Finding Home

Photo courtesy of Bryanboy.

While on vacation 20 years ago, Bryanboy began his life as an international blogger and content creator, a journey that had him circling the globe.

A very good friend of mine once yelled at me about how I “travel more than a pilot.” She’s not wrong. My intense travel schedule is similar if not worse, to that of a popular band on tour. In two months, I’ve been to Mumbai, Stockholm, Rome, Antibes, London, Shanghai, Seoul, Tokyo, Mexico City, Isola Bella, Monaco, Lake Como, London (again), and Paris. By the time this piece goes to print, I would have gone to Florence, Milan, Marbella, Paris, New York, Paris again, and Puglia—all in a span of three weeks. It’s a high-octane, mind-blowing schedule, not for the faint of heart.

Travel plays a crucial role in my career. It serves as not only a foundation for my content creation, but a very integral part of my identity. I originally started my blog as a personal travel journal back in October of 2004. I went to Moscow, Russia, for a three-week vacation, and I thought it would be nice to create an online diary documenting my travels. Like any young person armed with a platform and a knack for oversharing, I shared wildly exaggerated and entertaining stories about myself and my day-to-day habits. My readership increased through word of mouth. Ultimately, my blog became a personal platform for self-expression. 

Social media did not exist during those times, and online content was long-form. We’d spend most of our day taking photos using heavy cameras and writing long-winded blog entries using our personal computers or laptops at the end of the night. Storytelling was our currency. 

Blogging gave me the chance for my voice to be heard. It gave me my own audience. Who knew pecking away at my keyboard at three o’clock in the morning, one keystroke at a time, at my home in the Philippines, would connect me to the world? And thanks to the internet, being connected to the world at large opened a lot of doors for me, especially in the fashion industry. It allowed me to travel the world, establish connections, and build relationships. I started attending fashion weeks in 2008 within Asia before hitting the major capitals in the year 2009. 

At that time, I quickly learned that in order to have a successful career in fashion, it’s important to be where the action is. Contrary to what one would think, fashion is a very small industry with very few key players. It is an industry primarily built on relationships and trust. Nurturing relationships is a challenge when you live in an entirely different continent seven or more time zones away.

“Stepping away from our routine
and embracing new environments allows us to reflect on our values, beliefs, and aspirations. It offers an opportunity for introspection,
helping us gain clarity about our identity and purpose.”

As much as I love Manila, the city where I was born and raised, I wanted to grow my career professionally. I signed with a talent agency in Los Angeles, packed my bags, and moved to the United States. My career path might have been different, but I shared the same plight millions of Filipinos go through every year: to find greener pastures in a foreign land. 

I loved living in West Hollywood for a minute, but reality kicked in. My lack of driving skills made living in California inhabitable so, I made New York City my home. I got a one-bedroom apartment in Manhattan’s Financial District, right on the West Side Highway, with a view of the World Trade Center and the Hudson River. Moving to New York City was a transformative journey of self-discovery. It taught me how to be independent. It challenged me to stand on my own two feet. It tested my limits and broadened my comfort zones. 

Stepping away from our routine and embracing new environments allows us to reflect on our values, beliefs, and aspirations. It offers an opportunity for introspection, helping us gain clarity about our identity and purpose. Experiencing different political systems, economic structures, and social norms prompts us to question our own biases and assumptions. This exposure to diverse perspectives nurtures intellectual curiosity, broadens minds, and encourages us to become active participants in shaping a more just and inclusive world. This is why, whenever possible, I try to use my platforms to speak up on meaningful advocacies that are very close to me: entrepreneurship, financial independence, diversity, inclusion, and social issues.

When you work with mostly European fashion houses, as I do, living in New York City was rather impractical as I found myself commuting between JFK airport and Europe several times a month. It also did not help to be in a long-distance relationship with a Swedish man. Ultimately, we decided that it was best that we move in together, and I made Stockholm my home. It’s the most perfect base for the job that I have. It’s two and a half hours to London, Milan, and Paris. 

I love Stockholm. It’s one of the cleanest, most beautiful, idyllic places in the world. It has a very high standard of living, and it consistently ranks amongst the world’s top cities in terms of quality of life, sustainability, and innovation. We live in a residential suburb 20 minutes from the city center, on Lake Mälaren. Living here made me appreciate the importance of nature to one’s physical and mental health. I love that my house is next to a small forest—a nature reserve where Miss Bettina Buffe, our miniature pinscher, can roam free—and I can swim in our lake during the summer. 

In 2021, after living here for several years, I became a Swedish citizen. And when you wind the clocks back, I first visited Stockholm in 2005 as a tourist for four days. At that time, I was interested in Swedish and Scandinavian design. Little did I know back then that Sweden would eventually become my home. 

It is interesting where life will lead you. 

Vogue Philippines: July 2023 Issue

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