Travelling the world is one of the best things a person can do in their lifetime; it entails a lot of work, but all of the new experiences and lessons that can be gained through it is priceless. But when people do get to travel, most of the time, they tend to overestimate the amount of places they can visit and the things they can do in a short amount of time that they forget to stop and absorb their new surroundings or even document it for posterity.
Merphi Panaguiton is a travel and lifestyle blogger from Manila, Philippines. This well-traveled 20 year old treats each and every journey as a new way to improve her spiritual growth and her outlook in life. She also meticulously documents all her travels with her trusted camera and iPhone. Her works have garnered quite a following since she relaunched her blog, The Kind Universe. Her stunning photographs and classy fashion sense are just definitely some of the reasons why she's our July Girl Of The Month.
Merphie: I only discovered my love for photography before entering college (about 4 years ago). I never dreamed of becoming a photographer when I was a child because I originally wanted to become a musician – to become a violinist to be exact.
Do you take a photo of a scene from where you're naturally standing or do you walk around to find the best angle?
M: Most of the time I take photos of a scene from where I’m naturally standing most especially when I am part of a tour wherein everything happens too fast – we cannot stay for a longer period of time on some places. However, when I’m given the opportunity to take my time while in a certain place, I make sure to invest my time to move around and look for the best angle.
Where would you say is the most picturesque place (local and foreign) you've been to?
M: Two of the most picturesque places I’ve been to are Paris (foreign) and Bohol (local). Every corner of Paris was just too beautiful! I’m probably saying this because I’ve always wanted to see Paris and I’m so grateful my dream came true 3 months ago. I have to be honest that I’ve only been to a few places here in the Philippines. I have been to Bohol 7 years ago and I think it is the most picturesque place I’ve been to so far in the Philippines. I am really hoping to be able to visit more local places soon!
If you could only use one camera for the rest of your life, what would it be and why?
M: I would probably use the camera I own right now: my 4-year-old Canon 550D. It is because it already became a big part of who I am today. It has been to different places already (there even came a time when I brought it every single day despite its heavy weight) and I know I can always trust my camera. I am also very grateful for my 550D because it helped me meet a lot of amazing people and build new friendships.
M: I try to be mindful of everything – I remind myself from time to time that I’m in a new place which also means I’m completely out of my comfort zone. Basically, a favorite habit of mine when traveling is observing the whole new environment I’m currently in. This includes observing people just being themselves and realizing that I am so blessed to encounter those strangers. This is a favorite activity for me because I tend to relax and just live in the moment. As a result, I get to enjoy more of the places I go to and not just simply let time fly.
Are you a planned out traveler or do you like going to different places/doing things at your own pace?
M: I think I can say I’m a mixture of both since I travel most of the time with my parents and my sister -- meaning our trips are usually planned out but at the same time we try our best to do things at our own pace. An exception would be our recent trip to Europe because we were part of a tour so everything was well planned out.
Do you think traveling is a luxury or a necessity?
M: Traveling for me contributes to my spiritual growth. Having that said, I see it more as a necessity. I see traveling as a big part of my journey in this life and I consider it as one of the greatest forms of education.
What are some of the best things you've learned from your travels?
M: Possibly, I learn hundreds or even thousands of things every time I travel so I would just share the 3 best things I have learned:
1. Embracing uncertainty. This learning includes living in the present moment and just simply enjoying every single thing. Everything is new every time I travel so the challenge for me is to just focus on the things I see, hear, smell, taste and feel right at that moment.
2. Appreciating people. Every time I travel, it is inevitable to meet people who have different perceptions of life since every place has its own culture. With that, I have learned how to deal with different kinds of people from all over the world. I have also learned how to build long lasting relationships with some friends I have met from trips. It really feels good to make new friends because I realized that God brought them to my life for a reason.
3. Being grateful for everything I have. Traveling made me realize that I should stop taking things for granted. There are so many things to be grateful for and the quantity of those things doubles whenever I travel. God’s creations are too beautiful and I think it is unfair if I would just take those things for granted.
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- Marian Plaza
P.S. Thank you to the lovely Merphi for taking the time to send us her answers and works!
All photos courtesy of Merphi Panaguiton