“What do you want to be when you grow up?”
We’ve all been there. We’ve all been asked that question by our teachers, annoying aunts and godparents. As kids, we usually gave the usual answers—pilot, teacher, doctor, lawyer. But there were also those wise-ass toddlers who would say a tri-syllabic profession, like architect or astronaut.
Now that we are older and expected to be functional members of society, (and I’m talking to my peers here who are going through some imagined or self-inflicted quarter-life crises) we still get asked the same question—only this time we ask it of ourselves. And then we realize that what we want to be is oftentimes different from the jobs that we have.
Based on an in-depth research of my Facebook, Twitter and Instagram timelines, I have deduced that 95% of my peers don’t have their dream jobs. I rarely see someone post a status about how much they love their work. For those who insist they do, what they probably really mean is that they love the perks and benefits of their job, and not the work that they actually get to do. And then there are those who convince themselves that they love their jobs like Emily in The Devil Wears Prada.
Three things make me happy: food, travel and writing. And it would be so amazing if my job involves all of those in a great orgy of happiness. So I want to thank the inventor of television for introducing me to these people who have my dream job.
I was probably eight or nine when I first saw Susan Calo-Medina on Travel Time. She was either at a beach or on top of a raft floating on a river with waterfalls in the background. I cannot, for the life of me, remember. All I knew was that she was in a vacation-y looking place. I was amazed because all this lady did throughout the show was marvel and talk about the place where she’s at, eat good food, and have fun.
I wanted to be her. I wanted to get paid eating lanzones during the Lanzones Festival, swimming with butandings, or having some tribal lady weave me a fancy mat. Who wouldn’t want a gig where you get to travel across the archipelago? She obviously loves what she does because Travel Time is still airing today.
When we got cable, I was the kid who hogged the remote and channel surfed during commercial breaks. One time I flipped to Discovery Channel and saw this American host talking to Filipino-looking ladies. I was curious on why the Philippines was being featured in a Discovery Channel show. So I watched the entire show about the Pahiyas Festival in Lucban and hat’s how I got hooked on Travelers.
Aside from introducing me to foreign travel destinations, what I liked about Travelers was that it was hosted by a group of people instead of just one person talking to the camera. It gave the impression that traveling was more fun when you’re with friends, even though the hosts are usually off doing different things separately in an episode anyway. But when they do get together, they looked like they enjoyed each other’s company.
Travelers was more relaxed and playful compared to Travel Time which can feel like a lecture sometimes. My favorite hosts were Michelle Krusiec and Robin Kipp and my favorite episode was the Tomatina Festival episode in Spain.
Most travel shows are like Travelers in that they’re upbeat with hosts who have sunny dispositions. These shows make it appear like traveling is easy and vacations are always enjoyable which most frequent travelers know is not true.
Enter Anthony Bourdain, celebrity chef turned writer turned host. Here is a self-centered man who is brash, opinionated and isn’t afraid to say when he’s not having a great time. He is more concerned with local food than sightseeing. He prefers to eat in food courts, wet markets, or on the street.
In his show No Reservations, he showed us that traveling is exhausting, that the destination won’t always be picture perfect, and that the food won’t always be great. It doesn’t sound like a great pitch for a TV show but he made it work.
I like how No Reservations was a travel show where viewer discretion was advised probably because Bourdain had no qualms shutting people down, said profanities on camera and occasionally got himself in trouble during his trips. He is also almost always drinking.
“I write. I travel. I eat. And I’m hungry for more.” That’s how Bourdain introduces himself. I am making it my mantra for life.