by Kat Gomez-Limchoc

I have always told my teams to be mindful about filling their creative wells, so that they have constant sources of inspiration and insight from which to draw from. I encourage them to read, to go to museums, exhibits, and all kinds of performances. But most of all, I encourage them to travel. I love a brainstorm where somebody will share an idea sparked by something they had seen while on an adventure.

And so I plan the year with my own big and small travel breaks. This year’s major trip was especially epic. There is a family legend on my mother’s side that our descendants came from Mongolia. And so, my mom, sister and I decided to go on what we called the #Mongolonggo trip, the concept being of proud Ilonggos discovering another motherland.

While I enjoy the coziness inside the ger, my mom basks in the vastness outside.

Our trip started in the capital of UlaanBaatar, and from there we drove into the Gobi desert, covering 1,800 kilometers by land. Every day, we experienced something awesome. We watched a nomad family herding about a hundred horses on verdant steppes as far as the eye could see.

Sand dunes and a pair of two-hump Bactrian camels in the Gobi Desert.

We chanced upon a rare lavender bloom covering the edge of the desert with stripes of purple. We saw the largest sand dune in the Gobi, snow in a gorge in Eagle Valley despite it being the height of summer, ancient temples and artifacts by Karakorum, the ancient capital that Chinggis (the proper way to call Genghis we learned) had built.

 By Karakorum, the site of the ancient capital of the Mongol empire.

We were invited to immerse ourselves in a nomad family’s camp, welcomed by their homemade cheese and vodka.

  A nomad family rides their animals towards us to invite us to their camp.

The head of the nomad family offers us homemade cheese and bread.

We rode their horses, the same semi-wild breed that the Mongolian warriors used to create the largest empire in history. I was thrilled when the locals complimented the way I rode (maybe that was the Mongolian in me?!).

The Mongolians pride themselves in being an equistrian people. They are such amazing riders!

I loved seeing again how people no matter how seemingly different have so many more things in common. Throughout the trip, I bonded with the locals over Mongolian hip hop which I really enjoyed, and we made friends by sharing our stash of Philippine dried mangoes which everybody absolutely loved. 

Mongolian cuties. We learned that in traditional horse races, the preferred horse riders are little girls, sometimes as young as five years old.

I saw firsthand that when a people are so connected with nature, then all that is in it is respected and taken care of. One of the highlights of the trip was when we rescued a dying horse. With the guidance of our guide and our drivers, twelve tourists from five countries worked together to quickly gather grass from the hills and to hand-feed a malnourished horse until she could stand and eat on her own.

Drinking Chinggis beer and watching the sunset in the Gobi.

I went home overflowing with stories, inspired by the extraordinary land and the culture I had experienced. And as I returned to the heart of Makati, I knew that what I had learned at the edge of the world would find its way here.


Kat Gomez-Limchoc is the Executive Creative Director of Blackpencil Manila, of the Leo Burnett Group Manila. She has helped to considerably expand the business of the agency, and has won numerous awards throughout her career. But she is most proud that she has a happy team, and that she lives a full life beyond advertising, spending time with her family and friends, travelling, doing charity work and other creative projects.  She has published three books in the past two years: Book of 40, 40 ideas inspired by 40 years of life in 40 creative collaborations, as creative director and editor on Legacy, an Assumption cookbook, and Princess Liv and the Strange Creatures, a children’s book released this June.