What I learned in the Philippines

Taken in Vigan, Ilocos Sur

This past winter break, I had the privilege of returning home to the Philippines and reuniting with my extended family for two weeks after seven years of not being home. I can say with absolute certainty that that was the best two weeks of my life. It was the first time that all 14 cousins on my father’s side were together, with a 20-year difference between the oldest and youngest. Our time together was the most fun I had ever had and I learned so much from the whole experience. Here are just some of the things I learned during my short time home.

Family is Everything


I honestly don’t know how to make it clearer than that. Every day I woke up excited to spend time with my family, some of whom I hadn’t seen in years. There was so much to catch up on and so much to experience together. There was time we had to make up for and we certainly did that. I had never felt so much love and it was such a warm (literally, because Philippine heat) and comforting time.


I could talk about my cousins forever. I am constantly amazed and proud to see all that they are accomplishing and doing in their lives. They are all so unique and awesome in their own ways and I am always impressed and in awe of every single one of them. I admire their different personality traits, passions, and intelligence, but at the end of the day we are all very similar. I wish I could spend more time with them , just to get to know them better and be a part of their lives for even a short while. The two weeks we spent together was precious to me, which made saying goodbye one of the hardest thing I’ve had to do. I miss every single one of them every day but thank God we have Facebook to communicate.

I belong in a warm climate


Living in Illinois for a majority of my life has been frustrating in regards to the weather. If you have ever lived in Illinois, you are very well aware of the ever-changing weather. From the harshest of winters to the hottest of summer, it seems we can never catch a break from the craziness. That being said, being able to stay in a consistently warm and sunny (although sometimes rainy) climate for a short while made me the happiest girl on earth. I always joke with my friends here that I belong on an island because my body seems to hate the wintertime, and these two weeks further proved my point. Being able to wake up to the sun blazing through the window made it easier to start the day, and I definitely would not mind waking up to that every single day. It was a very nice break from the layers upon layers needed in Chicago, so I always appreciate the constant heat.

Breakfast does wonders


I was never one to eat breakfast every single morning. Sometime in high school I started to skip breakfast altogether and I didn’t think it made much of a difference in my daily routine. That routine followed me into college where I would occasionally try to eat breakfast, but it never became consistent. In the Philippines, a delicious smelling breakfast was always awaiting me and I could not refuse. Sharing the first meal of the day with the rest of the family was a great start to each day. I brought the routine of eating breakfast back to the states and finally made it a habit. I noticed a huge spike and energy and focus during the day, something I definitely need now that my classes are starting to become more difficult. Although people are always saying breakfast is the most important meal of the day, I never believed in until I experienced it for myself, and I am never going back.

Time flies when you’re having THE TIME OF YOUR LIFE


Those two weeks felt like they were over before they even started. I tried to make a point of getting up as early as possible every morning because I did not want to waste a single second. Two weeks is definitely not enough time to be home, but I will gladly take any time I can get in the Philippines. There is so much you can fit in a day and we definitely proved that. In one day, we were able to get up and go to the beach, explore a whole town, and have a photo shoot with the whole family. All that in one day. Each day together was jam packed and a minute was never wasted. I am so blessed to be able to have done all that we did together. Even with all of the fun times, the trip felt so short. Two weeks isn’t a lot of time to spend with your favorite people in the world, but definitely enough time to have some epic adventures with the family.


Going home this past year was more than I could I have ever imagined. I will cherish these moments forever and I cannot wait to go home again and make even more memories. I think about this trip every single day and not a day goes by that I don’t miss it. I’m sure we’ll be back as soon as possible, but in the mean time, I’ll live vicariously through Filipino vloggers traveling the beautiful country I call home. As cheesy as all of this is, I love my family so incredibly much and I am extremely grateful for them and these experiences.



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