“16 Weeks”

Every second-generation Filipino-Canadian kid could probably attest to being asked “How do you like the Philippines?” When I’d answer “yes”, it was received, 9 times out of 10, with an overwhelming sense of joy by the person who asked. The course of those interactions usually went:

“Do you like the Philippines?” “Yes.” “Oh good! That’s good! That’s so good!”

“Yes” usually isn’t the answer . I’ve gone back to the Philippines four times since I was 5 years old. In the course of 27 years, I’d only spend approximately a total of 16 weeks in the Philippines. Only 16 weeks to get to know a country I culturally inherited but never inhabited. Only 16 weeks to meet people I’d point out in pictures, and then call family. Only 16 weeks to absorb an entire history that was mine, but never really knew.

The truth is, I only ever needed was one day.

This post is dedicated to my Uncle Juanito “Tadyo” Calantog. Although I had only ever spent around 16 weeks worth of vacations in the span of 27 years getting to know him, I always thought of him as a person who was always kind with a cool demeanour. The thing was, he wasn’t particularly anymore nice or anymore cool than anyone else. He was just always those things during times when people usually weren’t.

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