I am going to tell this story from the beginning! Me, my sister Breanne, my grandparents – Lolo and Lola, and my uncle David arrived at SeaTac ready to fly stand-by to the Philippines! My uncle is a flight attendant, so we could fly non-directly and save on ticket prices. First we flew to San Francisco. Then we saw the waiting lists for flights to Honolulu were like 50 people long! After several attempts of catching one, we gave up and spent the night at a hotel to try again in the morning. An angel in the form of a lady and her son from Hawaii told us our best bet would be to catch a stand-by flight to Kaui, then buy a ticket to O’ahu. So we did that and we made it to Honolulu! By the time we landed, my throat hurt and I felt feverish. I couldn’t believe it… the flu was hitting me!
For the next couple nights I stayed with my past youth pastors – Norm and Christy deGuzman. They took care of me, prayed for me, and bought me pho, popsicles, and udon noodles. I hadn’t seen them in so many years but it felt like nothing had changed. It was so refreshing to spend time with them even though I was so sick. I just love them so much! They are my spiritual parents! 🙂
Then the crew and I tried to catch a flight to Guam, but it was too packed. We stayed with our long-time friends the Fortuno family, and my sickness was still raging. My sister Breanne took such good care of me. At 2am when I almost passed out, she helped convince me that I was not overdosing on Ibuprofen and Tylenol, and that I was just dehydrated. She made sure I was drinking water and electrolytes and she slept next to me. I know she definitely sacrificed her comfort for my comfort, and for that I am so grateful. I have the best sister in the world.
Also – somewhere in the midst of all that, I turned 25!
On the evening of Maundy Thursday, my grandparents and uncle decided to buy a direct flight to the Philippines and Breanne and I decided to catch a stand-by flight to SF. She needed to get back in time for school. My uncle was going to stand with us at the gate until we caught a flight. We missed one, but the next one looked promising. There was one, maybe two seats available. I told Breanne she could take the first opening and she boarded the plane. The attendant said there was one more spot, but then suddenly an out-of-breath guy runs up and shows his pass and boards the plane. “Sorry, there are no more spots.”
“That’s okay.” I thought. I have more vacation time so I don’t mind hanging out here in Hawaii! Then my uncle said, “Would you still want to go to the Philippines?”
The short answer is that I said “Yes!”
My uncle then stayed up practically all night figuring out the flights and we boarded our direct flight in the morning! I have never been on a 10 hour flight, and I actually enjoyed it!
I was tired when we landed in Manila because it would have been time to sleep in Hawaii, but now it was 3pm in the afternoon! My mom and uncle’s cousin Adrian picked us up and we spent the night at his house. The next day was Easter, and we took a taxi-van back to the airport, met up with my mom and step-dad, and all six of us flew together to Davao city! There we were met by more of my mom’s cousins! I couldn’t believe it – I made it to the Philippines after almost going home!!
Here are some pictures from our first full day in Davao. We took a Jeepney to a more touristy/retreat area up on Mt. Apo.
Durian fruit, Marang fruit, fried banana and night-time fun with “Grandma” and the cousins:
The next day we went to the beach and had a picnic and went swimming! I forget what beach it was :,( The water was warmer than in O’ahu. My mom’s cousins said I was shy compared to Breanne so I tried to talk more and get to know them! In the end we tried to re-do an old photo of my mom and her cousins since it was the same park. The original structure wasn’t there anymore, so we all got on the jungle gym that was there.
On our final day in Davao, we visited the resting sites of my mom’s Lolo and Lola, her aunt Frieda, her cousin Jeoffrey, and her uncle Greg. After that we went to the part of the city where my Lolo grew up and went to school, we visited Holy Cross school but it was pretty renovated and unrecognizable to him. We also went to Magsaysay Park which was where he often hung out. That evening we had to catch our flight back to Manila! It was so hard to say goodbye.
We flew back to Manila and stayed with my mom’s cousin Adrian again and his family.
After staying the night in Manila, eating a breakfast of chicken adobo and rice, and taking final pictures, my mom, step-dad Peter, and I flew 12 hours to Canada and drove home from there. I miss and love our amazing family and the beautiful country of the Philippines. I can’t wait to go back!