Interview With Jerome of Balintataw
Please give my readers a background about yourself. What made you want to start balintataw.org?
Hi my name is Jerome, the person behind the blog Balintataw.org. I’m currently employed as Financial Analyst in an Oil and Power Co. in the Philippines. I practice photography and finds travelling a outlet to distress. I started travelling extensively back in 2008 but only started blogging/sharing my travels just June 2010.
The growing number of jpeg files on my computer due to my travels forced me to start blogging. Balintataw.org started as a photoblog and eventually evolved to what it is now, a travel blog, where I share my experiences, tips and photos on places that I’ve visited.
Balintataw is a Filipino word for Pupil of the eyes and Imagination. I just can’t get over the fact that we have a direct translation of both English words that’s why I use it as my blogs name.
In all of your travels, in your opinion what country has the best food? and the worst food?
My taste buds still beg for home cook meals like Adobo and Sinigang whenever I’m traveling outside of the country.” Pinoy” Food maybe underrated as compared to our South East Asian neighbors but I assure you, once you’ve tasted our delicacies, you’ll be asking for more.
As for the worst food, nothing in particular but maybe more of bizarre food, I was once travelling in Cambodia and I saw how they cook fried Quails, after dressing the Quail alive they dropped them on boiling hot cooking oil as is…maybe the preparation is a culture shock for me but I don’t blame them, I guess it’s widely accepted in their country.
When you first started traveling, did your family support your decision?
Although my family supported me on my hobby (travelling), my parents have different opinion about it. My dad, who’s working abroad and been travelling most of his lifetime is supportive of me and sometimes as excited as I am whenever I share my next travel plans. We even exchange stories about our experiences when I ended up visiting the places that he has been to. On the other hand, my mom wanted me to slow down. She allows me to travel but wants me to do it just once or twice a year which is very hard for me to do, but I’m trying to compromise.
If you had to choose one favourite destination, which one would each of you chose?
I’m a beach lover, so my vote goes to El Nido, Palawan, Philippines; known as the Philippines last frontier. It is the perfect place to stay if you want to escape the city life.
What has been the least exciting destination you've traveled to?
None so far, every place that I’ve visited excites me. I guess that’s something I share with other travelers. We just go and explore what’s in front of us, it’s not always the temple or the ruins that make a destination exciting, sometimes the people, culture or even the food that they have in a particular place makes the destination exciting. It is just a matter of perspective.
Did you always have a love of travel or did you develop your passion for traveling as you got older?
Yes, I have been exposed to travelling since I was 5 or 6 years old that’s the reason why I develop a passion for travelling. Actually I think I got it from my dad, he would always share photos of places he have been to every time he flies back to Manila for his 2 weeks off from work abroad. From then on I develop the need to see those places myself.
What impact has balintataw.org had on your lives?
It widens my network. I’ve met new friends that eventually became my travel buddies. Also some of the travel bloggers that I look up to are now acquaintances. Some of my photos are being recognized and published. Setting up a blog is worth it after all. Lastly, I’m happy to receive emails of gratitude. Usually, thanking me for sharing information and that it really helped them plan their vacation through my blog.
What has been the most surprising destination you've been to? Meaning, you had a specific mindset about a certain destination but it was totally a different experience than you had imagined.
First is Batanes Island, the northern most island in the Philippines. I already have the idea how picturesque and beautiful the island is through the photos and write ups I’ve seen online and magazines but it was totally different experience once you are actually there. The scenes you’ve seen on photos are twice as amazing and beautiful.
Second is Shanghai, China. Before, I thought Shanghai is a busy metropolitan area where lights and sounds and high rise buildings dominate the landscape. But when I was there, I never thought that Shanghai is China’s center of Arts and Crafts, also, we went to one of Shanghai’s ancient town called Zhouzhou. An hour bus ride outside the city center where you can find old style bridges, canals and boats…it was like living in old Shanghai.
If you had to decide which destination has been the most influential in your life, which destination would you chose?
Probably, Sagada Mountain Province, Philippines. I like how the locals of Sagada kept things simple.
What advice would you give to a newbie traveler?
Just Go and Travel.
Travel while you’re still young.
Don’t over research about your destination.
It’s fine to get lost from time to time. It’s part of the adventure
Have an open mind
Always Smile and gain as many friends as you can.
In 10 years, do you see yourself still traveling or slowing down?
Ten years from now and I’ll be on my 30’s probably I’m still travelling but on a slower phase and not as extensive like today. I may still go chase my dream destination and try out crazy activities and still shooting beautiful landscapes and seascapes and blogging about it from time to time. Yet again, who knows?
Thanks Jerome for the interview. Please visit his blog @ Balintataw