Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Moving on...SE Asia here I come!

Wow, I can't believe that I've stayed in the Philippines for a total of 4 months. It's amazing cause I had the chance to basically "live" here again. On one hand it was great because I had the opportunity to see different areas of the country that I haven't and more importantly, get to really know and be closer to my family. On the other hand, admittedly, there were times when it felt a bit too long for me - now that I've left, it doesn't feel that way. There were so many things that I struggled with and I never got over feeling like a stranger in a land that should be more "home". So, what's the verdict on the Philippines?

Well, it's a mixed one. There are definitely parts that are difficult for me to understand and accept. I just want so much more for this country. Maybe I've tried a little too hard to find deep roots that don't really exist for me. Perhaps the moment has come for me to stop feeling guilty and giving myself a hard time because at the end of the day, there will always be a part of me that is Filipino - it is my ethnic heritage. However, I am truly and proudly Canadian. I always say - "We are the sum of all our experiences." And if I do the math, I've spent a total of 7 years in the Phil (0-6 and a bit during the Gulf War), 10 in Kuwait (although I considered it home til I was 21 and technically there was that 1 odd year spent in the States) and 13 in Canada. And for those that are really sticklers in math - the missing year is this one that I've spent traveling! But I digress. I guess my point is, for all my struggles and feeling lost culturally, I'm truly thankful for the time that I spent here. What I can say is that I wouldn't trade my experiences here for anything. And if a my impressions of a country as based just on my personal experiences with the hospitality and love of the people that I know here - well, then, it's an amazing place!
  • It means the world to me to have been able to spend so much time with Nanay, who at 90 is an amazingly strong and funny woman. Aside from old age dementia, she looks great, is healthy, laughs tons, greets live with humour and hums happily everyday - I hope I age with that much grace.
  • I'll forever be thankful for Hotel Dela Cruz - who provided me an awesome home and a chance to experience what I think is everything that is good about being Filipino - welcoming, kind, loving, thoughtful and just good people. It's amazing having all the goodness of being family, without the complications of family! :)
  • Bonding with family. I've had the funniest conversations that I never thought I would ever have...specially since the ones here are more on the conservative, religious side. Let's just say I never thought that talking about condoms, porn, religion, alcohol would ever be part of this equation. LOL.
  • I'd like to think that my Tagalog has gotten better but, um, apparently it's obvious that I did not grow up here! I mean, I think even my Spanish accent is better cause they thought I was local in South America! Here, well, at least people tell me I sound cute...I should have bought a phrasebook I guess!
  • My last weekend in Manila was legendary and epic! I got to see everyone that I love here and experience such grrrrrrreat times! I will smile about this one for a long time ;) It was exactly what I needed..the culmination and an appropriate celebration to the end of my first year of traveling!
The lovely Dela Cruz family.

Childhood home. I learned to walk here.


Last family dinner.

The Epic Despidida Party at the Fort!

So much lurve and good times!

Sweet and Sexy Canadians in the Philippines ! ! ! (that's 3!)

The Matt and Dana Effect :)

Next stop Singapore...I'm excited to get SE Asia 2011 started but also anxious cause it'll be the first truly solo extended travel that I'm doing. And I'm not sure how I feel about lugging the backpack or sleeping in hostels again...I'm sad to leave amazing people who have touched me in surprising ways. But then I think of the fun times that await me, the amazing people that I'm sure to meet and makes me smile and ready to bring on the goooooooood times! ;)