The Journey Home

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October 2 was my scheduled flight to go home to the Philippines. My flight was at 12:40 in the afternoon at Reagan National Airport. I woke up at around 6 in the morning and prepared. We left Virginia closely before 8 and we arrived at the airport at around 10:30. After I checked my two luggages in, my sister, my brother-in-law, Mom and I went to Dunkin Donuts to grab some breakfast. At 11:00, I went to Security Check and went inside in search for my gate.

The first leg of my trip was from Washington to Detroit. It took us about an hour and 10 minutes to get to Detroit.

At the airport in Detroit, I walked a long way to get to the boarding gate. I was carrying a bag full of clothes for my hand-carry and boy, I was really tired. When I reached the gate, I found so many Japanese and Filipinos waiting. Now, it sure felt that I am going home. I went to the counter to ask where I should surrender my I-94 and a nice middle aged man told me to leave the card there. I spoke to him in Tagalog because I had a feeling that he is a Filipino. And he sure is!

The second leg of the trip was from Detroit to Nagoya, which took about a little over than 12 hours. Actually, the said flight was delayed for an hour or so because of a mechanical problem. I was so happy when the plane landed in Japan because I was sure closer to home.

The third and last of the trip was from Nagoya to Manila, which was a little over than 3 hours. I cannot contain my excitement during this leg because in a matter of a few hours, I’m finally home. I arrived in Manila at around 11 in the evening of October 3, Sunday.

I arrived at home around 12:30 in the morning.

It feels good to be home. There’s no place like home, really.




Remembering Tita Cory (1933-2009)

Today marks the first death anniversary of the so-called “Icon of Democracy,” President Corazon C. Aquino or most fondly called “Tita Cory.” I remember so many things last year – the media frenzy when she was still at the hospital; the outpouring of prayers from all over the country for her healing and recovery and the round the clock news bulletins updating the Filipinos of her condition. I also remember that when she finally left us and joined our Creator, the wave of nostalgia, melancholy and yes, thanksgiving which swept the country was so overwhelming.

I was one of the hundreds of thousands who flocked to La Salle Greenhills and waited patiently for about four hours to pay my last respects to one great lady who thought highly of the Filipinos until the end. I remember Viel’s children, Kiko Dee and his sister, coming down from their vehicle to thank all of us who lined up along Ortigas Avenue and apologized that we have to wait for a couple of hours just to see a glimpse of their Lola (grandmother). I reflected that four hours is just too short a time compared to all the sacrifices made by Tita Cory for the country.

What was remarkable during that time was the discipline and patience demonstrated by the Filipinos while waiting in line. It certainly showed that, indeed, Filipinos can be disciplined if they want to. And so, it brings to mind, some of the last words that Tita Cory shared in one TV interview with Jessica Soho last September 3, 2008 :

“Ako’y nagpapasalamat sa inyong lahat at lalong-lalo na sa Panginoong Diyos, na ginawa niya akong isang Pilipino. Talagang karangalan ko iyon, na maging katulad niyo at maraming salamat sa lahat ng tulong na ibinigay niyo sa akin.” – Corazon C. Aquino (1933 – 2009)

When I first heard her statement, I couldn’t help but cry. Because here I am, losing hope in our country and our people. I really was so ashamed and embarrassed that I lost hope in our country and our people. Tita Cory saw so much potential in the Filipinos and she believed that we are a great people. She believed that in time, we will finally get to where we truly belong and realize our own place. And so, I keep her words as a mantra and a reminder that there is still hope in each of us and that we are still learning to be the best that we can be.

Thank you, Tita Cory, for believing in us.

Thank you for making me believe again.

Ramblings on a Tiring Friday

I was on leave from work today because I had to go to several government offices to process some papers. I went to the National Statistics Office (NSO) to get several copies of my birth certificate. I was there before 8 in the morning and a multitude of fellow applicants welcomed me when I stepped inside the compound. I got the number 839. Imagine…838 people have gone before me. It took me less than 10 minutes to fill out the form but it took me about 30 – 40 minutes or so to pay for the certificates. The waiting time was a great improvement compared to my last application. My certificates are to be released at 11 AM and so I went to the releasing area. And boy, I was again greeted by a jam-packed pavilion. I decided to return later in the afternoon because I still have to go to two other government offices. While traveling, I kept thinking if the system in NSO can be improved so that people can get their papers in such short time. Also, I wonder about how much the agency earns in a day with thousands of people getting their certifications and paying for them. Quite a lot, eh?

My business in DSWD didn’t take much time because I was there only to submit a copy of my thesis. They have reminded me and my research adviser to give the agency a copy of my research. It was only now that I had the time to submit it. Anyway, at least I have fulfilled my part of the agreement!

Next stop was Professional Regulatory Commission (PRC). I went there to get a checklist of the requirements for the board examinations. PRC is one of the many government agencies which do not run out of clients. Again, the thought of the agency earning a lot crossed my mind. I just hope that the office will improve on how it can serve its clients better and faster.

I decided to go to a satellite office of the National Bureau of Investigations at Riverbanks to get my NBI clearance but when I arrived there, the office has apparently a cut-off of the number of clients which they would serve. I was disappointed because it was only 3 in the afternoon. Plenty of time to accommodate clients. Oh well…so I’m off to NBI early Monday morning so that I’ll be accommodated and to avoid the long queues as well.

I hope that there will be improvements in government agencies in the next six years. I hope…

Bagong Pilipinas (A New Philippines): Post-Inauguration Thoughts

Pres. Noynoy Aquino delivering his Inaugural Speech (

Yesterday, June 30, was a historic moment for the country. It was the inauguration of the 15th President of the Republic of the Philippines. The Filipinos witnessed the smooth transition of power from one administration to another. I watched the proceedings on television and I admit that I cannot help but be hopeful and optimistic.

As a new government assumes office, we cannot help but feel hopeful and optimistic. We dare to dream that for the next six years, the Philippines will be a better and brighter country. But of course, we cannot solely rely on the leaders of the government to do the job alone.

We hope. We dream. But we also have to work side by side. We can start by being “mga mabuting Pilipino” (good and responsible Filipinos).

VIGAN in a Flash

I’ve always wanted to visit the Old City of Vigan in Ilocos Sur. I had my chance last weekend. The trip was rather unexpected and the circumstances unpleasant. Nevertheless, I found myself together with two other friends taking the 10:00 PM trip at the Partas Terminal at Cubao. We were advised that since we are traveling for 8-9 hours, we get the De Luxe bus for more leg space and comfort.

The bus left at exactly at 10:00 PM and after 7 ½ hours, we were standing at the Provincial Capitol of Vigan, thanks to the fastest driver I’ve ever encountered!

Vigan is well-known for its old Spanish houses, cobblestone streets, kalesas, burnayan, empanada and longganisa. I guess, what attracted me most about the City is the feeling that it evokes…as if “time stood still” or as if I traveled back in time because of the antiquated houses, cobbled streets and old furniture in antique stores.

Here are some of the sites in Vigan City:

Top (left to right): Father Jose Burgos House, Ilocos Sur Capitol,   Bottom (left to right): President Elpidio Quirino monument, Arzobispado Nueva Segovia, Leona Florentino monument

Vigan Cathedral. I love visiting old churches. When we arrived the church was open at 5:30 in the morning. However, when we dropped by Friday afternoon, it was already closed. Since it is my practice to visit a church in a place where it’s my first time to visit, I made it a point to make one before we leave for Manila.

Calle Crisologo by Night. One of the places which I really wanted to explore was this street made of cobblestones. This place is simply breath-taking. I love the old houses in this area. Some of which are already restored or in disrepair.

Calle Crisologo by Day.  Since our first visit was during dusk, we decided to return to this place. And what a joy it was! Taking photos during the day was truly a wonderful experience. And I got to buy some stuff which I completely overlooked the night before.

Baluarte.  I particularly enjoyed the butterfly garden. I love butterflies and I had fun taking photos of these wonderful creatures. I also had fun during the photo session with the orangutan and tiger.

Pagburnayan. It was a good thing that one of the potters was gracious enough to demonstrate to us how a certain piece of pottery is made. As I was looking at the products lined up at the floor, I had a feeling that I was looking at the terra cotta.

Empanada, Okoy and Sweet corn. This trip was certainly a food trip as well. I loved the empanadas, the vigan longganisa, the okoy, the bagnet, and pinakbet!

The two days I was in Vigan was a feast for the eyes and the palate.  I will upload more pictures in my facebook and flicker account soon.