Learn about Ferdinand in our interview:
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’m Ferdz Decena, a travel photographer and writer from the Philippines. I was fortunate to be raised in a family that loves to travel.
As a kid, I enjoyed our family summer road trips. We often spent time by the beach in my father’s province in Quezon Philippines and my mom’s home in Bicol.
But, growing up, this became less frequent.
I wanted to recapture that sense of wonder and started traveling on my own when I was already working. I think travel is always a way to learn about the world. It broadens our horizons but at the same time it shows us that people go through the same struggles as everyone wherever we live.
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 think a lot already know about the famed hospitality of Filipinos. We love to entertain guests and offer them what we can. We like to please people, which can both be good and bad. And, we always like to leave good impressions on our guests.
Which dish do you feel best represents where you’re specifically from? Share a picture and tell us why you love it!
For me, Adobo represents our cuisine. It is simple but differs in character depending on which place in the country you are at.
Share about a custom/tradition you observe, and talk about the role of family in your life. What does family mean to you?
Filipinos are family oriented. Unlike other countries they tend to stick together even if they grow up. So, a sense of family is one of the important things Filipino hold on to. For most, it’s what we live for, to make each of our family members have better lives.
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, if you can. (i.e. street art, festivals, paintings, architecture, woven artwork, a family heirloom, etc.)
I love the Ifugao and Igorot culture of the highlands. I always urge people to visit the Cordillera regions to see and experience their culture. Their native dance mimicking animals and dancing synchronized to the sound of gongs is both mesmerizing and hypnotic. Their dances are also tied deeply into their rituals.
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.
Say “Kamusta” with a smile. It mean’s “Hello”, a great way to start a conversation. I always believed in giving thanks so say “Salamat!” for “Thanks.”
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’ve had a lot of memorable encounters with strangers, especially during solo travels. There were simple strangers asking directions that became companions on a trip.
For me, one memorable encounter was in Myanmar. It was a balloon festival in Inle Lake and all the rooms were booked and I couldn’t find a ride out. This kind lady at the hotel called up all the available hotels aside from her own. Not satisfied, she also called up the buses to find me a seat, which she did. I was touched as she went out of her way to help me. A stranger that just walked into a hotel to ask for information and help.
In Batanes, Philippines as well, I remember being capsized with my friends in Sabtang Island. Our boat turned over and we were soaking wet. A couple took us in, let us sleep in their house for at least 3 nights until the weather got better, and the boat transfers resumed. They even let us join in their meals. We kept in touch with them after and revisited them when we returned to the island.