Thursday, May 8, 2008

Manila, Manila


Manila, Manila
I keep coming back to Manila
Simply no place like Manila
Manila, I'm coming home


For the past two days that song’s been stuck in my head, if only because I‘ll be coming back to Manila in less than a week’s time. After today, I have three work days left before I go on vacation. Whoo hoo!

I was born in the Philippines and spent part of my childhood there. My family immigrated to California when I was eight years old. I haven’t been back to visit the Philippines in almost 20 years – the last time I was there was 1989. That is a LONG time to go without a visit, especially since the most of my mom and dad’s family still live there. We are traveling there next week celebrate my Grandma’s 75th birthday and to visit relatives that we haven’t seen in years (some I’ve never met – both my parents come from big families, my dad being the second of six children and my mom being the 12th of 13. That is a whole lot of family.)

I am also visiting to learn about the country and my heritage. I’ve been living in California for most of my life and I was educated here – because of this I think I am more culturally American than Filipino. I can understand the language perfectly but speaking it is a challenge. I struggle with putting sentences together because I have to translate my thoughts from English (YES, your thoughts have a language!), and because I fear looking stupid I second-guess myself and revise what I’m going to say over and over before it even comes out. I know little about Philippine history and only know about traditions that I’ve seen in my family. This gives me an uneasy feeling because I don’t know where I belong in the scheme of things. I think foreign-born children who grow up in the US or who are born here to immigrant parents go through this dilemma – an uncertainty about belonging to a native country.

All this nervousness aside, I am looking forward to my trip. I am especially looking forward to the food – exotic fruits and vegetables not sold here such as lanzones and green mangoes and snacks/sweets from childhood that you can only get in Manila (pastillas and fishballs). I am also looking forward to reacquainting myself with a city (have I mentioned that the third largest mall in the world is in Manila?) and a country that I’m certain has changed tremendously during the last 20 years.

3 comments:

Camels & Chocolate said...

So cool! I didn't realize you were Filipino. I have a trip to Macau and one to Beijing in the fall, but a week in between the two to kill so I was seriously contemplating catching a cheap flight to the Philippines for the in between. Look forward to reading about your trip!

Genevieve said...

get some fishballs!

Ate Sha said...

OMG! I'm so excited for you! Take tons of pictures!