Preparing for my SE Asia trip awhile ago, I had a vague idea of what I expected this trip to be like. I did not have any specific expectations of what would happen during every moment of every day, but I anticipated to experience a variety of cultures, taste some different food, visit some historical sites, learn some language…you know, the usual travel stuff. I did not expect to be emotionally attached to anyone I got to know nor anything I experienced. I’m not quite sure why I didn’t anticipate such a thing…I need only to take a brief moment to glance at my personal history to recognize how easily and quickly my emotional attachments form to both people and things…but for some reason I did not expect to experience such a thing on this trip.
However, upon merely arriving in the airport of the Philippines, I began to sense a strange sort of immediate attachment to the country and to the people who live there. This kind of unjustified attachment has happened a few other times in my life, and in each case I have later grown to possess several justifiable reasons for why such a strong attachment exists: I discovered tangible reasons for my emotional attachment only after the initial unexplainable attachment had began. It was this way with the Philippines.
Several days after arriving in the Philippines–and, several days after my initial attachment to the place started– I began to meet people and experience aspects of the culture that not only took my breath away but also took a portion of my heart. Getting to know our Filipino friends and guides, my homestay family, some university students, and some young Filipino children (who I hung out with only for a day at a time) I became quite emotionally attached to the people of the Philippines.
Additionally, getting to see heritage sites such as Paoay church, beautiful environments such as the botanical gardens and beaches, I became quite emotionally attached to the physical place of the Philippines, and leaving it was not easy.
I am now in Malaysia: eating spicy and delicious food, trying new things, seeing new sites, learning about an entirely different and fascinating culture, and meeting new people — all wonderful experiences. And yet I do not feel fully here–as if a portion of my mind and heart still lingers in the Philippines. Perhaps you can understand this, for I think that many (if not all) people have undergone the difficult experience of leaving/losing someone or something to which they feel emotionally attached. It’s a journey.
p.s. I do plan on returning to the Philippines in the near-future, perhaps to teach, Lord willing…prayers appreciated.