I am from a small but heavy, round wooden dining table with a Lazy Susan on top that is home to delicious toasted bread with butter and mugs of hot Milo chocolate drink every morning.
I am from the scorching heat of sunny days, the meticulously kept rooms, happy sounds of children’s laughter and music always playing in the background.
I am from the violent typhoons that rage, the strong winds whipping the trees and rain pouring hard and flooding the streets. From sitting around the flickering candlelight, singing songs, telling stories, playing board games and shadow puppets across the wall.
I am from “family comes first” and looking forward to gatherings on weekend afternoons. I am from Michael and Nev and boisterous, music-loving kin. From smiling eyes, crooked teeth and dimpled cheeks.
I am from thoroughly wiping down every surface and painstakingly sweeping floors, daily. From neatly made beds and freshly cooked meals, lovingly prepared. I am from tidily folded sheets and precisely ironed clothes. From early, hour-long bus rides to school and naps with my head on my mother’s lap on the way home. From dinner at 6 and bedtime at 8.
From “learn to share” and “siblings should love each other and get along, or else what will happen to you all when your Dad and I are gone?” and “goodnight, I love you.”
I am from Father, Son and Spirit. From forgiveness and salvation. From agape and grace. I am from Sunday school and junior choir, Christmas concerts and squirming in my Sunday best.
I’m from the heart of the Philippines, from scrumptious Champorado, a huge steaming bowl of Sinigang and the creamy sweetness of Leche Flan. I’m from homemade bubbles made out of Gumamela petals and playing Sungka on lazy Saturday afternoons. From the smell of old books and the feel of its brittle pages between my fingers. From picking guava and kamias from our backyard and aratilis, mangoes and duhat from plants and trees on neighboring vacant lots.
From mom’s infectious laughter at her own jokes that renders her breathless and teary-eyed and incapable of delivering the punchline, the trips to the beach every summer and running around playing and burying each other in the sand. From my dad sweetly cradling my sleeping daughter in his arms, the celebration of life and love.
I am from the pages of aged photo albums falling apart, straining to hold the treasured, yellowed photographs of times past. From new babies and numerous aunts and uncles and even more cousins. From the laugh lines etched in faces and embraces that leave warmth long after we’ve let go. From never-ending lines of relatives to kiss and be kissed by on Christmas. From hearts bursting with pride and adoration. From hellos and see you laters, never goodbyes.
I am from whispered I love yous that are meant. From years of searching for my place in this world and having found it. Home.