Today marks my family’s fifth anniversary living in America.
With every year away from the Philippines, I’m increasingly compelled to understand who I was before growing up on three continents centered my story. That means unpacking my identity as a first-generation immigrant; developing answers that my younger self couldn’t articulate; and connecting the ways in which each community I’ve been fortunate to call home has shaped who I am and how I see the world.
Weaved through this short post are personal photos from Itogon, Benguet; a small municipality outside of Baguio City, my hometown. My Nanay and Tatay raised me here while my parents and newly-born brother lived in the heart of the city. Mom shared that our small family would reunite again when her work schedule allowed it. In anticipation of our relocation to the United Kingdom, we then moved to my dad’s birthplace of Hagonoy, Bulucan, just before mom went abroad first in 2000. We’d go a whole year before finally living together as a family again, this time somewhere that had yet been considered home by anyone on both sides of my family.
Truthfully, it wasn’t until I returned to the Philippines alone in 2016 and relocated to Baltimore in 2017 that I began to explore the significance of these thousand-something miles apart during my earliest years.
When times get tough, imagining myself back in Baguio City gives me a sense of peace. The meaning of home is still evolving for me and so is the process of creating it on my own terms. I still currently live in Baltimore, Maryland—I love being here and continually feel inspired by those around me. I’m not sure what the next five years entails, but if the journey is anything like my twenty-two years of existence so far, I’m ready for it.