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Saturday, January 19, 2013
My sister Coleen Moore has been back home several times, even as she has traveled with husband Dave to other places in the world. But the Cebu visit before this had been years ago. So sheās here for the Sinulog Grand Parade and for the chance of seeing again old classmates in a reunion.
But thereās something to trips from the foreign country she now calls home to memories of the worship that includes a walk in faith during the Holy Procession and the Sinulog dance beat in the Mar di Gras on the next day. Hundreds of balikbayans who are worshippers of the Sto. NiĆ±o come back to the familiar feel of home. To Coleen, the grandeur of the parade and the color of the celebration are new.
Itās for the love of the home country that many Pinoys dream of coming home as often as they can afford to. And theyāre willing to undergo some sacrifices they can laugh about at the end of the trip and in memory of itālike the trial of a long, long plane trip which hardly anyone really talks about. Pinoys complain about the travel but with a sense of love in the thought of it.
Then itās best to come home on time for local occasions, like new or the old nostalgic celebrations of glorious events. And itās best to come in time for local January fests. Hundreds of balikbayans now come for the Sinulog, even as for other fĆŖtes, such as the feast of the Black Nazarene in Quiapo, Moriones in Marinduque, Dinagyang in Iloilo, Maskara in Bacolod, Ati-atihan in Aklan, among others.
Thereās nothing much that lures back Pinoys from other corners of the globe except the happy push of fiestas Americans never heard of. Together with memories of church-going, Cebuanos save up for that dream trip home.
How does the trip go?
It was a cold wintry day in St. Louis in Missouri when Coleen took the first trip out, to the international airport in Washington D.C. But the flight she decided to get was cancelled because of engine trouble, so she headed for a flight to Chicago. From there, it took 14 hours to reach Tokyo.
I didnāt ask what she did sitting there inside a plane in all 14 hours.
A senior, Coleen expected to get a wheel chair at the Narita airport, but no, there was none. Thus, she walked around the huge airport looking for gate 51-59 (in particular, gate 58) until it hurt. She stood there waiting for the next thing to happen. Then a young Japanese lady passed by.
Quickly, Coleen made gesturesāa few āahs, ers, ehs, no English,ā she said. She was getting frantic because the flight for Manila could get off without her.
Where was gate 58?
Another young Japanese airport personnel came along and said, āYes, maāam?ā She could talk English; finally there was someone Coleen could talk to beyond the ahs, ers, ehs!
The young woman asked Coleen to sit down, relax, sheād get a wheel chair. And Coleen did. On the plane for the crossing from Narita to the Manila international airport, she was sitting there inside the plane in all five hours more.
Seated beside her was a young Thai woman who tried to say something to connect in a few minutes within the difficult 5 hours. I didnāt ask what Coleen did sitting there inside a plane in all 5 hours.
Finally at the Ninoy Aquino International Terminal, a wheel chair was waiting for her at the end of the trip, with a bit of pampering, as she calls it. As always, everyone was courteous, and she expected some changes from the last time she traveled home, like the absence this time of the signs:
āPasalubong Naman.ā But a sign appeared in front of her almost as quickly as the wheel chair was set!
Then she was wheeled to the roadside where she got a cab for a short-long trip from the international terminal to the domestic terminal at 10:30 p.m. and was billed P750!
The ride took time because of the traffic (or the cab driver took a longer route?).
And the cabbie asked for a pasalubong naman! The guard, too, at the domestic terminal.
She missed her flight to Cebu.
Coleen was led to the lobby of the Manila domestic airport where other passengers were already spread out in benches, also waiting for the next flight. I didnāt ask what she did sitting on the bench for 9 hours.
There were hours between Chicago and Cebu, if we wonāt count the hours gone between St. Louis, Missouri and Washington D.C. where her first flight out of the US was cancelled. She was sitting there inside planes and airports in all 29 hours.
Sheād tell Dave and her St. Louis friends all about the plane trips and the sleepless nights and she says, āNever again!ā But, like all Pinoys, I bet she quietly prays, āSeĆ±or Sto. NiĆ±o, pabalika ko, please, one more time!ā
Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on January 20, 2013.