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It felt good to be back home. I mean, jeez, it had been two years since my last visit, no thanks to the pandemic. So as soon as Australia relaxed its travel protocols, it was time to get out of here and spend time with my mom doing nothing.

I literally had no other itinerary besides that. Well, that and Camotes. Because I was so enchanted by that place so much I imagined it would be nice to frolic with my daughter at the beach. Wake up to white sand and warm sunshine. End the day with sunset in our eyes.

That kind of shit.

But more about that fateful trip later when I organise my photos and make collages out of them like I like to do. Perhaps by the time my sunburn fades and I am no longer tanned in all the wrong places, I might finally get the chance to write about the typhoon that got us stranded in the island.

“Mama, the chickens woke me up!” Raven said on the first morning, already awake at 5:30.

When it wasn’t the chickens, it was the neighbor’s dogs that served as her alarm clock. She marveled at the cacophony of different sounds and noises that greeted her each day, always looking forward to playing with her cousin, Jade.

She was happy to just stay at home most of the time. But when promised to be taken to the pool, she was down for it in a heartbeat. The closest one was Tubod Flowing Waters Resort in Minglanilla. It being a weekday, she and Jade had the whole kiddie pool to themselves. They were there for two hours nonstop, begging for more when it was time to go.

One of the sounds that the girls looked forward to was that of the ice cream truck. Or should I say, trike. As soon as they hear it, they’d both be at the window screaming “ICE CREAM!!!” hoping that the vendor would hear and trusting that I would would cough up the money for a transaction that was done without my permission.

And when my sister gathered some banana leaves for the boodle fight that was to be our lunch one Sunday afternoon, I gave Raven some for her to write on. I told her about how, back in the days, kids didn’t have paper so they used banana leaves instead. Which wasn’t a lie because I heard the same exact story from my grandma before and she herself lived that experience so I reckon it was a good exposure for Raven to the rudimentary way of doing things.

To be honest, I don’t know if the things I tell her have an impact or impart a lesson or whatever but I do so with the best of intentions. I guess I just want her to be proud of her roots. Of her culture. Her history. I want her to see what life is like outside of Australia and to welcome the differences because the melding of both cultures inside her is what makes her unique.

And by ‘culture,’ I also mean making her love Potato Corner with their cheese and barbecue combo. This was us patiently waiting for our fries after she had her haircut done by a stylist who obviously wasn’t happy with his job, judging from his total lack of customer rapport. I gave him a tip still anyway.

Because I didn’t exactly have any concrete itinerary, some days we were just at the malls where I would take her to play centres to pass the time while waiting for Mommy to run her errands. But those shopping mall trips were few and far between as I much rather wanted to stay home myself, already tired just thinking about the heavy traffic going anywhere, even if it was just Gaisano Tabunok. It’s ridiculous how a 10-minute trip can take thirty and I’m sorry to say I have lost the patience for such inefficiency and total waste of time that I come home with a headache.

But in spite and despite of, one month flew by so fast. It wasn’t enough and I didn’t want to leave. Something that always happens when I go back to Cebu and have to come back to Australia. Not because I love Australia less, but because I love both equally at the same time my heart breaks right in the middle.

*Raven at 6 years old

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