It was a rainy evening when I arrived in Manila on the 14th of May.
If I had been in the Philippines all summer long, I could've called the rainfall a miracle, like an oasis in a barren desert. But I wasn't, and the heat was killing me.
I thought I would be able to deal with the usual May temperature of the country without any trouble when I arrive, because after all, I lived here all my life. But for some reason, the usual 30-something-degree temperature that I've experienced growing up felt foreign to me.
Sweat formed like beads along my hairline, and eventually trickled down my face. Wearing a t-shirt suddenly felt like wearing three layers of wool sweater on a summer day. And, the fumes of car exhausts seemed to me like a foul version of a steam facial.
But anyhow, I was back home, just like thousands of other Filipinos at the arrivals hall, who were waiting for a tight embrace or a kiss for a greeting after a long time of being away.
Two months out of the country didn't seem like a long time to me, though. In fact, I thought it was too short, and frankly enough, I didn't want to go home yet, because I was having so much fun. However, a part of me misses my family too.
Standing at the hall, waiting for my mum, dad, aunt, and cousin – who got caught in the usual Manila evening traffic jam – to fetch me, I wondered what and how I would feel when I see them again.
Judging by their messages to me while I was away, they obviously missed me and surely, they will be smouldering me with some oh-my-God-we-missed-you-so-bad love when they finally see me. But the thing is, I just didn't know how I would respond to them.
That time came, though, and as expected, there were hugs and kisses, and teases, but I couldn’t explain how I exactly felt at that moment. It was a mixture of happy and sad and everything in between.
Arriving at home, my grand mum exclaimed my name in that high-pitched sing-song tone and voice of hers, making a hundred different rhythms and melodies fit onto my two-syllable name “Niña”. She then hugged me tightly. Oh, gosh, I missed her and her cooking!
I may have gained 3Kg in Europe after surviving in sandwiches and ribs and dumplings for weeks and weeks, but still, nothing beats my grand mum’s cooking.
For dinner, we had RICE, mechado, and crispy pata. And then for desert, we had my favourite fruit salad that only my aunt could make perfectly. Ah, Filipino food…
The next day, we had a welcome breakfast at Taal Vista Hotel. They were very much surprised about how much my appetite has changed. Well, I didn’t notice that “change” until they told me about it. Haha!