I have the fondest memories growing up in the Philippines. I was raised in Quezon City, which is even bigger than Manila if you can believe it! There’s a reason the country’s slogan is “It’s more fun in the Philippines,” because there is endless amounts of enjoyment at every corner. I still remember the Quezon Memorial Circle, it’s as clear as day. My mother and I took a picture right by the Shrine before we moved to America, and I still take that photo with me wherever I go.
We moved to California when I was 15 with my Mother and two brothers, Marlon and Joseph, to make a better life for all of us. America is often referred to as the land of opportunity and even though I was sad to leave my extended family and friends, I was excited to come here. I knew that as long as I had my family with me, I could make home anywhere - and I’m so glad to realize I was right!
My favorite part about America is that it is such a melting pot of many different cultures. Here in Los Angeles, where I moved with my family, there are so many other Filipinos just like me. Some lived in Davao City and Cebu, but I met a few people here that lived in Quezon too, just a few years earlier. All of my friends helped me get situated in my new town and lifestyle, while I had the chance to remind them about how great it was when we lived back in the Philippines.
The best thing my pals have shown me is where to get authentic Filipino food, right here in the United States. I never thought I’d be able to experience authentic Lumpia and Adobo again, but just up the street from my home is a restaurant that serves it just like they used to make it back in the Philippines.
I know that I am not alone. There are a lot of other expatriates like me, and I hope that they can attest to how great it can truly be. Though I miss the Philippines, it will always hold a dear and unforgettable place in my heart. I can see it in my dreams and in the photo album I made with my grandmother right before I moved to America.
Though I’ve made a ton of friends here in California, I often find a lot of time where I can video chat with my old friends to see how they are doing. We swap stories about our unique experiences. They are so fascinated by my new life in Los Angeles, while all of their stories bring a nostalgic smile to my face. I have even begun to save up some money of my own to one day visit them back in Quezon City!
The first thing my Mother told me before we landed in the United States is that home is wherever love is. It was right then and there when I realized that it doesn’t matter if I’m in the Philippines or in America, because I will always be home.