Aside from experiencing Filipino hospitality, one of the best things about doing homestay is meeting and developing friendships with your hosts. It is a privilege to get to know them, learn about their cultures, hear their stories, and know their dreams.
I am fortunate to have forged relationships with the amazing people I met on the road. Some of whom I still am in touch with until today. And, my list of these amazing people includes our homestay hosts, Ate Concepcion and Manong Brilliano.
A love story
The two had been long time friends before they got together. They would spend their afternoons by the beautiful Chico River with their other friends. It was only later on in their lives that Manong Brilliano decided to woo Ate Concepcion. He went to the mountains to get wood that he would bring to Ate Concepcion’s family. According to him, in their tribe, this was how a man expresses his intention of marrying a lady. When Tara asked him why he chose Ate Concepcion, Manong Brilliano replied, “Because I love her!” Kilig, haha! [Read: Courtship and Marriage in Kalinga]
Of derailed plans and Filipino hospitality
That day, we had planned to go farther up the mountains to learn more about the livelihood of the people of Tinglayan, Kalinga. But, because a big wedding was taking place, our guide said that everyone would be attending and that we should, too. 🤦🏻♀️
Having been always awkward in gatherings with more than 5 people, and in a wedding I was not invited to (!), I was kind of hesitant in the beginning. Honestly, my introverted self was perfectly fine in our room to write, read a book, or simply to rest and recuperate from the long bus ride to get to the province. On the other hand, there is also no certainty that I will ever be back in Kalinga again so yeah, I should seize the day, right?
The wedding crashers
Our guide, our homestay hosts, and practically everyone we met on the road invited us to the wedding, as if we were expected to be there. 🤷🏻♀️ . I was hesitant in the beginning. Still, I kept on muttering to myself, “I can’t believe I’m gatecrashing a wedding 😱”.
Slowly, my hesitation evolved into embracing the warmth of the people of Kalinga. When we arrived, everyone asked us to partake in their banquet, to find ourselves a seat, to watch the festivities, and just to enjoy our time being there. I guess it’s part of their culture. It was as if we were members of their family – the kind that you haven’t seen for a long time but that you’re happy to have as witnesses to this special occasion. It was a pleasant experience. I was happy to be there.
Do you also resist love?
This experience of Filipino hospitality reminds me that love and generosity come in all forms – time, service, gifts, words, smile, etc. I have not yet unearthed why, but I personally tend to deflect their manifestations. But, I’m learning slowly.
I start with recognizing their existence. Then, I allow myself to be open to the possibility of receiving it. When I do, I get overwhelmed with love and happiness. And, I genuinely hope that you get to experience this, too.
Maybe we are the same. Or, maybe I am just a weirdo. But, if you also catch yourself resisting love and generosity from those around you, I invite you to recognize that space and just slowly, at your own pace, open up. Maybe, just maybe, you will be surprised by how much loved you are.
Sending you love and good vibes,
P.S. Thank YOU! And, in whatever space you are in now, I hope that you got something from reading this post. Talk to you soon!
Updated on October 8, 2020. Originally published on December 19, 2012.