FAMILY CAFE: Coming Home

Just ended my two-month visit to the Philippines.  Well, i cannot exactly call it a vacation because it wasn't really the purpose for our trip. I came home with my husband after a year of missionwork in the Middle East, simply to attend some of our community's activities. 

At the Couples for Christ Mission Core Weekend in Baguio City

with my husband at the SFC ILC, Lanao Del Norte

But there was something different about my coming home to the Philippines.  I don't know, it just felt so special and more meaningful.  All I know was that my recent trip to the Philippines was my "HOMECOMING".  Call me a sentimental fool, but I was just being honest of how I really felt.
For most of my life, I've never really considered myself a die-hard nationalistic Filipino.  I'm not the ultimate "makabayan", willing-to-die-for-my-country citizen.  I'm just well, your typical "Filipino".  Someone who used to think that it's better to live in another country, anywhere more convenient.  Someone who used to think that "I don't care" if others don't follow the rules.  Someone who used to complain day in and day out about the traffic, the heat, the hassles of commuting, the pollution, the undisciplined people... practically, everything. 

I can say that I haven't exactly lived out the very essence of my being a Filipino - until now...
I have to admit, the one thing that kept me going during our 10 months of being away on mission was the thought that after all these, I’ll be going back home. 
It was being in a foreign land that brought me joy to see fellow Filipinos I don't even know, even while simply crossing the street. 

It was while living abroad that I learned to pro-actively be conscious of our country’s state and even developed the passion to stand up for it. 

I could find myself in moments when I would suddenly dream of mom’s home-cooked meals. 

It's true what they say... we can only realize the value of something once it's taken away from us.  This was how much I missed my country, the Philippines.  Definitely, there’s no place like home.

My "homecoming" to the Philippines, became for me a journey towards a greater appreciation of who I am and where I came from.  My lifestyle, my "kakikayan" rituals, my hobbies, my cravings, my hangouts, my memories, my dreams, my faith - all proudly Philippine-made. 

Yes, the traffic, the pollution, the heat, the unclean comfort rooms are still there, but during my recent visit, I found myself complaining less because I realized complaining will not get me anywhere. Yes, prices and taxes continue to be a burden, but then that's where value for simplicity comes in. 

Suddenly, the things and places I used to take for granted brought about sentimental feelings - the dirty ice cream, the "kakanins", the fish balls and the squidballs,  the Sarao jeepneys, SISIG!!! 

 Nothing could ever compare to Baguio, Boracay, Tagaytay or even Cebu - places to I'll never get tired of going to.  Bench and Kamiseta, even the Tiangge in Greenhills will always be my fashion haven. 
with my husband in St. Joseph Parish in Baguio City
More importantly, the Philippines is where my family, my friends and my community is.  Nothing beats the warmth of the being with the people closest to my heart. 

family outing in Tagaytay

with the 2 important men in my life - my husband and my dad!
my youngest sister, Nikki!
with friends...
For the next two years, Middle East will be our new home, in response to the mission that God called me to, together with my husband.

my husband and I inside the Burj Al Arab

But even though I was sent by God to a foreign land, my heart will always long for the Philippines.  Just thinking about it, brings a deep sense of pride for me to live out my identity as a Filipino wherever I am. 

My country is my home, for it is only at home where the best things in life can be truly experienced.