Another Reality Check

Fourteen years ago, I went to Cavite for the first time. The way to my grandparents’ new home was pretty rough; one would see stretches of roads with no houses in sight. We had to cross a ricefield to get to the half-empty subdivision–I particularly loved that part. And in the half-finished house, me and my Tita Dinah stood near my grandmother as she cooked in the open air (the kitchen had no doors yet), marathon-killing the swarms of bangaws (big flies) that always congregated everywhere by dusk. A few houses away lay another deserted field, and I would watch the sunset with my grandfather as I talked to him about school and the grandiose things I would do when I grow up. My 8-year-old self loved waking up at 5am just to run around the house among the fresh little saplings. It was all larger than life. And somehow special.

These days, the place is overpopulated, with people in narrow houses fighting over the spaces around the narrow streets. The ricefield is long gone, a row of low-cost rowhouses were built over it. The quiet moments have been replaced by the noise of too many neighbors and their dogs.

I feel sad for the country.

Perhaps, the biggest realization that everything has changed is seeing how much the prices have gone up. Everything is expensive. Money flows like water here, especially when one lives in Metro Manila. Thinking about expenses somehow makes the heat and humidity worse; the mosquito bites become more aggravating in spite of endless supplies of rubbing alcohol and Katinko. Instead of going out to freely enjoy my vacation, I get the urge to just stay at home and keep my wallet shut.

I didn’t write this entry to complain about Pinas. In fact, I am enjoying my stay. Yes, in spite of all the above-mentioned gripes, I love the freedom I have here. I love going out and seeing people who look exactly like me, who do not think I look strange or different. I love being able to do everything I am familiar with without the fear of breaking some law. I love being relatively near my extended family, where my adorable cousins could come and visit any time I call for them.

It’s just a pity that I can no longer afford to stay here all my life. Aside from the still-sucky labor laws and salary rates, I still could not stand the humidity and commuting. Hehe.

I have five more weeks to go, and I intend to make the most of it. In 19 days, Jet will be joining me here. It would be nice to finally spend some time with him without required chaperones, even if we’d only have less than two weeks. We’d probably watch every single movie showing. =D That’s another thing one wouldn’t find in Riyadh.


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