I've written previous drafts about the Philippines on a number of topics, but I was never satisfied with what I had tried to explain and paint with words to describe the Philippines. So, instead of trying to plan out too many things or find just the right photos to go with this and that, I think that I'll return to my impromptu approach and write whatever my conscious decides to bring to to the surface. This is just a tiny reflection about what the Philippines means to me.
|Repúblika ng Pilipinas|
The Philippines is important to me because it's where my parents and most of my close relatives grew up, it's their homeland. So, I can never forget my roots or my family's culture. I grew up bilingual, knowing both English and Tagalog.
Growing up as the first generation of my family in the United States was new ground for my parents and for their children too. Where we grew up was fairly homogeneous and we were one of just a handful of 'diverse,' families in the neighborhood or school district. This led to some interesting interactions at times with people at school.
Whenever we had a chance to share our culture at school my parents would be more than glad to help. (I'm pretty sure that I've previously written about some of this background, but like I said I'm following whatever comes to mind). We explained how Christmas was celebrated in the Philippines, my Mom came to my music class one time to demonstrate how to dance Tiniklilng and I sold lumpiang shanghai for a school marketing project (everybody loves an egg roll).
I've only been to the Philippines a total of 3 times now; so you can imagine that for most of them there was a wide gap of time between visits. I've seen changes in the geography and culture (the most dramatic being from the 1980's and the 2000's) . If it were up to me; I would be visiting more often, but since nobody offers free flights back and forth (as far as I know) there has to be some stretch of time in between visits.
I'll be going on my fourth voyage to the Philippines, very soon. My last visit was filled with heartfelt reunions, lots of laughter and a few tears too. My last visit to the Philippines was the last time that I saw my last living grandparent, my Lola Frances, it was also the last time that I saw my cousin Jojo. I also lost one of my Aunt's from my Father's side of the family. If you've read my previous posts about them, you already know that it was bittersweet and heartbreaking when they left this world.
When I return to the Philippines; it will be bittersweet once again because I go there for the christening of new life and lives. My cousin's son is getting married and another of my cousin and her husband just had their first child. I also return there to pay my respects at my cousin Jojo and my Aunt Irene's graves and at my Lola's columbarium.
I know that life is always a combination of joy and pain. We see it each day when we watch the news and see both wonderful and also terrifying things that are going on in the world. So, I cannot let myself feel too joyous or overly sad at the prospects of going back to the Philippines, knowing what I will face.
I recognize the natural beauty of the Philippines that allures so many people, but I think what I always look forward too is seeing my family, relatives and hearing new stories about my parents or 'the good old days, ' from my relatives. I of course cannot deny the glee of being able to enjoy all of the fresh vegetables and fruits that would cost me 2 arms and 2 legs over here, but it's in the sharing of the experience with others, that really makes me happy.
It's never really where you are, it's the people with whom you share the experience, that makes all the difference.
There's something that I noticed when my parents, relatives or family friends mention the Philippines about somebody taking a trip there, they always say 'We're going home/I'm going home or We went home, etc. '
Even, when my parents talk about us, their children; if we go the Philippines, they say that 'They're going home.' I always found this funny because as their children who grew up in the U.S., I don't think that I could really refer to the Philippines, as 'home.' I think that maybe the reason why they still might consider the Philippines as 'home,' for us, is that maybe they know that it's a place that's familiar to them and it's where a majority of our family still are. Maybe, it's because they know that their homeland will always have a place for us and show us the Filipino 'Mabuhay,' warm spirit of welcoming. You never know, we may fully validate their stance that The Philippines, is our home ; if my siblings and I were to apply for dual citizenship ;)
The Philippines is more than just a place to me. It's where my cultural roots are, where loved ones are where memories were made and will be made.
Mahal kita, Pilipinas - I love you, Philippines <3
See you soon!