My summer for the past 18 years was perfectly simple. April was a bare month and I had to wait for May because the first two weeks would mean a Bible Boot Camp and the rest of the month meant my vacation in the province. During these years, I barely remember all that happened during my summer vacation except that it was fun.
This year, however, brought something that wholly changed my perspective on summer and even on myself. I was preoccupied from April to May with spending my summer with my loved ones doing the things I love. Although it was not specifically planned, as soon as my summer vacation began everything just fell into their places.
My summer kicks off at the middle of April as my mom, my cousins and I head to the Summer Capital of the country, Baguio City! This particular trip was not in anyone’s itinerary until it came into our doorsteps. The agency that my brother works for does a lot of travelling and we were given the opportunity to come along with them. As soon as we got there we went to most, if not all, of the famed sites taking pictures and doing almost everything that comes to your head when you hear Baguio. On our third and last day we stayed in La Trinidad and had a well-spent day picking strawberries and buying goodies for everyone back home.
This certain trip was a time for firsts for me because I was able to try new things like the Tree Top Adventure and visiting the strawberry farm. Likewise, this was the first time my cousins went to Baguio and it seemed just about time since one of them was a fresh grad and even celebrated her birthday along the way to Baguio. It was pure fun!
On the contrary, my grandfather Efren Freo, which is fondly called as Lolo Papay, was lying on his deathbed even before we set out for Baguio. By the time we came back from Baguio, he eventually gave out and we found ourselves facing him, not to kiss his hand, but to kiss him goodbye.
Furthermore, we spent five days for the wake with people screaming and laughing over gambling and alcohol which is a “necessary” Filipino custom. At that time, I just didn’t see where the issue of that custom enters. For me, it was simply a way of coping with the passing away of Lolo Papay not that everyone who visited knew him anyway. It was not fun at all. It was painful. There were moments where we would recollect our memories with Lolo Papay, laugh, stay silent for a while and change the topic. The day of the interment was specifically the most terrible part. It was my first time to see someone being buried and my last to see a grandparent die.
This particular part of my summer gave an awful impression to me but then I realized one or two things from it. I began to understand how true Filipino family ties are which I only learned on books before. Relatives from around the globe travelled just to mourn and extend their deepest condolences. I also realized, cheesy as it may sound, that people die every day and that they never truly leave us as long as we keep them in our hearts.
After that, we had to go back to the real world in our real lives however difficult that may seem. I spent two weeks at Sorsogon before going back to Manila and made every productive thing possible. I worked on our business and spent quality time with my cousins going to different places. The last days of my stay there also included a visit from someone really special who came all the way from Manila to Bicol just to see me.
In a way, I thought that this summer vacation sucked. I thought I wouldn’t be able to enjoy it as much as I did in the previous years and that it was the worst summer I had in my entire life. But going back to what I’ve been through this summer it makes me think that it’s not bad after all and that it could even be one of the best summers I had. It was, in one way or the other, some sort of a grand reunion for everyone. It was a time for fellowship and bonding. On that note I’m sure I’ll remember this summer because this time I KNOW WHAT I DID THIS SUMMER.