Thursday, May 9, 2013
My Homecoming Trip - part 4.
Yes, I saved the best for last. My family.
Throughout the years my family have grown with all sorts of personalities, which make every get-together fun, interesting, and memorable.
But first, let me set the tone of this monologue by thanking my husband Ken who gave me the gift of “coming home”. To my cousin Celerina from the moment she picked me up from the airport in Texas, to the moment we said goodbye to head off to our own families in Sagay.
So here goes...
Insomnia in Delta Flight 172. Houston to Detroit to Tokyo to Manila. Sixteen hours at just under the speed of sound. I was going back to the Philippines after three years and my old brain just wouldn't shut down.
It was Friday evening, when we began our final descent. I know right away I was back to my birth country because humidity there has a presence. It closed in on me, weighed me down and made me sleepy. It made me want to rip off my clothes because why the heck do I still have my jacket on? You see, the Philippines is a country of scant attire, where sweat from dawn to dusk is no disgrace. And take note that it was winter in Minnesota when I left, and my body was still in hibernation mode. And now… I’m in Manila. My body was in panic. But I know, I will get use to it gradually, or would I?
Anyway, shrieks of excitement and joy echoed throughout the house as I entered. It was a delight to see everyone. My two boys, my daughter-in-law, my grand daughter, my aunties and uncles, and cousins... just everybody! It would be unfair to mention any single one, as each face that I beheld brought back wonderful detailed memories that only face-to-face encounters could bring in stark relief. If you have been away from loved ones for quite sometime and had come home to visit, you know what I mean.
I was overjoyed to see them although secretly I was back in panic mode because the balikbayan box I had sent home while I was still in the US did not arrive on time. Inside that box are “pasalubong” to my kins and friends. FYI, pasalubong or gifts are very popular among us Filipinos. Like all other returnees I know that handing out pasalubong will keep my bond with family and friends or someone who has close relationship with me as it conveyed that they are being remembered while I am away. Pasalubong can be anything, such as shirts, novelty items, chocolates, jewelries, electronics, or toys among others. I would hand them out not wrapped and give to someone as it is.
But then I am prepared to give everything that I brought home away (except my Ipod and my mini-Ipad, Lol.) It is a gesture of love that I can give away anything requested by a family member. Besides I can usually replace it when I return to my adopted homeland, and relatives or friends usually covet something worn or used by a balikbayan. I know that I will almost surely fill my suitcase with new items and things I want to bring back to the US, so I won’t miss my old things so much.
Every week I was there were marked with different activities I did with relatives. There's birthday, graduation, and lots of get-together parties. The fact that other relatives living and working abroad also came home, made our reunion more meaningful. There were tales to tell, jokes to share, accomplishments to recognize and problems to address. All these made us closer to one another. I would wake up each day excited to know what new things will reveal to me as I begin to rediscover my kins. I again find myself belonging to a place after years of thinking that I really weren't from anywhere. I find myself so at home and secure there and felt such deep love for people and sights and smells. When I arrived back in the States I was shocked, even though it is all familiar, at how very different these two worlds are.
Today marks 5 weeks since I returned from the Philippines. The trip home was exhausting in every way possible. When I was going, I had so much excitement and adrenaline coursing through me, but on the way back, I had only intense sadness and weariness. If Ken and Cedric had not been waiting for me here and if I did not need to see them so badly, I would not have gotten onto the plane.
I feel so much better now, but still can feel the effects of traveling half way around the world and back in 20 days.
Thank you for following the series.