“My mom is actually from the Philippines, “I thought as I stepped off of the
Cathay Pacific airplane and into the Cebu Airport Terminal. I couldn’t believe that after almost seventeen long, strenuous hours we had finally reached our destination. Once I felt that hot, humid air on my skin it was like a flashback of the first time I had been here, except this time I was older and more aware of what my family and I were there for.
My mother had been adopted as a newborn from a missionary couple who worked with my mother’s biological parents. The couple who adopted my mother were not able to have children and yearned for one to call their own. It so happens that my mother’s biological parents were unable to care for her, as they already had three children to feed, so they decided to give their precious daughter to the missionary couple. For seven years my mom lived in Bohol, Philippines before permanently residing in the U.S. My mom’s adoptive parents never took her back to the Philippines and for a majority of her life she had no desire to contact her biological family. . . until her adoptive mother’s death. My mom had found letters from her biological family that revealed their yearning to meet their absent daughter.
My uncle, who was from the island of Mindanao, had come to retrieve us from the airport and escort us to the Marriot Hotel, where we would rest for one night before leaving to Bohol. That night we turned in early because we were so jet-lagged, yet we woke up early because we were in a whole new time zone. The next morning we all awaited the reunion that would take place in Bohol. I felt nervous, anxious, and excited to be reunited with a family that I hadn’t been familiar with, unlike my father’s side of the family.
After my mom had contacted her biological family in 2002, she made plans for all of us to meet in the next few years. Three years later we found ourselves on a plane to a foreign country to meet a family that we virtually knew nothing about. It was an amazing, but emotional experience for all of us, especially my mom. Now that we were back five years later, I didn’t know what to expect.
When we arrived in Bohol we were graciously greeted by my grandparents, aunt, and uncle. They had a sign welcoming us back and welcoming my cousin who had joined us on our journey back to the Philippines. I had an overwhelming feeling of love and I couldn’t wait to spend the next two weeks living and spending time with this family, my family.
Over the next two weeks we ate every meal together, went sight seeing, took family portraits, shared stories, swam, shopped, laughed, slept and loved together. As each day passed it felt as if the miles and miles between our homes grew shorter and shorter, until the distance didn’t exist. We were all together again, and it was even more precious than before. Even though our languages, our culture and our locations were dissimilar, we had one thing in common, we were a family. As our reunion came to an end I felt a change in myself and in everyone else. We had all been touched by this reunion and we knew that we were all changed forever.
My trip back to the Philippines has made me realize that near or far, family is family and nothing can change that.
Dear Reader: This page may contain affiliate links which may earn a commission if you click through and make a purchase. Our independent journalism is not influenced by any advertiser or commercial initiative unless it is clearly marked as sponsored content. As travel products change, please be sure to reconfirm all details and stay up to date with current events to ensure a safe and successful trip.