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Meet 77-year-old Odette Aquitania Ricasa, the most-traveled Filipino in the world

Steve Angeles | TFC News San Clemente, California

Posted at Sep 20 2022 07:45 PM | Updated as of Sep 20 2022 08:01 PM

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77-year-old Odette Aquitania Ricasa has been dubbed the most-traveled Filipino in the world.

Her seaside home in San Clemente, California houses a collection of souvenirs from some 40 years worth of amazing adventures.

After a trip to Iraq last month, Ricasa became the first Filipino to visit all 193 United Nations countries. But that's just the tip. She's hit all seven continents, and has made her way to far-flung remote islands.

In total, Ricasa has visited 301 out of some 330 Travelers Century Club Countries and Territories.

"I didn’t think it would cause this much sensation. I’m a member of Philippine Global explores and TCC, I thought they would give me a certificate, and that's it," Ricasa said.

Her family is from Quiapo, and she attended Assumption San Lorenzo College.

At 31 years old, she migrated to New York in the 1970s, working as a bookkeeper, then systems analyst, and eventually a real estate agent. In the back of her mind, she always had a goal.

Ricasa shared that geography was her favorite subject in school.

"The teacher would show us pictures of big apple trees, the reindeer crossing the highway, birch trees, pine trees and snow, and then she will draw the suns of Arizona and the Arabian desserts. I said, one day I want to see that but I don’t have money. But then I said, when you like to do something, you have a goal so when I came to America, I landed in New York. I was a book keeper earning $90 a week, living in Bronx New York and my first tour was Montreal, Canada."

From Canada, Ricasa eventually found her way through Europe, then Africa. Next thing she knew, she was seeing the rest of the world.

"Because I'm Travelers Century Club, I just wanted to follow their list and go and go see the world because I said, travel is a learning experience."

She's managed to keep her travel expenses reasonable. She's racked up two million frequent flyer miles at one point, opting for more adventurous routes leading to lifelong friendships and memories.

"I look for the tour flyer and I follow it on my own, riding the bus," Ricasa said. "I'm still a member of couch surfing service where they invite you to their homes. It’s really not to show you around but for friendships and understanding cultures."

Her travels have been developed into seven books and counting. Next month, Ricasa plans to travel to Yerevan, Armenia where she will be part of a book panel.

And at 77-years young, the grandmother of four has no plans of slowing down anytime soon.

"Unstoppable ako. I will until I can," Ricasa declared.

(I'm unstoppable.)

When she's not traveling, Ricasa is painting, with her artworks displayed alongside the treasures she's collected.

Ricasa goes back to the Philippines twice a year, especially during the holidays. After all, there's no place like home.