The concept of ‘home’ has been on my mind a lot here in Ghana. COS‘ing PCVs are always planning where to travel before going home. I have had many conversations with PCVs about to go home or just returned from vacation, family weddings, meeting new nieces and nephews, etc. There have been PCVs medically evacuated home to be treated – I cannot even remember what address I put down for that, if any at all.
For all intensive purposes, I should identify the Philippines as my home. It is where, thus far, I have lived the longest (1995 – 2006; 2010 – 2011), where the majority of my family resides, where my parents have decided to retire and I am half Filipino after all. But how about those other reasons? You know, “home is where the heart is?” It cannot mean my family
because they were and will always be mine, wherever we are in the world. Or “what makes a house a home? My parents moved into their dream house only this year – I have never set foot in it, I have no memories there – unless you count that Facebook chat we had a few weeks ago where my voice digitally reverberated across the balcony. How about that sense of belonging? I have certainly never felt that. I may look Filipino but really only when with foreign friends. Put me with Filipino family or friends and I stick out like a sore thumb.
I have come to realize home is how I choose to define it. And I have boiled it down to this: Home is that place you long for. That place you long to return to. With this, then it really is the Philippines. There was an ache in my heart when a memory came back to me a few days ago: I was on a banca (Filipino boat with outriggers usually made of bamboo) with some friends, taking a break between dives and it started to rain. That’s it. The emotion it brought on was like a ton of bricks; I am 28 and only now have I figured out where home is. This week marks five years since I was last home. Who knows if I will ever live there again but one thing is for certain – I will come back, time and time again.