By Dilys Leung
On a typical hot day in Jagna, I was on my way back to Tubod Mar, texting with my mum.
Mum: How’s your stay in the Philippines?
Me: It is too hot here, I think I need to go home now.
Mum: What!? Are you coming back to Hong Kong now?
Me: No… I mean I am going back to Tubod Mar…
Yeah, I already call this place home. To be honest, I am surprised how well I adapted to the life here too. Still remember the first time talking to our course instructor Beau, I was amazed when he told me the people here use a bucket to shower, do not have internet connection most of the time, and the water and electricity supply is not that stable so sometimes there might not be water and electricity at all. Being (a little) adventurous and (very) anxious, I got onto the plane to Tagbilaran with 21 of my fellas.
After 4 hours of flight and another 2 hours of bumpy gyp ride, we finally arrived Tubod Mar, the place we are going to stay for the following 3 weeks. “Are you a Korean?” A kid came up to me and asked. “No, I am from Hong Kong.” “Oh..” She said with a little disappointment in her tone. At that time, I had not idea this would be the most common question I receive for my time in Jagna, proving the Filipino’s obsession and affection to Korean dramas.
Way to Tubod Mar
A pretty Filipino girl came up to us, introducing herself as Irish, the daughter of our host family. Liz and I were led to the house right next to the most popular site in the village – the basketball court.
Like many of the Filipinos I met here, my host family is warm, welcoming and extremely cute. Our mama (mother in Bisaya) cooks the best delicacy for us every day, always being worried that we do not like her food or do not eat enough; our papa (father) is a quiet man, but would always our stories of the day patiently; Auntie Lydia would always come to visit us, making sure we are enjoying our time at Tubod Mar; our Lolo (grandpa) would always greet us with a big smile on his face. Every day, this little house is full of laughter, fun, and wonderful memories.
Yesterday, Lydia was making traditional candies to be sold in the market. In fact, papa’s has stopped working for a while after being admitted to the hospital half a year ago because of diabetes, so the family is taking up extra work to earn more money. “The kids really love these and it is a healthy treat.” Lydia was proud and satisfied when she was putting flour, sugar and the other mixtures into a little circle mold.
Two weeks in Jagna, now everyone is saying Irish, Liz and I look like sisters. The three of us would always go to the basketball court after dinner. We chat, chill and play basketball with the little kids from the neighbourhood. Somehow I am just in love with the simple life here, being disconnected to the internet, spending time with your neighbours, and being surrounded by people who care about you. Sometimes, I got home late at night (which is 9 pm since everyone is getting to sleep as early as 8 pm) and I would see mama and papa sleeping on the floor of the living room, leaving the lights on so that I won’t trip over when I walk back to my room. I know deep down in my heart, they did not just open their home for us to live in, they opened their heart for us, treating us as real daughters instead of guests.
Liz, Me, and Irish
Irish left yesterday to Tagbilaran for school as the summer holiday is over, Liz and I already missed her so much, feeling weird that something important is missing in the house. I really feel grateful to have a family that is so sweet and caring. This will always be my home in the Philippines.