“I am not a Tourist, I am a Traveler”

Robert Alejandro & Jetro Rafael

Robert Alejandro & Jetro Rafael


5 men, 3 months, 9 countries, and 45,000 pesos are what constituted a group of Pinoy (Filipino) Backpackers in their recent travel.

For the novice, a backpacking trip is generally considered to be a low-cost travel accompanied with cheap accommodations carrying light luggage. This is how the group crossed southeast Asia and parts of China. Their route started in Singapore and was followed by 5 other southeast asian countries namely Malaysia, Thailand, Laos, Cambodia, and Vietnam. Macao, Hongkong and China concluded it.

It was the best thing I have ever done,” according to television reporter and artist Robert A. Alejandro in their second leg of the first Pinoy Backpacking Festival .

First Pinoy Backpacking Festival

First Pinoy Backpacking Festival (Trinoma;ROX; Alabang)

It all started with one unsolicited email. A stranger’s open invite to would-be-backpackers ended up in Robert’s inbox. When Robert shared the information to photographer and friend Jetro Rafael, they were both skeptical at first, thinking that this might be another one of those “send-me-$100-donation-to-Timbuktu” email scams.

Eventually, Robert, Jetro, the stranger, and 2 other friends became the aforementioned 5 brave souls that went backpacking to Kuala Lumpur, Vientianne (Laos), Siem Reap (Cambodia), and Nanning (China), among others. It is in Thailand however, where they met a fellow backpacker from whom they asked how long have she stayed there as a tourist. With which the French lady replied, “I am not a tourist, I am a traveler.”

Jetro, being his first time to travel abroad and the shutterbug he is, captured scenic landscapes and culture-rich-images with his professional digital camera. Robert, on the other hand, spent most of his time sketching vivid illustrations of focused subjects from his surroundings. His sketches included portraits of fellow bus riders, serene temples, and a slow moving boat. The results of their passions have been compiled and are now available in book shops. Jetro’s travel photos were compiled as picturesque postcards and entitled “Backpack Photos” while Robert’s collection of sketches was entitled “Backpack – southeast asia.” A more economical complete backpack start up kit is available at R.O.X for less a thousand. it includes the two books, travel note keeper, pen, calculator, scarf, and the travel map they used with information on the accommodations they had and the spots they visited.

Backpack Start Up Kit

Backpack Start Up Kit


Below is a 4-minute Video of their talk on Pinoy Backpacking and their experiences. R.O.X. is located at Building 1 of Bonifacio High Street, Fort Bonifacio, Taguig City, Philippines.

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