Homecoming Queen

Just last month, I found myself on an impromptu trip to the Motherland. It wasn’t for a grand vacation since I haven’t been back for over fifteen years. However, it was for a far more important reason. Family. My grandfather, the patriarch of my mother’s side of the family, was critically ill when my Mom and I (and the rest of the family) flew in. We were only given a couple of days to say our final farewells before he passed away.

Even though fifteen years have passed, it wasn’t like I haven’t seen my extended family since. My Philippines family have been traveling back and forth to the US over the course of time so I didn’t really feel like I missed out on them. And thanks to Facetime, long distance communication has never been a problem anymore.

Amidst my bittersweet homecoming, I was really happy to be able to walk down memory lane and at the same time, reflect and learn more about myself and my family.

These past few years, an insurgence of tourists have flooded the beautiful beaches of my motherland. As if they just discovered them for the first time.  I mean, that was my backyard growing up. I know the Philippines is known for its extraordinary beaches, but for me, it’s more than that. Sometimes I get annoyed when I see Boracay or El Nido photos on Instagram. I feel like it gives off an overstated image.The REAL Philippines, is not just white sand and aquamarine waters. It’s more than that. I don’t want it to become a Cancun or a Punta Cana,  or another beach party island for first world tourists.

My homecoming was short and sweet. I was able to spend all my time with family and for that alone, I am very grateful.

Besides, not everybody outside the Philippines can actually call it home.

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Jen is a Chicago-based traveler and a full-time Director of Development for an arts & culture organization. Originally from Connecticut, she created JetsettingJen as a place to share her travel stories and photos with friends and family. Now, it is a place for adventurers, explorers and dreamers. Its purpose is to inspire and encourage people to see the world and achieve a better work-life balance.