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A decade on the road
Source: Manila Bulletin
Date: 2010-07-31

Marrakech Skyline in Morocco
Marrakech Skyline in Morocco

Mobile – the best word to describe me. I am the type who simply cannot stay put. I am always on my feet and always on the go. I am a traveler and have been for a decade now. I have kept many experiences and memories gathered from the many places I have visited in and out of the country.

Traveling is something I love doing. Other than the glitches and hassles in immigration, there is nothing else that I do not like about travelling. Learning about different cultures, speaking other languages, trying out various cuisine and delicacies, meeting new friends, learning new lessons—all these bring me pleasure comparable to none.

I fell in love with the Land of the Rising Sun when I lived there with my mom and sisters from 2001 to 2008. Tokyo is a very clean and nice city. I also visited Saitama and Kyoto. Being a sports journalist, I am always fascinated with a country’s sports events. In Japan, sumo is considered the national sport. I also enjoyed Japan’s martial arts such as judo, karate, and modern kendo. Baseball is likewise very popular and Japan’s three-time MVP in baseball, Ichiro Suzuki now hits homeruns in North American Major League Baseball, playing for the Seattle Mariners. Japan also bagged the Asian Cup (soccer) thrice and has been the venue for the Intercontinental Cup from 1981 to 2004. With South Korea, Japan co-hosted the 2002 FIFA World Cup. Many Japanese also play golf. Car racing has gained widespread popularity, too.

Japanese culture gives me remarkable thrill, especially the beauty of their arts that include the traditional ikebana and origami, and the modern ones like manga and anime. I also like the evolved Japanese music inspired by Western influence called J-pop. One thing that is common to Filipinos and Japanese is that we both love to sing! In Japan, karaoke is still very popular and is considered a cultural activity. I particularly like Japan’s roads and transportation. All the roads are paved, their transportation network is very systematic, their cars are affordable, and they have many high-speed trains that take you anywhere in the country.

Another country I like is Morocco. I went there in 1999 with my best friend Victor Valbuena who is the son-in-law of the owner of Rustan’s. We visited Morocco’s top tourist destinations like the medieval city of Marrakech, Rabat and of course, the great Sahara Desert. Marrakech looks like the olden days—with a medina or marketplace with small boutiques, artisans and cafes.

I never thought a desert could look so good, until I saw the Sahara. It is unbelievably breathtaking with literally golden sand and a stunning backdrop of the Atlas Mountains.

The sports lover in me is definitely attracted to Las Vegas, Nevada— the Entertainment Capital of the World that is popular for its casinos and hotels. Known as “The Mecca of Boxing” like the Madison Square Garden, Las Vegas is undoubtedly the most popular venue for boxing. It is known as the Boxing Capital of the World since the 1980s because the best fights in the history of boxing were held here. I witnessed the Pacquiao-dela Hoya fight here in 2008 and I echo what many people say, “There is nothing like seeing a fight live in Vegas.” Mandalay Bay Events Center, MGM Grand Garden Arena and the Caesars Palace are the most famous boxing venues in the world. I especially like the MGM Grand where I watched Pacman beat Cotto in 2009. MGM Grand is the largest hotel in the world when it opened in 1993 and now the second largest with 30 floors, the largest casino, outdoor pools, rivers, and waterfalls, the MGM Grand Garden Arena, shops, night clubs, and restaurants. Las Vegas hosted big sports events like the 2007 NBA All-Star Game, the NASCAR Sprint Cup, the UFC, the National Finals Rodeo and the NBA Summer League.

Another Nevada city I have visited is Reno, “The Biggest Little City in the World” also known for its casinos. There are numerous bars and clubs in downtown Reno for a great nightlife experience. The famous Lake Tahoe is a must-see. Here you can fish, swim, water-ski, wakeboard, parasail, and jet-ski. Reno is also popular as a skiing and snowboarding destination with 18 ski resorts. Reno boasts of a $1.5 million whitewater park on the Truckee River that hosts whitewater events the whole year.

San Francisco is another place I love. San Fo has become a popular international tourist destination with nice tourist spots like the Golden Gate Bridge, War Memorial and Performing Arts Center, and the Museum of Modern Art. It also has more than 200 lovely parks and beaches famous for surfing, and of course, a vibrant Filipino community. San Francisco is also the home of the old San Francisco 49ers of the National Football League and the San Francisco Giants of the Major League. I love the climate in SF which is ideal for outdoor sports.

But the climate I like best is in sunny Los Angeles. LA has an average of 320 sunshine days and only 35 days with rain, making it summer all year. The City of Angels is called the “Creative Capital of the World” because it is where Hollywood is and where many artists, writers, filmmakers, actors, dancers and musicians live and work. LA has 54 yearly film festivals including the annual Academy Awards, more than 800 museums including the Los Angeles County Museum of Arts, the Getty Center, and the Museum of Contemporary Art. And of course, LA is home of the Lakers, Clippers, Dodgers, and Kings and the location of the famous Staples Center, the premier venue for sports that also hosts the Grammy Awards.

I have also been to Frankfurt, the financial and transportation center of Germany. Frankfurt is one of the 10 most livable cities in the world.

In Asia, I have visited Malaysia and Singapore. The tourism campaign “Malaysia, Truly Asia” was worthwhile and attracted more than 7 million tourists. But I was there in 2008 with Noli Cruz for business. I was also in Singapore in 2009 for business, covering the Formula One Championship. I like Singapore because of its delicious cuisine and water sports. Singapore will host the 2010 Summer Youth Olympics.

Early this year, I went to Dallas, Texas for the Pacquiao-Clottey coverage. I was awestruck, like many other boxing fans, by the magnificent Cowboys Stadium, the largest domed stadium in the world with a full 100,000 seating capacity. The $1.15 billion stadium is home of the National Football League’s Dallas Cowboys. The stadium has the world’s largest HDTV (160 feet wide and 72 feet tall), more than 3,000 LCD screens all around for fans to see the action wherever they are in the stadium, and a variety of restaurants and shops. The Cowboys Stadium will host the NBA All-Star Game, the Super Bowl in 2011 and the NCAA Men’s Basketball Final Four in 2014.

There are many Filipinos in Dallas, that’s why a lot of Filipino restaurants thrive there. Dallas is a place worth going to. Being the top leisure destination in Texas, the city boasts of being stylish, fashionable, luxurious, and prosperous. Dallas’ hotels, restaurants, night spots and tourist attractions are sure to make anyone fall in love with the city. Just like me.

Of course, I also went around our beautiful country. Nothing beats home sweet home.

For a decade now, I have been on the move—going around, travelling both for business and pleasure. And there’s still no stopping me. As long as there are places to visit in and out of the country, I will explore and experience the best of the world.

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