Storytellers Carol And Bianca: Get There | Get Lost

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Today’s Culture with Travel interview is with travelers and storytellers Carol & Bianca from Get There | Get Lost.

Tell us a bit about yourself, and your blog! 

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Carol: “I’m a Digital Marketing Executive based in New Jersey. Born and raised in the Philippines, I moved to the US first in California with Bianca and our parents, before moving to the east coast with my family. We started Get There | Get Lost not only so we could document our travels, but also to keep in touch in a more regular basis than most siblings who live far away from each other do. This year, with Bianca’s initiative, we launched the Get There | Get Lost shop! We currently have apparel for women and travel pouches, and are hoping to add more products soon!”

Bianca: “My name is Bianca and I’m Carol’s younger sister. Also born and raised in the Philippines, I moved to the California after getting my degree in Biochemistry. My day job is making cancer medicines for one of the largest biotech companies in the world. While science is a career (okay, I do love it), the thirst for history, art, literature and culture keeps my blood pumping, and this I share with my husband, Jesus. My dream job is to take photos and write about them. Get There | Get Lost has allowed me to connect with my sister and also pursue that dream job that is never a job. Additionally, since my husband’s stroke in 2013, Get There | Get Lost is where we share our passion for accessible travel – because we believe our disabilities should not prevent us from satisfying our quench for travel.”

Why do you love to travel? How do you think travel unites us or teaches us more about the world?

Carol: The general answer, I believe for anyone who visits one place, is that inexplicable rush of feeling when we see/do/experience something new. It’s like unboxing a toy. I don’t know why I love to travel, but we’ve experience a lot of long distance relationships – being away from our dad when we were kids, and then years later, being away from my husband and kids while waiting for their immigration papers to get approved. It was difficult, but the frequent-ish flying from one country to another showed me how VERY possible and plausible it is to be in any given place in the world. Yes, the world is huge, but also, it is small. If that makes sense at all. And I really want to see a lot of it! This may sound cheesy or cliche, but I think what teaches us is respect for other’s cultures, religion, customs and their self-identity.

Bianca: I love to travel because I feel instead of one life I get, that life is exponentially multiplied. I get to live the lives of people from the past, the people I meet, and then therefore constantly reshape the life I have. More than geography, I appreciate travel through the perspective of time. The curiosity of the world we live in and its inhabitants make us travel and wander and learn. And when we do, we become one with the people who lived before us and we also leave a mark for those who’ll come after. When I walked through the Roman Forum, the same path Julius Caesar walked on, that is when I truly appreciated that travel unites all of humanity.

What surprising aspect of local culture do you love about your hometown (or home country) that travelers may not be aware of?

Carol: “Off of the top of my head, I say “mano po.” It’s a gesture wherein you take the hand of the elder and place the back of it on your forehead. It’s like a kiss. It’s a sign of respect of the elder and a way of accepting his or her blessing.”

Bianca: “Definitely what Carol said.”

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

bagnet get there get lost

Carol: “OH, THIS IS HARD. Yes, all caps! Haha! I think it varies per region. I’m biased. I am city-raised, but I spent a lot of childhood summers and Christmases in the province of Ilocos. My favorites from the region are bagnet and Vigan longganisa. But I think, being a tropical country made up of thousands of islands, the Philippines are known for the seafood and a variety of tropical fruits!”

Bianca: “For me, seafood. When I moved to the US, I didn’t realize that most people (at least most of my friends and coworkers) are predominantly meat eaters. Now, many have switched to vegan / vegetarian diet, but it amazed me how many people didn’t eat fish and even grossed out by it. As Carol mentioned, we’re surrounded with water in the Philippines, and fresh seafood is very accessible and even cheaper.”

 

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

Carol: “I’m not sure if this is the right answer to the question, but I immediately thought of this by the mention of family. The Philippines are a matriarchal society. Yes, you can say that we are lagging in implementing equal rights in many aspects (and I don’t mean for this to invite any political discussions), but people generally respect women, especially mothers. As a working mom, my Filipino co-workers ALWAYS gave me higher regard because of the fact that I’m that: Working. Mom. You’re viewed as badass. Cut-throat. Stern and compassionate at the same time – and that’s a high level of being strong. In the family, the often-seen as mediocre, trivial home responsibilities/house chores performed by moms in other cultures are valued in the Filipino home. These responsibilities and chores are seen as an important part of the day-to-day, and being the one that usually stays home to perform them makes moms important; that her taking care of her family is not only a major contribution to the family alone, but to the society. We are taught early on that moms are “ilaw ng tahanan,” direct translation “light of the home.”

Bianca: “Family for me is love despite the distance. Ever since I can remember, physical distance from each other was always something we dealt with. I see my sister once a year, my brother every couple of years. Despite that, I’d say we’re very close. We know each others’ characters and we keep the connection.”

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. Share a photo (for example of street art, festivals, paintings, architecture, woven artwork, a family heirloom, etc.)

Carol: “The Philippines is a predominantly Catholic country, so we are big on Catholic holidays. We pay huge tributes during the Holy Week and Christmases: reenactments of the events leading to Jesus’ crucifixion, as well as those of when Christ was born. We have feasts on days that celebrate the saints, too. Living in New Jersey now, my family and I take day trips to bask in the country’s art culture, visiting the Mural Mile, for instance, and taking advantage of the free museum days in New York.”

Bianca: “This is a tough question for me because I must have a favorite piece from each of my favorite artists (Rodin’s Gates of Hell, Picasso’s Guernica, Dali’s Melting Watch to name a few). Most recently, the Henning Larsen designed building Moesgaard Museum is the one I’m raving about. This modern structure that seems to lift from the earth became as memorable for me as the artifacts it housed.”

 

Languages not only give us the power to communicate but also can unite us across cultures. Share a favorite saying.

Carol: “‘The things you deserve most in life are the ones you worked for.’ I don’t know where this came from, but I was taught this by the people around me and by my own experiences. I also make sure I tell my children this. I think, no matter our differences, cultures around the world that everything you deem worth while is worth working hard for.”

Bianca: “‘Pour bien vivre, bien aimer et laisser dire.’ I learned this saying from my French teacher. While learning some adjectives, she showed me a photo of a cottage in Provence and hanging on the gate was a sign with this saying painted on it. It means “to live well, love well and let others say as they please”. Since then, I’ve really quite lived by it. All I can control is myself and my feelings. Everything else, or everyone, is beyond me.”

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!

Carol: “I honestly can’t say that I have. There have been plenty of encounters that made the vacation more than just was planned or expected, but I can’t say that the impact went beyond the vacation itself and made a difference in my life.”

Bianca: “On our way to Rome to celebrate New Year 2011, we got stranded in Philadelphia due to an icy runway. We missed our connection to Fiumicino, so we had to find a hotel and get a different flight. There was this Albanian couple in their 50s who did not speak much English, but they spoke Italian. My husband is fluent in Italian so he basically became their translator. I was able to get the last room for me and my husband at the Hilton close to the airport, and despite my husband’s help, they couldn’t find any rooms anymore. So, since we got a room with 2 queen beds anyway, it just felt safe enough to ignore the fact that we were strangers in that snowy winter night, so we offered our other bed. The next day, we helped them rebook their flights too. They were ever so grateful. We didn’t see them again after we landed in Fiumicino and we didn’t keep in touch, but I’ll forever have that memory where I trusted strangers because they’ve trusted us. Maybe naive on our part, but I’m glad it turned out well.”

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