I patiently waited for the next bus that will take us back to Busan, South Korea. It a was cold night back in April. I was in Jinhae Bus Station, happy and contented after experiencing my first cherry blossom festival.
We were not the first persons in line so I thought my friend, Ate B, and I might not be seated together. True enough, when the bus arrived, the window seats got filled quickly. We ended seating across each other in aisle seats. I glanced at my seatmate and noted he was probably a European based on the language he was speaking while on a phone call. A few seconds after his call, he was sniffing and he took out a roll of tissue. I thought to myself he probably has colds due the weather.
I love kaya toast. Did I say that? Yeah, I love kaya toast…specifically Ya Kun Kaya’s toast. Who doesn’t love Singapore’s national breakfast? I am drooling just thinking about the sweetness of the kaya and a serving of a perfectly soft-boiled egg. Here in Manila, I usually get my fix of kaya toast in the Ninoy Aquino International Airport Terminal 2 branch of Ya Kun Kaya. When I am flying from NAIA 2, I make sure always drop by Ya Kun Kaya before heading to the boarding gate. Sadly, this year I had less work-related travels (though I am not asking for more) compared to 2017, so less kaya toast for me.
Thoughts about kaya toast always brings back good memories. I recall when and I two friends were in Singapore, being the aliens that we were, we went all the way to Chinatown just to get our kaya toast fix. The Ya Kun Kaya branch we went to did not even have its own stall. It just a had a small counter and several tables and chairs in the food court of a mall. We sat there in the middle of a humid afternoon, sipped our coffee, and spread out a map of Singapore in our table to figure out where to go next. What was so funny was we belatedly realize there was Ya Kun Kaya store just a flew blocks away from our hostel in Bugis.
Yesterday, after a very toxic day at work, I ran somewhere. I met up with a friend and we had a bowl of ramen for dinner. Because I was pretty much not myself anymore, I managed to spill a lot of sesame seeds in my ramen. Imagine what my tonkotsu ramen tasted like! It wasn’t very bad but it was definitely crunchy. Afterwards, we each bought a scoop of ice cream and walked around the streets talking about random things.
I told my friend, “This is possible, huh? Take a break in the middle of the week and let some steam out?”. She nodded and replied with a smile.
When people ask me these days what I fear the most, my answer would always be “to belatedly realize that I have already become part of the system I abhor”. In the Filipino language, it’s better known as “nilamon na ng sistema”.
It’s not only me who have this fear. After meeting with high school and college friends lately, I realized most of us have this fear or worry. Our common denominator is we are all in our late 20s or early 30s, struggling to climb our respective career ladders and general “in between” either in our respective communities and workplaces.
I got out of the van and looked at my wristwatch. It was 8 pm already. I had a very long week and today was no different. I also barely slept the previous night.
I can see the mall from where I stand. I crossed the street and debated on whether I should still eat dinner and buy some groceries. I was too tired to do both. I decided to just go home.
It was still quite a long walk…12 mins I think. On my way home, I thought about the things that need to be done for work. There are a lot. I cannot even fathom where to start and I cannot imagine if there is an endpoint.
My brother arrived in our apartment a few days ago exclaiming he is going home over the weekend. I asked him why he is going home again when he just visited a month ago. He replied, “Because I am suffering from homesickness lately.”
I often forget that my brother has only lived in Manila for 3 years. To date, he has lived most of his life in Bicol. On the other hand, I am more of stranger and occasional visitor in our family house, being away since I was 11. That’s almost 17 years.
I tried to recall what it feels to be homesick. Missing your pillow and beds at home? I don’t have those. I don’t even have a room and a cabinet in our house. The local neighborhood? I barely even know who lives in our street now.
Earlier, I had the same thoughts again while looking at the Christmas lights that decorate the trees on the way to my apartment. I said to myself, “It’s almost Christmas again. I can finally have a long vacation at home.”
Home will always be an interesting concept for people who have lived in so many places. What defines it? The physical structure, the people, the memories? As for me, home… is a place where my mom and siblings are, where I can enjoy my favorite dishes, and exist for a while without caring what the world demands from me.
I guess I am homesick after all and I am not even making any sense.
I’ve been living in Metro Manila for almost 12 years now yet I realize there is still a lot I do not know about it especially its capital, Manila. It actually took an invite from a friend from Cebu to go out of my apartment on a rainy day and realize that…
…San Agustin Church has a very dramatic altar. I’ve passed this church several times but it was only yesterday that I sat inside the church for awhile and absorbed its altar’s beauty.
I am still surprised when I see college students going out and about this summer. I often forget that major universities in the Philippines have already implemented academic shift. Classes now start in August and ends in May. This also means that summer breaks which used to be from April to May now fall on the not so summery months of June and July.
As a kid, I would always count the days until summer break. I felt 10 months for a school year was too long. Time also went by too slow. Summer meant I could wake up late, laze around for the whole day, and bury myself in the comfort of my books. I remember devouring shelves and shelves of books. It came to a point my mom would scold me because she had to keep my books in boxes under my bed.
Summer also meant lots of sunshine. We would go to beaches around the Bicol Region. Back then, sunblock was not yet a fad. Instead, we were forced to apply baby oil to protect out skin from the sun. And since I hated applying any form of oil in my body, by the end of summers I would end up so dark than my usual color.