for 1 and a half years. It was a turning point in my life.

Travel made me stronger. It taught me experiences and life lessons I didn’t know existed. If I get the chance to do it again, I will.

What surprising aspect of culture do you love about where you’re from (your specific town/city) that travelers may not be aware of?

I came from a small city. Its location is close to provinces with military unrest. With its location and trivial multicultural origins, I could say we are very resilient, open, and hospitable. There have been sieges in the nearby city and we’ve housed many refugees. A few years ago, we also experienced flash floods. But with all these catastrophes, everyone I know is either volunteering, sharing information, or working for an organization. Everyone is willing to give a hand. We have little but we give so much.

Which dish do you feel best represents where you’re specifically from? Share a picture and tell us why you love it!

Kinilaw. This dish serves as an appetizer made with raw fish cooked in vinegar, kalamansi, ginger, onions and other spices. This is particularly famous in provinces. We used to bring this dish when we go to the beach, a pool or a waterfall with the family.

Kinilaw and da social climber

4. Share about a custom/tradition you observe, and talk about the role of family in your life. What does family mean to you?

Every time we arrive home or we see family and relatives, we ask for a blessing from our elders. In Filipino, we call it “mano.”

Mano (Photo Source:
Mano (Photo Source:

This gesture is a proof of giving respect to our parents and to our elders. This is also related to giving back to our parents. Now that I’m older, I give part of my salary regularly. This is also true to all Filipinos. We take care of our elders.

5. Art and dance can tell a deeper story about local culture. Tell us the story of a specific artwork or dance that has a meaning for you. 

Every September, we celebrate our city festival known as “Diyandi Fetival”. This is a celebration of life and prosperity in honor of our patron saint Sr. San Miguel. Every city in the Philippines is celebrating their own festivities depending on their patron.

Diyandi Fetival
Diyandi Fetival

6.Languages not only give us the power to communicate but also can unite us across cultures. Share a favorite saying you have, or teach us something in your native language.

This is a common phrase in our dialect: “pag ayo ayo,” which means “always take care.”

Every time we say goodbye, we follow it with “pag ayo ayo”

These are simple words but they’re meaningful.

Have you ever met a stranger during your travels who made an impact on your life in a certain way, or maybe it was you who helped someone else? Share the story!

I have met a lot of people in my travels. One girl I met was from Russia. We met in a minibus going to Laos and we instantly clicked. She shares stories about meditation and yoga. I was also enrolling in the same institute she went to. I seem to find people who had the same passion and endeavors as I do when traveling.

Follow Kathleen’s adventures on her blog, Facebook, and Twitter!

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