I’m a banana. Yellow on the outside, white on the inside. This is what friends have always said to me growing up. Philippine born, Canadian raised, Euro/American adult. I’m a bit of an in-between. My brother and I have spent most of our memorable lives in Canada. We left the Philippines when I was 5 and though I remember richly random memories from the short childhood in my native country, I was raised with immigrant ambitions, Filipino values and North American everything else.
Being back here has been crazy/amazing/humbling/beautiful/hard. Such a mixed bag of powerful emotions all rolled into one. It is hard to see the very humble conditions in which my parents grew up but the love, the love love love, present in the eyes and smiles of our relatives make them the richest people I know. What perspective. They live such simple, spartan lives and despite the frequent need for even just the basic necessities, there is an abundance of joy here that I can’t describe. It always knocks the wind out of me, unstitches me in a way that both breaks and opens my heart.
Today, after an incredible few hours visiting with kids from my Mom’s old elementary school – an experience that I’ll write more about in a future post – we went back to the house where my Mom was born. Tin roof, bamboo walls and dirt/wood flooring. Memories of weekends spent chasing chickens and pumping water wells came flooding back. Here, amid a flurry of aunts, uncles, grandparents and cousins, we had one of the best homemade meals I’ve had yet: fried fish, beef stew and sour fish soup. It was a room bursting with flavour and love.
These next few weeks will have the power to change me in ways that I don’t think I can anticipate. =)