I didn’t think it would happen for a while, but the universe said it was time. And after 26 years since we left it, my sister and I, accompanied by our mother, returned back to our motherland.
Most of my travel experiences have been eye-opening, but this one takes the cake. So far, anyways. I was forewarned that it is nothing like I remember it–a little village nearby a canal with streets full of kids at play–and I was still shocked to see the change.
Oh, the Philippines. Why have you grown so much? Thankfully, there are still chunks of you that remain the same, particularly beach towns in the provinces that haven’t been completely taken over by tourism.
While the main purpose of our trip was to visit and catch up with family that we haven’t seen since we left the country, we also had some time to explore places that we’ve never explored before, even when we still lived there. This is a recap of our 4-week adventure:
Long layover silliness in Chicago:
“Which flag(s) represent(s) you?” in Korea:
The #PinayAdventures begin (if it hasn’t already):
Dito ako sa #Mandaluyong! It’s only been a couple of hours and I’m already humbled by this experience of being back to the motherland, although nothing is as I remember it 25+ years ago.. I am super #grateful 😌🙏🏾for this opportunity to revisit my island, to relearn about my culture, to reconnect with my extended family, and to you for sharing this experience for the next four weeks.. Salamat po, atsaka #MABUHAY! 🤗 #PinayAdventures #MandaluyongCityHall #Mandaluyong #MetroManila #Philippines 🇵🇭🌴🌴
Exploring the neighborhood where we grew up:
Tagaytay, the People’s City/Park in the Sky:
Leap of faith (because I believe!):
Fresh coconut, my favorite treat (although it could use some ice):
Malls everywhere in Manila:
Fort Santiago, learning the Philippine history:
Island Hopping Part I–El Nido, Palawan:
Gotta show some love to my #PinayAdventures partners:
My #PinayAdventures partners-in-crime (L-R): my aunt Aurora, her daughter and my cousin Gina, my sister/photographer Joan, #moi, and my goofy mother Alicia, aka “Chedeng’s Girls”.. We all drive each other crazy but wouldn’t do this trip with anyone else.. #LoveMyCrazyFamily 👩👧👧👩👧#IslandHopping #CorongCorong #ElNido #Palawan #Philippines 🇵🇭🌴🌴
Bolinao fresh fruits, stray dogs and beach life:
Island Hopping Part II–Hundred Islands, Bolinao, Pangasinan:
Remembering to be a good role model:
Lunch with a view:
Island Hopping Part III–Panglao Island, Bohol:
Following my heart wherever I go:
Gratitude, and my Christmas wish to you:
We are quitting our jobs and joining this local #Filipina band.. Just kidding! 😋 But seriously, this month-long adventure is one for the books, one that I will remember forever.. I have learned so much and developed a greater appreciation for my family, my culture, and I’ve become even more #grateful for this life that I live I know I sometimes take for granted.. 😌🙏🏾 As we make our way back to our side of the world, I wanted to take this opportunity to thank everyone who made this adventure #unforgettable, and to you for sharing the experience! Wishing you all peace, happiness and of course lots and lots of love this #holiday season.. #MALIGAYANGPASKO!! 🎄🎉🎉🎉❤️️❤️️❤️️#MerryChristmas #FelizNavidad #JoyeuxNoel #BuonNatale #SelamatNatal #VeseleVanoce #HappyHoliday✌🏾️😊💕
The Philippines is made up of over 7,000 islands which is why we did so much hopping. Surprisingly, outside of Manila, it was easy (and cheap!!) to get around so we got to see a lot for a little.
Of course, it made it even easier and more pleasant that many family members were willing to host and guide us. And for that, I’m truly thankful, and hope to be able to return the love in the future!