the water keeps coming down
it flows seamlessly, endlessly
it's both titillating and drowning,
the intensity echoes through the chambers of my mind
and bounces through the walls of my pores,
my brain, my mind,
my heart continues to plunge,
it's fragile with thorns, it's torn.
my mind is flooding, the water is overflowing,
over the moon,
above and beyond,
i'm beyond repair,
i need air.
i wish i could swim and float through the tsunami,
a surfboard by the beach,
as a cool hawaiian kid,
like johnny tsunami.
i keep seeing a glowing light ahead,
walk walk walk towards the end of the tunnel,
except the tunnel is an illusion of everything,
filled with nothing.
i could see the chariot with a hero inside,
save me from this weather, the water
it drips drip DRIP!
someone pick me up--
make me infinite
make me weightless,
but alas, as strong as it is subtle,
the water suffocates me.
i come up for air,
i come up for air for you, you, you.
i come up for air for me.
it's okay to be me,
Stella opens her eyes and sees the most unbelievable sight. A man. Next to her. Gasp!
She slowly slips out of the bed, intricately debating whether or not she should go to the bathroom inside or outside the room. She walks out.
The hallway seems dimmer than usual, and as she enters the bathroom, a slight ray of sun seeps through the blinds, feeding the room much needed light. The window is ajar and the cold winds cause the blinds to slightly wave from side to side. As she peaks through and feels the breeze, a feeling of comfort sweeps through her being. It wasn't an unusual thing for Stella to feel happy, but it certainly wasn't expected.
Stella finishes and finds herself back in the hallway. She looks towards the kitchen and sees the bright, welcoming room. She looks back at her room, which is now slightly brighter, the man still in bed. Stella walks towards the kitchen.
As she looks through the fridge, Stella notices that there are shelves on shelves of wine, champagne, and other spirits. Intrigued, she opens the freezer and finds the top of a wedding cake. The little figures are still attached, so she picks them up. It's a 3D figurine of her, and the man sleeping on the bed. Her eyes continue to look at the figure, brows furrow as if trying to put the pieces of the puzzle in her head. She slams the freezer door shut, and puts her figurine in her pocket.
Instincts kick in and cooking starts. Egg shells, pancake mix, vegetables cover the counter as Stella cooks away. It appears that Stella is reading from a cookbook, and the dish looks as extravagant as a gown at a Met Gala Ball. The cookbook lies on the kitchen counter, surrounded by food and gift wraps. In fact, the whole kitchen counter is filled with presents, which bleeds partially into the living room.
Stella is focused on her cooking, but we can see frustration and worry building within. As she places the finished plates on the table, she walks back to the counter, carelessly picking up the hot pan and dropping it on the sink. The loud crash echoes throughout the house, and Stella screams in agony.
The Man rushes out from the hallway, his appearance in disarray.
"Are you okay, baby?" he says as he grabs a hold of her hand.
"I'm fine, I wasn't thinking" Stella pulls her hand away immediately.
He sees the food around him, smiles wide and kisses Stella on the cheek.
"Thank you, it smells good," he exclaims as he grabs a handful of chocolate chips, eats them and walks off.
As He leaves, Stella walks over to the dining table and look at the food. She hears him pee from the other room, and she sighs.
So this is it, she ponders. This is the day she's dreamed of since she's a little girl? To be married to a subjectively attractive man, cook breakfast like a perfect wife, and eat heartily together. It wasn't what she expected. This wasn't the happy that she wanted.
She didn't know what she wanted. She still doesn't.
He comes back, sits next to her and eats.
The toaster clicks, and out pops more slices of toasted bread.
Sorry it's been a while, but life got in the way and depression settled in. Taking us back to February 2018, the family and I went and visited La Union after our trip to Vigan. The Buddles all live in La Union, besides Kuya Bong who lives in Bulacan, so it was going to be another big reunion! I didn't get to spend a lot of time with my cousins from that side of the family growing up, mainly cause they were grown up when I was a kid but I remember Kuya Allan, Kuya Patrick, Kuya Bong Bong and Ate Princess fondly!
As we headed that way, we made a few pit stops, and played some car games. I was getting a little nervous because the next morning I was supposed to see my best friend, who was supposed to visit me from Baguio. I was eager to see my cousins and their kids, and get to relax at this resort. However, I was misinformed, I thought that we were going to drop of our things at the hotel, and then meet them at their house. We just ended up at the resort, which was amazing, and overlooked the sea.
I remember being excited by the night, and seeing all the food, and meeting all the new cousin and in-laws. I was still self-conscious about my body, but that wouldn't go away, so I tried to focus on the good. I took pictures, played around wtih the Ates and we all picked our rooms! I stayed with Ate Kate, Ate PR and Ate Nilda, and the room was really nice and air conditioned. I was tempted to swim and play with Marquis in the pool, however, Mother Nature had different plans.
The night went on and we ate, drank and took pictures. Ate Princess came with her friends and I also got to meet her girlfriend! She had a new truck so she took me and a few other cousins out in San Juan, where we checked out the bar scene.
The first bar we went to was so beautiful but crowded like the Abbey, so I was quietly starting to have a panic attack, cause ew, gross, people. There were some pretty drunk Russian boys, who I didn't need to be around, so luckily we all headed out to a different bar. Ate Princess treated us to some sisig, pizza and more drinks. We got to ride the back of her truck, which is illegal in the U.S., so that night in the back I felt so free, and only slightly terrified. The wind was so strong, dare I say, breathtaking, so that was a new and fun experience for me. Jonzi, Kuya Patrick's son, was driving and he was driving like a little daredevil which in some level made it more exciting for me.
We slept late, which was maybe not the best idea because my best friend and I planned on meeting real early the next day. Regardless, the cuzzos and I changed to pajamas and continued to laugh and share stories til the wee hours of the night.
The next day I got up bright and early and waited for my friend to message me. The family went and got free breakfast, which was kind of a mess, but it was totally the staff's fault for not accounting for everyone's meals. And then I was pretty bummed to learn that my friend couldn't make it. She said that she got stuck in this fiesta, which she totally forgot about. I just sort of believed what she said, sulked for a bit, then moved on. There's something quite emotional about seeing someone you haven't seen in so long. I've been on both sides, where one I didn't want to be seen or two, I wanted to be seen.
After we wrapped up, Tito Ric and Kuya Miko drove us to a vineyard, where we looked at some grapes. Mom stayed in the car with Lola Senia and Lola Terry, cause it was too hot. I went along to see what the vineyards looked like and it turned into a fun photoshoot. Ate Nilda, Ate PR and I found some aratelis (delicacy fruit) which we brought to Mom and I had some of and it was the best thing ever. I missed it so much and I'm glad I was able to taste it again.
We headed back to Manila, and attended the last mass in Quezon City, and then headed back to the house. All in all it was a great trip. Next up is us visiting Pasay City to spend time with Kuya Jobert, Ate Marijo and family!
Until next time!
Everything started off pretty smoothly and relaxed..it was the day we were going to Vigan, Illocos Sur to see the beautiful town and visit Ate Kathlea's family. It was a great morning, awesome breakfast, playing with Marquis and some packing. I still was struggling with jet lag, so I think I took a nap while everyone did some laundry. I was spoiled by everyone so I didn't have to do laundry. I took it slow, showered and got ready to go. We were supposed to leave around 2:30pm, when Marquis came back from school. I was excited and nervous because while I wanted to see a beautiful old town, I'm always scared of strangers. I remember thinking I hope they'd like me.
At around 2pm, I went to surprise Marquis with Tito Ric and Ate Kathlea, then shortly after that we were going to hit the road. Tito Ric drove the 'oldies,' and Kuya Miquo drove the cousins. We had a few pitstops before we were going on the highway. Kuya Miquo went to pray at the church, we picked up and snacks and stopped to get air on our gas...after all it was going to be a 6-7 hour road trip! After stopping at McDonald's we were ready to go.
We drove for around 2-4 hours before stopping for dinner. It was a cute restaurant/plaza area and I really loved the old country feel of the place. The food was alright, but the snacks were better. I think I bought some polvoron. We finally made it to Ate Kathlea's house and slept right away.
Mom wasn't feeling so great, and I thought she just had a stomach ache, but turns out she had a fever. As we entered our room, I saw Lola Senia hovering over my mom, whispering (what could spells) on her belly, like a witch! I still didn't realize the intensity of it, until I woke up at around 3am, with Lola Senia, Ate PR and Ate Nilda, frantically going crazy. Ate PR was massaging mom with an ointment, while Ate Nilda was running around doing what Lola Senia asked her to do. It was pretty intense, and I remember Lola Senia saying don't tell Mara her Mom's sick, even though she was already talking about it out loud. It wasn't funny at the moment, but we had a good laugh after. I mean imagine being woken up at 3am, and having a medical emergency like that!
The next day we had a nice spread and Ate Kathlea's dad picked some fresh mangoes for us. They weren't quite ripe, but it was still pretty awesome. Mom wasn't getting any better, so I was starting to worry, and Lola Terry started realizing that there's something wrong with Mom, so she started panicking. I'm pretty sure my mom got the most amount of massages in her life, within that whole 24 hours cause they kept assuming it would help. Which I think it did, but I wasn't sure about the medicine. They were insisting she take this one medicine, which helps break the fever. It wasn't working, so I started panicking and was like HOLD UP, I got Advil. My cousins were like Mara that won't work, that's for headaches! And I was like, nah, Mom take it. So Mom takes it, we all take a post breakfast nap, and voila two-three hours later, Mom feels 80 percent better! Good enough that she was able to join us for a tour of the town.
The afternoon was hot but so delightful. We got to eat at Max's chicken, I tried some dirty ice cream and we rode the kalesa. I always feel bad for the horses cause I keep thinking it hurts them to pull us...but it's their way of making money and horses ARE pretty strong. We also had some of the best, if not, THE BEST empanadas of my life. We walked around the streets, bought some souvenirs, looked at some of the older hotels in the area and finally headed off to the zoo.
I had always seen people pose in front of "Baluarte," and I've been wanting to go. However, as we got there, I didn't know it was Baluarte, so it was a pleasant surprise. I remember that the owner was talked so highly of because he rescued all the animals in the zoo, and he's some sort of rich guy who's also maybe a senator? His house on top of the zoo looks like a hotel, it's THAT BIG. And apparently Manny Pacquiao lives there.
Now, let's go back. We get on a cart and take a tour, and everyone's sort of in a hurry because it's almost closing time. If you look around the zoo, there aren't that many animals. It's very spread out, and a lot of the surroundings are trashed, and look dead. We go up to this museum, which has a bunch of stuffed animals. If someone loves animals that much...then why did he kill SO MANY and then hung them in pride? I try not to make it personal, but already I was disappointed in the experience. On top of everything Manny lives there. I know I'm going to get a lot of hate on this, but I don't see him as a personal hero. Sure he's done great things for the Filipino community, but he's done and said something which I do not agree with or respect. Plain and simple. Having him living in that zoo kind of ended the experience with a bad taste...on top of the half-assed "fire show." I'm thankful for having been given the opportunity to go see the zoo, but I would not recommend it to friends...waste of money.
I was pretty beat by the time we were heading back to the house, but when we got back a beautiful spread was made for us, and after that the party started! We sang karaoke until 10 or 11pm, when the barangay told us to shut down. It was so fun seeing everyone part take in the fun and seeing Lola Terry dance. Lola Senia slept through it, which was a bummer, but I'm glad my cousins got to share that moment with Lola Terry.
Needless to say, it was incredibly generous of the del Castillo's to let us stay in their home, so I'm thankful for that opportunity. They were fun and genuine people, and I hope to be able to interact with again someday.
Til Next Time,
As I was looking forward to going back into the city and being spoiled by all it has to offer. I know I'm spoiled and weak by saying this, because the country isn't that bad. Everything we ate was fresh, I mean sure things were a little rough, but that's part of it!
The morning began, and I started becoming sad and anxious. My chest was tight, and I started getting homesick, not for the states but for my family in Gumaca. I started talking and bonding with Tita Elsie the night before, and it made me realize that I wanted to get to know her more. Not that I didn't like her, I just never knew her! I wanted more time to catch up with Tita Lita, and of course, the uncles.
Tito Robert told me so much about the family I didn't know, and it made me feel great. I wish they were in the same city so that we could always have them in our lives. I wish....more than anything that I can succeed to make this a reality. I know it's not up to me to take care of everyone, but I want to give back to my family. I want to give back to those that deserve it. Most of all to my Lola and Mom.
Anyway, TIto Ric starts instructing Ate PR and Ate Nilda how to load the van and packed the bags real tight. We had a long day ahead of us and it's a hot one. I thought it would be an easy trip that wouldn't take too long, because it felt like time flew by on our way to Gumaca.
As I waited for everyone to load the van, I stayed behind to guard the car. I watched this dog basking in the sun when his owner brought him his food. It was leftovers, bones, all sorts of animal parts. I feel like PETA would freak the fuck out if they saw this treatment, but it was normal, and all the owners could offer. It reminded me how tough life is in the Philippines, and for someone as depressed as I am, it really brought new meaning to the world 'struggling.'
Right before we took off, Tito Robert took me to the side and asked if we could come back again so we could spend more time before I leave. I told him I'll try cause there may be some down time. I told him I'd try...but sadly I knew it wasn't going to happen. I was sad to leave them behind, and it's inspired me to try even harder so that we can afford to visit more often.
We said our goodbyes and I hugged everyone. I told Tita Elsie that she could speak to me whenever, and hugged Tita Lita tight. She was a really fun auntie growing up, and she's badass so she doesn't have social, which means I've had ZERO contact with her within the last 18 years. Damn man.
We took off, and Tito Ric showed us around the new roads, the cities we past, Tito Bhoy's hometown, and took occasional bathroom / coffee breaks.
When we were about two hours out of the city, Tito Ric took us to dinner, where, I can't remember. It was a beautiful setting, and Tito Ric was kind enough to treat us to food. I'm bad at picking what to eat, so he chose for everyone. It was Bulalo and Kare Kare (two of my least favorite Filipino foods) but I didn't complain!
Now, what happens next was caused both my delirium and the fact that I was getting more comfortable around the family again. Mom was chewing on the bone marrow, cause that's her jam, when Tito Ric warned her to be careful. He told her it was fattening. LOL. Mom looked really sad and stopped eating, to which I interfered.
Mara: aw come on Tito, I saw you eat a whole bag of Halls candy! One bone marrow won't hurt!
Everyone starts laughing, but he continues...
Tito Ric: No that's really bad for your heart!
Everyone continues to laugh.....
Mara: well why did you buy it then?! If it's bad for you.
He pauses, thinks about it, and doesn't have an answer. BOOM ROASTED HAHAHHAHAA.
Idk it might not be that funny to anyone else, but it sure as shit was to us. It was getting late, and that road trip was looooooooooong. I started feeling a bit sick at the end, but I think it was mainly caused, I couldn't poop and hadn't in three days.
When we finally got to the city, we unloaded the car, organized, changed and fell asleep!
Til next time!
Day 3 starts in Gumaca, Quezon, beloved hometown of the De La Rosas.
I woke up early cause I'm still adjusting to jet lag, and already, I was intrigued by the drum set. I knew it was too early to play, but I walked over and lightly tapped it with my fingers. The rest of the family were waking up, while Lola Senia and Lola Terry stayed asleep. Apparently they were up all night talking and giggling, like two young girls at a sleepover.
Mom, Ate Nilda, Tito Robert, Tita Elsie, and I gathered around the breakfast table. Mom started making her requests for breakfast, and food she's missed. I couldn't really comprehend a lot, and I wasn't hungry. I wanted to drink some coffee after seeing Tito Robert and Tita Elsie distribute some. But before I could grab a cup, Tito Ric and Tito Abet came in with some pasalubong (treats). TIto Ric wanted to grab some coffee from McDonald's and Tito Abet was getting a treat for Mom at the market. I tagged along and got some high class Micky D's coffee.
After that Tito Robert allowed me to play drums AT 8AM!!!!!!! People didn't care! Neighbors didn't care! It felt so right yet...so wrong ;) Tito Robert played a beat while Lola Senia and Lola Terry had a dance off! Music was playing out loud as we prepared for our day. Lola Senia danced with Tito Abet and I got to actually play around. Everyone was very encouraging, and I was extremely flattered. There was a carefree/loving vibe in the air, and I felt truly at home and comfortable.
Once I was dressed Tito Abet took Ate Nilda and I to Ate PR's job. Ate PR offered me some wifi access while I got to see her in action. It was really great and I was glad I got meet some of her coworkers. Soon after, Tito Ric picked us up, sans Ate PR. Ate PR promised that she would take me somewhere exciting later tonight...without the adults!
Then we went off into the town and Lola greeted all her kumares (lady friends/home girls) and gave some pasalubong! We also went to the seminary to visit Monsignor Philip, Lola's old friend. When we went there, he greeted Lola with a lost smile, not recognizing her. For a moment Lola had a clear mind. We were trying to remind the Mosignor who SHE WAS. Just a couple of oldies trying to figure out who their friends are. Hehe. Then we went to Kumare Sol's hotel/restaurant, and it was a great time for a snack.
It took a good 3-4 hours going around town, saying hi to friends. But since we were only going to be in town for a few days, they made plans for a party for when I left (Mom and Lola stayed for over a month). It was fun and scary watching Lola with her friends, because I was scared to hear what their friends had to say about me. As selfishly as it sounds, I braced myself for the 'fat girl,' comments.
When it was time go home, I was ready for a nap!
I sat in front of the fan as I cooled down and lounged on the chair. Tito Robert came over after giving a massage to Lola Terry, who was asleep on the couch. Lola Senia was snacking, and everyone else were either eating, preparing food or gone to the market. Tito Robert offered to give me a full detox/massage, which I reluctantly said yes to because I didn't wanna tire him/it was already super hot so I didn't know if I could handle the heat.
I went ahead anyway and as I was rolled like lumpia sariwa, I took in everything he was telling me. At first Tito Robert was struggling to speak and say what he needed to say. I realized he also didn't think I could understand Tagalog. I told him I could and we went ahead and had a great conversation. I learned so much about him and more about our family. It made me really miss them more and wish I had grown up with him around. I was lucky to have known Tito Ric when I lived in the Philippines, but the rest of my uncles were abroad working.
I could relate to him, and understand his struggles. He was very sweet, and I could understand how Mom was so spoiled by him. I was...surprised to hear about some of the things we were talking about, but I was glad to learn all the things I did. I know I'm being vague, and that's fine, you're fine. We're all fine.
After the detox, I was told not to take a shower, which I was very excited about because taking showers in the Philippines was hard for me...no hot water!!! It even led to an argument with Mom where she told me I better get used to this kind of environment--
Mom: Mara you need to get used to this if you want to travel!
Mara: Where am I going to travel?!
Mom: I don't know, Honduras!
Mara: WHY WOULD I TRAVEL THERE? I've never mentioned Honduras!
Cut to after dinner, when Ate PR and Ate Nilda took me out and into the town. It was fun/scary going through the town, and we ended up at this cute/hipster restaurant called Hermanos Yard. They were asking me about what I did in America and what a night out was like. I told them, again a bit reluctantly, cause for some reason I didn't want to disappoint. I'm one of the most boring people I know, and I felt guilty that I wasn't doing more! I live in America, I should be doing more cause I can.
I had a great time with them. It started to thunder and rain, which we could hear hitting the roof, so they ended up hitching a tricycle for us. I hadn't ridden one in a while, so I forgot how bumpy the rides are! I swear, every bump we hit felt like a hit on my own butt. Anyway it was a fun packed day, lots of realizations, some struggles, and ended with great food ( the sisig there was amazing).
Until the next day!
The next day started out even more surreal, but I was quickly awakened by the fact that I HAD to shower. And if you guessed it, yes, there's no hot water. We had to use the tabo and a bucket, but luckily Mama Dory warmed up some water for me; which was nice and kind. Something about showering with cold water is so scary, yet so freeing. The cold scares you, but once you start you feel strong and when you finish you feel a sense of bigger accomplishment.
So off we went, early in the morning; excitement filled the air. I was a little nervous, because the car was so full of luggage and people. Luckily, driving laws in the Philippines aren't strict--so much so that you're not even required to wear a seat belt. Mom was stuffed in the back with Lola Senia, Lola Terry and Mama Dory. And squished like a canned tuna with the luggages was Ate Nilda. I'm always worried about damaging cars, and I always think I'm 'too heavy,' so the trip definitely made me anxious, but surprisingly Tito Ric wasn't. He was confident that the car will be alright.
We quickly dropped off Mama Dory at a bus station, which made me sad because we didn't really get to talk. But our schedule was already so full and I didn't have much time on the island. So after giving her a kiss and hug good bye, Tito Ric drove us to Doña Jovita Garden Resort where my cousin, Ate Kweng, manages. She treated us to an amazing breakfast spread, and we got to spend time with Tita Julie and meet my nephews Paul and Lance.
After that we visited Tito Bogie's gravesite, which I hadn't been to since his funeral back in 2000. The heat was too great so we left the grandmas in the car, and Tita Julie led the way. Funnily enough, she couldn't find him so we kept searching, until we finally did. Tito Ric led a prayer, we said good bye to Tita Julie, and off we went.
Since the heat was really messing with my psyche, I was really amazed at how normally people lived their lives there. I was worried about Mama Dory and Tita Julie going off and riding public transportation, but I had to remind myself that they're grown ups who knows what they're doing.
On the way we stopped at a Starbucks where I got coffee and Tito grabbed McDonald's. While going back to grab Ate Nilda's order, I stumbled upon a gang of motor cyclists and accidentally stared at a man in front of me. In my head I thought, "hmm, he looks like Aga Mulach," and then a guy next to him gave me a dirty look so I kept walking. I went inside and told Mom what I thought I saw, which, she didn't even know I knew him! Tito Ric ended up confirming that it was him, so it was great seeing a big celebrity on my second day :)
The rest of the way was fun, and Tito Ric is quite the jokester. We stopped and grabbed some sweet corn for grandma, and told stories. When we finally arrived in Gumaca, it was nothing like I remembered before. I was very excited to see At PR, and Tito Robert, Tito Abet, Tita Elsie and Tita Lita. When we saw them, we were all once again overcome with emotion and love for our family. We had lunch and took a tour of the house, which Grandma had renovated.
I met Tita Elsie for the first time which was nice, and got a reunion with Tita Lita, who I've missed! After our late lunch, Tito Ric said we were going to the Church of Gumaca to give our thanks. There was a dress code which made me really angry, because, like, God, why do we need a dress code? I bitched about it, but it ended up being fine. It was a beautiful church and I cried nearly the whole time. There were just too many emotions, I think deep down it was a mixture of wanting to bring them all to America or me wanting to just stay with them. Also, I did not understand one word at the mass even though he was speaking Tagalog. I felt so lost and I didn't want to stay inside the church, but I did, so I just let myself cry.
Mom was immediately recognized and talked to friends, and we did a quick look around her old campus of Holy Child. After Tito Ric took us to the beach before we all headed to Daphe's for dinner. Everyone but Tito Robert and Tita Elsie went so I got to spend more time with Tito Abet, Tita Lita and Ate PR. It was kinda funny cause we kept staring at each other. TIto Abet is quiet, so I'd catch him staring at me, taking it all in, and it made me miss everyone so much more. I wish I had my Titos nearby.
The dinner was alright, and the service sucked but it wrapped up our night real well. When we got home I passed the F out. What a great second day.
18 Years Later---
I was more in disbelief than anything, and scared shitless. I didn't know what to expect--I anticipated what my family would say about me, what I've become, my weight, my career choices, my life, my love life. At the moment I was at a very low point, and I didn't want to face anyone who'd make me feel worse about myself. I kept wanting to cancel my flight, waste the opportunity that had been so generously given to me. But I wanted to go for my Grandma, who, more than anyone else in this world, deserved to go back to the Philippines. It was a family reunion that I could not miss.
My Mom, Grandma and I await in the immigration line, getting first class treatment cause Grandma uses a wheelchair. I'm anxious to see the first of my cousins, aunt and uncle who were waiting for us outside. I had no wifi, so I didn't know how to reach out to them. Finally after several tries, and hauling our bags through the airport, we stepped outside, and the humidity slapped me like a bitch. We go by the waiting area, looking for our family who had initially been waiting at the wrong location. To say the least, what started out as excitement, turned into even more anxiety. Finally we see them and quickly greet them. We loaded our bags then headed out. Our first stop, my Grandpa Doming and Great-Grandpa Pedro’s gravesite. I don’t know why, but everyone assumed I had forgotten how to speak/understand Tagalog. While I do get tongue tied, I’m still quite fluent. I took in everything around me, and started recording immediately. Everything was so...different than what I remembered. It was more shocking because it was hard for me to think that this was once all normal to me. Technology now mixed with poverty. The closest thing I’ve come to see is skid row in downtown LA, but this was a different kind of world; not necessarily better or worse.
After reaching my Grandpa’s gravesite, we headed to my great aunt’s house in Las Pinas. There awaited my Lola Senia, my Grandma’s sister, who helped raise me. As a selfish millennial, who is only human and have feelings, I couldn’t help but feel fatter than usual. I kept looking at myself in the mirror and reassuring myself that I at least looked good. But when we got there and I was greeted, a rush of love came over me and I was filled with so much joy. I was so excited to see Lola Senia, Mama Dory, who also took care of me, and Ate Nilda, my cousin. My Grandma had been asking about Lola Senia non-stop for the last several years that I was so happy to see their little reunion. It was a little reminder of what the trip was about.
As we settled inside the heat does its magic and I start to feel lightheaded. I tell my mom, and everyone immediately attended to my needs and my cousin leads me to the room with the AC. I had to take off my spanks. Usually I’d be worried, but it was so hot I didn’t care. We started to eat and there was lot to take in. My mom also changed to comfortable clothes, and so did my Grandma. They called in a lady to do our nails, which was great cause my toes were disgusting. I was afraid to speak Tagalog because I thought I’d mess up. I needed to be comfortable with everyone first, you know get acquainted.
As I lived in the moment I still couldn’t believe it was a true. I wanted to go on social media, but the house didn’t have wifi (weird to us I know) so I couldn’t. Ate Kate let me use her personal hotspot which let me post a bit. We started bonding, catching up and I was playing with my pamangkin (nephew) Marquis. He’s super cute, but also a good work out cause he looooves running around. I kept checking the clock to see if anyone was on the way yet. The time moved particularly slow, and I stayed on the veranda waiting for the rest of the family.
The street looked a lot smaller than I remember. Almost like the houses were smushed together. Ate Kate and I continued to talk until the lady came in and did my nails. I was particularly excited about my Kuya Jobert. Kuya Jobert is the oldest of the De La Rosa grandchildren so he was the big brother of the group. We were very close when I was little and I was looking forward to his big old hug! When he finally came, I was so overcome with joy! I met his wife, Ate Amy and his kids Omar and Heba. They also called me Tita Mara and did the whole mano po thing with my hand.
Then came Ate Marijo and Tita Jojo with more food, and the party started getting more exciting. There was adobo, pancit, lumpia, crabs, muscles, and so much more! An hour later we see Tita Ning Ning, Kuya Mike, Myka, Mira and Maria--Tito Fernan’s family. I had never met them before, but when we did I felt this immediate bond and connection with them. They were all so nice and I really enjoyed my time, though it was brief. The last to arrive was Kuya Miquo and his wife Ate Kathlea.
I bounced around from one cousin to another, while enjoying some food. We made some trips to grab ice, water, and some street food. Ate Marijo bought be fish balls and it was DAMN good. I was also reminded that the McDonalds, Jollibees and 7 Elevens are fancy in the Philippines. I was taking everything in and loving every moment of it. Taking it all in, staring at my cousins, at the extended family and hoping that somehow this could happen every day.
By the time it was 6pm, my exhaustion caught up and I went into our room and started breaking down. I think it was from the lack sleep, PMS and again the OVERWHELMING amount of love I didn’t expect to feel. I fucking love my family, and I was so thankful that I made it there. But anyway, I cried myself to sleep, and was unable to say some goodbyes because...I passed out.
The first day was a good day.
I write, you read, we friends.