Siem Reap, Cambodia

“Where is home?” Amber asked.

She was a fellow backpacker I met in the bar of this really cool and cheap Central Hostel we stayed in Siem Reap, Cambodia. I was trying to enjoy a bottle of local Cambodian beer that night, before dozing off, which kinda tasted similar to our very own red horse. (Confession: I am not fond of beers – but I can if I love you and you enjoy beer and I am drinking with you. Also, if I’m broke to afford other liquors. And that night, I can only afford a bottle of beer) And I remember pausing for a good minute before responding “Manila, Philippines”. It is not that I am ashamed of my roots, nor I find it difficult to let people know that I am a Filipino – because for some Captain Obvious reasons, my physique can’t be denied of its’ roots, because I’m very much Pinoy. I have always been so proud of my brown skin, my round eyes, and my wavy hair, and has always been really prouder to letting people know how lovely and how happy our country is. But at the back of my head, and to my overthinking nature, I was stunned with the other idea of what constitutes as “home”.

I asked myself over that minute what she meant by home. How does one consider a place home, when you feel home can be anywhere? And is it possible that home can be in multiple places? Is it where you were born? Where you grew up? Where your love ones live? Or where you desire living in the future?

Cambodia is very known for its’ Angkor Wat. And first time tourists are kinda obliged to visit it. It’s a UNESCO heritage site, and the biggest religious monument in the world. And I can’t stop crying on the inside to have finally seen its’ beauty. Out of all the countries I have been, Cambodia really took a significant space in my heart – and I am sure no other place can take up that much space anymore (or maybe Prague, New York, and Grand Canyon – because I have also been daydreaming almost every day seeing them, and possibly visiting back multiple times).

It has always been one of my dreams to see Angkor Wat. I remember just looking at that beautiful scene in photographs taken by friends and people I see in the internet, and be astounded by the looks of it. It looked so unreal in the screen, and even looked more surreal in flesh. For a moment, I got scared by how unbelievably huge and historic it is. For that moment, there’s nothing more frightening than a dream come true. And as much as I would love to endlessly capture everything and take more photographs, I knew that I need to take a pause, feel it, and to just silently watch the golden rim slowly glimmer behind the beautiful monument. That moment made me realized an important lesson of patience. Years of wishing and working hard to see this gorgeous sight was all worth it – because beautiful things take time.

We spent almost the entire sunny day walking around, riding the tuk tuk (you will be needing to rent a tuk tuk for the entire day which was around 20USD) in visiting all temples we can see. It was very exhausting! And it is important to bring a liter of water at least to replace all the sweat you’d be having. To our surprise, one day pass, which we all thought was just for 20USD is already for 37USD. The cost didn’t hurt much because the view and the experience was all worth it anyway. In case you haven’t noticed, I have been mentioning USD in this paragraph. Cambodia does have their own currency which they call riel, however, they use USD in most transactions. Although money is in USD, Cambodia is still relatively cheap compared to other Asian countries I have been. Food has this very interesting feel, and since I was traveling on a budget, food I consumed are mostly those served on the street. Cheap (around 1.5-5USD) but good enough to still give you that Khmer tastebuds experience.

Amber and I shared almost same sentiments about Cambodia that night. We even both agreed that Cambodia is a very hospital country, making you feel at home. Amber was from California, but decided to find her fortune in South East Asia, and has been teaching English in Bangkok for a couple of months. She was in Cambodia for a short stay before heading to Vietnam. When I asked if she misses home, she said California is no longer home for her.

She said that home, as she learned from her journey so far, is not just the place where you were born. She said that it’s the place where you become yourself. All questions I asked myself before our conversation went deeper was answered. That’s when it hit me that where you come from now is much less important than where you are going. She’s right. Home can’t be just the place where you come from. Home would be whatever, or wherever, I have carried around me, and ultimately, a place where I could always, and would always want to go back to.

Some photos taken using iphone6+
8th Photo (self portrait) take by Karl Presentacion

Saigon, Too Soon

It has been a whirlwind of activities since we landed in Vietnam. Touring around with a very limited time felt like we were in some sort of a TV show like The Amazing Race. It was fun and exciting at first, but I have always wished I could just sit down and people watch on top of a building, or a bridge.

We left Mui Ne at midnight, and it was still dark when we landed Saigon. Since we were pressed for time, we opted moving from one place to another during sleeping time. If you are not comfortable sleeping in moving vehicles, I suggest you don’t do this because, surely, you will be starting your day with a terrible headache. And we all don’t like to be around a grumpy traveler. I think sleeping while on the road at night was a wise decision. We were all used to sleeping anywhere, and anytime anyway, but the only downside of the traveling at night by land is that you barely get a sight of anything on the road. Of course, it’s dark. But at least sleeper buses have unbelievably fast and free wifi.

Ho Chi Minh City is commonly known as Saigon. Although Vietnam War only concluded around 35 years ago, Vietnam’s resilience is just amazing. Vietnam still looked stunningly beautiful. And it felt right to me. There are so many things to love about Vietnam, but what was so dear to me was their authentic Pho, and their incredibly cheap and good strong coffee, ready to give you that caffeine fuel. And it’s everywhere!

I have never been to Ho Chi Minh, and it was my first time but the city actually felt so familiar. When the sun rose while we waited outside, I cannot stop thinking about how I get another morning. The weather’s humidity, people’s faces, and the streets are very much like Manila. It’s strange to remember that the familiarity felt like home, when you were completely aware you’re not home.

Sometimes, I don’t understand how you find home in a stranger land. I know it was too soon to say that, because I knew, too, I’d be leaving so soon.

Mui Ne, Vietnam

Here we begin a fast forwarded dream to a Southeast Asian tour.

It was around 1am of April 1st when we arrived in Vietnam – timely to one of my most hated day of the year, when people pull silly pranks on you, because I have always been that trusting and gullible friend. I wished Vietnam was just pulling a prank on us learning that buses aren’t available at the time we arrived, but Vietnam wasn’t kidding about that. So we all decided to take a rest in the airport while we tried to patiently wait. But of course, time is ticking and we all grew impatient after a while. After asking around, we learned there are other options we can actually take going to Mui Ne, so we decided to take the risk of leaving the airport, step outside, and was immediately swarmed by men. “Nice car. Big. For Rent. Going where?”  We rented a private car. It was around another 4 hours of travel from Saigon, 4 hours of sketchy ride with this man who was having a hard time communicating with us. Believe me. I am amazed of how good we are with the English language. Since we were all tired, and it was actually sleeping hours for everyone, we all fell asleep in the car. Very soundly. By the time we arrived in Mui Ne, we realized we lost a million dong. Mommy told me pointing fingers is never good, so I just wished that what happened was only a prank, and we all moved forward from that.

It wasn’t a very nice welcome. It’s a lesson learned for us.

I have actually never heard of Mui Ne, or have seen photos of Mui Ne before, so I have no idea of what to expect. Until I saw it first hand how beautiful it is. It is a perfect example of finding a gem in a desert. Well literally, there is a desert, too. And I guess, traveling to Mui Ne was worthy, still, of losing that million dong. (Help me as I still try to convince myself as I write this)

It’s a very humble town in the Bin Thuan Province of Vientam, which is very popular for their fresh seafood, and beaches. A good summer vacation for me is never complete without the sight of salt water, and Mui Ne was just so right for that.

I’m surprised that apart from relaxing in the beach, and enjoying fresh seafood, there are actually a lot of other activities you can do in Mui Ne. Biking is also popular in this small town, and not taking a package tour in visiting fairy stream, sand dunes, and the fishing village would be a sin.

There are countless of places where you can stay in Mui Ne, and they are actually relatively cheap. Mui Ne is one of those curious little parts of the world, and is very easy to love even for a very short stay. Staying for a while really did not do much justice, and I wish to come back soon.

Singapore Weekend

A few days ago, I found myself walking in the streets of Singapore. Being the planner type myself, the short and sudden visit was kind of frustrating. If it was not for my sister, I will not be boarding that morning flight to Lion City.

Although she shouldered my ticket flying to Singapore, I literally only had 2 days to plan and settle everything, and even look for a place to stay in. The trip just came out of nowhere, and one Wednesday morning my mom just told me I’m flying with my sister before she leaves for good to work. Fortunately, we have a family in Singapore who were more than willing to help us find a host for the weekend, and I have my good friend Byron who is currently working as a landscape architect in Singapore, and showed me around to calm down the obsessive planner person in me. If it wasn’t for them, I might have already went cray.

Or at least that’s what I thought while writing this.

They say that the things we do unplanned more often than not turn out to be a great memory to keep, and that quick weekend in Singapore was absolutely unforgettable. Since the trip was really unplanned, and my sister only stayed for a few hours with me before she flew to Dubai, I was literally left with no budget for almost anything, so Byron and I went to discovering beautiful, and non-cliche places where transportation and food are the only things we have to spent pennies on. He took me to places that offer cheap and authentic asian food! What I like about Singapore is how multicultural they are, not just in terms of arts, but food diversity is touted as a reason for you to visit and stay longer in Singapore. You get a taste of China, Malaysia, India, and Thailand in one small, and beautiful country. I wish I could post photos here in this blog of all the food I had in Singapore, but in most occasion when we were about to eat, I was too excited (and too hungry, because I’m always almost too excited) to eat than spend another good five minutes to flat lay them and get that photogenic instagram shot. Food was absolutely fantastic (especially chicken rice, and the dry noodles I’ve tried), and it is definitely something to look forward to in the next visit!

But more than the stunning infrastructures, diverse culture, and hybridized cuisine, the quality time of reconnecting with a good old friend, and my cousin Paul from my dad’s side was the very highlight of this unplanned “trip”. It is very rare of me to have such deep and meaningful conversation with my family. Growing up in Manila, it has secluded me from most of cousins from both sides of my parents – with my mom’s mostly in the east coast or in our province, Romblon, and my dad’s in the west coast. It has been always easier for me to open up to my friends or strangers, as I feel that there is a less of a concern about what they will think of me. After a few bottles of red wine, unsure if it was courage or alcohol that began speaking, slowly, I began breaking down my walls, and started sharing to Paul. Our conversation helped me even more in relieving myself from a perpetual plight and perplexity. It has brought me to realization that when you open yourself wider and expose it much to world, you don’t just get validation and acceptance from others, but you get to embrace yourself even more.

Arrivals & Take Offs

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Whenever I get randomly sad, I think about airports and flying. I think about airports not because I want to run away. Honestly, the idea of running away is also good, as traveling is one of the best form of escapes I could think of, but I think about airports not because I am fascinated with planes. I’m actually still quite frightened of the idea of flying; but, I always pick the window seat whenever I travel to give myself a fantastic view from the top, and to easily take snaps of beautiful skyline. I can say that it is my favorite form of torture – for the sake of capturing photos of clouds, and slightly overcoming fear of heights.

Planes, however, are actually fascinating in general – how it was amazingly built to connect one place to another making long distances nothing in a matter of minutes or hours. It fascinates me how planes can bring you quite close to your childhood dream of touching clouds, and how I imagine them to be so soft and fluffy. But I think about airports and flying not because I like planes. I think about airports because it comforts me.

Whenever I get sad, I think about airports, and the moment of replaying one of the most sincere scenarios I can remember. Where else in the world you can see balloons, flowers, huge welcome home signs, and a lot of running, hugging, and happy crying happen in one room? It is where I can remember one of the sincerest welcomes, and the sweetest reunions. I haven’t been in that situation yet. Traveling alone most of the time, it is a usual moment for me to just watch people reunite, and moments after, I hop in a cab or book myself an uber ride home. But the heyday of an arrival is tempered by the comforting feeling that you are finally home again.

I think about airports because there is hardly a better place I can think of to people watch. Peruse the crowd at an airport, you are guaranteed to see a huge range of nationalities, races, gender, and social classes. And I sit there, imagining like Theodore in Her, making myself try and feel them as more than just a random person walking by. I imagine what it is like to be them in that moment, what they are feeling, what they had for breakfast, where they are heading to, how deeply they have fallen in love, and how much heartbreak they have all been through.

And though I admit that I am fond of going places, flying still scares me a little. You may find it peculiar but I love the baby panic it gives me whenever I start hearing the plane engine roar, especially during takeoffs. It excites me. Although I am still fidgety when the aircraft matches the beating of my heart, and whenever the pilot says “cabin crew to takeoff stations”, because I know seconds from that, we will soon be detached from the ground. And that very moment we detached from the ground, I feel like I am gambling a huge part of myself, suspended in the air.

It is not just the excitement of the adventure that awaits whenever I step into an airport, but I think about airports and flying as bookends of new chapters, and long-awaited endings. Airports and flying is a constant reminder for me to feel, and that regardless of the emotions you have, we succumb like planes, and let the air fleet us to another feeling.

 

Anything For You

It has been a while since I last saw mommy and daddy (my grandparents) since they came home from Jersey, and decided to settle back here in the Philippines.  So I decided to pay weekend surprise for them. Here’s a photo diary of my short visit in Tablas, Romblon.

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I promise. I will visit again soon.

Peak of the South Queen

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Coming back to Cebu for the second time this year was an unexpected event; if it was not for the life’s best work that I do, I would not be in the city again that very soon. The first time I visited the Queen City of the South, I already fell in love with its’ beauty; although the first visit was just short and just around the busy city, which is almost similar with Manila – especially with traffic  – but cleaner and more cozy, and it gives you that Hong Kong feeling, not because of the huge population of Chinese and Koreans around, but the mix of mountains and tall buildings. And you can actually do a lot of things in the city too!

But this time, my life’s best work gave me a different experience of the Queen City of the South. Staying in Cebu for almost a month was quite of a challenge, especially that I was alone, and have not been quite away from home that long. My melodramatic story and life realisation of being away alone for quite some time will be shared in a different post. As much as I wanted to roam around Cebu, my reason for coming there was actually for work, and my week was sadly pre-occupied with it, except for Sundays – which I also devoted in doing homework for graduate school. But I had this one free Sunday when I decided to go down south and check out the beauty everyone was buzzing about.

Initially, the plan was to go whale shark watching in Oslob, but I failed to do one important thing, at least, before doing something spontaneous. Research. I was not aware that whale shark watching in Oslob is only until 12 noon, and traveling from City down south will eat more than 4 hours of your time. I left city at around 9 in the morning, which was the second mistake (best time according to my friends is at 3 or 4am), but not all mistakes lead to a bad memory, since, luckily, on the way down south, there are other tourist spots you can actually check out. So, I decided to just go down in Dalaguete, Cebu, and climb Osmena Peak.

Peak of the South Queen gives you nothing but the surreal feeling. And it is not a difficult climb at all since you will be taking a motorcycle ride (habal-habal) from the start point which was only for 200php for roundtrip – I guess this might be the only challenge for some because it’s a 20-30 minute ride up the mountains. Peak was quite populated with local tourists, maybe because it was a Sunday when I did my climb, but the long drive, and the experience was worth it when you get a glimpse of southern Cebu.

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Uphill Reconnection

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Climbing Shek-O Peak and doing Dragon’s Back Trail is one of the main reasons why I wanted to go to Hong Kong alone. That was actually my first ever major hike (if that was even considered a major hike), scaling 284m above sea level, and an undulating 8.5km hike under 33.3 celsius of summer heat. Although it may seem relatively easy, which really was, I still thought to myself that it was a huge mistake coming to Hong Kong for this during summer.

Like Reese Witherspoon in her 2014 film Wild, I wanted to go on a hiking journey alone for rediscovering, and healing – despite my non existent experience in hiking, which was very apparent with my attire. However, part of my visit to Hong Kong as well was to see my friend Venim. And luckily that day that I intended on doing the hike was also her holiday from work; so, I asked her to come with me. I can’t imagine how that it was been two years since she left for her mission, and went home straight to Hong Kong to be with her family. And during the time she visited here in the Philippines, I was too pre-occupied with work that I did not find time to see her. I remember mostly of my after choir nights are spent with her, and other choir friends, doing silly things around Manila, and Quezon City at night.

It is crazy that it has to be in Hong Kong where we met again. We met at 9am in North Point station and grabbed a quick breakfast before taking another MTR ride to Shau Kei Wan, took almost a 40 minute bus ride, and went down to To Tei Wan. We started our hike roughly around 10:30AM and reached the peak after an hour. It was an easy trail, but the sweltering heat at exactly 12 noon, and the amount of stories we need to catch up on was just both extreme that we have to take quite long breaks in between. Interestingly, we also met cool people during the hike – mostly tourists, and shared our mutual hate for the summer heat in Hong Kong.

The most rewarding part of the climb, was the end point of it. There’s food. More water, and beach. We actually did not plan on taking a dive in Big Wave Beach because we are obviously not prepared for it – but the heat was just so unbearable that we felt the need to plunge ourselves in the water. Water was surprisingly cool, just as we needed it – so we stayed in the water, catching up more with life, longer than the time, I think, that we spent trekking.

Although counting the years that we have not been physically present for each other, Venim is this one good friend you can always turn to when you need someone who will genuinely lend ears – without you feeling any slight hint of hesitation or judgment. Initially planning this whole trip just to be alone – especially doing this hike alone, would, perhaps, be very unforgettable and great memory to tell my grand children in the future; but, the exhaustingly long walks under the heat, the breaks in between, and our first time swimming in Hong Kong’s sea while catching up how life has been after two years, is actually my most favorite part of the trip.

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Run Solo

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It has always been in my bucketlist to travel alone, because for once in a very unfamiliar place, I can finally ask myself upon waking up what I want to do today, and just do it without asking for anyone’s approval.

“It will be fun” that was my usual reply whenever some friends gave me a confused look when they ask me why I book myself a flight alone to Hong Kong. Sure that I can go with someone else, and it totally would be fun as well, but there is always this greater itch in me that I want do it myself. Alone.

Albeit sounding exciting and fun, it can actually be scary traveling alone, especially when you have not done it yourself. It was honestly a terrifying move because I always wonder if I’m doing things right – staying in the right place, eating the right food, and talking and trusting the right people. However, it is true that how else would you learn such thing if you do not experience it first hand, and taking the risk of doing it is the first step to do.

My decision of flying to Hong Kong for my first ever solo trip was actually just a spontaneous incident – or, perhaps, it is better to think that it was just accidental. I was only scrolling through my skyscanner app one night, and saw a very cheap flight to Hong Kong. How can you not say yes to a less than 3,000php of two-way ticket, right? Besides, Hong Kong is a great pick for a first solo travel since it is also an English speaking country, and it is easy to navigate around because they have excellent public transportation system. So, I tried using the app, while calculating possible expenses in my head, and little did I know, I already went through the entire booking process. This spur-of-the-moment lead me to another impulsive move to book a hotel, and other stuff (mtr card, disneyland ticket, etc – because I do not want to stress myself out once I get there) with the help of klook app. It was fun, until I received all my bills.

I stayed in Hong Kong for four days, and I actually just have four simple agendas in my head: 1) have the best wanton noodle, 2) climb Dragon’s Back Trail (which I’ll be sharing photos in a different post), 3) see my friend, Venim, and 4) have drinks in Lan Kwai Fong. I initially planned on not having any formal itinerary so the trip will not be that taxing and demanding, but it’s always good to have at least three major things you really want to do, and the in betweens can all be just unplanned and spontaneous – that is where all the fun actually comes in.

I still find myself chuckling as I try to recall how the entire trip went, and how frightened I was especially in my first night of getting lost, and almost completely having nothing to stay in (had issues with my first hotel booking – and that was a lesson learned). I honestly wanted to come home. But things got better and more exciting eventually, and I think it is because I learned to look at things differently, despite the struggles I had to go through alone. I’m glad that all my simple four agendas coming to Hong Kong happened, especially that I did climb Dragon’s Back Trail with Venim (and also swam in the sea after the exhaustingly hot climb), and met new people from Hong Kong while drinking in Lan Kwai Fong – as we turned strangers to friends while finishing up our bottled liquors and staying up until sun rise near the bay.

Doing this trip alone was probably the most satisfying decision I made, and I feel like if I did not do this trip alone, it would have not helped me remember that I am capable of depending on myself, and that I can always chase what I want if I face it valiantly. Sure that the experience of becoming a complete stranger in an unfamiliar place may be tough at first, but you will always come home learning a different perspective.

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Hidden Paradise

Two hours away from the mainland of Vinzons, Camarines Norte, there is this hidden paradise you will discover in the middle of the ocean. This is one thing my college friends and I are always excited about because we annually try to travel together amidst all our crazy schedules having to pursue different careers after college.

Interestingly, Calaguas Island became really more popular this summer, and I’m quite surprised with how many the visitors were there given that our visit was in the latter part of summer already. With its’ white, pristine, fine sand, and absolutely clear water, you definitely will not mind almost half a day of land travel, and you would wish to come back in this secret paradise, and take your break from the grays of the city. And my favorite part from the trip, it gives you a break from internet and social media – because cellular signal is not available in the island!

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Getting this weekend getaway is very easy, since there are a lot of local travel agencies who can accommodate you to reach this island. From van rental and boat ride, you wouldn’t have to worry with almost everything – even your food and tent, they will take care of it. (That’s right! You will really have to stay in a tent, but if you wish to stay indoors you can check out Waling-waling). Food that they serve are prepared by the locals, and they are mostly seafood, so if you have food allergy like me (crustaceans), be prepared with your meds so you can also enjoy the fresh food they serve.

Since it was my friend’s vacation that time, he was the one who booked us a tour from Zero Two Travel. This travel agency offers the cheapest, yet gives the best service so far. They really made our three days and two nights stay one of the best summer escape! Zero Two Travel offers two days and one night stay as well. They also gave us a side trip surfing to Bagasbas Beach of Daet, Camarines Norte which wrapped up the the fun weekend trip.

Homecoming

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It’s been three years since I flew back to my parent’s humble hometown.

Aside from it’s known to be the Marble Capital of the Philippines, and its’ secret gorgeous beaches, what I really love about Romblon are the happy people living there. I love how Romblon gives me the feeling of “tahanan”, although I was born and raised in the city. It’s always this place I feel like I can run to whenever life calls for an urgent pause. It’s my perfect home for meditation, and reflection.

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With it’s tranquil beauty, and hidden paradise, my stay in Romblon is always worthwhile. Coming home would usually mean there’s a family a gathering, or an urgent event we have to attend to; but Romblon’s arms are always open to welcome me home whenever I just feel like taking a break.

I always opt to travel Romblon via 2Go from port of Batangas, because they have excellent customer service, and the ferry is bigger and very clean. Also, aside from the fact that traveling via ferry is cheaper, I love staying in their open bar area while feeling the salty breeze, and watching the waves of the sea. Albeit travel time would be so much longer since I still have to take a bus travel from Manila to Batangas, plus the 8-10 hours of ferry ride from Batangas to Romblon, I always make sure I bring a book in hand to keep me sane.

The Province of Romblon is a group of several beautiful islands, and has three major islands (Romblon, Tablas, and Sibuyan). My family is from Tablas Island, exactly where the port of ferries are located which they call Odiongan. There’s an hour road travel from Odiongan to my mom’s town, Alcantara, which is my most favorite part of the trip. We used to take this very unusually long jeepney whenever there’s no car to pick us up from the port, and this jeepney will be packed with very joyful passengers, and even the roof of the jeepney has passengers – which only, I guess, happens in the Philippines! Although risky, I’d love to try that in my next travel to Romblon.

My favorite go-to resort near our town Alcantara is Aglicay Beach ResortWith its’ white sand, and clear water, Grean and Nayeli definitely enjoyed their beach trip. There are so many things to do as well in the resort – or even in Romblon in general, and what I enjoy most doing is climbing up for a short hike, and catch a bird’s eyeview of our beautiful hometown.

From where sit when I started writing this, I can see the sea sweeping in and out of the shore, and it’s just a perfect day away with my family, yet still feeling home.

 

Her

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It was almost time for a good night sleep, but for a medical student, it’s crunch time to inhale all that is left on what to know to survive tomorrow’s exam. Until my phone buzzed loudly, and an international number appeared on my screen. I knew it was my sister calling from the other side of the planet.

 

She was in London that time for work, and she habitually connects with me whenever she’s bored, or has some irrelevant news to share. It still marvels me how technology has made the world becomes smaller, that although we’ve been miles away from each other for quite some time, I felt that our relationship grew stronger. Perhaps, what they say is true that absence makes the heart grow fonder. We got a little bit clingier; although we don’t annoy each other at home anymore.

 

I, on another side, was alone in my dorm room, cramming, when she called. But I was excited to hear from her too because it was her first week in London that time. I was excited to learn how was the weather in London, and how she’s keeping up with her outfit, if she has seen lots of eyecandy Brits around, and how every beautifully built architectures took her breath away. But when she uttered her first two words, I knew that something was wrong.

 

That was the time I learned that her husband was cheating on her.

 

That was one of the very moments when you don’t exactly know what to feel. It’s one of those very moments when your heart shatters not for yourself, but for someone else, and you just don’t know what to do. But one thing is for sure, I was very worried for my little nephew, Grean, who was almost 5 years old that time.

 

I listened to her, and she shared some snaps as proof of how much of an asshole the man was. My initial reaction that time was just to travel all the way home to see my nephew, and give him a long warm hug, making him feel he has me no matter what happens.

 

I was so mad. I wanted to punch that man in the face. I wanted to shave that woman’s head. I wanted them to suffer all the consequences they did to my sister, and to my little, innocent nephew. My heart was so broken for both my sister, and my nephew.

 

We had quite a long pause during the call. I was stunned as well with the news and unsure of the right words to say. I let myself listen to her breathing and her sobbing, and a few minutes later, she spoke again. After I let her vent out, I asked “What do you want me to do with him?” But as a strong woman that she is, she said in her own tagalog words “Let him be. I’ll handle this. I can do this.”

 

I have always admired how strong and brave my sister is. I remember when I was little, I was bullied by some old lady in the neighbourhood. I went home crying, and she whispered “ I’ll handle this. I can do this”, and immediately ran to speak to that old lady. That moment, I knew, that there’s a brave woman inside her pretty face, and that I matter to her just as much as she matters to me.