My 29th bday... and the Yaos from Davao! WOW! =D

Trip Start Oct 18, 2007
Trip End Aug 2008

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Flag of Philippines  ,
Saturday, January 5, 2008

Welcome to those of you who are new to my blog!  I've recently added my relatives on my mama's (in Guiling) and now my papa's side (in Davao) of the family.  At this point, there are a little over 200 people on my mailing list, following me around my adventures around the world.  Yaaay!

I just wanted to take the time to thank those of you who've taken the time to write me emails, wishing me merry christmas, happy new year and happy birthday, who've posted messages either on this blog or on Facebook.  I don't always have the opportunity to write back in a timely manner, but know that I truly appreciate all your notes and read every single one of them!  Your emails help to connect me with what's happening back in Montreal, or help me know what's happening with you, wherever YOU are!  I'm not missing the cold (sorry Montreal!), but am missing the warmth of my family and friends back home!!!  Even though I'm not physically with you, I feel you're still with me via this blog.

To bring you guys up to speed, I'm currently in my latest destination, Boracay, a little island found at the northern tip of Panay.  I'm here for the next 5 days before heading to Cebu.  I have yet to explore the beaches here as I've plunked myself in an internet cafe today to (FINALLY) upload the latest pics from the past ten days.

Ate Annie S picked me up at the airport and it's been go-go-go till I left Davao yesterday.  I think there was a bit of trepidation on both sides of the ocean before I arrived... It's been SUCH a long time since I connected with my cousins here.  The last time my family and I visited was in 1995, when I was around 16.  I wasn't sure if I'd recognize my relatives or if they would recognize me.  I think there was a bit of worry as to whether or not we'd be able to relate to each other, since I grew up in a completely different place and didn't really get to know my cousins who grew up here.  But after just a few hours together, I think we recognized that we indeed had much in common... we are YAOs, after all!!!  =D

The morning of my birthday had me crying... tears of happiness, mind you!  Ate Annie, Kuya Louis and Auntie Charito and I were sitting at the table for breakfast and Ate said a prayer asking God to bless our food and the hands of those who prepared it, as well as praying that He look over me on my 29th year while I travel around the world, that He lead my way and light my path, that He look over my parents back home while I'm away from them, and many other kind words that reflected prayers that I've been whispering to Him myself...  I think I caught Ate offguard with my tears... and also got Auntie crying too!  I'm missing my family in Montreal but am in the warm embrace of my newly reconnected family here in Davao.  What a great way to start the day!

 I celebrated my 29th birthday surrounded by my Yao clan in Davao.  Ate Annie S, planner extraordinaire, did an amazing job putting together the festivities.  I kept telling her that I didn't want her stressing out to plan this party and to keep things simple, but she delivered an amazing get-together that brought a lot of my family under one roof at a very tasty restaurant.

The rest of the week was filled with many activities.  I am now officially a certified open water diver, certified at the same place where my Kuya Noel took his classes over ten years ago.  I also had the opportunity to visit relatives in Digos and Sulop, places where my father grew up and spent much of his childhood.  My cousins brought me to Paradise Island, Eden, Jack's Ridge and People's Park as well as yummy BBQ places around Davao.  We also hit two karaoke bars during my stay here. 

The activities have been great and tons of fun... especially at the first karaoke night, where Ate Annie Y surprised us all (as well as herself... while scaring off Ate Jing!) with her rendition of Bon Jovi's "It's My Life", making the theme song of the evening among the cousins.  But I think the most memorable moments for me have been simply
reconnecting with my uncles and aunties, seeing their faces, looking at old pictures, sitting with my cousins and their children, eating,
laughing, crying, and talking with them, hearing their stories, and sharing mine with them.

It's also been a humbling experience to see where my mother and father grew up, to see what they've left behind to build a new life in a new country, away from their near and dear ones, more than three decades ago.  They sacrificed much, and worked hard to make their lives and the lives of Tiff and I better, living the life of new immigrants in a foreign country, always balancing between Filipino and Canadian thinking and living...  But even though I live so far away from my relatives in the Philippines, I'm honoured that they let me into their lives for this short period of time, disrupting their schedules for a week.  I've also promised them (as well as my relatives in Guiling) that it won't take another 10 years to visit... I'll try to shorten that time down to 3-5 years.  Just let me save up again, ok?  = P

To those of my readers who aren't relatives, please bear through all the pictures of cousins, and uncles and aunties.  These pics are here to connect those who are missing each other, living on either sides of the Pacific Ocean and who haven't seen each other in awhile.  Dear Ate Florence, your siblings and cousins miss you very much here... They have also been pumping me for more info on your love life...

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