Skip to main content

Home



I have been literally running around writing this particular post about my trip to the Philippines. I did the tourist thing with my Gemini twin. I did the history thing since my other relatives were kind enough to take me. I ran my first 25k trail race last weekend. This has also been a crazy ass election season. I have been addicted to political news. So danced around this post, my trigger point.  

I knew I would not come back the same person. It was a culmination of my work as a writer and immigrant rights advocate. After the years of self-loathing, self-doubt, and finally self-repair, I made the connection with my family. At first it felt transactional. Then it became something I did not think I could make after 30 years.

The first time I wanted to go my son was too little. I thought it was him that needed me but it was the other way around. It was the longest I had ever been away from him.   

So the morning after my sightseeing adventures I slept in. Later in the morning, my cousin whom I had never met beyond social media picked me up. I went to lunch with him and his girlfriend. Despite never having met before, we didn’t act like it.  We had churros (like I needed to be introduced to donuts in stick form) dipped in chocolate with coffee afterwards.
The they took me to visit the interment sites of my uncle at Libingan ng manga Bayani, translation Heroe’s Cemetery. In my youth, I didn’t understand why my uncle had a gun. I learned that he was a policeman in the narcotics division. Filipino soldiers from WWII were also laid to rest there. My cousin walked around a bit before we found my uncle. His grave was a simple white cross with his name etched in black. The black was fading. We left him flowers.


Our next stop were the graves of my grandmother and my aunt. Their graves were better maintained. I knelt down and touched their names.

One of the hardships of an undocumented life is the inability to return home when your relatives pass. Upon leaving the country, we would not have been able to return. Actually, we would be banned for 10 years. Those moments at their graves were decades late. Me being me, I didn’t have an emotional response. Instead I observed a mangy cat meowing at us.  I enjoyed the overcast sky and the mild weather. My uncle met us there with his daughter.



After seeing their graves, my cousin to me to our Alma Mater, Colegio San Augustin. He finished high school there, I finished 1st grade. It was surreal to be back there, to see the chapel. A VW bus drove through Das Marinas village, every day to take me there.  At the time, I was just a little older than my son. It seemed so large back then. I had no idea I wouldn’t go back. I thought I would grow to be like the cool high school girls that played volleyball. I didn’t know how differently my path would diverge. It was wonderful to come back.




Later that night we had dinner at a Chinese place (much lighter than lunch). Then we went out for drinks. I saw another cousin I hadn’t seen in 30 years. We didn’t stay in touch when we left. When social media re-connected us, she felt like a stranger. When I saw her again, it was a visceral shift. I wasn’t going through the motions anymore.  It felt like I had come home. She filled in the holes in my memories. Like the agreeing to live out our futures with my Gemini Twin, seeing her again was feeling the presence of an older sister. I felt protected.


I never let myself cry being there until that night. It was a delicious state of  drunk with my cousins. We talked about everything. 

My undocumented brothers and sisters should be afforded what I had experienced. People shouldn’t have to wait so long to come home.  


I spent the rest of the week in the city with the family. I ran a little bit and tried to maintain some semblance of my old routine. I had some me time.

I was severely jet lagged when I returned. It took me more than a week to get back to normal. I probably ate something I shouldn't have. Actually, I ate a lot of things out of the norm. I certainly didn't take heed of the water because my rationale was I use to live there. Well, I hadn't lived there in 30 years. Time makes a difference. My insides eventually forgave me. 






Comments

  1. This is a great post Jennifer. So glad you were able to go home. Thank you for sharing.

    ReplyDelete

Post a Comment

Popular posts from this blog

Ghost of Jose Rizal

The reclamation of my Filipino identity has naturally led me to Jose Rizal and his works. I have completed his two novels, Noli Me Tangere (Touch Me Not) and El Filibusterismo. The words Noli Me Tangere (Touch Me Not) comes from the Latin version of words spoken, according to John 20:17 (King James Version), by Jesus to Mary Magdalene when she recognized him after his resurrection. He said “Touch me not; for I am not yet ascended to my Father.” Historians have also noted that the title is a reference to cancer of the eyelids as Jose Rizal was also an ophthalmologist.

The novel opens with a letter of a patriot to his country. It is an awareness that something has gone wrong with the health of the nation. The patriot viewed it as a cancer and that in his writing, he would attempt to “lift the veil hiding your ills, and sacrifice everything to truth, even my own pride, since, as your son, I, too, suffer your defects and shortcomings.”
The main character, Crisóstomo Ibarra is much like its …

Book Review - Diary of a Reluctant Dreamer, Undocumented Vignettes from a Pre-American Life by Alberto Ledesma

Dr. Ledesma’s graphic novel was an easy read yet cut to the core of my pre American life. It was also timely. I recently removed “the undocumented American experience” from the title of my blog. The reason is that my work, running, family and writing selves were starting to merge in the online space. I changed the title so that this part of my life would be slightly obscured. After all these years, I am still afraid.
This book is a reminder that our stories about having lived an undocumented life need to be told.   I identified with the author’s undocumented beginnings, being told that they were going on vacation and never leaving.

Dr. Ledesma’s family legalized in 1986 with the passing of the Immigration Reform and Control Act. He then went on to get his undergraduate and graduate degrees. He worked with an organization within UC Berkeley that assisted immigrant students. The author wrote that not every student was ready to come out publicly. He recognized the pressure to confess wh…

Reaper 30K - Race Report

A few weekends ago I did the Reaper 30K at Salt Lick, KY. The course is part of Daniel Boone National Forrest. I signed up for this race last year not ready to make the leap from 25K to 50K. It was also really cheap. I liked the description of “part road and part trail”. I did all this before I decided to take on a marathon this past spring in hopes that I would have the mental stamina for a 50K. The 30K became part of my training plan for my upcoming 50K.
I decided to stay in Lexington with my sister in law at the last minute. When I went to bed I kept waking up thinking it was time to get up. When I finally fell asleep, my alarm went off. I was tired from getting ready to wake up. I meant to wake at 5am and got up at 5:50. I ate 2 hardboiled eggs and had an espresso. I made it out the. door at 6:30. The GPS said I would make it to the campground at 8:07am. As a runner, I prioritized a bowel movement at home rather than uncomfortable insides for the duration of the race.  I had to go…