On the last weekend of July, I went with my father and brother to Camiguin partly for a much needed change of scenery and primarily for the birthday of his brother, Uncle Boning.
As with a typical coming-of-age movie, long car rides and a break from the usual are a perfect recipe to a series of epiphanies.
My Auntie was right when she said one of the advantages of graduating and preparing for the “real world”—also known as that stage when you’re not yet part of the workforce and you’re still figuring out what to do next (see: unemployment)—is having total control of your schedule. I can go on a trip tomorrow and not worry about the date of return as I have no obligations.
Although some people say I’m in a relatively comfortable situation because I can spend the entire day watching movies, reading books, reflecting on life, and hanging out with friends, I still feel the need to stop this cycle soon. As short-term projects have ended and as a decades-long beneficiary of the Pabuhi Parents Foundation, I feel like a leech in this household. Useless. They are not nagging me to find a job and are telling me to go at my own pace, but realizing that I’m not a productive member of society that contributes to the common good does not feel great. Besides, I don’t want to be that movie character who still lives in the basement and is the perfect example of bum life at 30 years old. I doubt any of those characters are a step closer to self-actualization.
I know I can maximize my potentials in and for a certain place; I just have to find and be accepted in it.(This is becoming a perfect recipe for a typical movie wherein the character embarks on a new adventure in a far-flung part of the world and “tries to find herself.”) The idea of working from home and facing a computer most of the time has crossed my mind but did not appeal to me; maybe it will to people who prefer routine and immobility.
Some people may say this is such a “first world problem of a millennial” but struggles take form in different shapes. “At least you finished school.” “At least you have your basic needs covered and your parents still support you.” Truth be told, I’m uncomfortable with being relieved by the problems of other people, as if their struggles are objectified for inspiration. A challenge is part of life and is not invalidated by the existence of another.
In the fortunate event that I have a decent and fulfilling job, I’m pretty certain I will eventually miss this extended break as I wade through an infinite to-do list. But life goes on and the world is bigger than I think.
When I was in high school, I dreaded attending gatherings wherein 90 percent of the guests are around 30 years old and above. It spelled ‘boring’. Who would I talk to about my relentless love for the Jonas Brothers? (Yes, I was that fan who made their photos my phone wallpaper, took every How Much of A JoBro Fan Are You? quiz, downloaded their music videos, defended them in online forums, and bought their album and book. We all go through that stage, don’t we?)
During the trip, only my brother and I were part of Generation Y. Eighty percent of our family members’ talks involved reminiscing about their younger years in the island. How people were in awe upon the start of a 24-hour electricity connection. How they spent summers climbing trees, playing with childhood friends, and swimming in the seas. How they evacuated to the other side of Camiguin when a volcanic eruption was expected. How they survived high school and college without the Internet. How people knew almost everything about almost everyone. The 1950’s to 1990’s in a small island must have been idyllic.
Being with people of different ages—from children who believe in magic to parents who attend one funeral after another—gives a fresh perspective on everyday life. It was refreshing to be with people who didn’t check their phones on impulse and focused on the conversations.
I can only hope my future family members will be patient in acquainting me with technological breakthroughs, no matter how seemingly ridiculous my questions will be (i.e. “How do you tag people in photos?” “How do you access email in a smartphone?” “What’s the difference between the comment section and Facebook groups?” “What’s Instagram?”)
My mother and I had to exhaust our convincing powers for my father to go on the trip. I know, it must be easy for me to say because I don’t have bills to pay but I often hear him sighing in dismay upon hearing a classmate’s death, remembering their reunion eons ago, and wishing he had talked to him sooner. I understand schedules are more difficult to sync when one is juggling a family and career but why miss an opportunity to see them again?
Relationships, especially those with the family, are equally or even more important than a career. Perhaps I will fully understand my parents’ career decisions—working here instead of going abroad and discontinuing studies on a specialization to take care of a frail child—only when I become a parent myself. For now, I’m certain that I shouldn’t wait for a funeral to bring my non- and biological family together. Quite morbid but true.
A perfect weekend does not have to involve an obscene amount of alcohol and a party that mimics Project X’s. I enjoy the occasional parties of this nature but I’m on a hiatus mainly because I am, well, unemployed. Spending my savings on alcohol and food—usually when my inebriated self is fooled into thinking I have a bottomless wallet and I’m obliged to feed the entire community in the wee hours—is a surefire way to regret. This surprisingly significant decrease in “morning the night” times is also brought by my lowered alcohol tolerance. How and when did this happen, anyway? (This how-and-when-did-this-happen-what-did-I-miss reaction is the same while watching Justin Bieber’s carpool karaoke video. At what point in the 21st century did he ditch the sideswept fringe and evolved into an objectively attractive person?!)
Jobless plus constantly recovering from a hangover is such a terrible combination. I’m not a Kardashian and this is real life, not a party movie or a reality show.
A perfect weekend can be spent sharing homemade dinner with the entire family in an ancestral house after snorkeling in Mantigue Island, swimming in Ardent Hot Springs, and roaming around the main island. Oh my, is this what being a tita feels like?
No matter how invincible you think you are, a sunburn doesn’t choose its victims. A sunblock is your best friend. In fact, it must be applied every day on your face and neck; your future self will thank you for this effort. People often overlook the neck when talking about aging gracefully yet it’s one of the body parts that sag first. I must sound like a concerned tita.
Camiguin is an underrated island. Should I be able to travel the world, I think no place can beat this island that I consider synonymous to carefree summers spent as a child.