On dreaming reality and realizing dreams

Press play. Repeat.

I dreamt about this. Literally, just a few months back. Before I flew to this side of the world. I dreamt about walking through its dilapidated concrete structure. I dreamt of looking over the hills that rolled to the crater lake with Taal Volcano in the distance. I dreamt of touching the walls and the handle rails of the stairs. In my dream this place was empty.

It wasn’t until I saw it with my own eyes again, that I realized. I have been here before. A long time ago.

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When I was little, I went to my school field trip and this was our stop over. Then I remembered those benches and a much younger version of me hopping from one bench to the next. It gave me goosebumps. 15 years later and here I am. I often think about these things. About growing up and the different lives we’ve lived. About the people we become and the people we used to be. I can’t help it because I find it beautiful. We’re always changing. Every minute 300 million cells in our bodies die. Every minute we produce 300 million new cells. We’re changing every minute, whether we believe it, or witness it, or not. Everything changes.

I can’t help but think of this as I walk through this place. Of leaving and returning. Of who I will be next the next time I will be here. In this place, in a different time.

Nostalgia stole the present moment. And when it was returned to me, I appreciated it more than its worth.

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And when you go back to the places that you once where. What person will you be then? What kind of life will you be living then? Who will you be with next?

A few months before my trip I booked tickets with an old friend to Cebu to swim with whale sharks. But she couldn’t make it. Back then, I didn’t think I would end up going with someone I met through serendipity. Someone that I had ended up falling in love with. But I did.

There is no certainty in life. And when there is no certainty, everything is possible.

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From Cebu City we took a 5 hour bus ride to a small town called Oslob. As always, we didn’t know where we will be sleeping that night. So we asked the bus driver if he knew of any cheap accommodations. He instantly led us to this house right across the street, a home stay. We walked in and were greeted by a very nice lady that showed us to our room. Eight dollars each for a room and we pretty much had the whole house to ourselves, “Not too shabby,” I thought. We went downstairs and met Vinny the house owner. She is such a sweet Filipino lady who made the best banana bread loaf I’ve ever had.

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Rewind to four months ago. I met up with my friend Earl at my favorite Thai restaurant. We talked about his love for the Philippines and his epic adventures all over the country. In the middle of eating his pad thai, he pauses, looks up at me and says “You want to see something cool?”

He immediately pulled out his phone. Then he showed me an image of him floating over a giant shark the size of a boat. Whoah. “They’re whale sharks, they’re harmless.”

Sold. And just like that, that pixelated image turned into reality.

Which brought me to… here.

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We rode on the back of a motorbike to Tumalog Waterfalls. My first bike ride since, Thailand. And ironically I’m with the same person I was with then.

We got there and had the waterfalls to ourselves. At one point I sat on a log under the falls and meditated. Then I looked up and gazed at the water sparkling its way down the mossy green rocks. Then two birds started chasing each other around me. That moment was so raw. I felt like it was a gift, to experience something so natural and simple. And to me, it was nothing short of magical. Tears filled my eyes. I kept that infinite moment. Nothing like that will ever happen again to me. Maybe in a different place, in a different time, but never again where I was. And so I kept it and said thank you to the stars.

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This isn’t the whole story of course. It never is. There are some things I’d rather keep than share. But I’ll tell you this. You will meet people. You will love them. And that’s okay. You have to let it be okay. Even if it means you’ll be left with nothing else but a hat.

So to the boy with the hat, and the pretty blue eyes, the biggest heart, and a beautiful soul. I will see you again one day, when the universe paves the way.

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And if it doesn’t, I’ll see you in dreams.

215 thoughts on “On dreaming reality and realizing dreams

    • He went back to his country. That’s the thing about traveling, you meet amazing people, you love, you part, then you move on. If you see them again there’s a reason. If not well, I’d like to think it bears a purpose too.

      • Absolutely beautiful! These pictures are mesmerising and authentic. I truly felt that I shared your experience! I also really love what you just said here, I totally relate to it. When you are openminded to the world and what it has to offer, you receive a package full of surprises, goodbyes and stories to tell, grow from and long for. I do not know you, but I send you a big hug as a thank you. That was really beautiful, you have made my day πŸ™‚

  1. What an amazing post. Beautiful story, beautifully told, and equally as beautiful are the photographs. In love with the perspectives, scope, angles, lines, energy, color, subject.. everything! So fitting the last photo is bokeh’d. “And if it doesn’t, I’ll see you in dreams” ..I don’t think you could’ve wrote something more sublime than that last sentence. Felt the light on this one Stephanie, you win in life. Mabuhay!

  2. Sweet! I met someone once, we shared a special day during one of my side-trips, and I never got to see him again (and I never even have a picture of him!). But, I agree, if the universe paves the way, I’ll see him again. And if not, there will always be that special memory. πŸ™‚

    Come back soon to the Philippines and take me everywhere with you next time!

    • The beauty lies the briefness of those relationships ❀

      I'll be back sooner than you think, love! I'm already planning my trip back to Asia. Give me a year and I'll be there. I'll be out for at least six months. I'm starting my trip in Bali then I'll be backpacking all over SE Asia then trekking in Nepal and India. And of course, the homeland. Siargao is also waiting for me ❀

  3. hi Satori, I read the article about your trips on Sole Sister, I just wanted to say that your photos are absolutely brilliant. I enjoyed looking at the photos through your eyes, I could almost feel the sand and the water on my feet. keep up the excellent work – travel more! write more! and have more travel photos to come! πŸ™‚


  4. Beautiful post and photos! I truly believe travelling encourages us more to live in the moment and appreciate the world and the relationships we make with others no matter how fleeting! πŸ™‚

  5. I am very happy to have found your blog post, it was wonderful! I am excited to read more and more! πŸ™‚ Your pictures are beautiful and they definitely tell their own story. ❀ You seem like an amazing, adventurous person. I would like to cross paths with you one day, out there in our beautiful world. πŸ™‚

  6. Pingback: On dreaming reality and realizing dreams | micasaruab

  7. I really enjoyed your photo story. It was inspiring and such a refreshing perspective. I was browsing new posts on WordPress, which I often do when I take breaks in my day and I landed randomly on your page. Thank you for taking the time to create a beautiful break from the average blog, telling a lovely story and allowing me to share in your experience. This is what blogging is all about.

  8. This post… this experience… is more than incredible. Thank you for sharing this adventure. It’s beautiful and awe-some. I hope to one day adventure this way. Until then, there are still amazing moments that we could all feel all the time if only we were open to it – if only we could allow ourselves to fall into it.

    • It’s my purpose to share these experiences to everyone, to remind them of the infinite beauty and bliss that is life. And it makes my heart full knowing that I inspire amazing people like you. So thank YOU ❀

  9. Beautiful post. The people we meet who leave a lasting impression even if they are in our lives for only what amounts to a fleeting moment – that’s part of what we love about travel – it seems that travelling creates an openness to such connections and the reasons for them. Your angles and perspective in your photography are breathtaking! They really add to the mood of your writing. We will enjoy following!

  10. reading your post took me back to so many of my treasured moments… the raw ones, the unexpected ones, the ones which have given me so much that life would be meaningless without. I hope you do cross paths again and lead to some land and create many more memories (look forward to hearing some of them). The photographs are gorgeous. Thank you for sharing this post and congratulations on being freshly pressed.

  11. Beautiful. I really enjoyed reading this because I could hear the same thoughts in my head – although I have experienced something as magical as what you did, I often ponder similar things. Maybe this will inspire me to get some of those thoughts down on my brand new blog πŸ™‚

  12. That’s a lovely post. Last month I happened to be close to a place I’ve lived at when I was a kid. That’s more than 10 years ago but I was curious what had changed so I took the drive up there. The city hadn’t canged to my surprise. Close to our old house was a playground that seemed tiny (in comparison to “back then…”) though. Haha. It was absolutely worth going there.

    • It’s amazing revisiting those place you went as a kid. Especially ones you stumble upon. Kind of a beautiful long lost dream you’ve forgotten, then you finally dream about it again.. except it’s real.

      Thanks Suze, I hope you are having a beautiful day πŸ™‚

  13. Love how dreamy and contemplative this post it. It’s very true we meet lovely people along the way and it may not last long, but the memories do. Thanks for the gorgeous photos and a thought-provoking post.

  14. Typically, I’m not one to open myself to nostalgia; there’s too much darkness in the past to journey there within my mind and return to reality unscathed. But I must say… this was lovely, through and through. It brought me to the edge of a precipice within my own imagination, a place that haunts and intrigues, and inspires me – with ceaseless exhilaration and a stimulating clarity that I accept only so often as I am brave enough to reembark. Thank you for this. Thank you for sharing.

    • “It brought me to the edge of a precipice within my own imagination, a place that haunts and intrigues, and inspires me – with ceaseless exhilaration and a stimulating clarity that I accept only so often as I am brave enough to reembark.”

      Wow. That was intoxicating. Thank you for that. And thank you for letting me bring you there.

      Wishing you beautiful days ❀

    • Thanks darling! But they’re such harmless and beautiful creatures! Swimming with them was just surreal. It may seem intimidating at first but trust me, they are gentle giants πŸ˜‰

    • Thanks darling! But they are such beautiful and harmless creatures! Swimming with them was unreal. I know it seems intimidating but they are such gentle giants πŸ˜‰

  15. Your words, your photos, your spirit is so beautiful!

    I needed the message of letting go. Of just enjoying the moment. The people, places, things…all of them are beautiful, but if you cling to them they lose that beauty somehow. I try really hard not to be so possessive of people. Being married that is sometimes difficult. What if what he needs to be authentic and true to himself excludes me?! Oh no! What will I do!? But…i’m learning to let that go. This post is just one more stepping stone to being a lighter, more loving and open version of myself. Thank you!

    PS Where did you swim with whale sharks! I think that would be INCREDIBLE!!! ❀

    • In Oslob, Cebu, Philippines! They are exquisite creatures. And the Philippines is one of the most beautiful places on Earth, please go one day.

      “But…i’m learning to let that go. This post is just one more stepping stone to being a lighter, more loving and open version of myself.”

      Oh my. That brought tears to my eyes. Thank you so much. Beautiful souls like you keep me going ❀

  16. Pingback: On dreaming reality and realizing dreams | Bklyn Photography

  17. So glad I have been able to find your blog. Absolutely beautiful and inspiring on such a profound level. πŸ™‚ Thank you.

  18. Wow. This post really tugs at the heartstrings. You have a beautiful way with words, and your pictures make me want to go too, and ride with the whale sharks and meditate under the waterfalls.

    Love the last line – when the universe paves the way. πŸ™‚

  19. I enjoyed reading this article:) You are such a good blogger and a wonderful photographer. I am from Cebu and I am very happy that you featured Oslob and the whale sharks here. I’ve been to Oslob but I never had the chance to swim with the whale sharks. Thank you for visiting Cebu and for saying good things about our place.

    • Thank you Elaine! Cebu was wonderful, Oslob in particular. When I go back to the Philippines next year I definitely want to explore more of it. It’s exquisite.

  20. Awesome post. Voyages like that continue to live inside you. Also, “when there is no certainty, everything is possible” is a beautiful philosophy that scares most people but should be embraced as what living truly is…

  21. Beautiful and extremely moving. It makes me long for a time when I can feel the freedom of travel once again. Your story inspired love in all its forms.

    I look forward to reading more of your writing and seeing more of your beautiful photographs.


  22. Pingback: On dreaming reality and realizing dreams | Aashya

  23. Thanks for sharing ..another reminder of why i love travelling and spending time in other peoples countries and cultures. We have so much to learn from each other and soooo much beauty and wisdom to imbibe : ))

  24. Hi! I saw this post in Freshly Pressed and I don’t know, it just pulled me into it. Imagine my surprise when the post is partly about your experience in Oslob, Cebu. I’ve been there too, just this May. While for you, the purpose was to see something from a pixelated point of view to reality, my purpose was to escape reality (studies/thesis) for awhile, be somewhere beautiful and just appreciate life and nature. You know, renew my view. My stay there was indeed beautiful. It’s just sad that I wasn’t able to go to the falls. 😦 I’ve also met a few people during my 3-day vacation, however, they were from Dumaguete. That’s the beauty of traveling, meeting new people, seeing how diverse the world really is and though they come and go, the memories you’ve shared with them will stay. Something worth remembering wherever you are or going to.

    Btw, your photos are very, very beautiful and detailed. It’s as if I was back there again, swimming with the whalesharks. I wish you the best on your future travels and I’m looking forward to the photos you’re going to take there. πŸ™‚

  25. beautifully written! it’s great to be aware of the beauty of the present moment! I often find myself thinking ‘wow, this moment is unique and it will never happen again’. I appreciate it more, and will always keep it in a special place in my heart.

  26. Beautiful words and photographs. Evocative. I am embarking on a new chapter in life after being laid off. Your post reminded me of my travels over the years and how our memories keep them alive. They serve as signposts from the past for me.

    I also realize how much I miss my photography. I must do something with those gorgeous moments I’ve captured of people and places. Thanks for the reflection.

    Congratulations on being Freshly Pressed! Well deserved πŸ™‚

  27. I’ve felt a lot of feelings and now i just want to travel. I also love all these photos, there are incredible landscapes and colours.
    (Sorry for my english, i’m trying to improve it)

  28. “There is no certainty in life. And when there is no certainty, everything is possible.” That sentence just says it all. Reading this post reminds me of a Rumi verse that goes: Travel brings power and love back to your life. But that “there is no certainty in life” sentence. Oh Gosh. I just need it right now.

  29. This is just too wonderful. I felt like I was not laying in my bed while reading this post, I felt those places thanks to your beautiful writing. It really made me dream. And the love story…wow, even with few words you described it heavenly!
    You really are an example to me, I hope I will live something like this in my future, actually I don’t hope, I will make it happen!
    Beautiful pictures, I enjoy very much this blog!

    Love, from Italy!

  30. I feel you encapsulated every fleeting relationship I’ve had with people I may or may not see again, but as you say “that’s okay”. I think often the memory of how you felt and the picture painted in your mind of that time, the place and the people can be so beautiful that you know you dare not ask to experience it more than once… But that’s what makes it so special.. so unforgettable – Just like your words.

  31. Words cannot describe how much this post means to me. This post left me breathless, you have inspired good vibes within myself. I feel wanderlust setting in. You are a true inspiration. Thank you πŸ™‚

  32. Wow… this post was absolutely amazing! The photos are beautiful and the imagery you created with your words pulled me into the story as if i was there. Very well done, I love it!

  33. I absolutely loved reading this. I just got back from backpacking through Europe and couldn’t help but relive some of those amazing moments. I love how raw and honest you were here and loved your photos. Great, great post πŸ™‚

  34. Wonderful post. Everytime I’ve ever stepped out there and kept myself open, I see and do the most amazing things, with the most amazing people. Thank you for remingind me of that.

  35. Pingback: Infinite Satori | Awaken Curious Social

  36. Hi. I just want to say this story has ignited a fire in me to travel. your words are impeccable. pictures has authenticity in them. Thanks for sharing your wisdom and creativity with us. you’re an inspiration.

  37. Every one of your posts makes me feel like crying. This is the straw that broke the camel’s back :’)
    And sometimes, there’s not even a hat but only a memory

  38. The universe always paves the way. It always does but in its own terms. I’m sure! My heart ached reading through this. Absolutely beautiful.

  39. damn, the music is perfect. the pictures are perfect. your story is perfect.
    perfect in a sense of complete not in a sense of superiority or the best ever.
    Your spirit is so so so much alive. Thank you for sharing your philosophy and your passion.

    I started following you when I was in San francisco, would have pm you to grab coffee last month but I was in Yosemite. I’m now I’m embarking on my little journey to Europe.

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