2019 – 2020
December 2020 — After having the same site layout since 2014, I have finally revamped the site's design with the use of the popular Divi theme! I also created a new logo, which I will also use as branding for my other business called as AGA Digital Marketing Services.
September 2020 — I resorted to improving my overall stock and investments portfolio, and though I was a bit late after the slump back in March, it was still a good time to get into it. My Bitcoin investments from years ago have also been doing super great so I got no complaints!
Sold off My First Business
June 2020 — After months of deliberation, we finally sold our Amazon FBA business, Adalid Gear! I felt a bit melancholic when we transferred the rights to the new owner (this was my first ever business venture after all), but it was all in good time because I was thinking of venturing into a different niche as well as building my own Amazon line. Stay tuned!
March 2020 — Hello, COVID... I'm not going to explain why this sucked because we ALL know why. I'm just so thankful that my family and I are healthy and that my passive income streams like this blog are still doing alright, even if the money is halved, I'm still just so grateful for what I have.
January 2019 — I hit 7 figures worth of income a month from this blog alone. I've long hit 6 figures since 2018 but hitting the big 7 was quite a milestone for me!
October — I feel the need to put this as a highlight on my timeline because even though Iceland wasn’t exactly on my top 'must-sees', I took a trip to there by chance at my own expense together with my childhood friend to unwind… and boy, I had the biggest surprise of my life.
Iceland was BEYOND magnificent! I spent about 2 weeks doing the Ring Road and there have been so many instances where I had to pick my jaw up from the floor. That being said, I’m looking forward to doing another trip to Iceland again — soon!
Conquered All 7 Continents!
September 17 — Through a project that I scored with a client for this blog, I was flown solo to Zambia in Africa, thereby marking this day as the moment that I conquered ALL seven continents in the world. This was truly a special time because it happened just 2 days before my 27th birthday! I swear, the first time that I saw all the glorious African animals, I couldn't help but get all teary-eyed as I remembered the days that I watched all those nature documentaries (wishing for the day that I could see them all up close), as well as the first time that I watched 'Lion King' and played the Circle of Life, haha.
After the project, I flew to South Africa at my own expense in order to see more of what the continent has to offer. I rented a car during my stay (this was also the 1st time I drove on the left side of the road), gifted myself a stay in a luxury safari, and saw more of the 'Big Five'.
I gotta say, this was the BEST birthday I have ever had!
First TV Appearance
March 15 — I was never keen about the idea of doing live interviews, even more so for TV! I have actually been declining such invitations since 2015; but when ABS-CBN (a popular news and entertainment network in the Philippines) invited me to be interviewed on ‘Rated K by Korina Sanchez’ as a part of their Women’s Month section… I couldn’t help but say yes to such an amazing yet humbling experience.
After all, I decided that it was high time I went out of my comfort zone, and help inspire other people (especially those within my home country) by going through a different form of medium. In the end, though it was nerve-wracking, it turned out be such an enriching and fulfilling experience!
Asia's Most Luxurious Train Journey
February — One of the most lavish experiences that I got because of my blog: a train journey around India's Golden Triangle with Maharajas Express, said to be Asia's most luxurious train journey! True enough, it was extravagant and I had an assigned butler during my whole stay. One of the best things about it as well was that I finally saw the Taj Mahal, and it sure was a beauty!
5th & 6th Continent
November to December — Never in my wildest dreams did I think that I will set foot in Antarctica before my 30s... yet I did!
Thanks to my blog, I was invited by a cruise company called Hurtigruten to go on an expedition to the White Continent and it was an experience that was beyond memorable! At the same time, since Argentina was the starting point for the cruise, I also got to land in South America as my 5th continent.
December 4 — This was my first time in the USA and also my first time to treat my mom to an all-expenses-paid international trip, thanks to my blog!
I also got the chance to watch my first Broadway show: the Lion King. It was fantastic!
October 5 — Finally got to visit one of my dream destinations: New Zealand! As a fan of the Lord of the Rings franchise, this was a dream come true for me; not to mention that it was a paid collaboration with a big brand (Singapore Airlines) so I was flown there with a business class seat.
It was also my first time in this section of the plane, so even if I had a fear of flying I felt quite comfortable and with little to no ounce of anxiety with the whole experience — it was bliss!
Business Insider Feature
September 14 — My next biggest exposure was when Business Insider wrote about my life, my business, and this travel blog. The reach of this interview was insane and what followed were other trending articles from Travel + Leisure, Daily Mail, Independent, UPSOCL, and more!
Since this also happened close to my birthday, I must say that. itwas. the best gift that I received for 2016!
Back to PH
August — My partner and I decided to separate, and I decided to go back to the Philippines to be with family and friends. At this same time, we moved Adalid Gear's incorporation to Hong Kong (also for tax reasons).
May — With the boom of videos as well as with the rising number of unused footage of my travels, I decided to do more vlogs on YouTube: hence, iAmAileen.TV was born! This endeavor surely made me realize that even if it's tedious, it was fun to edit videos again (I used to do it in high school and university as a hobby).
March 3 — I grew up watching anime, so Japan has always been on the top of my list. On this date, I finally set foot in this amazing country and it was everything I expected it to be, and more!
I loved it SO much that since then, I made it a point to visit the country at least once every year.
First International Award
September 26 — WYSTC (World Youth Travel Confederation) recognized my blog among all other nominees worldwide as the "Best Youth Travel Blog" during their 2015 International Global Youth Travel Awards! Given that this blog just turned 1 year old around that time, this acknowledgment truly meant a LOT to me.
May 20 – I grew up reading Cosmopolitan's magazines, so you can imagine my surprise when they emailed me expressing their interest in featuring my life story! You can see the finished piece here.
First International Print Exposure
First Print Exposure
April 12 — Manila Standard Today, one of the Philippines' biggest publications, interviewed me about my life story, travel lifestyle, profession, and online business. This was an honor for me because I was their featured story in their Business section with a full feature on 2 pages! To see photos and screenshots of the newspaper, see check out my press page.
Adalid Gear's Incorporation
March 3 —We decided to move our online company from Hong Kong to Belgium, thereby making it a Belgian company called Adalid Gear BVBA.
BVBA stands for Besloten Vennootschap met Beperkte Aansprakelijkheid (Limited Liability Company). You can see here our recorded incorporation with the Belgisch Staatsblad.
March — This website's audience tripled and I reached more people worldwide. This, in turn, grabbed the attention of several big publications; therefore, I started getting email requests for interviews and content creation. The icing to the cake? I even started scoring paid partnerships with several big brands, as well as opportunities to go on all-expenses-paid trips all over the world!
Everything was falling into place and I have never been happier! You can see my press page for more info and I must say that I couldn't have done this without YOUR help and support. Thank you!
Moving In & Learning Dutch
December – We moved into a nice apartment in a quaint municipal near Antwerp called Schoten. Not too long after, I started to take formal Dutch classes. This was my first time learning a new language so it was quite exciting!
Official Launch of iAmAileen.com
September 5 — When the online business became stable and I was also starting to travel even more, I decided to start blogging again in order to document all of the experiences I had thus far.
I proceeded to recover this domain and relaunched it as a travel blog — at first, it was just a way for me to recall all of my travels as well as share it with friends and family. But after some successful travel posts that went viral, this blog started to gain so many readers worldwide!
I never expected it to happen but because of that and more… my goals have shifted. Not only was I blogging in order to record my life, but I started blogging in order to inspire others to know that a life of travel is certainly possible no matter one’s life circumstances (much like what happened to me)!
Arrival in Belgium
August — By the time that I arrived in Belgium, our online business was going great and I even that there was a huge potential for it to grow exponentially. But in order for that to happen, I need to focus all of my time on it... that's why even if I was going to be wasting the money I spent enrolling in university as well as in processing my student visa, I decided to cancel it all and apply for a residence visa instead. The municipality accepted my application and thus started my life in Belgium!
My First Business
May 5 — Inspired by one of my online jobs at 'The Friendly Swede', I decided to create a similar business (and my boss was even kind enough to offer himself as a mentor). As such, I handed in my resignation and partnered with my ex to start our own Amazon FBA under the brand name: Adalid Gear. (UPDATE: We sold this business as of 2020). What does Adalid mean? Well… it's my last name which means champion in Spanish!
Passing GRE & My Masters
February — Back when I was still with my former partner, I decided to move with him to Belgium. Given my limited passport, I found out that applying for a student visa would give me the best chance to stay at a longer period. At that time, I didn’t mind studying for my Masters so I pursued this option. I didn't imagine, however, that it would be exhausting to apply for a student visa and a 1-year Master’s Degree at the University of Antwerp. But in the end, I made it happen!
March — One of the noteworthy things that I did was when I managed to pass GRE (Graduate Record Examinations or a test for those planning to go to business school) after just one day of reviewing! Yep, I think I just took ‘cramming’ to the highest level.
This happened last minute because I had to catch up with deadlines, and the only available schedule was just a day away; naturally, I took it and reviewed the subjects less than 24 hours. Imagine… others do review classes on this for months!
End of story: I passed. The University of Antwerp accepted my application for their Masters in Economics with Specialization in Marketing, and so, I got my student visa too!
July 31 to September 8 — This was my first trip to Europe! The highlight of this trip was when I went paragliding in Annecy, France on August 26.
In the other months — I mainly traveled around Asia with the Philippines as my home base.
Quit my Corporate Job
April 4 — I resigned from my job at Deutsche Bank. With a lot of encouragement and motivation derived from the traveling nomads that I’ve met, I finally decided to start a digital nomad's life! (Add the fact that my sideline jobs were already making me earn double or triple the amount I was earning at the bank).
Not to mention that working for 5 days a week, 8 hours a day, and not even counting the excessive overtime and Manila traffic have altogether burned me out. But actually… even before I met these nomads, I knew that a 9-to-5 job was not for me. I never felt motivated to go to work and the rat race felt toxic — there were even times that I got extremely depressed.
This is why meeting those individuals who lead a life of travel and remote work was the helpful trigger as I clearly saw what I was doing wrong: slaving away my life for someone else and not taking the leap just because of fear. That dread I was feeling made me angry but also inspired; so, I quit my job and set off to create a sustainable travel lifestyle. Of course, this didn't happen overnight and I also had to prepare before making the jump. (You can read here about the steps I took for how to start a life of travel.)
Better & Stable
Eventually, I scored a stable position as a Marketing Manager for an Amazon store called The Friendly Swede.
A Sudden Shift
May to July — I started to become more outgoing in a way that was out of my comfort zone. I simply wanted to relieve the stress that I was experiencing at work (I was earning a meager income in a job that I didn't love, I was broke and there was no way my travel dreams are coming true...)
As a 'breather', I started a food blog called 'Foodie from the Metro' and I also joined as a contributor for a big online publication called 'When in Manila'. Through these involvements, I started to meet different people from all walks of life and most of them were foreigners (backpackers, nomads, and entrepreneurs). Meeting these folks, if I have to say so myself, was actually a BIG turning point in my life. Discovering and learning about their various professions and travels, made me aspire for more independence and financial freedom.
From then on, I seriously reevaluated what I wanted to do with my life.
First Job & Independence
September 5 — I got my first job at Deutsche Bank Group at the early age of 19! I viewed this as quite an achievement because I was employed while I was still technically a teenager.
By the way, remember when I said that I hated numbers...? Well, obviously this was an ironic happenstance. However, as. a fresh graduate, I was nervous and I couldn't even afford to be choosy especially because my family wasn't doing well financially. Deutsche Bank Group was the first to offer me a job after months of painstakingly applying with various companies — so I said yes.
In this corporation, I started dealing with the investment banking industry which involved a LOT of new and complicated concepts. The company made me go through their special graduate program and it was cool because it gave me more knowledge about trading and stock markets. My position at that time was called as a Risk and PnL Product Controller.
During this time, my parents asked if I wanted to move back in with them. However, I decided to continue living alone and when I did, I had to start paying for the bills and utilities by myself. It was tough but it definitely made me learn a lot. (P.S. Living separately from one's parents is not a common thing to do in our culture so it was a bit of a big deal for me and my family).
June 25 — After 4 years of studying, I graduated from DLSU. From this point onwards, I started to face the bumpy road of the adulting life.
In contrast to my early years, university was where I became super laidback. I wasn't too focused on grades anymore and with the pressure off, I became more involved in extra-curricular activities and positions.
- Vice President – Creatives for the College Government of Business and Economics
- Academic Core for the Business Management Society
- Ambassador at the LaSallian Ambassadors
- Activity Monitoring Team Staff for the Council of Student Organizations
- Events Manager for the Student Artist Managers at the Cultural Arts Office
- Publicity & Graphics Designer for the Student Council, Office of Vice President in Activities
Before my graduation, I ended up living alone and separated from my parents — mostly because my parents had to move back to our original home in the capital (which I couldn't do because it would be too far from my university).
It was scary at first, but I eventually got used to the flow of things like cooking for myself, etc.
2009 – 2010
1st Overseas Trip
May 24 — I went on a trip to Hong Kong and it was amazing!
Before this trip, I never really had the desire to go out of the country; and yet, as I was exposed to this new destination, I developed the yearning for more travel experiences.
June 2010 — I got my driver's license after going through a total of 20 hours in driving lessons for manual cars.
First Ever Salary
July 1 — I received my 1st salary as a trainee. It was small (around $100 only) but I was thankful — and I sure felt accomplished!
1st Taste of Corporate Life
Given my specialized business course at university, I was able to go through a year’s worth of training experiences in 3 different multinational companies: Siemens, Nestle, and Unilever.
It was altogether an invaluable experience because it was also at this point that I started to realize how my hobby of graphic design could prove to be a useful skill in the future!
2007 – 2008
I started to gain more independence as well as awareness of the things I want in life — one of which is the fact that I didn't want to deal with numbers. I abhor the idea that I will continue balancing sheets for the rest of my life.
By the start of 2008, I shifted out of Accountancy and transferred to Business Management with a Specialization in Applied Corporate Management.
I actually wanted to take a Computer Programming course but doing that would require more money. It was an entirely different college, after all. I know how hard my parents worked for my tuition and we weren't a rich family either, that's why I refrained from pushing for what I wanted. Anyhow, I didn’t mind learning about business since I did have the ultimate dream of setting up my own!
Animo, La Salle!
I took up a Bachelor of Science in Accountancy major due to the guidance and request of my mom. I came from a traditional family; plus, I was very indecisive about what I wanted to study, so I didn't mind heeding my mom's request.
Accountancy was one of the best courses at De La Salle University so you could imagine how hard it was to get in, and how harder it was to stay in the program.
The City Life
As the youngest, we made the big move to the capital of Manila when I finally graduated from high school.
We have been doing yearly summer trips to Manila so I already had an idea of what city life entails; however since this was THE big move, it took me a while to adjust to my new surroundings.
It was nerve-wracking but I loved this period because it made me learn important life skills of flexibility and sensitivity to different people or environments. Plus, it even opened me up to new opportunities and experiences!
I don't know how or why, but young me was extremely good at math and the sciences (I don't know what happened because, for one thing, I'm math-dumb nowadays lol). So at one point, my high school discovered that I was qualified to take the prestigious RA 7687 or Science and Technology Scholarship Act of 1994. The test was said to be difficult but fortunately, I passed!
Unfortunately, however, my parents had other plans for me so I ended up taking a different course in a different school.
2004 – 2006
Yes, as much as it horrifies me (just because it's not really my cup of tea and it still makes me cringe at the thought of it), I joined beauty pageants when I was young.
My mom noticed my shy and tomboy demeanor: I had short hair, I loved loose clothing and I was extremely gung-ho. So she thought that joining pageants would 'cure' me and naturally, I hated it — at first. I have to admit that they turned out to be fun challenges in the end.
I joined 4 pageants in total and I won one. In a way, I didn't regret them at all because I learned a lot AND it helped shape me up to who I am today. Other than helping me become more confident and feminine, it also made me realize the important lesson that physical beauty will only get me so far. It should never be the only thing a woman should focus on because inner beauty is the most important thing. Given the right attitude, it will get me anywhere and everywhere in life.
So mom, thanks for pushing me to do those pageants!
High School Life
From 2004 to 2007, I studied at Batanes National Science High School.
My younger self was an overachiever so I was consistently at the top of my class; but, in my senior year, I ended up as the Class Salutatorian. That made me cry because the difference between me and the Valedictorian was very small like .05 (not to mention that something fishy was going on and other things — lol yes I'm still a bit bitter about that, but it was a great reality check regarding the harsh reality of life).
Anyway, that aside, I was great in extra-curricular activities! Noteworthy ones were my positions as the Student Council’s Vice President and the President of the Science Club. As for others…
- JOURNALISM: I loved writing, that’s why I worked my way up into becoming our BISUMI or school publication's editor-in-chief. I also joined writing contests which brought me to regional competitions.
- SINGING: At this point, I started to hone my singing skills without professional help. I didn’t know I had it in me until I joined contests! And I trained by… errr… straining my voice in the shower till it became nice? Haha, I really don’t know. I just sang a lot, which I guess helped a lot!
- OTHER AWARDS: Gerry Roxas Foundation Leadership, President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo (PGMA) Campus Journalism Award, Campaign for Change Community Service Award, Philippine Society of Youth Science Acknowledgement Award, Journalist-Essayist of the Year, Children’s Museum and Library Incorporated Regional Youth Model, A1 Student, and Outstanding Academic Excellences from 2004-2007 in English, Geometry, Calculus, History, Arts and Science.
IN THE 90s
I was raised in the islands of Batanes, my parents' hometown. For my early education, I started school a year early at Basco Central School. I graduated from that elementary school at 12 years old with great marks. (At a young age, I was already trying to make my Asian parents proud haha.)
I was born at 8:10 PM in the capital of the Philippines in 1991. I’m the youngest in the family with 2 siblings!