As I got off the plane and into the Ninoy Aquino International Airport, I was greeted by a lady holding a sign with my name on it. She assisted me to where I needed to go in order to have an immigration officer provide my visa stamp. Afterwards, I went to the baggage claim and was immediately approached by a older man, offering to help me grab my luggage from the baggage carousel. I am forever grateful to him because without him, there was no way I could have carried all of my luggage.
Left: Image of my window seat view of Manila. Our plane was delayed by an hour but when we landed, the reality started to kick in.
Below: Waiting in for my other luggage to arrive. All filipinos pack their things in boxes called Balikbayan boxes, usually containing gifts for their relatives.
Afterwards, I left the airport and was hit with a gust of hot, humid weather. It was hotter than I had remembered and expected. I was greeted by another man who helped me bring my luggage out of the airport and into the pickup location. This was where I saw my uncle and aunt, whom I have not seen in almost 8 years. They both looked pretty much the same so it was easy for me to recognize them. Instantly, I was more at ease. It was traffic driving back to their home in Bulacan but it was a nice scenic ride. Everything was different from what I had remembered, even their own home was different but it was all good changes.
Below: Outside my room window at my Aunt and Uncle’s home in Bulacan. 81 degrees Fahrenheit with 81% humidity and it was just in the morning.
After dropping my things off into my room, I met up with 2 of my cousins and got to meet one of my nephews for the first time. We ate homecooked sopas, fried eggs, and an assortment of breads. I finally got wifi to text my family and got to talk to them for a little bit. Within an hour, we went out to eat lunch at a buffet which served Japanese, Chinese, and Filipino food. While waiting for the valet to get the car, the lady beside me said that it was so hot outside. You know it’s really hot here when people from the Philippines even think so.
Then, we went to Philippine’s SM Edsa North mall, where we met up with my other cousin and my other nephew. It took a while to drive from the buffet to SM, however, because once my uncle missed a turn, it took another hour and half to get back and it was also traffic. The mall had more updated stores than I remembered. Some were similar to those in the U.S. like H&M, Forever21, Uniqlo, etc. It felt weird being there. I never acknowledged diverse the U.S. really is until I came here and see the similar faces all around me. It also feels strange because while I don’t really look like a foreigner here but I definitely feel a little bit like one.It’s overwhelming but also a bit comforting. It’s my first day so I’m sure I will get used to it. Anyway, we talked and walked around for about 2+ hours and then drove back home. I sort of fell asleep in the car. Once home, I was greeted by my other 2 cousins. And within less than an hour of being back home, we ate chicken adobo, chicken tinola, and crab with rice.
I thought sleeping on the plane for a good 9 hours was enough to keep me from getting jet lagged but at around 1:30pm I started to feel sleepy but I powered through. As a result, I’m going to sleep at 8:00pm. 🙂
*Edited: It’s a few minutes past 4:00am and I woke up to hearing mice walking through the walls. I can hear them clearly squeaking and trying to get into my room. For about 10 minutes, I sat up on my bed praying that they don’t break in. So far, I longer hear them but now I am awake. I slept for 8 hours already and I don’t know if I can go back to sleep now.
*Update: It’s 4:30 now and just as I was about to go back to sleep, the mice came back. Stay tuned.