by Isabela A., Mid-Peninsula Boys and Girls Club
It’s been a few days since I came back from the Philippines, and despite the jet lag, I’ve been doing nothing but reflecting on how amazing the trip was and attempting to accept the fact that it’s over.
On the way to the airport in Manila, it was raining hard. My aunt said, “Look Bea, the heavens are crying because you’re leaving!”. I’m never going to forget that sentence, because now I know that I didn’t just leave my cousins, aunts, and uncles, I left the people of the Philippines whose lives I’ll change one day.
It was an unbelievable experience to be fully immersed into my culture for the first time. For a while, I was confused about whether to identify myself as Filipino or American, but I realized that I have equal ties to both places. I’m a proud American in the sense that I love where I was born and raised. I got to grow up exposed to different ethnicities and religions, all in one small town next to a big Californian city. But at the same time, I feel strongly connected to everything that the Philippines has to offer. It’s wrong for me to be ignorant of my roots, and also, it’s where I would’ve lived if my parents didn’t immigrate.
I enjoyed being with my cousins, aunt and uncle, but more importantly I loved that they made me feel like part of their own family (they even called me their “bunso” = youngest one). Furthermore, it felt amazing being exposed to the Pasig City orphanage and the culture that taught me the most important life lessons of happiness, acceptance, and appreciation.
In the eyes of every other country, I am an American. But I have just as much of an obligation to serve those in my community as those in the Philippines.
This is closure to an amazing experience, but it isn’t closure to my lifelong mission.
It feels so good be home, but Manila, I’ll be back!