Visiting the Philippines for the first time as a 24 American born Filipino was a visceral experience I had the privilege to spend time with a myriad of people. Including family, family friends, natives, and expats alike. Although the trip was short lived, I discovered what it means to be Filipino. From Manila to Baguio, Pampanga to Palawan.
The islands and food are plentiful, however, what stayed constant was the overall sense of belonging I felt throughout my journey. Everyone I met was friendly and gave me a sense of family. The time spent with my American side of the family was okay to say the least, however the real adventure started when I was able to be on my own. The feeling of freedom swept me as a walked through the streets of Manila, Baguio, Palawan, Pampanga. I will get into the details soon of each city soon. But let me first describe the feeling of being alone in a foreign but familiar country. All the stories that my mother told me came to life as I witnessed the horrendous but effective driving style that was the commute of the Filipinos.
The cities felt alive, more than most cities in the U.S., people looked like me, similar skin tone, similar eye styles but were vastly different. I brought with me American values and experiences that these people would probably never have in their lives. The privilege that I had made me realize how much I was lucky to be born and raised in the states. I often take many things for granted, but where I come from is one of the few things