Linger

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Natatandaan mo pa ba?

Back then, uso pa noon ang Friendster at Yahoo Messenger.BUZZ! 

We met up for the first time on my trip during Fiesta time sa hometown natin and you brought your friend along to celebrate. Kuya was straggling along with us. AS ALWAYS. Siya ang bodyguarddiba? He would never stop teasing you about this and about that. And, word on the street is…he still hasn’t stopped. Hahaha!

Our time together before the New Year was brief. But we would reunite at your place. I had visited your house at least twice before, at age 3 and 15. However, it wasn’t until this visit that made me realize just how beautiful your part of the province was. The beach, albeit filled with rocky, dirty sand, became the place of solace for me. The path to the beach from your house was still made of dirt and it only took less than a minute to get there. You, me, and Kuya would jump along the rocks, crossing little streams, and watch the sun set as we chat about anything from the silly and mundane to the proverbial. As I graduated from adolescence, never had I felt so free from my worries. And you know how much I worried.

This was the time when we went fishing at the fish pond. My first time and the last time I ever went fishing. We took our Tupperware of bait and our sticks attached to long strings and sat at our own posts around the pond. I sang, Sittin’  on the dock of the bay, watchin’ the tide roll away. I was so excited when I finally caught a fish that I did my little dance. Kuya took a picture of my first catch but it ended up being a short video of me dancing. I still have the footage. We must’ve caught at least half a dozen fish, which ended up being our dinner. Afterwards, we washed and gutted the fish. You and Tita also rolled lumpiang shanghai (y’all know what’s my favorite!) and sushi. The night had arrived and you stayed with us at the barebones lodging closer to the city. We brought the food we cooked and also bought ourselves a large bag of fresh balut and feasted in our room.

I spent my last few nights in the busy city and you and Kuya merrily tagged along. I was supposed to meet up with someone that my friend from Virginia introduced me to but we simply couldn’t find the time. For some reason, all I remember us eating was cheap convenience store food for our meals, such as instant microwaveable Ramen and random tsitsirya. Otherwise, I was fine just starving.

On my last night, we decided to purchase some cheap wine, pulutan, and marshmallows. We sat outside at a table located next to a restaurant that also included a karaoke bar blasting favorable music. With the marshmallows, I challenged you to a game of Chubby Bunny. You had never heard of the game before and I warned you beforehand that people had died playing the game. We would dip our marshmallows in wine before stuffing it into our cheeks while trying our hardest to refrain from laughter. The music from the restaurant was vibrating through the window pane. Linger” by The Cranberries started to play and I peeked through the curtains to see who was singing along to the song. I thought nothing could go wrong, but I was wrong, I was wrong. It was the only song I remember playing that night. During the whole trip. We would stay outside past midnight, laughing and hollering at our kalokohan, until it was time for me to prepare for my return to the States.

The world was still small. We were still carefree then.

Natatandaan mo pa ba?

This post is in memory of Dolores O’Riordan.
Rest In Power. Thank you for your music.

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How To Be Yours

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During my latest visit to the Philippines, I watched the film How To Be Yours at the movie theater. Although having been to the Philippines several times, this was my first time actually going to the movie theaters and experiencing just how large and spacious and well-conditioned they are. Now why choose this particular movie? I simply saw the trailer on TV and wanted to watch a Pinoy film…and it was that or Suicide Squad. I wanted to feel kilig so the choice was easy. Continue reading

A Meta-Blog Post About Why I Didn’t Really Blog About My Trip To The Philippines

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…

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Looking back at all the pictures I took while in the Philippines, this is one of my favorite shots. I decided not to bring either my camcorder or point-and-shoot during this trip; instead, I trusted in my smartphone. As much as I love capturing moments with technology, I decided not to focus too much wanting that Kodak moment, but rather just inscribe them into my mind.

This photo was taken at my aunt’s house in Batangas, as the sun was setting. I love how you can tell the sun is setting, yet parts of the sky is still blue with some dark clouds lingering. My Tita lives in a rural area where people farm to make their living. Usually, when I visit, my cousin and I would go fishing in the ponds to catch dinner and go frolicking at the beach, which is only a very short walk from the house. It’s not a beach where you can lie in the sand and get a tan, but you get a nice view of the sea and feel refreshed from the consistent breeze. Most of my family, at least the family that I stay with, live in the probinsya, meaning not the city. I enjoy the rural life: it’s more relaxing and slow-paced. Whenever I’m in Manila, it’s just pollution and noise and HOT and I don’t want to deal with it. I don’t think I’m meant for that type of lifestyle.

…It’s been almost four weeks now since I got back to America. It’s like, each time I visit, more of me stays over there. I feel comfortable in that space. I feel accepted. I feel loved. I feel like I belong. I miss it. I miss them.

Hmm.