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Coming back to the Philippines
The Philippines,  Travel Stories & Inspiration

Coming back to the Philippines- after 2.7 years- what it meant for me

You would probably feel different when you come back here, like, you know, different. You’d miss the comfort and convenience that now you’re used to in Germany. Things like that. When I told Mara that I was coming back to the Philippines.

It’s a piece of news I was so excited to tell my friends, as well as my family, who, on the other hand, didn’t have a similar reaction.

I don’t know. I’m not sure. I think I won’t. I mean, it’s okay, and I don’t care. Because I really miss the Philippines, my hometown, my family, you, and my friends. The chaos. The beautiful chaos. But let’s see. I will update you guys about it”. I responded with a blast.

But then that thought remained in me, even though I was sure I would not feel exactly as she expected me to.

Coming back to the Philippines – at the airport

We left Germany on May 12 and arrived in the Philippines on May 13, 2022. Now, as the coronavirus is still around the corner, there were papers we needed to prepare, and we made sure to have them in our hands.

We took the quick test in Munich 24 hours before our flight, and I filled out the form online at One Health Pass and thing is, you cannot complete the document without the result of the corona test. Essentially, take the test first and wait for the result, as it will also be uploaded online.

It’s straightforward steps. (see the photo below)

As a Philippine passport holder, I could stay longer when I wanted to; however, my husband had 30 days free. However, he could also have two years because he’s a spouse, provided that he had applied for it. I was asked to show my vaccine passport -the yellow one and the One health pass. Everyone returning to the Philippines must present this. Having these documents is easy; you’re ready to go through immigration and wait for your luggage.

Once the immigration was over and we picked up our luggage, I knew I was back in my home, the Philippines. It was the moment I had been waiting for. I had other mixed emotions that I could not express in words.

It was nearly midnight when all the airport woes were done. And the first thing I felt was, well, no different than I have had before, hot and humid. And to be honest, I didn’t feel like I’d left at all. It felt like it was just yesterday. Meanwhile, the rainy season was a bit earlier that time. The hot was actually okay because it’s also hot in Germany in summer! But the humidity? Well, it’s a different story.

Exhausted, we booked the taxi airport and checked in directly at our hotel in Makati City. That still felt like Europe to me. Convenience and luxury.

Bonus.

“There’s nothing half so pleasant as coming home again.”

Margaret Elizabeth Sangster

I missed everything in the Philippines

Despite being away in the Philippines for these years, I was aware of and remembered nearly everything. I missed everything in the Philippines- the steaming dry weather, the noisy and chatty people, the street foods, the traffic (kind of), the environment, and everything there was.

Once, while on the way out, a security guard shouted at my husband and me for not wearing our face masks. I was only there one day. As you can imagine, it was bothersome, yet, we couldn’t escape not properly wearing our face masks. Nevertheless, we followed the rule. And for me, I didn’t really care. I mean, it was alright. Things like those made me miss the Philippines even more. What was I talking about?

I missed my home country more than anywhere else on the planet. And I didn’t care what inconvenience brought me.

We stayed in Manila for four days, allowing me to meet up with my friends. I was so glad they came to see my husband and me.

The reality began- but so what?

As Mara’s words stayed with me days later, I realized she was somehow fitting.

After leaving the hotel and catching the bus to my hometown, that’s where reality sunk into me. I was not in Germany anymore. The public transportation and the traffic in Manila were one of the worst. Yea, it was okay for a short while. But then, ain’t fun anymore.

Manila, what has changed? I whispered to myself—looking around, I guess there’s not much since then.

Traffic never improved; it annoyed me in some way. Congestion reminded me of my friends’ endless whining whenever they went from one plaaplay another and my nightmares of commuting while I was staying in Manila.

Moreover, Inefficient people were everywhere. Then I began to compare these real-life situations with what I had back in Germany- and I knew (somewhat) it was wrong. But then, I could not help but compare how things stood because I was not used to it anymore- and my feeling toward it was valid. Weren’t they?

It was the reality, but so what? What choice did I have?

I shrugged it all off.

Things stayed the same, and (somehow) I felt terrible about it

Living abroad means experiencing a different lifestyle and experiencing the best of both worlds. I told my friends how I view things now that I live in a first-world country, the school I work at, and the people I’m surrounded with. Factors like these made me see from a different point of view.

Nonetheless, I had to pay the price for feeling different. As in the first few days, I wanted to question why I had to feel that way about my country; why did I feel so terrible and pitiful about it? Because, what I only wanted to do, and was looking forward to, was simply come back to the Philippines and enjoy the time. ( and tried to forget how actually several bad things were). I only had three months to stay. Therefore, I wanted it to be a blast. I looked around me, and it seemed like there was not a pluck of chance- things were getting worse instead of being better.

I could not contest it. But then, I didn’t let any inconveniences and unpleasantness stop me from having the best time in my life in the Philippines.

As the days passed, I realized that, somehow, I longed for my life back in Germany. The efficiency, the comfort. Then I understood why my husband so often shook his head every time he was in the Philippines.

On the other hand, there are also several things that Germans could learn from us Filipinos. For example, being happy and jolly and relaxing in extraordinary or ordinary situations (sometimes they overdo it). haha


At my apartment Locsin Residence
Me at my rented apartment in San Juan, Elyu, Philippines

Related read: renting an apartment in San Juan, Elyu- one of the best decision I’ve ade in the Philippines



People I knew never really changed – but I did

I had always wondered why the people I knew acted differently and made wrong and poor choices in life and politically. And the questions swirled in my head over and over again. I was not a political person, to begin with; I kept silent frequently, but I stood for what I believed was right.

For instance, some of my family members, friends, and acquaintances chose to vote for candidates with atrocious histories. But then they selected him like he was a God I would never understand.

At the same time, I never thought I was better myself. But making the right choice is not an easy path for most.

Moreover, A famous quote once said, “I am not impressed by the wealth, but by how much a person has done to help others.” In Germany, most Germans I know are very independent. And they seem to be responsible on their own; showing off is not their style. So when I returned to the Philippines and encountered people with such traits, I was not impressed.

On top of that, some of my acquaintances didn’t progress in multiple areas of their life. I wanted to push them to try something new, improve their lives, and scold them until they could control their lives. But at the end of the day, who am I to do that?

Traveling with my husband, my family, and my sister and buying a new motorcycle

Coming back to the Philippines also meant time to travel with my husband, family, and sister and buy a new motorcycle, which was unplanned. While at my mum’s house, we decided to buy a new bike called Lapu Lapu.

Because of Lapu-Lapu, we could go on a road trip to Bolinao and a hundred islands, Pangasinan. It’s s trip we looked forward to having together. However, it’s a different trip compared to the previous ones.

During this time, though, it was constantly raining. So we stayed home, grilled fresh fish, and had a great time with my sister Amber. And we liked it.

Unfortunately, he had to return to Germany while I stayed for two more months.

While in the Philippines, I traveled with my family and my sister. I felt changed this time, and it was alright.

Traveling and meeting with my friends

Traveling with my friends was also a big part of homecoming. We’d already planned a trip to La Union before, so it was something I was so thrilled about. It was the first time my close friends and I were going away, so I was so glad it did happen. We first went to La Union and then to Baguio city.

And then, when I started renting my apartment in San Juan, two of them also came to spend time with me. So grateful for this chance.

I’ve also met close friends I had last time I moved to Germany, like Stef, Diane, and Rex.

Returning to the Philippines- what it really meant for me

Coming back to the Philippines meant a lot to me in so many, many ways. I’ve always dreamed of setting foot again in my dear country, and it left me heartbroken when, during the corona times, we couldn’t fly back, let alone book a flight. So when things ceased a bit, I was beyond delighted.

In a more profound sense, it meant I’d be with my family and friends (again) and enjoy the things I used to take for granted. For example, eating a lot of my favorite Filipino foods, drink gallons of fresh coconut juice, and going to the wet market every weekend, among many others.

My top priorities were exploration and spending quality time with my loved ones.

Most importantly, “ being home again.” That meant sleeping in my old room, listening to the neighbor’s loud chatting and music, the rooster’s alarm-like sound at dawn, the unstoppable motorbikes and tricycles, the neighbor and random people’s unannounced visits, and local things I didn’t have in Germany.

Personal thoughts about coming back to the Philippines

This writing was not supposed to sound mega-dramatic. At the beginning of this writing, I thought I just wanted to let my feelings out upon returning to the Philippines. Also, I waited until the three months vacation was over to see if my emotions were accurate, honest, or valid.

And guess what? Now I could say that they were, indeed.

I believe we all have different sentiments about our homecoming. And it’s okay; we all have that and experience it. What matters most is that you must do what you have to do. Spend good times with your loved ones and would always choose to come back to your hometown. I hope that when you experience comfort, convenience, and prosperity, you will never forget where you came from- remain humble.

I would say that in my heart, the Philippines has always been my home, and wherever I go, wherever the wind takes me, I will always belong there. Whatever happens.


Have you returned to the Philippines recently? How did it feel for you? Share your feelings below! ✨

Born, raised, and forever loyal to the Philippines. Catherine is a teacher and a BA in Mass Communication graduate who loves anything child-friendly. She loves writing in her diary every day and is in love with beaches, books, Safari, and Tokyo. Her ultimate dream destinations are Madagascar, Mongolia, and Hawaii. Check out her van camping adventures in Europe at vancampingguide.com.

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