I am sad to update that my family will be leaving for Manila and Makati this Thursday, leaving behind Aklan for another few years. It has been a pretty busy couple of weeks here with my huge family, (many of which I still have yet to meet!) and it is going to be bittersweet getting on the plane at Aklan International Airport and saying ‘see you later’ to my family here.
At first, it was difficult for me to adjust to the life here in the Philippines, especially here in Aklan. The extremely early wake up calls courtesy of the roosters and the very late nights were not things I was accustomed to. What’s more, I was not used to the long drives to different municipalities to visit family, friends and constantly being offered food and drinks! From travelling several hours a day, my tailbone has certainly been mistreated and I am certainly paying for it now. Another thing I wasn’t used to is the way Filipinos simply do not stop working. From the crack of dawn until the end of the night, you will see the people here working hard so they can provide for their families and think very little of living luxuriously and entertaining things we North Americans like to indulge in every day. From this trip, I have gained a bigger outlook on life here, and more importantly, life in general. I have so much respect for the Filipinos and my family for working so hard to make ends meet every day.
What surprised me the most, however, was the overall general kindness and hospitality of the people here. Growing up, I always knew that Filipinos are considered to be quite the hospitable people, but coming back here, I really discovered a whole new horizon of that hospitality. In our home here in New Washington (a small municipality in Aklan), my family was treated with so much care and it made me feel so pampered to be waited on hand and foot 24/7, always being offered something to drink/eat or if I wanted anything or if I wanted to go anywhere. I have truly been spoiled rotten here!
Culture shock aside, I was blessed to have been able to catch up with my enormous family, and go back to my roots. Although I was born here in Philippines, my parents and I had immigrated to Canada when I was three, so I basically have lost almost all of my Filipino roots. These past few weeks have helped me get back some of those roots and now, I am left with very valuable lessons and memories that I’ll certainly cherish.
I will miss so many things here in Aklan that found very endearing. I will miss one of our family’s dogs, Bruno, who never failed to greet us when we came home in the tricycle and would adorably follow us as we drove away, barking up a storm until he saw the border signalling the end of New Washington’s perimeters and abruptly stopping his chase to sadly trot back home. I will miss the feeling of wanting to adopt every single cat and dog here in Aklan that roamed the streets and were most likely ridden with rabies and fleas. I will miss coming out of the shower feeling refreshed, only to go out and come back smelling of pollution and feeling unclean. I will miss the sense of community within my family, travelling from municipality to municipality, being greeted like old friends and being told almost all the time that I am a spitting image of my father. I will miss Boracay and its beautiful scenery and its bustling lifestyle. I will miss the cold showers, only being able to use a tabo (a small bucket) instead of a shower head. I will miss the delicious home cooked Filipino meals that my extended family spoiled us with. I will miss my cousins, all of whom have treated me as if I had never left those eight years ago. In particular, I will miss my kuya (older male) Martin, who “baby sat” my sister and I throughout our entire stay, and helped keep things together (don’t worry, kuya, I will save up enough money to send you to Vancouver!). I will miss my naynay (grandma) here in New Washington that took care of our house and of us, making sure we were well fed before she was, did our laundry and cleaned the house daily. I will miss my aunties, uncles, grandpas, and grandmas, all of whom told me stories of my childhood and a bit of family history, and of course, never failing to remind me how much I look like my father. 😛
Most of all, I will miss the life experiences I have made here. Although I was at first not enthusiastic about spending a month here, things turned out a lot better than I imagined they would. When I get on that plane on Thursday and bid my loved ones here farewell, I probably will be holding back tears because I am such a big sentimental baby. Fortunately for us, we now have Facebook/e-mail/phone and the like for means of frequent communication. Those things however, simply cannot compare to actually being around my family and being able to talk with them whenever I like. So I will definitely be coming back to Vancouver with a heavy heart from missing everything and everybody here.
All sad farewells aside, I am so grateful for this trip. I was blessed with so many things and would not trade this experience for the world. I aim to be back here in the next two years to check up on the newly built hotel my father, his sister and I co-own and of course, to be with my family again. Till then, Aklan – thank you for the memories and love.
Hopefully the next time I update will be in my family’s hotel room in Makati. If not, then hopefully I will be updating safe and sound in Vancouver!
Till my next blog post,