My father and his wife have arrived, and we travel east and south to Subic Bay, site of an American naval base that was evacuated in the early 90's.
Watching your father in the context where he was born does much to explain who you are, inevitably. We buy matching barongs in the public market and drink halo-halo and gin together. We swim in the warm, clear water of the Bay, against a backdrop of rolling hills and swaying palms, and bancas and catamarans plying the gentle tide.
Dad tells of making suits for black sailors in the early 70's, while my 4-yr. old cousin sleeps on my lap. We pass war monuments festooned with chicken coops, massive piers built for aircraft carriers now waiting for cruise liners, glittering groups of local fashionables playing in the water. Everyone stares at my father's wife, the only white woman this side of Manila.
I carry my 4-yr. old cousin D. on my shoulders as we walk through the hot sand and the quiet streets of the abandoned base, now a magnet for upscale shopping and a tide of tourists expected any year now. We eat American pizza and listen to Bobby Darin beyond the sea, and I miss home.
We come back to Remedios in Lubao, to the same throng of family and relatives still paying court to my frail Grandma. Tommorrow is the town fiesta, and hogs are squealing in the slaughter-yards.
It's so very overwhelming. I grasp my cousin D.'s hand just as tightly as she grasps mine.