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Greetings From: The Philippines

Photos by Megan Alcaraz

It’s 4:00 am, I have just touched down, my brain is mush from the 16-hour flight from the USA to the Philippines, it’s been 16 hours since fresh air, 16 hours since my limbs have stretched. Funnily enough, I’m not too ecstatic with the fact that I’m going to have to spend 4 weeks in a country hotter than the USA. Needless to say, I cried the first few days of my trip, I felt overwhelmed, and I didn’t want to be there, I felt that all my opportunities of self-growth, artistically and academically were all left behind. Spending time in a country that I already knew like the back of my hand was dumb to me. But over the course of 4 weeks my feelings were taken on a rollercoaster, as I island-hopped through the hot, but gorgeous country of the Philippines.

My mom, my sister, and I landed in the capital of the Philippines Manila and we were bound for Batangas, my Dad’s hometown, we stayed at a dainty little resort amidst the impoverished city. Nevertheless, we settled down and soon enough began exploring the local food, often needing to drive hours to get to the best eating spots. Little stands and some sort of pop-up shops were everywhere ready to serve us, and occasionally the misplaced Shakey’s and McDonalds reared their familiar heads. We were accompanied by my Dad’s relatives who were all joshing me about how much taller I’ve grown (I haven’t seen many of these people since I was 5). Anyway, I stayed in Batangas for 3 days and I enjoyed finally being to speak in my Native tongue to anyone, although my Tagalog is pretty choppy. We visited local sights and since it was fairly far from the coast, we visited a couple of lakes, that were dotted with mini islands, and fog gently painted into the landscape. And of course, I ziplined multiple times and every single time, no matter how many times I do it, I always manage to almost piss myself.

With the three days being up, we depart for the airport once more, to our next destination, Bacolod, a significantly wealthier city, riddled with shopping centers and food. We stayed at my aunt's house, my sister was ecstatic to finally have a TV and her own bed to sleep on, unfortunately staying they had the bitter cost of my aunt and her friend, waking up at 2am and cleaning the whole house, on a whim, with all the lights on, mind you, I was sleeping on the couch. While I was there I swam the mile length to a neighboring small island with a group of other swimmers, what I lack in land sports, I make up for in swimming, I was a fish. The rest took a boat. We took many a road trip to the mountains, the black and white sanded beaches, I climbed the boats the fishermen used and jumped off the mast, I had so many fresh mango smoothies, and I picked up so many scary sea creatures accidentally thinking I was holding a shell between my feet. We eventually stayed at a Four Seasons Hotel, and oh boy by this point I was craving some fatty sugary American food, and thank the heavens they had it. With 2-3 weeks of exploring and eating, it’s taken good and bad tolls on my emotional and physical health. But I’m glad I threw myself into every environment that came towards me.

Ahh, finally, 5 days until the end of the trip, this duration was spent in Manila. It was in these five days, I was introduced to, Mall of Asia, an insanely large and exquisite building, putting the size of the Galleria, Americana, and Santa Anita to shame. Their I took full advantage of the “emergency” money given to me.

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