Hi gorgeous, I feel called to share my visit to the Philippines in November. I would like to share my experiences and the lessons that I have learned.
As you know, I was born and raised in the Philippines. You can say that it is my home country. Memories of my childhood up to my first year of college were in this country. But I am not here to talk about the past. I would like to talk about the “now”. I would have my visit to the Philippines all planned out throughout the duration of my visit. One of the things that we love to do is eat. And I always complain to my family that they do not cook for me when I’m home. Their response was, “You won’t sit still nor stay at home.” I guess it was my fault. So this time, I didn’t plan anything.
The surprise visit to the Philippines
My visit to the Philippines has always been a surprise. That was the goal at least, but somehow my mom knows that I will be coming home. My sister Rome and I planned to celebrate my brother’s birthday at a beach resort and the surprise is, I would show up.
It’s funny because it was my brother’s birthday celebration but they cooked all the food that “I” liked to eat. From pancit, to lumpia. To pork barbeque and many more. My mom was surprised but almost hit me because she couldn’t breathe. Mixed emotions got into her that she was having shortness of breath. So, this would probably be the last time that I would surprise my mom.
The days went by so fast. We watched the movie “Wakanda Forever” and freeze in the movie theatre since the AC was on blast. There were about 9 of us including my nephews. Of course, we had to stop at an arcade shop for them to play.
I had the opportunity to take part in an outreach program with my friend April Love. It’s her seventh outreach and it was my first. I would normally contribute and since I was in the United States, I was not able to participate. We were able to help 600 households with a bag of rice, canned goods, and noodles. She cooked pancit to feed 500 kids and gave away 500 candies. It was a great experience. To be honest, I was a bit emotional at the very beginning as we started to hand out the candies. I had to hold myself together to move past it. At that moment, I vowed to participate every time I visit the Philippines.
I did not plan much on this trip but I feel like it’s the most fulfilling. I connected more with my mom. We have moments full of laughter and shared food that we both love to eat. I listened to her more and made sure she was heard.
Five a.m. hike
We hiked up at five o’clock in the morning just to visit my mom’s property in Iram where most of the Aeta’s lived. It was up the mountain and was not an easy hike. But it was fun. The view uphill was priceless. The fresh air was refreshing. I’ve missed that simple life. We set up a mat under the tree for us to lie down and enjoy the beautiful trees and blue skies. It was nothing but laughter, jokes, and reminiscing our childhood memories.
Project “Sapin sa Paa”
I know my visit here in the Philippines is not over yet. My friends and I were able to donate 553 slippers to Iram Elementary school. Again, it was emotional for me, and had to hold myself together. Teacher Rosalie was shocked when we brought the slippers to the school. She thought she was dreaming. And that reaction was priceless. The principal made sure to say hi and expressed her gratitude as well.
Mini Highschool Reunion
I got to meet up with my third-year high school classmates. That was a great experience as well. It’s amazing to learn that despite all the changes we’ve come across over the years, we all agreed that there are things that haven’t changed. Our year together as classmates was the most memorable year of our high school days. We talked about the old days and their lives now. I am embarrassed to say that I was the first one to go home after a bottle of beer. Despite the short time though, it was a great catch-up.
My project before my visit in the Philippines
And lastly, before my visit here in the Philippines, I envisioned a day with the kids. The native Aeta Children who lived in the mountains. I wanted to share a little bit of Christmas day with them. So I put together a “Helping Hand” program as you may have seen. I asked for monetary donations to make this day possible and I was grateful to make it happen. On Saturday, December three, we hiked uphill to reach an Aeta community in Iram, Olongapo City.
There we shared snacks and drinks with them. Played some games. I have to say that I am out of touch with the type of music that kids listen to these days. We gave away loot bags with toys and some other items donated by family and friends. It was definitely a day of fun. The smile on their faces and ours were priceless. It’s a day I will definitely cherish. And because of this day, I am making a vow to continue helping others in need with the help of my friends and family.
My visit here in the Philippines confirms that I have a lot to be grateful for. The memories I had while living here. I may have forgotten a lot of them. But once I had met with the people who were a part of that memory, it brought the memory and the emotions back. The simple things in life that I experienced when I was young reminded me of my values.
Going back to my roots is a great way to stay grounded and stay fixated on the goals I have. Not just for myself but for my family as well. I would love to hear about your travel journey too. Please share your experience below.