This blog is now retired. My new site is at: Predictably Irrational.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Philippines: Day Two

Day two was spent trying to recover from jet lag. Our sleep pattern is totally mucked up. I heard Tim get up and I tossed and turned after he left the bed, fell asleep, woke back up and decided to see what time it was and check on him. It was 1:30AM. Wow. I felt like I'd been asleep for hours. But most likely, I was as I think we were out by 8PM.

Tim, the girls and I are in an apartment about two doors down from where my aunties and my mom are staying. The building we are in is owned by my cousins and we are staying in their own apartment. It's a four story building, so we are on the top floor with a magnificent view of the city.

Climb down four beautifully tiled stairs: seven steps, then eight, a landing, then seven steps, eight, a landing -- I still count my stairs. :)...go down a hall, through a gate into the alleyway, walk approximately 20 steps, go into another gate and "ta-da", I'm at my Autie Cely's place, where most of my relatives live.  This is where the commune hangs out: food, tv, discussions. There is constant motion: someone is always cooking, prepping to cook, cleaning, washing clothes, etc. Last night, when I went back to hang out before bedtime was the first time I saw everyone sit down.

Why did we choose to come to the Philippines now? Mainly because my Auntie Cely is battling cancer for the second time. In fact, she was supposed to have her last, sixth, chemo Friday but they managed to postpone the treatment so that she can enjoy our visit, instead of feeling weak and sick. She overcame the first battle -- although there was fear that she wouldn't make it. She was cancer-free for a while and unfortunately, it has come back. My mom pretty much stated: you need to see her soon.

It's hard to believe she is weak or sick. Although when we first arrived, she had come down without a hat or wig - which shocked me to the core - she is still my same Auntie Cely. She looks and acts the same to me. Maybe nicer since I am older and tamer, so she doesn't have to knock me off my pedestal. :) My Auntie Cely was pretty much my mom - she raised me while I lived here. My mom and dad - sure, we hung out - but they were socializers and I was left with my auntie to take me to the barrio, to visit my grandpa, or to travel to other friends and family.

As I told this story yesterday, I remember my first memory of meeting my Auntie Cely. I had been here in the Philippines before 1976 but I was much younger and those memories are torn pieces of paper - I can't put it into a straight flow. But when we left Myrtle Beach AFB, SC in 1976, I was in second grade. I don't recall where we were (I'm told we were in a hotel) but my Auntie Cely took my hand and led me out into the city. I had no idea who she was but I felt only trust. She bought me food, toys, what have you and from there on, the bond was made and she became my security blanket. Leaving the Philippines in 1982 was, as I have mentioned before, one of the most traumatic things that had ever happened to me. I was resentful for a time - to have a mom and dad marry from two ends of the world, where I am always cheated out of seeing family I love. Stay in the Philippines - I miss my grandparents and relatives from Illinois; leave and I never get to see the people here.

So as you read this, you can see the emotion I have filling me up since I can't seem to write about what we are actually *doing*.

Back to the real world: I pretty much hung out with my Auntie Cely. Before I went to see them, my Uncle Bong brought my cousin Jay-Jay, who is a grown man with an almost 12 year old daughter of his own. But when I lived here, he was my living doll. I took him everywhere. So it was wonderful to see him after all these years.

There is no lack of food. My auntie Neng brought me puto, which is a sweet cake that I loved eating when I was here. They had another cousin make me hot dog fried rice, which Tim and I enjoyed immensely. MiMi had shrimp with broccoli, which we also enjoyed. CJ had egg and rice.

I am NEVER hungry. In fact, whatever the opposite of hungry times 1000 is what I feel. I don't even have the appetite to DRINK, which, to me, says a lot.

My auntie's managed to line up mani/pedis for all of us - home service. We all enjoyed getting our nails done, including Tim.
MiMi's flower design
CJ's flower design

Tim's pedicure
My toes and fingers are done!

About 4PM, after I ate yet again, I was feeling the effects of lack of sleep and just general tiredness. I decided to head back to the room and read. It’s been well over a month of reading the last book published in the Song of Ice and Fire and I truly hope to finish this sucker before I leave here.

MiMi came to join me while Tim and CJ joined Auntie Mher, Auntie Cora and Renz (Auntie Mher’s son) for another walk to Apo Church. Fridays are Apo Day and vendors like crazy fill an open area to the church. The irony of a ‘holy’ day and shopping but whatever, good deals apparently are to be had every Friday before or after you confess your sins.

After a good while, MiMi and I managed to fall asleep and then it was trying to actually wake up. I was half awake but could never manage to get out of bed. Tim and CJ arrived back with purchases and then it was my last visit to the family before I settled back for the evening.

They fed me yet again. And it’s 5:19AM in the morning now, as I finish writing this up…and I’m still full.


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