i think one of the coolest things about being here on mission in the philippines, is that my family lives in manila. granted, it is a 5-6ish hour bus ride from baguio to manila, but a bus ride that is totally worth taking…in these past few days that i have been home, i have been able to hang out with my cousin, my aunt, my uncle and his fam, and…my other uncle, who just came from new jersey! so great! not to mention, i got to spend time with my “tatay” – my grandpa (mom’s dad), and see my god-son! woohooo! so wonderful.
i got here on the 27th, and i am here until the 2nd, my main purpose, to celebrate all souls’ weekend here in marikina, to celebrate the life of my “nanay” – grandma, who passed away two years ago. it’s crazy to be here, especially because, i realize i have friends here! haha, i think with every year that i have spent here (my summers), i have accumulated a network of friends…granted, they are all organizations that i have spent some quality time with – but those relationships have stayed close to my heart, and so, every chance i get, to see them here in manila, you KNOW i’m taking advantage of that!
i got to visit SPECS, visit with ate angie, and see some of the social workers. SPECS is the organization i volunteered with, back in 2005. specifically, i volunteered at speed the light (the girls), but that has since closed down, and the girls and boys are both situated at kaagapay, in pasay city. it was great, in that many of them remembered me, and i was able to catch up with the staff on how life has been so far. it was crazy to be back there, but in such a good way. crazy to think that that was the springboard to my annual visits to the PI. 🙂 i had bobby park at the closest church, while ate angie and i hopped into a tricycle, then rode into the narrow streets to kaagapay. on the way back, we took a jeep. it was nice to take public transportation again in manila!
after SPECS, that day, the driver, bobby and i, went to good shepherd in quezon city. last april 09, i stayed with sr. upeng and the other sisters, there at the euphrasian residence, which serves as a home to women who are in troubling circumstances. well, on the way over there, we were making a left turn, and unknown to us, that was an illegal move…even though the traffic enforcer gave us the right of way. ok, well, so we went off to the side, and i did the talking…haha, i figured my english may help in this situation. and so, i tried talking to the officer, and then he was like in tagalog, i can’t speak anymore english – my throat is drying out from trying to speak english! so then, not wanting to aggravate him, i started talking in tagalog, and then he was like, what! you can speak tagalog! you were giving me a hard time, with me trying to speak english and everything! the next thing you know, bobby was like, please let us go. she’s a missionary and we just came from an orphanage. and so i was like, ok, here we go – gonna pull the missionary card. well, i was appropriately wearing my cabrini mission corps shirt, so he actually saw i was legit. and then i was like, yes, and we are on the way to the other convent – can we please just have a warning? well…after about 15 minutes of back and forth, and negotiating with the enforcer, he let us go…negotiate. key word there.
haha, but he was struggling – he even got the vendor over, and was telling him how difficult it was for him to speak – but the thing here, is that, it was all very friendly actually – like, friendly and comical, if you could imagine. the enforcer was laughing at himself, and then at the situation. i think he was kinda confused, and he was so relieved when he saw that i could speak tagalog. haha…sure there was that language barrier between both he and i, but it was actually a fairly easygoing situation. very lighthearted, if you will. haha, all i know, is that i came out of that situation, thinking, wow, that would NEVER happen in california. EVER. hahaha!
and then as we were driving, that is when i saw my uncle driving also! so we texted him, telling him we were in back of him…well the next thing you know, they pull over, the passenger door opens, and out comes my uncle from new jersey! they just picked him up at the airport! so great! 🙂
the good shepherd sisters are super fun – sr. amore and sr. upeng, wow, some of my faves, for sure! as we took a picture, sr. amore said, “mother foundresss!” she’s one of the greatest storytellers i know, and of course, they gave me some wisdom on vocation and discernment. gotta love it. always!
that evening, i got to hang out with my ate abelle, and some of her work friends at their halloween party – glee inspired of course. haha, so fun it was – it reminded me of my days in sales/marketing – work hard, play hard. for sure! it was nice to be in a social setting. haha, who woulda thought.
the other day, we started gathering all the flowers for the cemetery, spent some time there, looked at the other gatherings of families at the graves of their loved ones, lit some candles, and made sure to put some candles on the graves of the people near my nanay. that way, her neighbors have lights too. haha, gotta share the love!
pictures to follow…
and now, we are back after going to mass at 6am and visiting my grandma’s sister in bulacan. that was really fun too. just being in the presence of family, is so great! it’s crazy though, because i’m not with my mom! usually i go to all these places with my mom, but now, these sights are all so familiar to me, and i am starting to learn my way around manila. crazy.
and i continue to think to myself, wow, God, thank you for sending me to the philippines. and i’m on mission? absolutely perfect.