I visited family from the Philippines on June 1 - 30.
(MOM's side - San Carlos City, Pangasinan. DAD's side - Milaor, Bicol)
I also went to Naga City, Baguio, Quezon City, and Angeles City.
I mostly stayed with family. First and foremost, I saved a lot of money in lodging.
I learned a lot. No whining, no complaining. Just living the lifestyle.
I have many stories to talk about. It is impossible to cover all of them. I will try to make each story short. (In no particular order whatsoever.
STORY #1: I visited my Uncle's gravestone for the first time. He killed my sister. His gravestone was right next to Grandma's as well. This was meaningful and powerful. I already have forgiven him.
STORY #2: I rode a motorcycle with my twin uncles. I told them, "This was my first time riding a motorcycle. I am sandwiched by you too. My penis is so close to you."
STORY #3: I attended a party. I realized the party was about me. It reminded me of the TV reality series, "The Bachelor." Now, I am the bachelor.
STORY #4: Finally, I saw my mom's land in Pangasinan. I met the tenants as well. I shook their hands with a sign of respect, even if their hands were dirty from hard labor in farming. (These helpful men and their families keep the land running. Thank you very much.)
STORY #5: I stayed one week at my grandpa’s. (I call him Papa.) He showed me around the small town, Milaor. (He babysat me when I was younger in New York. We have a strong bond together.) I continued on hearing more of his stories. I enjoyed his presence.
STORY #6: I took my cousins at a brewery in Naga City. It was their first time to experience a type of brewery, even though they are born and raised over there. I am glad to have witnessed it.
STORY #7: I arrived from Naga City airport. It was a bit far away to Milaor. No taxi, or any means of public transportation. Meanwhile, I kept walking. Then, I ran into a tricycle driver.
STORY #8: Remember the common saying, "The more the merrier." At night, I usually went in groups with cousins, relatives, and their friends. More people. more food and drinks. It was a bonding. Also, many group selfies were taken. (It is normal over there.)
STORY #9: I walked upstairs into a house. It was late at night. (Nobody living on that top floor.) For a moment, it was a bit spooky, but then I realized this is my family. I saw my mom's family history of pictured frames hung on walls. I saw a painting of my grandma, who is my mom's mom. (I have never met her.) It reminded me of a family museum. (The past is remembered.)
STORY #10: I explored local native food spots. (Thanks to my family.) Since I stayed at their homes, I was always fed. It was never-ending food. ("Go eat, go eat, go eat.")
STORY #11: I tried almost every public transportation: tricycle, jeepney, bus, Grab, and padyak.
STORY #12: I played outdoor basketball in Milaor and San Carlos. (A huge roof provides shade on basketball court.) My cousins tagged along as well.
STORY #13: I enjoyed a cousin outing one day. We played basketball in the morning. Then, we ate breakfast together. We decided what to do after. (No time for a road trip to beach.) So, we went to cousin's house for karaoke and lunch. (Over there, karaoke is celebrated at night with drinks and food.) I met my cousin's kids and his wife's family as well. When the day was over, we took a group picture.
STIORY #14: My cousins drove me to Lingayen Beach right before sunset. Also, we ate exotic food near its street. We visited the government building, Pangasinan Provincial Capital. Lastly, we walked to WWII Memorabilia Ground Site. (It is walkable across the Pangasinan Provincial Capital.)
STORY #15: I visited family. We ate together. Then, we each drank 3 rounds of Red Horse beer. It was a fun night. I said to my Uncle, "You look Indian, not Filipino." Everybody started laughing.
STORY #16: I was in Quezon City on Week 2. Then, I came back on Week 4 to see a girl. I took a long, adventurous bus ride to see her from Angeles City. She went on a mini-adventure as well to see me. (Her place is a bit further away from Quezon City.) We sacrificed and committed our time to go on a few dates together. I enjoyed it.
STORY #17: I told a group of friends and cousins, "I believe the liquid part in balut is the urine of the baby bird. I think so. I still enjoy eating and drinking it." They looked disgusted and puzzled. They were not sure as well. (Balut is a developing bird embryo. You boil and eat it from the shell.)
STORY #18: I bought NBA classic jerseys at fake market in Greenhills. They look real but they are obviously fake. Only $10 each for Vince Carter's Toronto Raptors, and Michael Jordan's Chicago Bulls.
STORY #19: My little cousin and I took many funny selfie videos together using Facebook's face filters.
STORY #20: My cousin introduced me to his girlfriend's family. I connected with them. My cousin was surprised. (It was just like that.)
STORY #21: I walked into my dad's first ever home. It was surreal.
STORY #22: I coached my cousin's young daughter how to play basketball on the front yard. I coached her the basics and fundamentals of basketball. Kids began peeking through front gate. Then, they stayed and watched us.
STORY #23: My kid cousin kept telling me nonsense news. I jokingly told him, "Fake news."
STORY #24: Kids over there stopped and listened to me, while I was talking to my cousin. I smiled at them. I tried to let them join in the conversation.
STORY #25: My cousin asked me, "If you saw God, what would ask him?" I answered, "I would like to know how my sister is doing. Is she still at 18 years old, or is she 33 years old now? Can I please see her now?"
STORY #26: My young cousin showed me her journal about family. She wrote about family consisting of a mother, father, brothers, and sisters. Obviously, she was describing her family. I slowly read it out loud to her. I told her, 'Whenever something happens to you, you have your family. This is unconditional love. We are family. You are not alone."
STORY #27: It was 11pm. Even though my Auntie looked very tired and exhausted, she had to see her patient. I told her, "You are the real superhero, not Spider-Man. You sacrifice your time to save lives. I am inspired."
STORY #28: I told family friend, "You are a great listener. You hear everybody's stories, and even their problems." I continued on telling her, "Mix it up. I wanna really hear from you. Ask, and listen." Then, I began asking her a question.
This is already long. If I did not add you in my story, I am so sorry.
So far, the toughest part is saying goodbye in my travel life as usual.
This trip was an interesting experience. Keep eating, talking, and drinking while taking many group selfies. That is PI (or PH) for you. Yuh, cheers.