The lyrics of a popular Filipino song goes “Manila, Manila! I’m coming back to Manila. The only place that I call home!” That was definitely the case when I left the Philippines as a young and energetic 18 year old to study in the US. As I dearly missed my family and friends, I took every opportunity to go home each semester break. Though as the years passed, wanderlust kicked in. I guess our Feng Shui adviser was correct, that I would often leave home. Sure enough, less than a year after returning to Manila when I finished my undergraduate studies, I left again. This time around, my trips back took a dramatic turn downwards — once a year, every two years, and, finally, seven long years. Fortunately, I regularly saw my family; they either came to visit me or we met somewhere else.
This photo, which I’ve entitled “Spectacles”, symbolizes this trip back home. I’m seeing the country, the culture and the city I grew up in with different eyes: -3.50 to be exact. I expected a dramatic change, yet it wasn’t there. Sure, skyscrapers are mushrooming, new restaurants are continuously popping up, and the Filipinas are more liberated in their way of dressing — even wearing bikinis on the beach where they would only dare one-piece bathing suits before, often with shorts. But traffic is still the same, bureaucracy is still there, and Philippine law still does not allow for a complete divorce within the country (with certain exceptions). Nevertheless, I still truly admire the Filipino’s love for life, there’s always a reason to celebrate!
Manila is still my home but after living abroad for half of my life — 18 years — it’s no longer the ONLY place I call home. My family still lives there and I still have my own room in our house where my parents have safely guarded some of my worldly possessions, but I also have another home, in Switzerland, where I’ve grown accustomed to the culture and where I have my own family. With my daughter in mind, it’s important for me to expose her to these two “homes” so that she can better understand her different heritages. It’s a daunting task but, hopefully, I can partly succeed at it and that my next visit to Manila won’t take another seven years. Mabuhay!
Until my next post … take care!