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It had been a decade since I last saw the smoggy skies of the Philippines, and I was less eager to be courageous and open to the world around me. The memories that I desperately held onto for all those years were gone, swept away by the monstrous typhoons of time.
I could no longer brave the moths, and the lizards, and the rats, for they made me want to cry every time I encountered them. Once, while lying on the couch watching TV in my aunt’s house, a rat crawled up from under the cushions, next to my head, and I vowed never to sit on that couch again.
I could no longer be permitted to go as I pleased because of the fear that captured my parents, the fear that I would be taken away from them and be held for ransom. The Philippines was longer safe for me and my siblings because we had been transformed into other worldly creatures from America.
I could no longer recognize my cousins; time had turn them into strangers and communication with them was far from easy. In the end they spent most of their time teasing me for my strange accent and childish vocabulary, and I spent most of my time pretending to get mad at them for making fun of me.
I could no longer stand the polluted air that burned my nose and the trash that littered every crook and cranny of every street. I had become so used to pollution as a child that I had no recollection of it until it hit me square in the face.
Still I was glad to be back and I was determined not to let anything keep me from enjoying my stay in the Philippines. Not even the constant rain could hinder my family from truly experiencing the Philippines. Braving stormy skies, my family spent a weekend driving eight hours into the mountainous regions of northern Philippines to trace our family roots. There I had seen where my great grandma, now ninety-eight, had grown up and there I had met a distant grandpa who was only twenty four. It was like going to a completely different country, the air and water were clean and fresh and the people spoke a dialect which I couldn’t understand. Around the mountains, the inhabitants depended heavily on rice farming and everywhere I turned there were rice fields and cows. At the very base of the mountains small communities had formed, relying on the mountains to provide them fresh water for their everyday needs. Past the mountains were the northern shores of the Philippines, scattered with large resorts that, had the sun been shining, would have been crowded with tourists. The views were incredible, and the experience more so.
I had only but a taste of what the Philippines had to offer, the raggedy slums of the city and the serene life around the mountains were just the beginning, but I was still sad to leave it behind. It was heartbreaking to think that the next time I would be able to see my cousins is when they were all grown up and maybe married and starting a family of their own. My experience in the Philippines motivates me to work hard in school so that one day I might be able to return and give my cousins a chance to have a fortunate life like mine. It’s been a month since I have returned to my home in Texas half a world away, but my memory of the Philippines still burns brightly.