KateWasHere.com is the travel and lifestyle blog of Kate Alvarez, a milleXial (that strange generation that’s not exactly millennial, not exactly Gen X) from the Philippines.

In 2007 I quit my full-time job as fashion and beauty editor back to go freelance and fulfill my ultimate dream: a multi-faceted career of lifestyle journalism, modeling, acting, and my passion for travel.

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. Years after that solo trip, I launched this blog in 2011. That same year, I landed multiple modeling projects and my first indie film—all while working as a freelance journalist in the Philippines.

These days, you will find my byline in Cebu Pacific Air’s Smile Mag, Cosmopolitan, Spot, and other publications. I continue to act and model on the side. Like most Filipino travelers, I always buy pasalubong for my clan and can pack a sturdy balikbayan box. I try my best not to buy a zillion useless souvenirs whenever I travel—emphasis on “trying.”

I go home to six rescue dogs and nine rescue cats. In my free time, I volunteer as an advocate of mental health awareness and animal welfare.

Why do I travel?

1. To heal.

I was diagnosed with general anxiety disorder in 2011. Months after my fiancé passed away in 2012, I was diagnosed with major depressive disorder. I have been battling this ailment for years now. While I’m partial towards the medical-based way of addressing clinical depression, I credit my travels for clearing my mind and replenishing my spirit. I’m a survivor.

2. To tell stories.

Next to performing, writing is my passion. I have been writing since I was a little girl. I travel to escape my sheltered life and learn about the world. I realized I needed to blog when my Facebook travel albums became so “extra” (as the younger millennials would say) with informative captions and references, while the comments section turned into a free travel advice forum.

I did not intend to become a solo, female flashpacker. I started out as wannabe glamorous jetsetter who would never in a million years consider hostels. When I discovered the adventurous, crazy world of backpacking (or flashpacking if you’re no longer a partying 18-year-old like myself), I transformed into a happier, more culturally diverse person.

3. To live the life I really want.

There are two kinds of dreams—the “safe” dream that society approves of because it doesn’t make them feel uncomfortable or worried that you’ve floated too high above the clouds. Then there are the secret dreams—the ones you don’t really share with anyone, the ones you are pining for after you’ve successfully fulfilled the safe dreams.

Unlike majority of my peers, I did not end up in a straight path. I survived a tragic loss that left me coping with depression during the period when most women my age were walking down the aisle or having children. But I am in a good place now. I’m happily thriving in a society that expects Filipinas to look and act a certain way, and follow a strict timeline. I don’t follow that timeline. I carved out my own path.

KateWasHere.com is my personal scrapbook, where you’ll read about the dreams I ticked off my bucket list, like auditioning for a Hollywood film (check!), climbing my first mountain (check!), attending a vampire-themed wedding (check!), stalking Broadway stars in New York (check!), and flashpacking alone (check!) in Europe. Getting there is half the fun!

You only get one life. And you need to live it the way you really want.

What’s your travel story? Or better yet, what are your secret dreams?

Love, peace, and light,

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