Eat, laugh and pray in Manila!

Monday, July 19, 2010







I grew up in Manila and it’s been my home for the first twenty years of my life. Philippines will always be “home”.

In the next three weeks, I was blessed to be given another chance to be with my families and friends here in Manila.

Except for the thunderstorm, the flight was uneventful until I landed in Shanghai (my stop-over). The past few times I’ve travelled, I just change planes but this time to my surprise (a big one!) I had to check-in a total of 200 pounds of  luggage, go through immigration and then check-in again to the airlines that’s flying me from Shanghai to Manila.

Needless to say I was frazzled because I don’t like surprises and I don’t enjoy crunch-time in a foreign country!
In the next three weeks, I was blessed to be given another chance to be with my families and friends here in Manila.

Except for the thunderstorm, the flight was uneventful until I landed in Shanghai (my stop-over). The past few times I’ve travelled, I just change planes but this time to my surprise (a big one!) I had to check-in a total of 200 pounds of  luggage, go through immigration and then check-in again to the airlines that’s flying me from Shanghai to Manila.



I landed with no hassle, just one missing luggage (which was found a few days after my arrival).



The first time I visited Manila after being away for 21 years was in 2005. Ever since then I visit sometime in July and August. It’s always raining and hot. Except for last year's emergency visit, my vacation usually included a trip to a resort.

This year, this visit is different. No resort. No kids. Just hanging out with families, going to the hospital with my Dad, taking a few poor families to a park in Manila, a dear friend’s wedding, and meeting up with friends I haven’t met or talked to in 26, 30 and 34 years! Thanks to a school mate and facebook, I was “found” and have been in touch with friends from various phases of my life!!

Definitely no time for jetlag! Just two days after my arrival, I met up ten of my dear friends from high school. I wish you can see the first “oohhs and aahhs”. There was no awkward moment at all! It felt like it was just yesterday... I wish I can capture in words the happiness of seeing my dear friends.

We ate and laughed from 5pm to 1am. I love-love the crispy fried kangkong, halo-halo and sweet banana.








We laughed at almost every bite reminiscing what we were like three decades ago!
My jaws were hurting from laughing and we forgot that there were other people in the restaurant. I bet we were loud but then – we didn’t care! It amazes me that some of my friends can still remember the lyrics to the songs from our glee club years! It’s a riot!

I laughed when my friends kept saying “nose bleed”, jeje! ( I tried to purely speak in Tagalog – but I guess I was out of practice…it was just out of habit. In a few days, I’m sure I’ll forget how to speak English, jeje). I hope I won't be "deadma" (?)

 We ate and laughed from 5pm to 1am. I love-love the crispy fried kangkong, halo-halo and sweet banana.
 I came home and my dress was drenched with sweat – happy sweat if there’s such a thing!
Oh how I wish my friends are just nearby…

Being in the Philippines meant visiting my grandma and other relatives – and it meant eating at every stop. So Sunday, even after a full breakfast (white rice and corned beef), we had lunch (with white rice, some kind of stew, pork, chicken, vegetables and cake for dessert! – Red Ribbon White Forrest cake is now my favorite!!) My grandma’s 93 and yet her hearing is better than mine! She’s so thrilled to see me. 
Oh how I wish she’s just nearby...


And of course – my four brothers and parents! I just turned 46 and yet when I’m with them it seems like I’m still in my teens.  We were laying on the floor, on the pillows and on the couch laughing hysterically at the pictures taken from my brother’s café racer photo shoot. Ordinarily, you’ll just look at those pictures and say, “nice”, but watching with my family – there’s always a funny situation somewhere. 
Oh how I wish my family’s just nearby…


Praying is a big part of the Filipino culture. I feel humbled seeing the statue of the Blessed Mother in the garden. It’s something I miss when I’m in NJ. Here, you’re reminded of why life is precious and why we should never take things for granted. Every breathe is as crucial…

Oh, why can’t everyone just be nearby?
Why can’t everyone be just a block away?
The love of families and friends bequeath certain glow – certain joy;
It’s something that you can’t purchase anywhere.
Your heart is light, your smile is pure, your eyes twinkle like the stars.

Eat, pray and laugh – I will in the next few weeks.

Hugs and kisses to all  and keep smiling!


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6 Comments

  1. Hi sister Jenjen!!! How awesome that you are having this fun and precious time with your family and friends. I'm glad you get to visit your parents and siblings!!! I don't like the weather but it's the warmth of love from our precious families and friends that always make us go back time and time again. Ingat ka lagi and God bless. Praying for the Lord to keep you in His loving care.

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  2. Oh, this makes me sad because my family is all over the place and I don't get to see cousins and aunts that I've shared good times with. I'm happy for you that you are having fun!

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  3. Oh, Jen, what a blessing that you're able to spend so much time with friends and family. How nice that you were able to reconnect with your high school buddies too!! That's one great thing about Facebook!

    I know what you mean about family being nearby. My sister has lived in Hawaii for the past 15 years, and I wish I could just drive to her house.

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  4. Enjoy your time in Manila!

    Oh gosh, you had to mention halo-halo and I am so craving for it right now! My husband loves it, too. :)

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  5. Have a wonderful time in Manila, Jenjen dear!

    I'm so very happy for you.

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  6. Thanks everyone....I am definitely having a peaceful time.

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