I remember choosing Boston as my home campus in HULT because I vaguely recall an uncle who lived here with his wife and son. That made me think to myself that it wouldn’t be that hard to adjust since I have relatives around the area–would have been cool too to have a family I could visit once in a while in the state. Apparently, that was years ago and my uncle has moved to California (from East Coast to West Coast) ever since. If you could imagine me panicking from the inside after finding that out when I received my grad school acceptance letter, then you’d understand. By our culture, Filipino families are closely-knit; we find ways to get together when time permits.
Luckily, my uncle introduced me to a Filipino family in the area. He gave me the number of his dear friend whom I could contact in case there was an emergency. I did exactly as he told me and some hours later, I received a text, not from my uncle’s friend, but from the daughter. I met Allysa, my Tito Tho’s goddaughter, a month after I arrived in the country. There was no need to mention how warm and welcoming her parents were to me the first time I saw them. Tito John, her father, invited me to go apple-picking with them and I absolutely enjoyed my time walking around the orchard and learning about the different kinds of apples. Tita Jo, her mother, invited me to have lunch with them right after.
Allysa, just like her parents, is a darling. She loves supporting the sports teams, a penchant she has just like her father does, but apart from that, she also loves music festivals, talking to children, especially her students and her cousins, and a lot of cool trivias, too. She explained to me the difference between American and Philippine education and how being a Filipina but not knowing enough Tagalog (or Bicolano, like her parents do) seems to be for her. Around September, she invited me to watch a Boston Red Sox game–my first, in fact. Allysa has been to the games ever since she was 6 months old. We met at the Kenmore Station and walked to the entrance of Fenway Park, home of the Boston Red Sox. While waiting for the game to start, she introduced me to the Fenway Frank, told me about the players she knew were good, and sang along with Sweet Caroline in the crowd. Allysa was prepared to use her paper cup to catch a ball if it goes out towards the bleachers. No baseball went our way, but we had fun joining the wave.
Allysa turned 23 last October 12. There was good company, good Pinoy food. Tito John invited me over for dinner and I came with my roommate, Coco. The Lujares’ have a huge family in the States, all the Titos and Titas and cousins having migrated here before 2000. The siblings of Allysa’s parents were all welcoming to me; they knew me as Tho’s niece as my uncle was also fond of them when he lived near the area. It was a beautiful Pinoy family, almost like home to me. We had palabok, chicken inasal, longganisa, and other food that Allysa’s parents have made. Coco and I even went home with some baon for the next few days.
Sometimes I tell myself that there is no need to be sad of being far away from my parents and siblings, that there is a different kind of life waiting for me here in the States. I still can’t say for now that everything is going to get better, but I know that there are people who are there for me when things get tough. Allysa wants to watch a Boston Celtics game with me soon. I hope I find some time with all my requirements piling up, but I’m always a good one for the sports.