Siquijor 2018

My name is Kate, a milleXial (that strange generation that’s not exactly millennial, not exactly Gen X) and a solo female flashpacker from the Philippines.

Did you ever feel like you don’t fit into “normal” society? Welcome to my life. Where I’m from, women above 30 must be married with children or incur the wrath of traditional people who believe that there’s only one path to follow. Where I’m from, women must be subservient to men and follow a strict timeline. Where I’m from, backpacking is just a phase reserved for the young and rebellious, while traveling is just a vacation you take a few days a year.

I’m not that kind of Filipina. I don’t subscribe to toxic behaviors. I didn’t follow the straight path. I dreamt of a multi-faceted career of lifestyle journalism, modeling, acting, and my passion for travel. I didn’t tell anyone, because dreams like that are usually shot down. Society allows you to dream, but not too high above the clouds.

I spent years pursuing that dream. Cue the bells of cliché, because I had an epiphany after a soul-searching experience in New York, back when Facebook was within the confines of Harvard and the social media kings were MySpace and Craigslist. After that solo trip, I launched this blog. That same year, I landed multiple modeling projects and my first indie film—all while working as a professional writer in the Philippines.

Just when my lifelong dream was turning into a lucrative reality, a tragedy struck.

In 2011, I was diagnosed with general anxiety disorder. As I was getting help for my sickness, my fiancé passed away in 2012. Months later, I was diagnosed with major depressive disorder.

For the first time as a writer, I had no words to describe what I went through. I experienced great love and great loss.

To cope with the profound grief and make sense of everything, I volunteered as a mental health advocate. Back then, we were only a few voices defending the local mental health community. People shunned us. My friends and relatives stigmatized my cause. I had only my parents, sister, and a few confidants who truly supported me.

From 2012-2017, my life was a blur. I continued to follow my passions, but I felt only half alive.

Athens, Greece (2018), as part of my solo backpacking trip to Europe

In 2017, I packed my bags and booked my first solo trip in years. Just me and my backpack. After returning to the Philippines, I booked another solo trip. And another. And another. I was back to juggling my career with solo travel.

Then one day, my soul felt alive again. I survived clinical depression. I’m not ashamed of my battle scars.

#KateWasHere has evolved. I continue to travel—not as a vacation, but as part of my lifestyle. I travel to become a more culturally diverse person. My solo travels connect me with progressive people and kindred spirits—fellow creatives who don’t work in a 9-5 desk job, empowered single women defying societal expectations, and digital nomads who travel for a living.

More than a place for me to dish out travel tips to fellow solo female travelers, this blog is dedicated to other single and thriving Filipina women living their truth. Don’t listen to the tactless bystanders pestering you to follow the same path as everyone else. Go ahead and clap back at people harassing you to “get married already” for all the wrong reasons. It’s okay to be happily unmarried with no children in the same way that it’s okay to start a family with the right person. It’s okay to defy gender stereotypes. It’s okay to be a crazy dog-cat lady. It’s okay to travel alone. It’s okay to be different.

Live the life you really want. Carve out your own path. I know I am.

Peace, love, and light,

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