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Finding Family in the Philippine Summer

Catching a Moment - Finding Family in the Philippine Summer

PHILIPPINES | Saturday, 6 April 2013 | Views [210] | Scholarship Entry

My knuckles are white. The forty-two degree Philippine breeze washes up and over my face, into my hair and down my back. The road throws us all about and I hold onto the roof racks even tighter.
I can hear laughing behind me while I look out across the rice paddies. Towering curls of grey smoke punctured the clear sky in the distance, but the lurid green grass looked lush enough to sleep in, and I lean back to tell my new family so.
“You’ll get eaten by a snake!” the girls smirk, my dress is caught by a gust of wind and they giggle at me again.
I grin and turn back to watch the unsteady rock road disappear beneath the ute, resuming my stance at the trays helm.
I can feel the sun prickling into my face and remember how Tita Dee had told me the sun never used to burn so hot here, must be global warming, she said.
The truck bounces and bunny-hops along the road, gaining speed
positively illegal for the amount of people piled into the back of it; but to me it feels like the embodiment of summer into mere seconds and minutes, bumps and abrasions on the body of life.
The signs of a life well lived.
A jeepney hurtles by carrying a contingent of men, the stragglers gripping desperately to the hollow doorframes they're falling out of.
Smiling, I close my eyes and breathe deeply, inhaling the sweet scent of forest and summer rain; crisp undertones of hay and wheat linger in my nose as we pass a group of men harvesting, wearing their conical paddy hats and thongs. I briefly wonder how long they’ve been out here, the sun standing guard at their backs.
We’re returning from swimming in the mountain springs surrounded by fruit bats and forest. The water’s chill remains on my back, dripping from hair yet to dry in the heat.

I turn to the others in the tray and look at the people I’ve come to care for. The children with their infinite black-brown eyes and the girls wearing a glossy crown of black hair, thick and soft. Pushing my fringe away from my eyes I wished I had a mane so lovely.
The aunts and uncles, nannas and pops, cousins and siblings I see sitting before me spark a sudden sadness in me as I realise I must leave tomorrow, say farewell for now to a family who became my own, and I them.
Squeezing my eyes shut, I swallow my sadness and remember the halcyon days here, opening them once more to feel the love of summer upon me again.

Tags: Travel Writing Scholarship 2013

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