My recent vacation in the Philippines was truly a life changing experience for me. It was very short and how I wished I could have stretched the time a little bit more. There are people very close to me that I didn’t get the chance to see or bond with; like my brother who was out of the country for a work related trip, my sister who is in the Monastery, and one of my closest friends whom I never get the chance to meet and talk in spite of the fact that she was just in the city the whole time I was there. Being a positive person and always looking at the brighter side of life, I didn’t allow these setbacks to affect the quality time I spent with my family and closest friends and have fun with them.
But just like a story that has a beginning, the end has to come. The most painful part of short vacation is the parting time. That morning I was leaving, my granddaughter Arielle was watching me doing my last minute packing. Out of nowhere she asked me “mammo, where are you going? Why are you packing your toothbrush and toothpaste? I answered her, “baby, it’s time for mammo to go back to the States. She answered, ‘mammo, please take me to the US, I want to go with you.” My gosh, I could not describe the pain I felt when I heard her said those words. Those pleading words broke my heart. I could not stop my tears from falling. Then she started crying repeatedly asking me to take her to the US. I tried to gather all my strength so she wouldn’t see me crying. Then I told her, Baby I cannot take you to the US, and I have to go back because your mommy is alone. She is crying now because she misses you and she needs company so she won’t cry anymore. That made Arielle stopped crying. She told me that it was okay if I go back to the States so her mommy won’t be alone and she won’t cry anymore. In spite of her tender age and innocence I can feel the love and concern she has for her mom, it is capable of sacrificing and understanding the situation. And that thought brought my tears again. There were no words to describe how sad I was to think that she’s growing up without her mother. The last time they saw each other was in July 2008 when she was just barely one year old. But I have to look at the future—her mother and hers. Hopefully within two years her mother will be able to bring her to the States and they will never be separated again.
Another very touching moment of my last day of vacation was at the airport when I hugged my father and told him to take care of mama and himself. For the first time in my life I saw my father’s tears. That really touched me to the core of my being. I have always known my father as the strongest person on earth. When we were growing up, he was the iron one in the family. None of us ever tried to defy our father’s rule. His words were law that should be obeyed. And our mother has always supported our father’s decision. Our family was very much of a patriarchal type and I used to recent my mom for not being on our side when our dad was unreasonably strict (not even allowing us to watch movies, no boyfriends until we finished our studies and going to disco or outing with friends were some of the things we were not allowed to do). Later in my adult life, I’ve witnessed how my father has changed a lot when it comes to raising up my three younger sisters. They were more free than we the older four were. Also when I became a parent myself, I came to understand my parents more and the sacrifices they did to raise and educate us (seven children). I also realized that we were less grateful of our parents when we were younger. All I could think then was their being strict in not allowing us to have more fun while young. Later did I realize that I should be grateful for their being strict and focused on our education first. And that day I hugged my father at the airport and saw him cried, I realized I have never hugged him, I’m sure not one of my younger siblings ever did. And I think that’s what brought my dad to tears. He has always been the provider/giver of the family of guidance and strength. Even in the community where we spent almost half of our growing up years, people looked up to him for advice. He has been one of the lay leaders of the Parish he served for 30 years. He has always been looked up to as the strong and strict head of the family. Everyone overlooked that he also needed affection and expression of love and gratitude for all he did to put us where we are now. All throughout my trip back to my home in Virginia, I have reflected on that moment with my dad at the airport. Until now I feel so sad that it took me all these years to realize how all of us overlooked the needs of our dad for affection. But somehow I was relieved to know that it is not yet too late. He is just 74 and still very sharp in mind. I know I still have time to let my dad know how I love him and how grateful I am for everything he did so I could be where I am right now. He has raised us to love God above all, to always treasure family and respect all people regardless of their status in life. All these are priceless treasures that he handed to us and we will be passing on to our children.
My recent vacation back to the Philippines has been so fulfilling and worthwhile. The great times I had with my whole family and bonding and fun times I had with long time and close friends and high school batch mates were refreshingly awesome. It was truly a trip I will always treasure and remember for the rest of my life. I can’t wait to be back!
To my beautiful family and to all my friends, thank you very much. I am so blessed to have you in my life. I will surely miss you all!!!
so touching! I cried while reading this piece. . . you're luckier because even if you are far from your loved ones - you still get to see them once in a while. . .
That's the positive side of our situation. And I always look at it that way. Thanks you!
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