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Braving The Scorching Heat For A Quick Tour Of Ilocos

Aside from the political clan that hail from this province, Ilocos is a top tourist destination in Northern Luzon and for many reasons. Nestled between the South China Sea and the Cordillera Mountain range, Ilocos is home to some of the best sights which makes the 10 to 12 hours of travel time worth it.

This was my first foray into long-haul driving and as tiring as it has been, the destination was enough to quench the exhaustion.


Surviving Survivor

Some dreams, as wild as they are, come true.

They may not be exactly how you envisioned them, but if you give it time, you’ll realize that what you used to only fantasize about can take on some tangible form.

16 years ago I was sitting in front of the TV, a bum and wondering what the future holds, when I chanced upon this scene where 5 people were standing on a narrow piece of wood. They looked like they were struggling to stay on it.

The cute girl, all of a sudden said, “will I get voted out if I fall off?”

The young woman beside her said no, and proceeded to appease her.

What am I watching?

I had no idea that this random scene would have a tremendous impact on me.

I ended up watching it up to the end. The cute girl was eventually “voted out” in an open forum-esque ritual that involved torches and tribal voices.

Colleen was her name. And the show was called Survivor.

My life was not the same after that day.

In the years since then all I could talk about was Survivor. It didn’t matter that my friends can’t understand as long as I get to talk about how awesome the show is.

My frustrations about how no one seems to be connecting with me grew. As well as the desire to play the game. But I knew it would remain just that: a dream.

Only Americans are picked for the show and unless I move there and get naturalized, I’d have to settle for spending the rest of my days geeking out. And I was fine with that

It’s true that there are dreams that cannot be.

Or so I thought.

It’s funny how when you’ve accepted that you ain’t going anywhere because your circumstances say so, things turn around.

When I was not searching, I found people who share the same passion for Survivor; I’ve found my tribe.

And I made sure that I enjoyed every minute since then.

I used to be content with having written school essays and a thesis on Survivor. Yes, John Cochran, I did it first. But exchanging views and opinions with hardcore fans was way more fulfilling.

It provided an unexplainable form of joy. As corny as that may sound. It’s like being a first-time parent and meeting other couples who can’t help but gush about their babies.

Can things get any better? Years ago all I wanted was to have people to share this passion with. And I finally had it.

But I realized I wasn’t satisfied. Just like a castaway who was given a taste of the game, I wanted more. I wanted to go further. I wanted to experience how it feels to actually play the game.

So I started playing online Survivor games. They were fun. Stressful a lot of times, but they offered us the closest thing to our dream: to be stranded on a remote island, live in a beach, starve and suffer under the elements while subjecting yourself to the mental trauma of manipulating and outwitting others.

And then things got even better.

A group of backpackers, The Backpackers, offered us the opportunity to play a real-life Survivor game.

It was the next best thing! And there was no way I’m going to let it pass.

15 years of pining and fantasizing came rushing like water on a river. I finally knew how terrible it is to not eat and drink.

For two days I suffered. I was exposed to the scorching heat of the sun. My lips were dry. I’m parched. We were drinking from a cap of a mineral water bottle. The last decent meal I had was at least ten hours ago.

We were exhausted from all the running. The physical demands of the challenges were too much. We were in a constant state of paranoia because we didn’t want to be blindsided during the vote.

I was emotional. As much as I wanted to think straight, I can’t. Hunger, thirst, exhaustion and paranoia were too strong. It was a constant battle between sucking it up or giving in to your emotions.

If there ever was a situation where mind over matter mattered most, this was it.

But I enjoyed every second of it.

It finally came true. My Survivor dream has come to life. Not exactly how I imagined it, but I was grateful. Still am.

Weirdly enough, I came home significantly thinner and a lot darker. I was so drained I still felt the exhaustion days after we stopped playing. I wasn’t able to eat properly for days.

I was emotionally drained. But I felt like a whole new different person. It was only two days but the impact it had on me was significant.

I cannot imagine how much more if you were playing the actual game.

Survivor games opened up my world. They also served as platforms to meet new friends and make some enemies. Most importantly, they taught me a lot about life.

It’s so ironic that a TV game show where lying and manipulation is rampant offers some of life’s best lessons.

Survivor taught me to survive. It allowed me to let loose and let people in. It forced me to be courageous; to fuck fear and just jump.

Playing Survivor gave me the permission to fail miserably and stage a comeback. I learned how to express my rage and admit my shortcomings at the same time; to stick your neck out for people you care about and to get even when someone hurts your friends.

Survivor taught me to suck it up and roll with the punches, to seize opportunities when they present themselves. It taught me to make decisions even if they’re difficult and to stand by them.

But it wasn’t all fun. There were lots of heart aches, I tell you. Many times you’d doubt your abilities, you’ll feel insignificant and unwanted. You will be enraged by betrayal; your friends will hurt you but your family will heal you.

You will trust the wrong people but you will gain the confidence of others. You’ll get dirty. But at the end of the day, after you’ve taken a shower and washed all the grime, mud, and the bitter taste of deceit, you’ll feel like a whole new person.

That’s Survivor. That’s life. Besides, no one really gets out unscathed. We just have to continuously, you guessed it, survive.

Choose Atom’s Adventure on AXN’s New Crowd-sourcing Show, “Adventure Your Way”

Atom Araullo hosts new AXN travel show Adventure Your Way

We’ve come a long way as netizens. Now, when connectivity is at an all-time high, it’s so easy to influence others–even our favorite celebrity!

This season, AXN embarks on a revolutionary concept that brings blurs the line between television and social media.

Adventure Your Way is a crowd-sourced travel show hosted by Atom Araullo. The first-of-its-kind in local television, Adventure Your Way takes thrills to a whole new level by giving the power to us–the viewers.

The show is basically controlled by the suggestions of viewers–through various social media platforms, like Facebook, Twitter, etc. Each episode, Atom will seek the help of netizens on what to do. For example, in the first episode, which will premiere tomorrow, Thursday, 8 February, netizens helped him decide on what to do in Cebu: go on a nature trip or head to the city for some thrills.

Throughout the 30-minute episode, Atom is guided by crowd-sourced suggestions and tips from people in social media.

Viewers will also get to challenge Atom in the #TakeMeAnywhere segment by making him do one of two things. For example, eat something sweet or spicy.

The show promises lots of thrills especially since Atom is known for his outgoing persona. Plus, we will get to see the wonders of the Philippines. See Atom skydive, trail bike, bungee jump and do other exhilarating activities every Thursday at 8:30 pm on AXN.