I was born in the Philippines. However, due to my father’s job, we soon moved and have traveled to Okinawa, South Korea, and eventually the United States. I have only visited my Filipino family three times since 1991, and every time the feeling of home wraps itself around my heart to the point I feel the need to cry.
My latest visit was in 2007, and it had been eight years since I had seen my “Lola,” or grandmother. So many things had changed. I had cousins out of school, and one even had a son, my godchild. I remember stepping out of the airport doors and seeing a crowd of people waiting for beloved family or friends. Right in the middle of the crowd, pressing against the metal barriers, was a group waving. In the middle was my Lola. She was holding onto one of my aunts, both crying. When we reached them, I fought back my tears, and started laughing as they commented on how tall I was. I am only five-foot-three, but i seemed to tower over my relatives since I am half American.
They led us to a Jeepney, the best way to travel in my opinion. As we raced down the roads, a rare thing in Manila, the smell and atmosphere of the Philippine Islands enveloped me. I immediately felt happiness for I was finally home. We reached my family’s neighborhood, and I was suprised by how small the streets actually were. After spending half of my life in the United States, I knew that I had to try my best to accept all the differences in lifestyles.
It took me about a day or two to connect with my cousins, both parties shy. We finally bonded over Japanese dramas, something that I was pleasantly surprised to find we shared in common. The following two and a half weeks were filled with karaoke, parties, and just getting to know my cousins better. I was even able to form a bond with my nephew (as we call him since he is a generation younger).
Now, my nephew/godchild has to be the most adorable thing in the world, and I am not just saying that because he is related to me. He dances better than I do, although that doesn’t say much. When my cousins and I went for a walk around the neighborhood, he decided that he would rather be holding onto my hand, or riding on my back. For some reason, he seemed to even pick up English by listening to his mother and me. While we were walking, his hand in mine, he looked up at me and said, “Ninang Misty! I don’t know!” and we had all stared at him in shock as he giggled and flailed his arms, or rather, his whole body, in a moment of “spazz” as he often did.
The night before we left has to be one of the saddest nights of my life. I hugged as many of my relatives as I could, my nephew avoiding me because he thought we were lying. He had told his mother that we would just be sitting around watching t.v. the next day instead of leaving. He said this to her with the confidence only a toddler can have. The next morning, we packed our luggage into the same Jeepney that had taken us home, except this time our destination was the airport. On the plane to America, we sat planning our next trip home.
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