|Teenage Carolyn chillin' on a banca boat|
(and yes, Hard Rock cafe t-shirts were totally cool then)
(and no, not in an ironic way)
Growing up the idea of home was pretty much a foreign concept. I was born in the South, but then we quickly moved to the West Coast followed by a move to Western Europe followed by a move back to the West Coast followed by another move to the West Coast followed by a move back down South.
And all before fifth grade.
Home was pretty much wherever my parents dragged us.
And when I was 12 my parents moved us to the Philippines so that my dad could work in a small town near Batangas. Originally I was supposed to spend the years my parents were in the Philippines at a boarding school in Singapore, but through a series of events I instead ended up living with a family in Manila. There's a lot that I could say about that time in my life (like how I showed up for my first day of school and the office told me that I couldn't stay because I didn't have the proper visa...which, of course, made me start crying in the office because I had just moved in with the family the day before and so I didn't know my address, my phone number, or how to get home. Awesome.) but what I remember most of all was that being in the Philippines was the first time that I felt "home." And considering that I was an awkward teenager, living in a foreign country, with a family that wasn't my own, that's certainly saying something. You've never met someone who looks so Irish but could cuss so well in Tagalog and play a mean game of Pusoy Dos.
But that was over 20 years ago and sadly my Tagalog skills are nearly non-existant now and I don't even remember half the rules to Pusoy Dos. But what I do remember is how much I love that country. And how it hurts my heart to think about what they're going through right now - especially considering all that they've gone through in the past.
But if there's one thing that I learned in the three years that I lived there is that you never count the Philippines out. And if there's one thing that country has going for it, it's the unbreakable spirit of the Filipino people (and the fact that they start playing Christmas music in the stores in early September. Man, I loved that as a kid).
So, stay strong, the Philippines. Stay strong.