Hello Internet! I’ve missed the smell of your breath in the morning.

I returned from Manila several days ago – it was a good trip overall. Manila is still crowded and chaotic and smoggy, but also vital and laid-back, home to my family and home to the most perfect mango in the entire world. I made sure to eat lots of those while I was there (along with lots of other yummy food)!

My family takes food very seriously – one of the great things about visiting is my food whims were catered to wholeheartedly.

Being home was nice because it’s home and no matter how much time passes between visits, there are things that look familiar and feel familiar and that’s very comforting. It’s nice seeing friends that you’ve known since grade school and just picking up right where you left off. Being home was hard too because it meant being privy to some relationships and dynamics that are evolving and changing. Although I’m sure everything will be OK once the dust settles, it hasn’t yet, and that unsettles me.

At any rate, one of the more interesting events while I was in Manila was all the ritual surrounding my Angkong’s wake and burial. Angkong was Buddhist, but none of the rest of us practice Buddhism to the extent that he did, so the family actually had to consult with friends and monks from the local temple to see to the ceremonies and sundry “props”. It was all very, umm, interesting. I started telling some of y’all about it, but figured that pictures would be easier –

An exquisitely decorated paper house – so Angkong has someplace to live in the next life

A paper airplane – to herald Angkong’s arrival. Note Angkong’s picture on the side of the plane, and also the bags of paper money in the background, so your loved one has money to spend in the next life.

There are more pictures here. There’s still a number of stories and impressions I have from that trip which I hope to post in bits and pieces over the next few days. Before work stuff totally overwhelms me.