January 25, 2019

The Philippines have always been ‘home’ to me…or so I thought.

Growing up in the Philippines have been beautiful and just amazing. My cousins, friends, and I have experienced the joy of having the full provincial lifestyle. I lived in the mountains so the air was always fresh. Then in the summer, we would visit my grandmother who lived right next to a rice field. Life was simple, and it was good.

As I grew up, I wondered what life was beyond the motherland. I started to get more and more curious about life abroad and about travelling. The books that I have read only fed my soul but these stories about the world had me craving for more. That was why as soon as I graduated from university, I left my parents’ home and searched for a home of my own.

It has been two amazing years on the road, and, to be quite honest, I am in my happiest state when I am travelling. But not everybody gets that. Because in the Philippines, stability is key, and there is nothing stable about my lifestyle. This is why coming home is so dreadful.

“Why aren’t you working? Just get a normal job!”

“You should pursue Law School!”

“What happened to you? You got so fat and dark!”

These are some statements that I hear every single time I go home. Literally the first words my family will ever say to me as soon as they see me at the airport will be, “You have gotten so fat and dark!” I mean, hopping on from island to island you cannot expect me to become paler, can you? Plus, eating all the amazing food in the world, you cannot expect me to become stick thin, can you?

I cannot fathom what it is with appearance that makes Filipinos so judgmental. Yes, I got fat and got dark, but I learned a lot of things in my journey. Living with Berbers in Taroudant, made me cautious about other people’s cultures and beliefs. In the mountains of Chefchaouen, I found peace in my soul that I never knew was even there in the first place. I learned to disconnect with the world wide web, and to reconnect with the world and myself. Living in New York has left me dumbfounded with knowing how small I am but with hard work, I can achieve my biggest dreams. I could go on and on about the things I have felt, experienced and learned. But at the end of the day, what everybody in the Philippines will notice is how fat or dark or physically ugly I have become.

Carrying my 75L backpack has taken its toll because there will be nights where my back would become unbearably painful. This had me so grateful for every soft and comfortable bed that I will ever lay down upon. Every mile walked in my trainers had me so grateful for the cars we get to drive back home. With every meal I eat on the road, I am just so grateful that we never get to starve or go hungry. There are so many blessings that we tend to overlook, but travelling makes you humble and grateful for every single thing that you get to have.

Life in the Philippines is great, and I could not be happier when I am at home. The thought of seeing my brothers, my grandmother, and my parents just fills my soul with gladness. I cannot wait to hug my friends and tell them about the stories I have encountered around the world. Then, of course, I absolutely cannot wait to hug my dog and just walk with him as we both feel happy even in the silence. These are the things that make going home to the Philippines so much bearable and worth it. But as soon as somebody mentions appearance or tries to think low of the lifestyle I live, then I rethink if this is actually worth it. Then I cannot wait to go onto my next adventure.

If there is one lesson that I have learned in my travels, it’s this: nothing ever grows in your comfort zone. My life in the Philippines have been amazing, but I still cannot see myself living there for the rest of my life. It is true, it is paradise. But coming home to negativity is just not worth it.

Coming home to the Philippines is happy because I get to see all the people that I love and care about. But it also is dreadful, because sometimes, these people will always be the first to judge you no matter how much you think you have learned on the road. These people will not think twice before uttering negativity to you, and it will make you feel like shit. But it is good to know who you really are, then these words will not matter at all.

I hope you know who you really are, and I hope coming home will be happier and a lot less dreadful.

“Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.”

Galatians 6:2 NIV

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