“siboh kitak nangis”

Date:   1/24   –   1/28

Location: Boracay, Aklan, Philippines

~ ~

Note: I understand the song is in Malay, but I DON’T HAVE BEACH-Y SONGS IN TAGALOG D;

Note: I’m going to intersperse pictures in this first blurb of text because I don’t want them all concentrated at the bottom.

And finally we have the motherland: The Philippines. We arrived on a Cebu Pacific flight from Bangkok in Manila on the morning of the 24th and subsequently waited for Julia with my cousin who picked us up from the airport. The following day, we would go to the stunning tropical island of Boracay but until then we had a day to bum around Manila and recover from our flight, which gave me time to think.

I say that the Philippines is the motherland [because I’m Filipino] but it’s a little bit more complicated than that. See, I was born in the Philippines but left when I was around 4 to go grow up in Amurrca. The only time I’d ever been back between then and now was once for a few weeks when I was 7 or 8. And now I’m 21. It definitely feels a lot different. A lot of it coincides with my memory: the sights, the smells. [Mostly the smells] but now I’m also looking at it from the perspective of an adult and in the context of comparison with other Asian metropolises. What I mean to say is that when I saw Manila for the first time in over a decade, I thought “wow, this is a lot like Bangkok.” But that’s of no consequence. Manila is Manila.

I’d have to say that it’s also weird coming back. When we were about to land, we had to fill out arrival cards and there was a box on there for the purpose of our journey. One of the options was tourism/pleasure and the other one was for balikbayan. (A balikbayan is a Filipino who is returning back to the Philippines. It consists of the word balik–“to go back” and bayan–“country”) Hence, by semantic technicality, I am a balikbayan. I am bumabalik sa my bayan of birth. Despite this fact, I guess I am a tourist even if it is my country of origin. I checked the box accordingly.

But yeah, I’ve noticed that I fit in but I also don’t. My understanding of Tagalog is spotty at best but if I don’t say a word, I look like any other Filipino in the rowd. I’m in the weird category where I don’t know where I belong. And there are dozens of books written on that contradiction of identity. I’m Filipino in America because it makes me different. I’m Fil-Am in the Philippines because I can’t walk and talk like a native, so to speak. It’s a precarious sort of limbo, but that’s my life.

~ ~

In less thoughtful news:

– I was reintroduced to the tabo. I haven’t really used one since I was like 10. It’s basically a bucket with a handle that you fill with water and use to wash after you use the restroom [instead of toilet tissue.] It is also used when there isn’t a handle to flush and you just flush manually. Not that there isn’t toilet tissue, but I was amused to find it in the hostel bathroom.

– Filipinos blow everyone out of the water [relatively] when it comes to English. The level of English [pronunciation, vocab, and usage considered] of the average person in Manila is leagues above those of Bangkok and Korea as far as I could tell. All these Asian countries mandate the teaching of English from elementary school but the Philippines seems to be one of the only ones to get it right. I don’t even know how it works.

– My cousin was on the phone with her co-worker and she said “Dwight, office ka na?” [Hey Dwight, are you at the office?] And I chuckled silently to myself thinking about Dwight from The Office in the Philippines. Bahahaha. Somehow it wouldn’t surprise me if Dwight Schrute could speak Tagalog. I wonder if Jim would be in the Philippines too. Hm…. One can dream.

BORACAY

Where… do I even start. Boracay is the Philippines’ pride-and-joy tropical beach resort island and on the top ten for a lot of different “top beach locations” lists. For good reason too.

It’s just strikingly beautiful. Everything is azure and deep green with a dazzling white beach separating them. And not even that, it’s the vacation from my vacation that I’ve been wanting. I had three days there where I could just read a book in the sun, sipping on one of the best shakes I’ve ever had [mango-lemon or a mango-melon from Jonah’s], stop when I got tired, then just walk straight into the ocean and float around for a bit. It was also prime time for me to get rid of my ridiculous farmer’s tan.

Also, Julia finally taught me a swimming stroke thing that I can finally use! For those of you that didn’t know, I can barely swim. Aka I can’t swim. I can float, but the most I can do is flail around and attempt to doggy-paddle. This, combined with my grave fear of parts of the ocean where I can’t reach the bottom made for good fun when Julia kept staying just out of my reach. Then she went off into the distance trying to find the continental shelf. I couldn’t follow needless to say. The tide was coming in so the water was getting deeper and I was convinced the continental shelf was out to get me luls. Then Julia taught me to do some sort of frog stroke and it worked. I felt accomplished. :D

The hostel we were staying at was super chill and owned by an Austrian. There was no air conditioning and everything was made of plant materials so it sort of reminded me of my grandparents’ house in the provinces of Bikol region. Either that or the song Bahay Kubo [kahit munti / ang halaman doon ay sari sari] Also, there was no hot water. Cold showers ;_; It was sort of refreshing because it was so hot all the time, actually. It’s kind of like when the power goes out after a hurricane back home. But then they gave us a welcome beer and everything was perfect.

Except for the whole burning part. I was laying out and insisted that I didn’t need sunblock because I’m brown and I don’t burn. “I’m not gonna burn.” “I swear, I’m not gonna burn.” “Get off my case, I’m not gonna burn.” ::burns:: AHOO.

My cousin was also being really awesome and paying for us to try all of this awesome Filipino food. And not just run-of-the-mill stuff either, it’s the weird stuff that you don’t really find in other places. There’s sisig on the left which is 1) delicious and 2) finely chopped pig ears/nose/etc.  I’ve heard it described as “basically the same thing as hot dogs without the casing.” Andrea said: “I’ll eat it, but don’t tell me what it is until after I’ve swallowed it.” There was also chicken tails and chicken gizzards. Then there was the isaw. They sort of look like meat lollipo…er. Meat on a stick. I had the chicken intestine on a stick. It was interesting. It sort of tasted like chicken with a liver aftertaste.

Speaking of Filipino food. I feel like wherever I go, I’ll think that the Filipino food is good but not he best because I get the best Filipino food from my house. Nothing better than lutong bahay. <3

~ ~

Other than the food and the beautiful surroundings, Boracay was entertaining by itself. At night the beach-front bars and clubs come to life with fire dancers and stuff. Those were fun to photograph.

There was another bar that had a challenge where if you drank 6 different combinations of shots and stuff within a minute, you get a t-shirt and your photo on the wall. As much as I wanted that T-shirt, there was a bit too much 151 in there for my liking. The challenge was called “Gone in 60 seconds” Clever clever.

We also met a new friend from Beijing named Daisy. She’s been studying Japanese for a while now and it’s been her dream to study in Japan so we talked about our experience with her and we got to use our Japanese in the Philippines. Hah. It inspired me to see someone so invested in trying to get to Japan even when they’re so close. It was also good to see what someone else sees in Japan, apart from what I like about the culture and the language. Besides our communal Japan-talk, I also heard stories about her teenage love for Roger Federer and how he was actually the first man that Daisy ever hugged. She set the standard high for anyone else she’s ever going to hug, lol.

~ ~

Oh, and I checked my email and found out that I received the… JASSO SCHOLARSHIP FOR THE SPRING SEMESTER!!!!!!! This means that I got about 3,000 dollars to spend on tuition and housing ;_;b Slightly less poor! Yay!

Julia and I split a “Boracay bucket” as a celebratory drink. It was mango mint and it tasted like victory.

Here’s a super-hero picture of Julia, Andrea, and myself and here’s some kitties cuddling by a vase that I saw at this breakfast joint we went to. SO CUTE I CAN’T EVEN ;_;

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  1. […] Philippines was a treat, per usual. I sat on a beach, finished a book about the Nordic countries, and the most pressing thing I had […]



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