Young Pinay Packs Bags To Live As A Digital Nomad In Siargao: “One Of The Best Decisions,” She Says
The “Siargao magic” will make you want to reschedule your flight back to the city.
Andi Eigenmann and Philmar Alipayo’s YouTube channel “Happy Islanders,” which has more than 2 million subscribers, gives us a glimpse of the family’s day-to-day life in Siargao. We can’t help but feel envious each time we watch the videos, which get almost a million views each—we guess a lot of us feel the same!
Siargao is a beautiful island in the northeastern coast of Mindanao, and is also called the Surfing Capital of the Philippines. It was included in TIME Magazine’s “World’s Greatest Places” list and has also been very famous among millennials and Generation Z as the ~dream~ vacation spot for spending time with your barkada.
The island is so beautiful that other local content creators and celebrities like Katt Valdez, Cha Ocampo, and Nadine Lustre have chosen to prolong their stay!
But what is it about Siargao that makes you want to reschedule your flight back to the city? We spoke with 25-year-old freelancer Carla Bolado about her day-to-day life as a digital nomad on the island.
Carla was living with her parents in Rizal before she flew to Siargao in August this year. She was looking to explore the island for a month only, but she ended up staying for much longer. Since then, she has been posting TikTok videos containing tips and advice for other travelers that are planning to fly to Siargao.
“The initial plan was to travel just for a month. I thought it was long enough for me to explore Siargao but I guess I was wrong,” she tells OneLife.ph.
“In my first week, I met a lot of people who have been here for 4 months, 5 months, and longer, and it really got me wondering why. In my second week, it started to hit me. I noticed that many travelers come to Siargao for the place but decide to stay longer (or even for good) because of the community. Some friends even call it ‘Siargao magic.’”
Carla scored a roundtrip ticket for less than Php 1,000, which was her deciding factor to pack her bags and fly to Siargao. What made her stay, however, was the unique and memorable experience.
“My main deciding factor to stay on the island is whether I could continue working and earn income since I have responsibilities at home,” she shares. “I work as a freelancer so all I need is internet and thankfully, there are areas on the island that have a pretty decent internet signal that allows me to do my work.”
Siargao also offers a variety of food choices. Carla (who stopped eating meat two years ago) also found that vegetarian food is more accessible on the island that in Metro Manila or Rizal.
The island life
When she was still living in the Metro, Carla admits working every day (and yes, even on weekends), because she was stuck at home and didn’t have much to do anyway.
“I never really felt the work-life balance until I arrived here,” she says. Her daily activities definitely changed when she moved to the island.
“On weekdays, I like working in coffee shops and seeing other digital nomads working so I usually ride my bike in the morning to cafes and work there for a couple of hours,” shares Carla. “After working, I often meet with friends to eat dinner — sometimes we drive to the beach (usually in Cloud 9) to catch the sunset, then we all eat dinner.”
Aside from working, she also attends Crossfit classes to maintain her physical health. She also looks forward to her volunteer work in teaching kids on the island every Tuesday.
“Weekends, on the other hand, are usually full of activities,” says Carla. “So far, my weekends are spent learning how to surf, going on island tours, driving to different beaches, and staycations at Airbnbs with friends.”
According to her, people in Siargao take weekends seriously, but you’ll never actually run out of new activities to try!
We all crave for new experiences, and Carla is no different. Well, consider this your sign to go for it, because according to Carla, moving to Siargao by herself is “one of the best decisions” she ever made.
“It definitely helped me grow in many aspects. My favorite is how it helped me improve my communication and networking skills,” she shares. “A few years ago, you’d rarely see me initiate conversations, especially with strangers. Now, I feel like I am a totally different person. I’m much more comfortable when meeting new people and I genuinely enjoy learning from their stories, so you’d now see me initiating small talks and reaching out to others without the awkwardness.”
She believes that this experience also helped her mature and find her purpose.
“I like to think that this experience made me even more mature and purposeful. I started looking for business opportunities that I can potentially explore here on the island. I also realized how I wanted to make an impact and inspire others to take risks and live their best life,” she adds.
Life is, indeed, short and unpredictable. So apply for that job even if you think you’re not qualified, enroll in that Master’s Degree, try a different haircut, learn new hobbies, change your style!
As Carla says, “Every time I make a scary decision, I usually ask myself one of two questions: ‘Will my future self be thankful if I go for it?’ or ‘Will I regret it if I don’t go for it?’ If the answer is yes, I take that leap of faith even if it scares me.”