Where is Home? 

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 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.

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I was in my hometown two weeks ago for the Holy Week break. It’s an annual practice—going home during Holy Week, All Soul’s Day and Christmas breaks.  Apart for the reason these are only periods I get to spend time with my family, these are also the only periods I take long breaks from work.

A favorite habit of mine when I am at home is to sit in our terrace during sunset. Because it faces our gate and of the almost 1.5-meter elevation of our house above ground level, I get a good view of the setting sun, the road in front of our house, and railway that bisects the road.

During my recent stay, there was a day that I was suddenly overwhelmed by the utter calmness of my surroundings. There were hardly any cars passing by. Children were happily playing on the street. I could vividly hear the sound of chirping bird and insects, and even the sound of the blowing wind.  It is a fact that in some places like my hometown, life can still be slow and uncomplicated. Yet, it still amazes me I am still able to experience how slow and uncomplicated life can be.

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Learning and Living

Yesterday, I heard someone (a lady) tell another person (a middle-aged man), “Why do you even bother paying for her matriculation fees? She is not even your child. You should stop doing that.”

There could be several explanations why the lady said those words to that man. The man could be paying the matriculation fees of an ungrateful child. He could be borrowing money in her behalf. Or…it could even be as simple as he wishes to a help a person who is not even his own child.

I don’t know the whole story so I am not in position to judge. However,  if the lady’s statement is related to the third scenario I mentioned, it’s so sad that she harbors such kind of beliefs. Since when there was a rule that we should only send  someone to school if she/he is our child? It violates every value I know about education, and what does this make me, my siblings and every person out there who was   able to study through the graciousness of other people?

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A Grandmother’s Story

I still find it unfathomable that I have no more grandparents waiting for me to come home. Barely two weeks ago, my paternal grandmother, my last living grandparent, succumbed to coma and eventually death after suffering from a hemorrhagic stroke. What’s even more even more difficult to comprehend was the rate at which life surprised us. Lola Flor  just celebrated her 79th birthday last February 23 and I was even able talk to her through the phone. Three days later, our entire family was dumbfounded with the news that she suffered a stroke. 

On the last night of the wake,  our family  organized a short program to honor Lola Flor. The family members were requested to share their fondest memories of her.  I placed myself then on a time machine trying to recall significant moments, and I can’t help but be sad because I can barely recall them. During the program proper, I cried ever more, because  I gathered that among the grandchildren, I was the only  who never had a chance to live her. As I hear my  brothers, uncles, and extended relatives speak, I realized that there were many facets of my grandmother that I never knew of. 

I knew she gave birth to my father at  a young age. Yet, I didn’t know  that while taking care of her own children, she also attended to her siblings and even to to her nieces and nephew. She also took a lot of other people under her wing, the testament of which are the people who were present during her wake introducing themselves as either “adopted son” or “adopted daughter”. 

I wondered then, am I no different from a stranger? Every time I go home to Bicol, I visited her. Yet, I never asked or learned about these aspects of her life. I never got to ask how I behaved as a child, or if she remembered the days when I would spend some days at her home during summer vacations. As my uncle had carefully laid out during his eulogy, “I was probably very busy growing up and thinking about my own I life that I forgot Lola Flor was also growing old.” 

I feel sad  that I wasn’t to able to appreciate Lola Flor more when she was alive. However, I am still happy and thankful because in ever in her death, I still got to know her more or perhaps even better. 

Lola Flor, I hope you are at peace now.  And… forgive your grandchild for being so callous and carefree. 



Find Me!


Nope! That’s not me! That is my beautiful cousin Aya. 🙂 But I am somewhere in that photograph taking a picture of well…myself!

Have a blessed week ahead everyone!

This post is my entry to Daily Post’s Weekly Photo Challenge with the theme Selfie.

(Travel Diary) Weekend in Caramoan Part 2

I’ve been wanting to finish this diary for  quite some time now. Heck, it’s been eight months since this trip happened but  since then work and school  has been constantly eating my time.  These days, it’s semester break already so I  have some extra time to backtrack my travel diaries!  I was actually alarmed that I could not remember already some of the names of the island we visited. Thankfully, I have my trusty notepad where I usually write the names of the places I visited and my expenses when I travel.

In my first Caramoan post, I last talked about Cagbalinad island. Day 2 was also about island hopping while on Day 3, we visited some sites in the town proper. Without further ado… here’s the rest of my Caramoan adventure.


Panoramic shot of the Manlawi sandbar.

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Weekly Photo Challenge: Nostalgia

The challenge this week provides such a great opportunity to “bring me back to the past” moments… very similar to the ‘throwback Thursday’ and ‘flashback Friday’ trends we observe in social media platforms these days. The pictures I am sharing this week are taken on the road while on my back to Manila from Subic. Here’s a glimpse to the rice fields of Pampanga and Bataan:



Rice fields make me miss my childhood days so much. As a kid,  I and my brother would often accompany our grandmother during lunchtime when she would bring food to the workers. Our rice fields were just located about two kilometers from our house, so it was just an easy walk. Because we grew up in this setting, we became familiar with the different methods of planting rice, as well as the processes (harvesting, etc) that come after. We also did strip cropping in some of our land so I have experienced planting and harvesting plants of all sort from tomatoes, corn, peanut, water cress, calamansi, rice, mung bean, etc. Oh.. how I miss the simple yet efficient rural lifestyle. Such a contrasting difference to the hectic yet stagnant life here in the big city.

Check out what nostalgia means for other bloggers at Daily Post.

Road Trips

I’d choose an eight-hour trip to Bicol anytime over a one-hour plane ride. Aside from the fact that there’s too much hassle in checking-in at airports, the scenery on the way to Bicol is just too good to miss. In general I love long rides, may be it be on boats, on a motorcycle, in the open sea or even in rough roads. My eyes simply crave for sceneries and time to absorb them.

My love for road trips was greatly influenced by my late father. When I was around five or six, we just had a motorcycle but he would take me and my brothers as far as Buhi Lake, home to the smallest  freshwater fish. There, we would make quick stops on the resorts around the lake. We never paid entrance fees because we barely stayed on each resort for an hour. My dad would simply talk to the owner that we were just visiting and off we go jumping from one resort to another.

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Weekly Photo Challenge: Pattern

I feel bad I was not able  to post for two consecutive weeks. Thankfully, I managed to squeeze some time today  in my chaotic schedule. So here’s my take on this week’s challenge:


Meet my mom’s dog, Robbie! He’s an askal (asong kalye), the Filipino term for mongrel. He’s the one that came to my mind when I saw the theme because a friend once told me, “The pattern of his dog fur is so weird! Is he a dog or a tiger?” I realized yep… he indeed looks like a dog with the fur of a tiger.

Check out the entries for this week’s challenge at Daily Post.

(Travel Diary) Weekend in Caramoan Part 1

Last February 15-17, most of my relatives from the father side trooped to Naga City for the long planned getaway to Caramoan Islands in in our home province of Camarines Sur. My Uncle/Ninong Albert and his family also came home from Canada so it was a great opportunity to bond with them.

The beauty of Caramoan is quite famous in the international community and  so, it is ironic that even though it’s only about two hours from my home town, I never managed to visit these past years. Finally, I had the chance to see its charms and I was quite surprised we have a paradise so close to home.

The shores of Matukad Island.

The shores of Matukad Island.

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Weekly Photo Challenge: Home

How do you define home? Or when can you tell when a place has turned into a home?

I hardly stay in one place. The place where I was born is different from where I grew up. I studied elementary, high school and college in three different places. And now that I am working, I am staying in a different place again. I’ve lived for almost 12 years on my own now and I hardly feel homesick anymore. But then I thought… when I’m homesick, which home am I referring to?

  • Naga City saw me as the traveling toddler. While my memories on this aspects of my life are very vague, Naga reminds of how I developed my love for traveling and mingling with people.
  • Iriga City saw me take my first steps in discovering my dreams. I spent my formative years in Iriga City and it is the place I literally call my hometown.
  • Pisay saw me break my backbone and re-establish it. It is where I realized that  there is a larger world beyond the one I already knew and there are lot of people of who are better than me. Despite all the hard experiences in Pisay, it is one of the most significant ‘homes’ because it is where I met the people I now call “friends for life”.
  • UP.  If Pisay was a world outside of my world, UP is the universe outside of those two worlds. If  in Pisay I discovered there a lot of people who was better than me, in UP I discovered I was just another human being–unless I make a difference I can call my own. I hardly know anyone there now that I’ve already graduated but every time I step on UP ground there is a familiar feeling of “Yes. I’m back. UP, can you see me?”. There’s an unspoken sense of familiarity among people who don’t even know each other.
  • Paranaque, Paranaque is a unique case. Can I call it  home already? I don’t think so. Right now, it just serves as place where I can sleep right after work. And while I feel that I am in a stage where I feel closest to myself, I still feel so lost and Paranaque doesn’t provide the kind of solace I feel in my so- called homes.
Which one is home?

Which one is home?

So what’s in a home? I guess it’s the sense of familiarity and warmth that a place evokes in you. That sense can come from people such as family and friends whom you can always go back to. It could also  simply come from memories of  how a place had once been a significant part of your life.

P. S. I actually wrote this way back in June 2011 but somehow I never posted this. When I saw this week’s theme, I said to myself, “Ah, the time has come”. Sorry for the outburst of words and the lack of pictures but I feel I have expressed myself better by posting this.

Check out what home means to other people at Daily Post .

Weekly Photo Challenge: Love


One of the aspects of this life that I truly find amazing  is the love of a parent for a child. It’s inexplicable and unfathomable in every sense but I think it’s one of the purest kind of love. Speaking from personal experience, it’s the kind of love that needs no words and can even transcend existence.  A parent’s love can be so strong that it leave such a strong even when they are already physically gone.

Check out the entries for this week’s challenge at Daily Post.

Weekly Photo Challenge: Thankful

A very difficult theme this week. It’s hard to portray it visually. Not that it’s hard to capture  but because there’s a lot of possible subjects. There’s simply too much to be thankful for in our everyday life– that fact we live, we breathe, we see, we hear, we feel, etc. There’s simply too many.

When I look back to the happenings in my life for the past 10 months, I can  say I have reached places farther than I imagined–literally and figuratively. That, I think, is more than enough reason for me to be thankful. However, the event that had the most impact this year is this…

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To the Most Selfless Woman I Know…

To  the most selfless woman I know,

I know you are extremely intelligent and talented. You could have been successful way beyond what you imagined. However, you gave up your job when you were at your peak and chose to take care of us. You were and still with us 24/7.  While growing up, you were strict with us. You never allowed Papa to give us something just because we want it.  However, you never made us feel that we lack anything. This is why until now, we never feel insecure or bothered by the lack of some material things.

We always have your support. You never insisted on doing things your way. In every decision, you silently watch how we would traverse  the path we chose. If we succeed, you are the first in line to acknowledge our achievement. Even in failure, you never made us feel that we are less than what we used to be. Despite our differences, you never made us feel that you favor one over the other. You emphasized our differences and how we should not be judged according to that.

I never understood your brand of kindness. How are you able to help others when you are also in dire need? How can you still trust people when they have fooled you repeatedly? How can you rely with just words of honor as your insurance? It’s still beyond my understanding but I know it’s because you are selfless. I know that you will always put other people’s sake above your own. You never hesitate to that point that I sometimes wish you could have been more selfish.

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