So much has occurred over these last few days, it’s been hard to really keep track of it all! But seeing as it is officially 2015 in Manila, I am so grateful and happy to have been able to be apart of some happier and cherished moments with both sides of my family.
It’s been awhile since I’ve been able to return to Asia, the last was in December 2010- senior year of high school. It’s been awhile and I’ve had some time to really observe what life is like here more clearly than before. Perhaps it’s age, or jet lag that doesn’t let me sleep in too much, or maybe a fresh mindset. I’ve been out in Taiwan’s airport, the trains in Hong Kong’s underground, and in the markets in Manila, and have been constantly asked about what I am or where I’m from– all very valid questions when you really think about it. And yes, I would have fun with these answers: sometimes I was told I was from Singapore, other times maybe Europe…? And so it goes! As I was telling K, in any case, where am I from and what am I really? So much of my studies and efforts in the past year has been dedicated to answering these loaded questions.
In Hong Kong, the way I speak and dress signified I was from elsewhere. In Manila, the way I act and think is a little different than what’s expected from me. In Vancouver & North America, I’m often lumped into one aggregate of an Asian population, but rarely do I find myself identifying with said group. So what am I then? Not mono-cultural, and yet identity-less?? Seems like such a contradiction.
So, to return to Asia after so much consideration and pursuit about my roots, and to spend time with my grandparents, the folks whose stories and experiences have culminated into the product of my life, has been so meaningful. I’m observing hard, my ears open and my eyes peeled so they can to consume all the stories and laughs that I can about families and past lives. I’m sitting at the desk my Angkong once sat at, observing the work space that he saw for the last bit of his life, trying to see with his eyes his world. I’m lying on my Guama’s bed, facing the ceiling, listening as she tells me stories about how she flitted across the South China sea to Hong Kong and then the Philippines to avoid Japanese intervention. I am at the top of 32nd floor of the hotel at the bar with my uncles and aunts, imagining their childhood memories. I am having tea with my Ama in the kitchen, as she insists on me having more food. I’m making faces to Guakong as he sits across me making faces back to me as he remembers me always as the 7 year old kid strewn across his lap. I am lounging on the couch with my Achiak and my cousin, watching him play video games. I am dining, again and again, with 17 other humans who all are connected by blood or something thicker: sharing food and sharing memories.
I am all of these things, and something more. I’m an extension of what was, and what can be, and what is. And above all, I am happy, because despite being here in Asia in transit, I’m here with all of them.