Fuck Cancer. Salamat Manila.

I've been trying to bring myself to continue writing about my breast cancer journey lately, but for some reason, my thoughts just keep getting swayed. I've attempted so many times. During radiation period, in the airport as I wait for my flight to Manila, while in Manila, flight back to San Diego where I had to stay overnight in San Francisco airport for missing the connecting flight, and here in San Diego now while work hasn't officially started.

After seeking within me, I realized I couldn't jumpstart because I'M JUST DAMN TIRED OF CANCER. I'm tired of remembering it. I'm tired of thinking about it. I'm tired of talking about it. I'm tired of blogging about it. I'm tired of being associated with it. I'M JUST FUCKING SICK AND TIRED OF IT. But I can't completely close the chapter yet as it's still a very fresh and recent experience.

So instead of forcing myself to write about a topic I'm not feeling the vibes for, I'll honor what's on my mind and write something that gives me inspiration. This doesn't mean I'm in denial or will never talk about breast cancer again. I still will as I know that putting my story out there does inspire a lot of my followers. But it can't be what my blog is all about.

I am a woman with so many interests, passions, experiences, thoughts and stories to share. And breast cancer is just one of them. So is my blog.

With that being said, I shall share my thoughts on something that's been igniting inspiration in me lately... Manila, Philippines.

I booked a flight home at the time I was losing determination to carry on with the tedious radiation treatment. My therapist said I needed something great to look forward to... some kind of a reward in the end so I'll be motivated to keep swimming. And it worked! Every wave of fatigue I felt from the rads, I was driven by the image of coming to Manila, showered with love from family, friends and fans and celebrating victory in the hometown.

As I took the long flight, I had all these mixed emotions. I left the Philippines 8 years ago and have only been coming every year for a short and sweet 2-week stay. The last time I visited was 3 years ago so this is the longest I've been away. And this time, I'll be staying for almost a month.

How will Manila and I get on this time around? Now that I've been cultured, I've mature and evolved? Is my stay too long that I'll get overwhelmed with everything? Will I be happy to be back or be reminded of why I left in the first place?

As I stepped out of the plane and walked inside NAIA terminal, I felt that familiar gush of humid air that brought back so many emotional wounds associated with the hurtful memories I've had living in Manila for 30 years... feelings of confusion coming from a broken family, insecurity from self-esteem issues in high school, trying damn hard to get validation in my early 20s and feeling repressed and rebellious from the judgmental, traditional culture. Everything overpowered the fun and happy times and it got me a little worried as I was waiting for my luggage.

Did I do the right thing of booking this flight after going through a life-threatening treatment? But as I looked around and breath, it slowly hit me that the past is gone and evolution has happened.

I've grown up. And so has Manila. And as the days went by and I got to know it all over again, I saw it in a different, beautiful light.

Having lived in 4 cities and traveled to so many places, I learned that there's no such a thing as a perfect city or country. Manila still and will always have it's own annoyances... traffic, inefficient system, close-minded culture, rich and poor division. But what I failed to notice are the distinct positive traits it possesses... happy-spirited people, affordable comfortable lifestyle, family oriented-ness, melting pot of internationalism, and a booming industry in Asia among so many.

Manila has definitely developed in so many angles. From the emergence of helpful apps such as Uber and Grab that makes transportation reliable, to the powerful influence of social media that gives out awareness, to the strong voices of the millennial that creates open-mindedness, to the new businesses developing that gives so many employment opportunities... WOW! I was blown away. The bilingualism that we've always had also created strength in customer service, not just locally but globally as well. And my list can go on and on.

I'm very proud of you, mahal kong Manila for having gone this far. Like a childhood sweetheart I abandoned in the past thinking it will never be right but that I bumped into again and this time we've grown-up, I have never felt more at home with you than my very recent stay with you.

So yeah. Fuck cancer. SALAMAT MANILA. Watch out as this is only the start of our simultaenous victory together. Our very best is yet to come.

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