Saturday, January 18, 2014

Home is where the heart is...

It's been a while since I posted.   New Year.  New perspective, hopefully.

Last summer, we visited the Philippines.  It was my first homecoming in 16 years.  We just stayed for about 8 days.  It was short but sweet.  I was reunited with my two younger sisters, cousins and old friends.  I was a tourist in my own country.  People saw me differently.  I am older.  Everyone called me ate which means big sister.   Sixteen years ago, most people called me miss or  anak meaning child.

Our time in the Philippines was overloaded with activities and sight seeing tours.  We stayed in hotels because our childhood home was under renovation.  Our town has changed.  When I left, it was primarily rural with ample farmland, no treated water, no phone line, no fast food chain except for Dunkin Donuts which was fairly new then.  Now, it is a city.  The sad part is the infrastructure has not kept up with the demand.  The traffic is horrendous.  It used to take us only 15 minutes from our house to the town center.  Now, at least an hour.

Despite the traffic, heat, unsafe driving and Manila, we thoroughly enjoyed our homecoming.  We went to Taal Volcano, Villa Escudero, Boracay, Mall of Asia and Fort Santiago.  My friend compared our trip to the reality show Amazing Race.  It was intense with very little down time. 

It was strange coming back after living for so long in the US.  I noticed the heat more, the pollution more, the humidity, the traffic, the poverty.  My heart breaks for homeless people especially the children and street vendors.  I cannot say no to people.  I gave generous tips.   I feel guilty for having such a good life.  I did not cry when I left the first time but I cried this time.   I promised to return, soon.

Upon return to the States, everything felt more luxurious.  The carpet.  The wide road with very little traffic.  The central air conditioning.  But I was hit by depression which lasted for quite a while. 

I was ready to move back to the Philippines.  I missed my friends and family.   I studied this possibility for quite a while.  Maybe, Jason can teach.  I could teach.  Benji must attend Chinese school so he could be ready for the world economy.  Despite these grandiose ideas, reality still prevailed.   It is not ideal to raise a family in the Philippines for so many reasons.    However,  my husband and I agreed that maybe in retirement, we'll spend each winter in the Philippines, if we could afford it. 

Last week, I told my 4 year old,  "Benji, if it is only good in the Philippines, we could go home now."  Benji replied "What are you saying mommy?  We're already home."  Wise words from the mouth of babe....  But part of my heart remains in the Philippines...

Taken in Boracay


Ed said...

Going to the Philippines makes me see things differently here too. I don't take things for granted when I come back.

Just in my short time of going back and forth to the Philippines, I have seen many differences, namely the large changes in population. We are planning on going back again this summer and I'm planning on huge changes again since it will be my first trip back in nearly eight years!

I think your best bet to spend large amounts of time in the Philippines is to retire there since your dollars will go further there than they do here. I know lots of retired vets on pensions who live like kings there but would be paupers here. We have rebuilt my mother-in-laws house in the mountains of Baguio City so we always have a place to stay when we go back. I doubt we will ever live there full time but I do hope to someday spend the better part of a year there getting to know my adopted country better.

malor said...

Hi Ed, I thought about retiring in the Philippines but the thing is I'm afraid that the health system is not too advance especially their emergency response system. When you're middle age, you never know. Anyway, I would probably spend half a year there and half a year here. I realized how beautiful it is in the Philippines. Manila has no beauty for me but outside Manila it is better. We enjoyed Boracay. Many people said that it is not as good because it's very tourist-y but we love it that way because it is convenient and safe...
I noticed that my interaction with Filipinos also changed. I am more patient with them.
I wish you safe trip and enjoy. Next time we'll go to Bagiuo.

Ed said...

I haven't been to Boracay but I would like to visit sometime. Baguio is about like Manila to me these days. In the last decade it has gotten extremely crowded and dirty. Fortunately if you get away from the city center into the residential areas, they have pretty much stayed the same.

Although our house is in Baguio, I've always thought I would like to find a place in a rural village down within view of the ocean, preferably not within reach of the ocean during a typhoon or tsunami. It would be big enough that part of my wife's family can live there full time and maintain the place with room enough for me to stay when we visit.

malor said...

I'd been to Baguio several times. I agree with you. It's becoming to be like Manila. Anyway, Boracay is really nice. I love the beach. I booked a really nice inexpensive hotel room. The hotel where we stayed has a private beach and it was a luxury.

exskindiver said...

OMG, The comparison to the Amazing Race, I truly get! I was back in Feb of 2013 after not being in Manila since 2007. And that is what it felt like.