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Minority Report

Tales from the Flip
Author: Melanie Guerrero

Everyone should visit the country where they come 
from. They go back to find the culture that flows 
through their very genes. Maybe in search for who they 
are or something lost inside them. I am Filipino, 
Spanish and Chinese, so for me, it was the 
Philippines. Both of my parents immigrated to the USA 
when they were young adults. 
At first I was excited, I was finally going to see my 
homeland. I wanted to see what everything was like and 
my family. Only right before we were scheduled to go, 
I became sick as hell, but I was ready for anything. 
Anything indeed.
My dad, brother, and I waited three hours for the 
flight, 16 hours on a stinky airplane, and then an 
hour to get through security inspection. Then we were 
there. Wow. Not. I didn’t feel different. I felt like 
I was still in America.
But then I saw these crazy decorated cars and jeepneys 
(a kind of car/taxi/bus there) and I was well 
informed: “ksssshh…Melanie, we have reached the 
Philippines…kssshh.” Whoa! Hello. This was something 
different. And I discovered even more when I went on 
an eight-hour drive from Manila to Laoag in a homemade 
car. The road was terrible and bumpy and I had a butt 
ache from hell. But the view was more than I expected. 
There were tropical trees and ancient structures. We 
traveled through poor cities, rich cities, and there 
were houses, huts and shacks. It was a shock in how 
the people live there. It was like an oriental Mexico, 
Filipino style.
Then the mobs of people; it was more than I could 
handle. Thousands and thousands of Filipinos, dark 
skinned, light skinned. Whoa. I felt like I was 
surrounded by aliens, when they really were my own 
kind. And I couldn’t speak their language. Whatdya 
know? It’s like being pocha in the Philippines. I knew 
that if someone asked me something or started talking 
to me, I was totally screwed. Just like when I went to 
the gas station bathroom, and I was like, where the 
hell is the toilet paper?!? I was glad I brought a 
full load of supplies.
I saw many different provinces of the Philippines 
during that eight-hour ride. From day to night, I 
traveled through a warp zone of Hawaii slash Mexico 
slash Flea Market slash I dunno… Philippines. 
There were gorgeous things, there were crappy things, 
what can I say, I was freakin’ speechless. But finally 
when we got to my family’s house, it was strange. I 
met my uncle, his friends, and my cousins. The house 
was old, which my dad said that he grew up in that 
same house. And my dad is like 55, so dang, that house 
is old. I was finally there, like the prince of Bel-
Air. No. I was just home. Home sweet mosquito augh!-
ing home. 
The mosquitoes were inescapable. Day or night they 
will hunt you down! I swear. I had bug bites all over 
my face and toes and knuckles. I did not survive 
through the night. Repeat. I did not survive through 
the night! 
But day-to-day living was ok. Talk about old school. 
You take baths with a bucket of water and soap. Yay. 
Caution: No hot water. And you wash and dry your 
clothes by hand, no washing machines. Sorry. The stove 
was not really a stove; it was just the top part with 
a gas lighter on the bottom. And the food. Oh the many 
wonders of food.
I was ok for the first few days. And then, it came to 
my attention that the food did not do my body good. 
Every time I ate out or at a family member’s home, I 
would get sick. The peak of this sickness was in the 
last days of my stay, during which I couldn’t do 
CRAP!! I ate seaweed, then a couple of days before New 
Years, bada bing bada boom: I was sick beyond 
recognition. I was so sick I had to go to the 
hospital. They gave me loads of medication for every 
meal. I never want to go to the doctor in the 
Philippines again.
But on the bright side, I met a lot of my family 
members: my aunts, uncles, grandpas, grandmas, and a 
whole lot of hyper baby cousins. It was great. My 
family is so big. And we visited different family 
members every day for the first week. My family there 
is fun to be with. Everyone is funny and they help you 
out with anything. They took us to visit a lot of 
places: The malls, the Fort Ilocandia Hotel and 
Resort, the bathroom, the beach. 
Especially the beach, it was a wonderful sight. They 
had bamboo huts for picnics and then a whole lot of 
beach. I had a lot of fun. And I wore a bathing suit, 
which I thought was what everybody wore, but when I 
got dressed, my dad said, “You’re gonna wear that? All 
eyes on you, babe.” Yup. I was the only one wearing a 
bathing suit. Everyone there wore regular t-shirts and 
shorts into the water. …Great... That is one thing 
about the people in the Philippines. They have their 
own unique style in the Philippines, they’re more 
conservative. Not many people wear short skirts or low 
tops: Like my dad said, “Don’t bring skirts. They 
don’t try to be sexy there.” And I was forewarned that 
a lot of guys would be after me all the time if I did. 
And they were, according to my brother.
Every time we would go out walking, my brother would 
point out that there were a million eyes on me. Like 
one incident when we were about to cross the street. I 
was talking to my cousin about something and then she 
started laughing. And then my brother and dad started 
laughing. I was wondering, “Well, what’s so funny?” 
The story goes that while we were waiting to cross the 
street, a guy riding by saw me and was staring – a 
lot – with his eyes wide open. He kept staring, and 
even when he already passed by, he stuck his neck wide 
out and stared at me. Uh… whatever. Weirdos. 
And my brother was totally awed by every girl that 
passed by him. I bet he was in heaven.
One of the best parts of my trip was when my aunt, 
uncle and cousins took us to a club. It had a live 
band that covered R&B; and some alternative. They were 
awesome. I forget their name, but they covered stuff 
from Keith Sweat to Creed. It was also funny because 
my brother was into the female singer. When she 
announced her name on the microphone, “Hi, my name is 
Juuulia,” my brother just melted. He’s such a dork 
Anyway, I had a wonderful stay there, except for the 
part when I got sick. And that was the last few days, 
too. We could have gone more places, but I was too 
sick to do anything. And then, I had to ride the eight 
hours back to Manila to catch the plane. Boy, was that 
some lap-slapping fun. I wanted my mommy. It was an 
unbearable pain, but we did stay at a hotel in the 
rich city of Makati. 
It was an ideal place for the luxury shopper. If you 
want to go to the mall and are a shopping freak, well 
you get your own personal share of shopping bliss. 
There are huge shopping malls that cover the whole 
block and they are from three to five stories tall. 
Talk about shopping mania. And if you wanted to go to 
another mall, well, you just cross the street and 
whoopdeedo, there is another one!! I wasn’t into it 
though. Being sick and going shopping don’t mix. I 
stayed in the hotel with my brother the last day. 
Unfortunately, after my dad left the building the 
cable and lights in the room went out because the key 
was not in the handle. My brother and I were left in a 
dimly lit room with a blank TV for a while. 
But in the end, we finally got ready and caught the 
plane home. Great God I was going home! The 16-hour 
flight seemed shorter than the way there and I was 
happy to be home. Hello clean toilet, hello bed, hello 
Kiki (my cat), hello clean streets, hello refrigerator 
with non-food poisoning food, hello advanced 
electricity. I would have kissed the ground, if I 
wanted to, but no. 
I don’t regret going to the Philippines, but I sure 
know what it’s like to be home. It was a great 
influence on me to know what my culture is and how 
they live over there. One day I want to teach my kids 
about living here in the U.S. and living in the