We finally made it! To Manila that is! My Lolo (Grandfather) and myself finally left on a trip that would make us set foot on the very soil that we call HOME.
Few days before I agreed to accompany my Lolo to the Philippines, I was reluctant to go as I wouldn't recognize or know anyone there. Growing up in Montreal, I barely know my relatives in the Philippines and some I only know through pictures and videos that my parents took when they went.
Hot, humid, I can't breath... that's what I felt as I exited NAIA (Ninoy Aquino International Airport) after 20 long hours of plane ride. Alas, I see my Uncle who was there with my auntie Neri, my cousin Mary-ann whom I hadn't recognized if it wasn't for my uncle calling her by her first name. Thank goodness for air-conditioned cars, I told myself as I enter the car driven by Sy, Mary-ann's boyfriend. For some reason they call him by his last name, though it felt awkward I did the same. It was another few hours drive to Bataan from the airport.
Sweating like I just ran for miles... Noop! I just stepped out of the air-conditioned room. Three steps to be exact!
Few days after, we had to travel again. This is to where my Lolo is rooted. Pilar, Abra is the next destination. Going there, we will pass by Rosario, La Union to where my parents erected our family house. Before long we were entering the "Estoque Compound". WOW! I couldn't believe how beautiful the house looks. Too bad we live elsewhere.
Finally my Lolo gets to rest, we finally reached Pilar, Abra. This is where my Lolo gets to spend the rest of his trip along with his friends and our relatives. As for myself, I have to go back to La Union for my other Grandfather's padasal. Marcelino Estoque Sr., my father's dad who died a year ago.
I finally get to sleep at the house that my parents have erected and remodeled while we are living in Canada. I met with my relatives there but most especially my Grandmother. She cried at the first sight of me and as we hugged tears fell from my eyes. This is the very woman that took care of my dad and myself when I was just a toddler. We sat and talked not minding the time passing by. We had so much to tell each other.
Sea water... salt water... Damortis Beach is where the Estoque Clan went after the padasal. Fish, squid and other sea foods were for lunch. Fresh mangoes from our very own backyard. Life is great!!!
Wow! Baguio City... The Summer capital of the Philippines. Colder air and different scenery. Ouch!!! Something I ate or drunk... my cousin's toilet bowl was my best friend for few days.
Almost the end of my vacation. I had to go back to Pilar, Abra and from there, my Lolo and I will travel back to Bataan then to the airport back to Montreal.
I miss the Philippines and my relatives. I wish one month was 3..4..5 or more months vacation. There are so much to these islands to see and yet I had so little time. And so... as one of the American leaders, Douglas McArthur, that first set foot to these islands to liberate the Filipinos from the Japanese stronghold, said so will I say... "I SHALL RETURN!"
On my visit to the Philippines, I felt I was coming home. Philippines is home. It was good to be absorbed amongst the real Filipinos there. One is that much more enriched living in a colorful culture.
However, though Toronto is the branch of the tree on which I happily sit, Philippines is the root. How can one forget that? Both are important. Roots and branches to make a tree live and prosper and a complete human being blossom.
Note that I said human being. Not Pinoy, not Filipino. And a human being belongs to humanity and the essence of God shines in him just as brightly as in anybody else-no matter where he geographically comes from.