As we stood in the mucky, sweltering heat of the Philippines, I prayed that the bus taking us to our destination would come sooner—along with the relief of its cold, refreshing air from the strong air-conditioning, of course. Why did my family decide to visit this equatorial country in the peak of summer?
Now, let it be known that as a resident of the sunny Southern California, the heat is no foreign subject to me. However, the heat here is something different. It was as if the ground beneath our feet was a gigantic mirror, bouncing the sun’s beams back up at us; the heat radiated from everywhere. Also, being on a tropical island may sound like paradise, but one unpleasant feature is usually forgotten in that vision of bliss: the humidity. I felt as if I could grab the air around me. It was heavy, like a perpetual blanket wrapped around me—not in the warm, comforting way, but the uncomfortable, smothering way.
It was this day that the weather of the Philippines would once again present me with its countless surprises.
Today, my family and I were to go to Tagaytay, a more rural area of Manila, to get a good view of Mount Taal. This volcano is known to be one of the most active in the country. Even the weather could not ruin my excitement and fascination to see this.
As we got off the bus to the Picnic Grove and walked down the jagged, steep steps down to the viewing area, I noticed the blue sky being engulfed by thick, gray clouds. In moments, fat, warm drops of water hit my face. “No way”, I muttered in disbelief. And suddenly the few drops turned into a raging downpour. The people ahead of me were concealed from my vision by the wall of rain.
Dreadfully I thought to myself, “Heck, if I can’t see a few feet ahead of me, how will I see the volcano miles away?” I had thought my day was ruined.
I turned around to my parents, and surprisingly, they did not seem upset. I looked a little harder, and I thought I might have even seen—a smile? My brother and I exchanged a glance of worry that our parents have gone mad. My mother let out a ringing laugh, contrasting the dull, monotonous sound of pouring rain. She amusingly shouted, “This is good! This is home!”
The thought struck me that the main purpose of this trip was to return to our mother country, and see the place that my family had come from. To my mother and father, this moment was normal. Nostalgic. I grinned along with them, and savored this moment—and even the strange rain.
Almost miraculously, as we were reaching the bottom of the steps to the viewing area, the skies mellowed to an occasional drip here and a drop there.
Finally seeing the volcano was a great experience; however, it pales in comparison to that moment in the pouring rain with my family. Being able to witness the spontaneous nature of this tropical wonder, that is a cherished memory of my parents’ youth, is one that I also will treasure forever.
Though sometimes muggy and overbearing with heat, it is the unexpected joys such as this that has made me love the country that I came from.
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