Philippines: Just Being Home

I don’t know where to begin. Spending almost two weeks in the Philippines has been more productive than eventful. I wouldn’t even consider this a travel post because it’s not. Most of my activities consisted of catching up with friends and family – nevertheless a holiday well spent.

It started off with the trip to Taal Volcano Crater. This also probably rounds up the whole touristic experience.

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Family

After a day of getting acclimatised to the time zone and catching up with friends, my cousin got married and the whole family was there to celebrate.

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And after the wedding, we celebrated our dear grandma’s 80th birthday in the afternoon. She has seven children and each of her children’s family was assigned to a colour of the rainbow, making a truly colourful party.

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This is me with all of my female cousins and our dearest Inay. I haven’t been able to score a photo of the boys yet, so this has to do for now.

The next day, while the rest of the family continued celebrating by all going out together for a swim at a private pool, I decided to pass and stay in my city and enjoy the best view:

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And, really, it was exactly what I needed after a whole day of family affairs and smiling at your own flesh and blood who just have no limits whatsoever. You know, after not seeing each other for 3-6 years, none of them ever minded to ask how you’re doing. Instead, all they greet you with is a comment on your physique, and asking about when I am finally getting married. It’s not like it’s a secret that I already am but my wife wasn’t with me so that’s barely proof.

Time with Friends

I found it quite hard to meet up with my favourite friends because they usually aren’t available all at the same time, so I actually had to spend days just catching up with each of them.

At the beginning of my second week, I went on my solo trip to Hong Kong, which had been an adventure in its own right. When I got back, I only had a few days left of my vacation. Those were spent with more catching up, and with a supposed trip to the beach that had gone terribly wrong. In other words, it never happened and we all went to a swimming pool instead where I ended up getting sick and not able to swim. Need I say more?

Nothing against my dearest friends or the relaxed nature of Filipinos in general that often clashes with the punctuality and sometimes even, uptightness, of the Germans, it just takes some getting used to. They even were apologetic and suggested that next time we should go on a big trip further away that requires some heavy planning and booking in advance because, then, everyone who agreed to come will have arranged their leave days already. Not to mention, none of us would want to let our hard-earned money go to waste by cancelling on a trip on short notice. Sounds like a bullet-proof plan to me!

The Folk Healer

Back to my getting sick on our swimming day, at that point it was noticeable that a few other members of our family have been getting sick (although all differently) all at around the same time. Just a week before, my nephew who is a toddler just happened to have gotten chicken pox the second time around (I know, in really rare cases it is possible). Everyone got suspicious after that visit to the doctor so they decided to consult a magtatawas, a kind of folk healer. By just simply writing down the patient’s name and birthday on a piece of paper and handing our errand girl a small amount for the doctor and her own bus money, we got our answers in a few hours’ time. The magtatawas will do his reading off candle wax dripped in a bowl of water. She came back with the results and some incense and instructions on what to do. Apparently, the child must have stepped on some corners in their garden where spirits of elders live and it somehow offended them. As a result, he was punished with the itchy spots all over his body. Poor kid, I know.

This has gone on with other members of our family. My uncle had a fever for a few days and the explanation was that he had been accompanied by the spirit of a girl in his lodge when he went on a trip to Palawan a week prior (and this has been said by two different magtatawas).

My experience was this: on our swimming day, I had a tummy ache in the morning, like a really bad case of gas and it was, as you can imagine, uncomfortable to say the least. It lasted for the most part of the day but, when we got to the resort at around 4 PM, the pain was gone and instead I felt really tired so I slept for a few hours and woke up feeling like I can’t hold my head up. That, too, lasted for the rest of the day and I lost my appetite and could barely eat. My friends drove me home at night time and I told mum what happened. First thing in the morning, and because I just didn’t want to miss out on all the fun, she sent our girl to the magtatawas to find out what happened to me.

 

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I’m not really a believer of these practises but it was fun to have experienced it.

And to finally end this post, here are some random images of the simple pleasures of being home.

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Ube flavoured dirty ice cream in a bun sold by a street vendor who passed by our borough
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Twin Latundan bananas brought over by my cousin who picked them personally from his farm
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Me picking mangoes off our own tree with an improvised sigpaw (landing-net used for fishing or, in this case, picking fruit)
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Kesong Puti (white cheese made with carabao milkand pan de sal for breakfast
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Taho (tofu pudding with tapioca pearls and brown sugar syrup)

 

Pitahaya cacti that will soon bear fruit also known as dragonfruit

I had fun with everyone nonetheless and I am surely going back in a few years even when it means having to go through it all over again.

Choice of furniture & growing up

I’m in love with my new Secretary! Wow, that sounded a bit wrong but by secretary, I don’t mean an “administrative assistant” but a piece of furniture called a secretary.

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(photo credit: ikea.com)

 

 

So what is a Secretary?

It’s like a commode with a pull-out desk. It’s practical for people who don’t have much space at home and, most importantly, for cat mammies like me! See, I can simply hide my workspace by closing the desk up and hiding my stuff inside whenever I leave for maybe a bathroom break or making myself a cup of coffee without the fear of my kitties ruining my things or knocking them down.

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Secretary VS Vanity

I have been wanting a Vanity for as long as I can remember. My wife and I have been meaning to get me one but I seem to have always pushed it aside for another time. Something just didn’t feel right about getting one. But as soon as I came up with the idea to get a Secretary instead, I told my wife and we drove straight to IKEA. I don’t regret not getting a vanity, I guess I’ve just grown out of it. I just don’t feel like a princess sitting-at-her-desk-admiring-herself-in-the-mirror anymore. At 25, I feel like I’m still growing up a great deal and only realising it now.

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(photo credit: ikea.com)

Nothing against this vanity table, though, but the lack of storage space would have been a really bad idea now that I think about it.

I started this post a few months back and I decided to just keep the old photos featured (see GIF above). But over the past months I’ve made a few finishing touches on it to make it feel more like it’s mine.

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I replaced the old map with this one
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Topped with a wall clock I got from my sister for Christmas

What Berlin has done to me so far

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“Maybe that’s the best part of going away for a vacation – coming home again.” – Madeleine L’Engle

Months before we even came up with the plan to move to Berlin, we have planned our vacation first. It’s the one that I refer to as the Donauwelle (lit. Danube wave), because we are going to three cities along the Danube river – Bratislava – Vienna – Budapest. This one is due in about two weeks but, in a way, I’m just not too thrilled about it. Usually I get pretty excited for our trips but, right now, I can’t even get myself to research for some places we definitely shouldn’t miss, let alone write even a half-page itinerary. I’m afraid we would have to go on a no-itinerary holiday which, of course, is so unlikely of me. Obviously, I had been wondering what’s been going on here, and I think I have figured out answer:

I live in Berlin now.

For the past few weeks, this has officially been my home. I somehow managed to channel all my excitement for seeing these great cities into this move that now I can’t seem to get myself to look forward to anything other than going home. For someone like me and with my background, I have searched for home my whole life and, now, in this very beautiful city, I am finally feeling like this is where I’m supposed to be. Like I’m in the right place, finally, like this is home.

Ah, I’m sure that by then, I will be in awe of all the new landscapes we will be seeing on this two-week trip and I will start appreciating other cities again but, in the mean time, let me just admire this place in drown in this satisfaction-pool for a  bit longer. 🙂