I took Lia, who was exhausted and fell asleep the minute we got into the cab, home from Astoria to nebulize her and put her in her crib – then off we went to Leia’s send-off party at Bahay ni Juan in Kapitolyo, Pasig Friday evening, July 16th.

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Blaise, Leia and Ayla


It’s been a wonderful two years of travel, events and friendship with Leia Nagal and Travel Factor. Leia, we’ve been through a lot… a lot of chikka! 🙂 But this won’t be the end of our friendship. It surely will be the beginning of a new chapter in your life, but we remain, forever, your friends. We will love you no matter how far apart we all are.

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clockwise from left, standing: Ced, Rex, Jen, AJ, Mhef, Ayla, Leia and Blaise

For the purposes of reminiscing, I went back to my  March 21, 2008 blog post on Multiply about my first ever Travel Factor trip – Photoholic Ilocos in March 2008. (I’ve put it up for viewing for “just me” so no one else can see it now but..) here is an excerpt from it:

Friday night in McDonald’s Quezon Avenue, it didn’t look like people were friendly enough, except for a chinita girl who tried to smile at me a few occasions. Even the coordinators did not seem friendly enough too…

The following morning at the first stop in the St. Augustine church, taking pictures was awkward. I almost did not speak to anyone. It seemed everyone was lost in their own thoughts or in their own friends or in their own world. I tried smiling at a few people, and it was awkward, awkward, awkward.

In fact, the entire day was awkward. Until we got to the socials, then there really was socials, and I was glad. You can really see how hard Leia works to make sure everyone enjoys the trip and everyone becomes friends or at least acquaintances….

In the evenings, I slept little. I would spend an hour or two with the group at the dining/social area enjoying my coffee and their songs and laughter, then go up to our room to study, think and get on the internet. Since we slept so little in the evenings, we slept on the bus while on the way to the places we had to go to…

As the hours passed by, we all got to know each other little by little, sharing little moments, sharing laughter, sharing views and learning from each other. Soon we were all into group pics and running franctically to join in any one of it. It wasn’t long before the jump shots became all the rage and the trampoline became a public joke.

The trip was worth it, from the food, the accommodations, the sights and the friends. As Jpax said, “There was never a moment when you felt you already wanted to go home.” There was never a dull or boring moment for you had no opportunity to feel bored. Those times when you would have felt bored you did not get the chance to because you were busy sleeping, recharging for more activities and more sights.

All the places we went to seemed like a lot to cover, as an online buddy planning to go to Ilocos too wrote to me, and in fact, it was. If Ryan and I went to Ilocos on our own we wouldn’t have bothered to go to all these places because we would have felt too tired to go the extra mile. The convenience that the bus gave us as well as how well Leia managed the entire trip made our being able to get to all these places at minimum stress possible…

I am glad we went to Ilocos and I am even more grateful that we did it the Travel Factor way. Now that’s one place crossed out in our list of places to go to this year. We gained so many friends who in so many ways shared a lot of interests with us and I hardly think it would be difficult to find travel partners from now on. As early as now we are planning for more trips to other places and it is just wonderful.

These are people we had fun with on our short little trip to Ilocos and we are sure that wherever we may go to afterwards, we surely still will have fun.

I barely knew Leia then, but it seemed like, somehow I knew what I was talking about.

“Wherever we may go to afterwards, we surely will still have fun.”

I can’t believe I really said that – and even more unbelievable, was how true it became.

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Gren and Mhef

From just Leia and Rex, and all the other Ilocos trip people, our group grew and grew through the years. And look at where we are now. Some of us now have kids, some of us are now married, some of us have new girlfriends and boyfriends, some of us have new jobs – but we are all continually growing and evolving, and yet remaining friends. I am proud of my Travel Factor friends. You are also my Travel Factor family.

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Eric and Ryan

Leia, if anything, this is your legacy. We love you and we will be here (and everywhere) whenever you need us. Just press Ctrl+G. 🙂

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TF friends (We came really late so we missed seeing the others who already went home)

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