This post could be considered a continuation of thoughts from this one. I really wanted to post multiple posts, with photos included, about my travels to the Philippines this past December/January. But the more I postponed the posts, the more I just wanted to keep all the pictures and memories to myself.
This trip meant a lot to me. It was another grand opportunity to visit my relatives and meet additions to the family I hadn’t met during my last visit. It was the first time out of my seven trips where I was really out on my own. I traveled the most on this trip: El Nido and Puerto Princesa in Palawan, Cebu, Bohol, rural Batangas, rented a condo in Makati, Laguna, and all around Metro Manila.
But as much as I enjoyed and admired all the new places I visited, it doesn’t surpass the amount of joy of simply spending time with my family. And it’s ironic. I branded my trip as a trip for adventure and not really about getting to see family because that’s what I always had done. On previous trips, I felt I had been kept from experiencing the beauty of other parts of the country.
Sure, I walked along the coastlines of gorgeous beaches. I saw flocks of beautiful tourists everywhere I visited. I ate some pricy, yet delicious, dishes in restaurants I wouldn’t dare consider before. I drove an ATV on muddy roads around brown hills. I got to play basketball with elementary schoolers in a random town. I got to pretend being bougy at a casino resort. You may have seen a lot of this on my Snapchats. Even though I did many new things and visited new places, they weren’t the defining moments of my trip.
I think more about the heart-to-heart conversations I had with my cousins, learning things about my family I never knew before.
I think about the cuteness of all my cousins’ children and all my infancy.
I think about how my nieces and nephews get by without really using computers, fancy smartphones, video games and tablets like the children growing up here in America.
I think about how one cousin, who I believe is much smarter than me, and if given the opportunity to live here in America or elsewhere, I am 100% positive that he would excel and flourish in his career.
I think about my uncle who at his old age is still working hard on the rice fields. Like WOW. Seeing him carry large sacks of rice on his back back to his house. I’m sure I would break my back if I tried to do work as hard as he does.
I think about my Tita, now a widow, and how lonely she feels since her children are grown and work in Manila and are not able to spend much time with her.
I could go on and on…
The Philippines is not just a country where my parents are from nor is it just a temporary paradise for tourists. After each visit to the homeland, I end up leaving more and more pieces of me. That place is always going to mean so much more to me, more than you may understand. I wish I could describe to you completely how deep my love and my affection is for a sanctuary that I most genuinely call “home”.
And it will always be brutally disheartening to me knowing that I am very much attached to a place that’s on the opposite side of this planet. Kailan kaya tayo ulit magkikita…sobrang mis ko na kayong lahat talaga…