A week before my mom was going to fly to the Philippines, I received a text from her saying, “You should join me if you can.” I knew for months she was going and wanted to join her, but things were stressful and I had been feeling like it wasn’t the right time. I quickly changed my mind and booked my ticket. Five days later, I was flying to Cebu.
I brought my old Minolta camera and two rolls of film. After the first few days I knew I was going to need more film. I managed to find a couple rolls in a random store that also sold counterfeit Louis Vuitton, Kylie Lip Kits, and a bunch of other random items. It’s lucky I bought those extra rolls because I ended up ruining one whole roll of film. It’s the first roll I have ever ruined and it felt especially painful losing all the images from this tropical country I was seeing with adult eyes for the first time. These images are from the two rolls of film that made it.
The rural, secluded parts of Cebu were my favorite – the parts of the island I’m sure I was only able to see because my mom has extended family in those areas. Small beaches void of tourists, tropical hilltops, and drives through small towns outside the city had me in awe of the country.
Being a 5’8” half African American girl, I stood out like a sore thumb. Little kids giggled at me and people would stare. I’m accustomed to the attention you draw when you’re a tourist in another country, but it felt a little different receiving these reactions from people I share the same culture with. Nevertheless, the people are kind and always seem to be smiling or cracking jokes.
We spent two weeks visiting as many friends, family, and sites as possible. I hope to make trips to the Philippines more often. There’s so much more to explore and I wish I could shoot it all, but many times I just sat back, enjoyed the scenery, and put my camera down.
Part of me wanted to take photos of everything, but another part of me wanted to just experience the country. I wasn’t upset for long when I ruined that roll of film. It felt like a reminder to live in the moment, but it also makes the photos that made it all the more special.