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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.

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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.

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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