By Dom Galeon
Portraits by Noel Pabalate
For most of us, it’s a dream to travel the world. For Angely Dub, someone who’s been to over 50 countries at barely 30 years of age, it really isn’t the way we think it is. Talking to this millennial traveler is, to say the least, quite revealing. For starters, she openly talks about the reality of what she does, and rather bluntly.
“Sorry but I give really honest answers. I don’t sugarcoat,” Angely starts. “First let’s talk about people thinking it’s a dream job—I always tackle that on my Instagram. It’s really not. People want to travel on vacation, but I don’t do it for vacations. Those are two different things. I have three days in one place, which means I need to shoot 1,000 photos in three days. How do you do that, with everything that you see? Why do I need to take photos? Because that’s how we are going to promote the place on social media. I’ve been very honest about that.”
You might think that it’s quite controversial, coming from someone who’s been branded by some as the perfect travel blogger—a term, Angely says, she doesn’t really like. There’s a certain connotation that comes with being called a blogger, she explains, and it’s not one that’s true in her case.
“No one pays for my trips. It’s all my money. No one sponsors me,” she says. “I don’t know if it’s a factor that I’m not a Filipino. I never showcase na maganda ang buhay ko (that my life is great). I always show myself on Instagram as someone working, like you. You go to the office eight to five, I go abroad 300 days a year, which is not a joke. It’s very tiring. I do it alone, like you go to the office alone. I don’t have nights spent out on gimmicks. No. I need to go to bed early because the next day I have to wake up at five because I have to take a photo of the sunrise and I do straight that for like a month or two.”
Angely says it comes with the territory, so to speak. Running her own travel agency, Access Travel, means that all of her trips abroad are on business. If she does allow herself some leisure on the side, it’s purely to establish connections that can benefit Access Travel and her clients. And with a star-studded clientele, it’s fair to say that Angely’s efforts are effective.
Even her holidays are spent working. Before Christmas, she took a trip to South America, a continent she’s already visited before. But, she wanted to go back because she wasn’t as good then as she is now with photos.
“I want to launch the continent in Access now that everyone is online,” she explains, adding that she chose the holidays to work on the holidays to showcase South America on her Instagram. “People will be going to the usual destinations, but I chose this time to launch my South American tour—Bolivia, Cuba, Peru, Argentina.”
Despite not wanting to be compared to bloggers, it’s perhaps safe to say that Angely was a pioneer when it comes to curating travel. In a sense, she has combined the blogger/influencer world with her business acumen. Her company’s Instagram page has been around for seven years now, and she’s been taking travel photographs ever since.
“Even way back, I understood that this—travel photography—was going to be the future,” says Angely. “I’ve always liked taking photos. I’ve been on Instagram since 2010, and I realized that when I take photos, people react. I think I know how to take good photos,” she adds, laughing. “This is great. And I decided then that this was going to be the marketing strategy for Access Travel. I will go everywhere, no matter how much money I have. I’ve done tours in Asia and Europe and the US way, way back. But now I have to go back to these places to catch up with the trend.”
Her love for travel started when she was younger. Manila Bulletin Lifestyle, in fact, had already featured Angely some years ago. “I wanted to be a flight attendant before, because even then I already wanted to travel,” she recounts. “I took my internship in the US alone. I went around the US alone—by train, by bus—with my digicam. There were no smartphones yet then, I think. So taking travel photos isn’t something I do because I saw others doing it. Perhaps I made it this far because, well, this is me.”
Asked about how she views social media, Angely had this to say. “I don’t like it, and it’s very ironic that I don’t,” she explains. “Social media has triggered insecurities of people. It came to a point when people thought I was living the good life, until I told them that it wasn’t the case. No one can sustain a life of being always on vacation. That’s hilarious. Even the richest man on the planet can’t do that. I see social media now as a tool for my business. Instagram is just my portfolio—and I don’t bother to check if this certain guy viewed my story or if I look good in this post. If you follow me on Instagram, you’ll see that I only post stuff that is travel related. I’m already there, so why waste it?”
For a social media personality like Angely, she makes it a point to maintain a modicum of privacy. It is part of what she considers to be responsible use of social media. “I never post my family and my love life on Instagram,” she adds. This doesn’t mean, however, that she doesn’t have a healthy dose of both. Angely lives very close to her mother. Recently, she shares, she’s also met a special someone, a friend of a friend who lives in Spain. She laughs at how she’s never really talked about her love life in an interview, until now.
With all that she’s done over the past decade, Angely has never lost sight of what truly matters. She runs her business like a family, being on the lookout for her more than 20 employees.
“It’s very difficult, but I love my job,” she shares. “At the end of the day, it’s very fulfilling. I’ve learned how to entertain myself, so to speak. If I meet strangers on my travels, I learned to just simply start a conversation with them. You don’t get trainings for that.”