The Old & The New

I mentioned how 14 adults were all staying under the same roof in my last post, and we were all able to fit comfortably thanks to the size and modern construction of my Auntie Jessica's beautiful home. Mostly, we split our time between her house in Amansabina and my late grandparents' in Maasin. Everyday, it was like going from one world to a completely different one, a mix of the old and the new.

Technically, my aunt's house and grandparents' are less than a 15-minute drive apart. The last mile or so of the drive to my grandparents' is nothing but fishponds on both sides of the narrow road. All you see is greenery and water. (This really adds to the completely-different-world effect.)

When you pull up to the front gate, the first thing you notice is...more greenery. The house is surrounded by trees, and it has a garden to the right of the driveway. Then, there's the red tin roof and the ironwork on all of the windows. I'd stayed here before as a kid, but my last visit was in 2001. So, it's been awhile.

You have to walk up a long driveway to get to the "living room". Yes, I said, "living room". But I use the term loosely here. Because of the heat and humidity in the Philippines, staying indoors can be, well...small bueno. Even before my mom's oldest sister, Auntie Vi, lived here, there were always tables and chairs set up under the car port. It was an area for everyone to sit, hang out, and even eat.

To be honest, I had no problem whatsoever spending my time outdoors. No tv with premium cable or computers here. Instead, we would eat, play cards (Tongits or solitaire!), eat, talk (or Sam and I would just sit down and listen to our moms and aunts speak in their can get, so loud), eat, and...did I say eat already? (By the way, that's me in the white dress!)

I love the view of the "backyard" here, too. It's open and bordered with huge trees, like duhat (black plum, but my mom insists they're more like big cherries) and bamboo. Again, I'm using a term loosely here. I call this space the backyard, but it extends a lot further than this picture shows. Behind the row of trees in the center of the photo (above), there is a fishpond. That little wooden house on the right? It's what's left of my mom and her siblings' childhood home. All 10 of them...grandpa, grandma, mom, her 6 sisters, and her baby brother...lived there. The main home in the previous photos wasn't actually built until 1993.

Inside, just past the front door, is the family photo table. There are wedding, graduation, and baby photos. The one in the silver frame in the bottom-right corner (white shirt, white bow...really fuzzy, I know) is my 2nd grade yearbook portrait! However, my FAVORITE is the family portrait hanging on the wall. As I mentioned before, they were a family of 10, with my grandparents having 7 daughters and 1 son. Just check out all of that hair. My mom's parents moved back to the Philippines in the early 90's, when a lot of the grandchildren were still babies or not even born yet. So, these photos were very special to them and I love that they kept every single one of them on display :)

Finally, this is my Auntie Jessica's house. It was built in 2010, and it's very different from the house in Maasin. The house has a grand total of 7 bedrooms and 4 bathrooms, and it includes a veranda that wraps around half of the house. 

Last year, they planted 42 mango trees on the property. Forty. Two. I can't wait to come back and be able to pick mangoes. And, of course, eat the mangoes!

I stayed with Sam in her room, and it was AH-MAZING. I loved her bed, her walk-in closet, the bathroom, the air-conditioning, her walk-in closet... I felt absolutely spoiled.

I've talked about her enough, but I realized I haven't actually shown you who I'm talking about. This is my younger cousin Sam. She was my roommate, the only other "kid" in our group, and my Zumba buddy during this trip. The most important thing was that Sam likes to eat, I like to eat...we had no issues at all. Don't mind the derpy face she's making (excuse me while I laugh for a bit), but this is also the only picture I have of the living room (I don't know how that happened...). I loved all the dark wood and the marble floors!

Both houses are unique and have their own special characteristics. I remember waking up after my first night back in the US and actually thinking to myself, "Ugh. I'm in my own bed." I enjoyed every second in both houses, and I look forward to coming back many, many, many more times!