Sunday, June 7, 2015

My Third Homecoming

I neglected my cyberhome for almost two months. I was away in the tropics for three weeks, and when I came back, I've got loads to do. Now, I'm happy to be back here again, though I still have a long queue of things that must get done.

Third homecoming? I wrote about my first, the second remains unwritten, and now, I'm posting the third. Ok, I'm skipping the second because there's not much to write about during my second vacation except that hubby and I spent time with my family and we attended the wedding of my Swedish boss who married a Filipina friend of mine. Not so significant for a memory lane stroll.

I took a work leave for three weeks starting April 7. It took us (hubby and I) two days to travel including three stopovers: Stockholm,  London's Heathrow and Malaysia's Kuala Lumpur airports for several hours each.

Arlanda airport lounge, Stockholm

London and Malaysia

The main reason for this vacation was to see my family (my mother, my sister, my brother and his wife) whom I missed so much and vice versa. Other than that, I wouldn't go through all these long flights and stopovers which are the downside of a long-distance vacation.

Being with my family gave me a sense of liberation, a sort of release from solicitude that had been subconsciously lodging within me.  Although we keep in touch through e-mails and skype, actually seeing how they're getting on put me completely at ease. Just being with them, doing nothing, conversing, singing, eating etc.,  had a replenishing effect on me.

my beloved mother 

a family "pulutan", a brandy in mini-goblet and slices of lamb sausage from Norway

The mulberry twig that my mother took from Bolinao and planted in Baguio 
two years ago has grown  big and has been yielding berries every morning.

They planned to butcher this for our meal but it jumped off the fence 
and on to the street below and got killed by a speeding vehicle. 
Gone was our food!

some plants in front of our house

 Sayote is a versatile plant that grows wild everywhere in Baguio.
Both the shoots and the fruits are edible. If you have no money to buy food,
just look for this vine anywhere and pick them for your lunch or dinner.

April 20 was our 10th wedding anniversary. We didn't plan to celebrate big but had it simple, only with my family and their tenants as extension of the family. We prepared simple food - our favorite goat meat sour soup, spring rolls, "halo-halo" ice cream. It was a joyful evening!

Seeing old friends with whom I spent a great deal of my youthful and grown-up past put me in a time machine where I watched  history come to life. It was such a poignant show, the fun and laughters, the joys and heartaches, which have been confined to our historical archive. The feelings may no longer be the same, but it's enlightening to recognize how we felt then and how we're feeling now. It was pleasant to be with them again.

We were unable to visit places that I've never seen in my own country, though I'd love to. It was a question of budget and time. Even then, we were able to spend a couple of days in my town of birth, a cape town called Bolinao. I expected to stay in the house of any of our relatives there, but they were unavailable, so we were told. We ended up staying in a seafront resort hotel owned by an old friend. Auspiciously, she offered us 50% discount for the two rooms that hubby and I, my mother and sister occupied. Here we got to eat our dinners by the sea while watching the sinking sun.

Being a capetown, Bolinao is surrounded by white-sand beaches which have become the hub of local tourism. We opted to go to the most frequented beach with golden sands in Patar.  Even when I was young, this had always been our well-loved beach, and going there once again was reminiscent of my childhood years. The beach has transformed from its untouched rustic beauty to a buzzingly commercialized shoreline, which was a little disappointing to me.

Nevertheless, I had a great time on that beach with some relatives who joined us. A daughter to my cousin, named Joanne , voluntarily shouldered all the foods and the rent for the picnic shade, which was so generous of her, and for which I was so thankful.  I got to eat and relish the "beach foods" that I had been craving to eat. I satiated my body's yearning for a hearty swim. Ah, all these became possible thanks to Joanne and her family and my other relatives!

We stopped by the Cape Bolinao Lighthouse, the second tallest in the Philippines.

Back to Baguio City, we also had the chance to revisit a few tourist attractions, just to check out some changes:

Burnham Park,

Botanical Gardens,

& Mines View Park.

We skipped Camp John Hay and other spots this time. I knew everything would be the same except that all these places have been commercially exploited and jam-packed with visitors. The parks above have undergone notable changes over the years. 

Here are other Baguio City sights

the city as viewed from our house on a hill

Sad to say, I didn't have enough time to eat all the local fruits and other viands that I had been yearning to eat. Here are some of the fruits I managed to wolf down, and a halo-halo.

The weeks flew by. Time to go back home. But where is home? Philippines or Sweden? I've been putting off writing about this for years now. It will come.

It was again hard to part with my mother and sister. It took lots of tears and hugs. 

We traveled back to Manila 27th of April and spent a night there before our flight the following day. We stopped by the Watchtower Phil. Branch to say goodbye to my brother and his wife and my aunt.

entrance to the compound

residence buildings for the volunteer workers

guest room where we slept when we arrived

some of Manila skyscrapers viewed from the 9th floor of Bethel's residence building

Manila skyline as seen from the same floor,
 the last sunset that I saw in this homecoming

At 12:55, our plane took off. Same stopovers, reverse order.

We arrived in Stockholm the 29th of April, then in Umeå a few hours later, where spring was waiting.

Great to be back!