Being here in the Philippines is something I have been dreaming of for a really long time…longing for the day when I could put foot on Filipino soil and feel the humidity hit me like a long awaited voice shouting “mabuhay,” welcome home. Part of me was scared to arrive here, fearing that I had created an unsteady castle of “hopes” in my mind that would come tumbling around me once the hopes grew too high; hopes that I would love the Philippines, hopes that I would have the ability to experience moments of reality rather than pure tourism, and hopes that I would be accepted as a Filipina, despite my Canadian citizenship, mixed blood, and the Westernization that has rubbed off on me throughout the years.
So the moment of truth…I’m here in the Philippines, the only place that I know of in the world with such an incredibly happy and uplifting national anthem! I’m here in the Philippines where security guards exist at every supermarket, mall, bank, and corner store. I’m here in the Philippines surrounded by delicious foods that sing joyful songs in my belly! I’m here in the Philippines where the Manila International Airport motto is: “we go the extra smile.” And I pause, and ask myself, how do I relate to this Philippines? The answer comes with crazy immediacy to my heart and to my voice: “with overwhelming enthusiasm, an unquenchable desire to have the ability to pick up languages as quickly as others that I know, and an astounding sense of being whole and welcomed with open arms as a ‘Pinay’ (Filipina) through and through!”
I so wish I knew fluent Tagalog, the language of my relatives, and I so wish I had more than the 21 day visa I was given at customs. Yet despite these new desires, I am just so thankful for this chance to glimpse the Philippines and be so amazingly embraced by the Filipinos that surround me. One day I’ll come back, and then new wishes will appear, keeping me constantly entwined with the Philippines, and the Philippines always a huge part of who I am.