Families far from home

By Christina

On the first night of my staying with my host family, I described them as ‘super hospitable’, but now, after two weeks of living together, they are just families to me.

I live with a very big family. Neneng and Reno are my ‘mama’ and ‘papa’. So many details have shown how caring and attentive they are. For instance, on the day we arrived, both my and my roommate Jee Soo’s shoes are covered with dirt and mud after the long journey, which we were too tired to care about. We were so surprised to find out our shoes were cleaned as new on the next morning. During the first few days, we need to put our rubbish in plastic bags as there was no dustbin in our room, which I believe is not needed normally by them because they use things very carefully, but without any mention, one plastic barrel just appeared. Moreover, although mentally prepared to wash our own clothes before we got here, mama just insisted to wash them for us. Even afterwards, when we found that out and made up our mind to wash it ourselves, we just came home and find all our laundry were gone and washed already.  Though I am not used to let others wash my clothes, I was really moved by all that mama and papa have done to make us feel like home.

Also living with us are Neneng’s children Reannie and Ryan. Lovely and pretty as she is, Reannie is also so talented especially in singing and drawing. There are a wall of trophy in our house and Mama told us very proudly that Reannie is often invited to sing at the wedding and church.

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Reannie singing at Karaoke

Last week we went to a Karaoke, I couldn’t believe that was the karaoke when I first got there as it was just a big room with one karaoke machine and tables. We have to pick songs from a book as heavy as a brick with at least 2-3 hundred pages. Different tables even have to take turns to sing their songs, but we are all impressed by how beautiful and professional Reannie’s voice was. As she will graduate from high school in 2 years, Reno toells us she wants to study in architecture or hotel management for college. However, we can tell that Neneng still wish for opportunities to let Reannie’s singing talent be known by more people, this probably also because Neneng herself is great at singing and don’t want the same talent to be wasted for her daughter.

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Movie Night for all family members

Living with our host family is becoming more and more like living with real families. The whole family will have dinner together at which we share our day and chat. They laughed at me when seeing pimples on my face, which implies falling in love in the Philippine culture. Many times there are movie nights, everyone sit around a small TV in Rebecca’s house to see movie on DVD. Although they all love movies, they seldom go to cinema because the nearest one is in Tagbilaran City, and the movie tickets, around 120 Piso each, are expensive for them. When hearing most of them have never seen a 3D movie and Ryan has never been to the cinema before, we decided to arrange a movie day for them before we leave.

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Me and Stella watching Basketball 

We are invited to go night swimming to celebrate the birthday of Lito, Rebecca’s husband, which is part of their family tradition; Before going to bed, we will sit together to shell the peanuts, we teach each other our language, Neneng and Reno will ask us lots of questions about China, Hong Kong and Korea, we can tell they are really interested and want to go to Hong Kong when they have a chance.

Grown up as the only child, I have never lived with or feel the love and care between members of such a big family until this time. Seeing Stella’s two lovely daughter Pauline and Elaine having conflicts and reconciled at the next second or Reannie and Ryan make fun of each other make me realize the happiness of the simple and natural love between the family. There will be only one week left and I want to cherish every second I can have with my loving families here.

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