I was waiting at the gate, exhausted and sleep deprived, just waiting to board the plane. It was an early August morning as streaks of orange and red were beginning to pour into the sky over Manila. How dreary I thought as I sat alone in anguish despite the pleasant sunrise . I was deluding myself by thinking that I was going to live there. Yet it was inevitable as I joined the other passengers already forming a line to board the plane that would take me back to Florida. My breaths were short and cold. I slowly approached the door leading to the plane. Barely able to speak a word I handed my ticket to the attendant as I ventured into a long and narrow passage way. Nearly at the end, just before boarding the plane, I looked back, in hopes that something would put a smile back on my face — but nothing did. I stepped upon the dimly lit plane, walking down the aisle towards the back. Upon finding my seat, I placed my luggage in the overhead and took my seat by the window. It was so beauteous I thought. I had opened the window to see the sun fully illuminating the city beneath. The buildings pierced the air stretching across the horizon from Manila Bay to the central business district. It was like any other city in the U.S, but different. This was home. I didn’t want to go. I leaned back into my seat listlessly, gazing through the window into a world I would soon leave. While the last few passengers filled the plane I remembered how anxious and excited I was when I first arrived, as the engines began to roar.
â–º Quarter Finalist 2011 Teen Travel Writing Scholarship
I had spent two months in the Philippines. It was only my second time visiting. I was only 11 years old when I first went, but much has changed since then. The recent death of my grandmother and cousin made me procure a different perspective in life. I realized I yearned for a love of a family I never truly had. Unlike most Filipino Americans I live on the east coast in South Florida which is hardly populated by Filipinos. The closest family members were still far away in Vancouver, Canada. Traveling there was worth everything.
In the Philippines, the streets were often congested and the air filled with smog. The sidewalks were crowded with people of all types, rich and poor. The old small restaurants and vendors along the dirty streets were more comforting than the sterile and monotonous super markets in Florida. I felt at home here. But beyond that I had found my family. The people who share the same blood as me. The people whom my mother had mentioned in her stories long ago. In my childhood, before I slept she would tell me to pray, “for your all your cousins, aunts and uncles, and elders“, even though I had never met them. I felt like I belonged when I was there. Among all the moments I was able to share with my relatives that summer, leaving was the hardest thing I did.
With the engine roaring at its loudest the plane accelerated and eventually took off into the air. I gazed through the window one last time, at the city once called the Pearl of the Orient. I realized despite the pain I felt, I knew one day I would return.
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