I often wonder what it is like to grow up with family around. Specifically, extended family–cousins, aunts and uncles that are my parents’ siblings or cousins, grandparents, and other relatives that come from an expansive tree. I appreciate hearing stories from people I know about their families, growing up with cousins and spending holidays at a relative’s house that is only an hour or so away from home.
For my family (parents and brother), we could only hope to have enough money to travel halfway across the world to see our relatives. I was lucky enough to visit the Philippines several times, more times than other people I know that only know about the motherland through anecdotes, The Filipino Channel, and short paragraphs in history textbooks. But I always feel like I am missing whole chapters of a book about my life. That is to say, I don’t know my origin or context, with regards to how I came to be here, in the United States, at this point in time.
I am actively investigating and recovering the missing chapters. That means looking for anything that has not been touched by the foreign hands that sought to take away the riches of my ancestors. Continue reading The Balikbayan Complex, Part I