(***Important things you want to know when travelling in the Philippines)
DAY 3 - LANDING
Landed safely at MIA airport. It was past midnight , about an hour late from arrival time. The escalator was defective and there was no tissue paper in the washroom. I’ve heard some people complaining loudly . I walked silently . How should I complain? Someone was going home to a sick mother and the other one has no one to pick up. There was more to think about rather than a broken fixture that was fixable. I was not expecting things to be perfect down here. If this was the worst I can experience here, then I guessed it was tolerable or I should say I was used to it back then.
I knew my younger sister and cousins were waiting. I haven’t seen them for about 6 years. The thought made me feel excited.
Prior to baggage claim, I passed by to have my passport checked, a photo and finger print all in one window. Since I was holding a Canadian passport, the line up was not long for foreign passport. Then there was a window to submit the declaration form. It was easy , I didn’t know if they checked my responses.
Then I went to the baggage claim. It wasn’t hard to see because of the big names and the colourful tapes. After grabbing them, I was actually lost where to go because it looked like going out was already a street. I couldn’t get into my data because the free wifi seemed to need a Philippine SIM card or a roaming phone number.
From afar, I saw my sister and relatives holding “Welcome Home, Nonet!” I rushed to them, with those baggage and carry-ons.
Six years, I haven’t actually seen my younger sister. I found her not ageing in 6 years, she looks like the same young girl I knew when I left in 2013. And I know. I get fatter through the years and my wrinkles can’t be hidden.
It was on my third day that I reached my hometown Pila, Laguna.
While on the road, everything seemed coming back. Traffic wasn’t bad, because I guess it was almost 2 am. Everything seemed just the same, except there were new establishments and it looked crowded by people. Everywhere there were people. In Winnipeg, you can count the number of people especially in Winter. It can be taken as both positive and negative. There can be strength in numbers, but may result to a reduced quality of life. But everything is relative.
My parents prepared good food. At 3 am they were awake to celebrate my arrival. I was glad to see my father was getting better after 2 strokes within 6 months.
It was 30C as expected. It was very warm. If in Winnipeg, heater is required, in here an ACU or fan is badly needed.
Memories flashed back. It was my same room. Nothing really changed, just got older. I asked my mom why she didn’t remove old stuff. All our stuff since we were young seemed to be there. She told me , “I want it to be that way. To keep it just the same as if you were all here. It’s always good to remember the old days. It makes me feel happy feeling your presence in the house.” This melted my heart. Indeed, old family houses have more sentimental values than the market price. Home is where you eat together, celebrate special events, laugh with your siblings and parents and find love and peace. Home is where your heart feels younger once again.
My notebooks since I was 7 has been kept securely. My diary started since the day I learned to read and write. It was nice to read about your thoughts and feelings when you were younger, and compared how they changed through time.
My mom preserved old pictures which was greater than electronic copies. There was so much beauty in raw and unfiltered photos.
Family bonding and getting in touch with relatives and friends were just the activities I had for my itinerary, and it’s more of a stress reliever and a therapy away from work.