Travelling to a new place is always a good thing. For most of us, that “fear of the unknown” gene does not exist. I mean, what could be more exciting than going to places on your own, without your parents? Even thinking about it then sends shivers to my spine. But as they always say, we get a taste of our medicine somehow. And for me, I did, on 2010 when I went to Manila for a Leadership Training, for a week. Although I was with 12 other people who shared the same intense enthusiasm, travelling without my parents sounds pretty much travelling alone to me. I distinctly remember on that night before our flight, I was having chills. I was nervous and excited and anxious and cold and “Are these planes safe?” Well those kinds of things. I felt everything and nothing at the same time, and I don’t know what that really means. But it was my first time in a plane, and I am a little afraid of heights plus mix in a little turbulence here and there and I was closing my eyes and praying the Hail Mary and try to forget all the movies involving plane crashes. So when we landed, I was metaphorically kissing the ground (who would actually do that?) and went on our way to eat breakfast and do some sight-seeing for the time. Being in a new place is so strange, you get to see and experience an aspect that no one ever has, I mean, Manila is definitely a different atmosphere compared to Cebu and this, my friends, made me realize how lucky I was that I was born and raised, and lived in Cebu. Things aside, Manila was very urban. And by urban, I mean both the good and bad sides of urban communities. Smoke, easy access to malls and hotels, traffic, new sites to see, you name it. There’s just something about visiting new places that makes me so happy. It’s that whiff of air ( in my case, smoke) that you don’t get anywhere, it’s like inhaling history, being a part of something larger is kind of nauseating but I wouldn’t mind. However, I remember being on the airport and waiting for our van when this lady came up to me and asked if she could borrow my phone because hers broke out and she had to text a friend. I remembered all, and I mean all of the bad things I heard and watched on the television that reminded me why I should be so careful of my belongings, but to make the long story short, I told her I didn’t have one. Better safe than sorry, I guess.
Getting a little piece of Manila with me, even for a short time, is memorable. In those chaotic moments between hasting ourselves to get to our rooms and putting our luggage back to the counter for departure, I did not take a moment to think. It felt like a blur, which I regret. I was, literally, in a state of “culture shock”. We didn’t even get to get in to the famous “Star City” where I can go play with snow and stuff which was the worst part of the trip since it was the one thing we were looking forward to visit. But we visited Ocean Park, and my love for the ocean has never stopped since. Even though I don’t know how to swim, admiring things from afar still feels quite amazing, with all the jellyfish and little fishes. In a span of one week, I had visited only the tip of the iceberg, people. Getting a taste of being in Manila was like licking a small part of the ice cream, and I am so hungry for more. So I hope someday I can go back to Manila and take the time to really breathe in ( not literally though ) the amazing and wonderful places that it has to offer. I don’t kid, I will go back someday.
Putting all these things aside, my experience of being culture shocked in Manila was a whiff. And I couldn’t tell if it really happened, although I knew it did because pictures and certificates happened to be there. But the feeling, of having really visited the place, and having the time to really take in and experience the fact that I was on my own, and had the freedom to do pretty much what I wanted at that time, did not occur to me. But I know for a fact, I will go back soon. The only question is when. And how to earn money to go there.
— Because reminiscing the past on a rainy Wednesday evening seems to be the best way to spend the night.