Storyteller Carla | BlissfulGuro.com

Halong Bay Overnight Cruise (23)

Our Culture with Travel interview is with storyteller Carla of BlissfulGuro.com 

Storyteller Carla from Blissfulguro
Photo courtesy of Carla from Blissfulguro

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 Carla, and I’m based in Manila, Philippines. I have been in different fields of work but found happiness and freedom in teaching music and arts to high school students in a public school in the metro; keeping me sane for the past nine years now.

Traveling has always been my way of exploring the world outside my comfort zone. I’m always fascinated with Asia. It humbles me to get to experience the very diverse culture of our neighboring countries; relating with the similarities and understanding the differences with traditions I grew up with.

I started my website, www.blissfulguro.com, to chronicle my adventures as I try to change the world one kid at a time and as I explore the world one happy place at a time.

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

Filipinos are known for their genuine hospitality regardless of any biases they have with people. You’d instantly feel the warmth from the smiles of each and every person you’d meet.

I live in the crazy capital of Manila and although people here are quite busy and life is fast-paced, asking for help for just about anything would never disappoint you. Plus, Filipinos are very familiar with the English language, so it’s easier to wander around here.

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

Aside from the grilled skewered innards that are famous in every corner of Manila, halo-halo is definitely one of the must-try desserts that you could get almost anywhere in the Philippines.

What is special about this shaved ice dessert is that you can add any topping that is locally available. You can also adjust the sweetness level from the sugar and milk. Ranging from sweetened fruits and beans to jelly and tapioca, or even ice cream on top, the possibilities are endless.

Just like Filipinos in general, we may have our differences because of our various ethnicities (Philippines is an archipelago made up of 7,641 islands) but we practically thrive in any environment, we just have to find our suitable way of life and survive in any situation.

Storyteller Carla from blissfulguro
Carla from Blissfulguro

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

Family is the core of Philippine culture. Almost every tradition or custom is reflective of our familial ties. Moving out for unmarried young adults is not the usual practice and extended families are not uncommon as living together with the parents even if you’re married is considered the right thing to do.

Home cares are close to nil as it is expected that the young generation would take care of the older ones. I could write a separate article about how important family is to Filipinos; it may not be true to all but family is the core of every Filipino’s existence.

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. 

Aside from family, Filipinos are very devoted to their religion. The Philippines is the 4th largest Christian country in the world with about 90% of the population. Almost every town has its own feast depending on the celebrated saint. There are festivals and merriment of all sorts because of Spain’s Catholic influence.

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. 

Respect is observed even in the way Filipinos speak (there are around 120 to 175 languages and dialects in the Philippines). In my native tongue, Tagalog, we have certain words that reflect the respect we have for elders.

Here are some of these words:

“po” – This Tagalog word is added to phrases or sentences to show respect.

Salamat = Thanks

Salamat po = Thank you

“ate” – Used to address an older sister.

“kuya” – Used to address an older brother.

“tiyo” / “tito” – Used to address an uncle.

“tiya” / “tita” – Used to address an auntie.

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! 

Every precious soul I’ve met throughout this journey had made a big impact on what I am today. I am not a devout follower of happily-ever-after stuff but surprisingly, I bumped into a person that became my soulmate in one of my trips.

Looking for the perfect travel buddy is challenging and I’m blessed to find the best one. And up to this day, I never get tired of exploring the world with my favorite travel buddy.

Follow Carla’s adventures on www.blissfulguro.com, and on Instagram, and Twitter.

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