Cocio chocolate drink & map, Stockholm, 2013
As much as we want to believe that we are as free-spirited and spontaneous as the heroes and heroines of lore–you know, dropping everything to jet off to an exotic locale, riding off into the sunset, living on the edge, that sort of thing–real life is often not as convenient as that.
It’s a pretty and romantic notion that’s often in prose or poetry or BuzzFeed, but the sad reality is that third-world passport-holders like myself have to deal with a whole lot of red tape and paperwork before said spontaneity can ensue.
Quick trip to London? Just give me a month’s notice. And that promo for Paris sounds awesome, but I can’t really commit to it because it’ll take me several weeks to iron out my visa. Forget about last minute, spur-of-the-moment decision-making because when you have a Philippine passport, you’re not free to travel the globe in as carefree a spirit as you might want to, sad as that is to state.
I can be free-spirited and twirl-under-the-stars spontaneous where I don’t need a visa. Idyllic sunset scenarios in places like Hong Kong, or Singapore, or Cambodia–sure. But elsewhere, as much as I want to be the adventurous and gung ho self I know I am, I pretty much have to put a lead time on my spontaneity. It’s nothing personal to my country, but I suppose it’s always a hard fact to face when you feel the powerlessness of your passport in the midst of so many potential destinations.
I suppose this dilemma wouldn’t plague anyone whose travels were confined to regions where we don’t need a visa to enter, but I have the unfortunate affliction–as many do–of loving Europe, and thus voluntarily subject myself to the arduous Schengen visa application process each time (and unlike a US visa, Schengen visas do not come in packets of ten years, but are notoriously stingy in the number of days and length of validity given).
Sigh, I guess that’s true love for ya. Oh Europe, you wily beast. Here’s hoping for equal passport rights some time in the (probably distant) future?