Reliving the Filipino Experience
This is perhaps the shortest vacation in the Philippines I ever had since I went to Norway. It was a very activity-filled six days of my life. However, there are things I got to experience again, as a Filipino, a part of myself I would never be ashamed of. In this blogpost, I would attempt encapsulate everything I learned from my relived Filipino experience.
1. Weather difference
Arriving from Seoul, Korea from a short stopover, I never expected that the thoughts and memories I had before in the Philippines would come rushing to me, overwhelming my awareness to the point of mental exhaustion. One thing, I have noticed the drought has ected the country very much, such that the green grasses on the airport field turned into brown outgrowths of a dry topsoil. It was warmth. Surprisingly, my body adapted quickly with the air temperature.
2. Revisiting major historical areas
This time I vowed to visit the Philippine capital, Manila's old town. I have been in the adjacent areas but never I had the chance to visit Luneta Park or Intramuros, the walled old city. A must I must say. I wondered why there are few local or international tourists in the area. The reality struck me- the old town was a prostitution and gambling hub of the country. I knew this before, but I never realized that even hotels located in the area are cooperating in this scheme. In this scheme, ladies would casually enter hotels as if there were regular guests. This is a usu scenario that shocked me in a way.
3. The new brand of Filipino hospitality
Filipinos are hospitable in anyway. Ofcourse, one would expect the treatment will be better when money is involved. I realized nothing has changed. People struggle for money and everyone will do everything to earn for a living, both legal and illegal means. Taxi cab drivers stay at night to find customers. My taxi driver was a little bit influenced by "something," as evidenced by behavioral deviations marked by aggressiveness in driving. It is unfortunate but that is just reality. As the Filipino saying goes, it all lies on luck. If it is your time, it will be your time.
4. Anxiety of knowing truths
Going back to my hometown Butuan, I felt a little bit jittery. I do not know what to expect. Just any Filipino overseas worker, the risk of knowing things unexpectedly is high. Expectations would be verbalized that would put stress to anyone coming home. I would just want to play deaf and blind, so I could cope better. Luckily, I was too tired to think of everything so I could say I coped better. It was also stressful to have experienced baggage problems with my chosen airline. I admit there is no such as passenger rights in the light of big companies.
5. Spoiling my niece
The second day in Butuan, I planned to be with my niece. I had earlier planned to bring her to Norway, but since it was not possible this time, treating her to somewhere would be better. We went to a local resort. It was not a good replacement to what has been planned but it was the most feasible thing to do. The time was not enough but it was momentous in a way. I just hope I will have more opportunities in the future.
6. Wellness tour in Cebu
Spontaneously, I wanted to go to Cebu for a wellness tour. I never had that chance before. That time was the perfect time to realize it. I pampered myself because I was alone. It would have been better with one or two of my family members went with me, but airline tickets were too expensive for me to book more than one two-way plane tickets. Next time, I would plan it better.
7. Reality of the ironic Cebu
Cebu was place of contradiction. It was beautiful in its own way, but it was chaotic in a way. There were evidence that Cebu is the home of the Philippines' wealthiest, but poverty is evident. It is clear the gap between the poor and rich is too big. I got a little chance of roaming around the city due to obvious mistake in choosing the right place to stay. It was centrally-located but was not easily-accessible. I had to walk along alleys were poverty is rampant. It was saddening but it was also reality-provoking. In Cebu, I got to ride the jeepney again after almost three years. It was an easy short ride, but an emotional tour which made me remember where I came from.
8. Insufficient family time
After my short Cebu vacation, I went back home and made my final preparations back to Oslo. I admit the time was not sufficient. I wanted to talk more to my grandfather, and be with my parents. I wanted to spoil my nephew and niece even more, but the time was simply not enough. Time ran fast. In my last two hours home, it felt very awkward. The house is supposedly my home, but why I only have very little time to stay in it. I was teary-eyed. I became too emotional to the point that I just kept quiet, just observing everythung I could so I could remember everything I see and hear. Reality bites. I am leaving my home country again.
Writing this blogpost, I am just waiting for my boarding for my plane to South Korea. Yes, I am ready for another experience. That is just how life is. Perhaps, it is just harder for us, living and working outside the Philippines.