The Air-Con Experience

by: Vincent

Seeing as this is my second time coming here, I’ve found that there are various ways you can experience the Philippines. One way is spending time with family, always eating at restaurants, going on tours and site seeing, hitting the beach and shopping in the malls, malls, and more malls. Another way is to actually go out on your own, in the hot sun, exploring, looking around, not completely sure where you’re going, but still enjoying the walk about.

The second method of experiencing the Philippines, was only able to happen when I wasn’t under the direct care of my family. You know, not having titas, titos, older cousins or siblings, or my parents watching over everything I see and do, having them always within shouting distance.  This way of constant supervision I like to call the Air-Con Experience, or the “seeing Philippines through the windows of my air conditioned hotel room, car, family residence.”

Uncle, Aunt, me, my cousins, and my dad at Mt.Samat in Bataan


Don’t get me wrong, there’s nothing wrong with spending time with your family, getting to know your relatives for the first time, seeing new places with them, enjoying the company of your blood line. There’s some truly amazing stuff to be learned and experienced. I know that getting to know my mom’s side for the first time, and seeing cousins from my dad’s side who I haven’t seen since I was kid was a wicked good time. Hearing stories of how the family used to live, back in the day so to speak, were some of my most treasured moments of my last visit, coming here 6 years ago. You want to know why your parents are the way they are? Ask their older brothers and sisters for stories when they were a kid, and you’ll get a good view of what exactly your parents went through to become your parents. My mom and dad had many victories and losses throughout their childhood, and my relatives couldn’t be happier sharing these stories with me.

But being back here now, after being stuffed from eating all the gourmet restaurant food, exhausted from all the touring around to various attractions and sites, and getting a slight summer cold from all the air conditioned air I’m breathing in, I found myself too tired to ponder what else was out there. And I know there’s tons of stuff out there, I see it every time I drive through the town or city through the chilled windows of my tito’s Multi-person vehicle or my cousin’s 4×4 suv.

Seeing Manila through the Car Window (video still by: A.Felipe)


I guess this time around, I’ll have a chance to explore Philippines in more then just one way. I’ll very much enjoy all the time I get with my family. And I’ll also make the most of my time when I’m on my own, walking the streets, taking the LRT or jumping on a crowded jeepney. Over the past couple of weeks, I’ve had some good times at my uncle’s house in Bataan, and also going on my first jeepney ride ever. I’ll be posting on those events soon.

My first Jeepney Ride ever (video still by: A.Felipe)


Sino – who?
Ano – what?
Pasok – to go in, also to go to work, to go to school.
Papasok tayo – let’s go into a…
Papasok tayo sa bahay – let’s go into the house.
Saan tayo pupunta – where are we going?
Saan sila pupunta – where are they going?
Asaan tayo – where are we?
Asaan sila – where are they?
Saan tayo galing – where did we come from?
Saan sila galling – where did they come from?



  1. oh that’s amazing. The Air-Con Experience! Been there and done that many times, but that is a term that’s going to stick.

    “The Air-Con Experience”
    Only stops at Malls, Petron stations (only with Starbucks or Jollibee) and Aristocrat locations. Trip duration, 2-8 hours depending on traffic!

  2. you know that comment you made about going on unsupervised…it’s been repeated too by alot of the people i’ve spoken to who’ve done the balikbayan trip. it’s because parents or older relatives are always afraid their kids are going to be endangered, kidnapped, stolen from, etc. but there is really no way to experience a place than to walk its streets and talk to the people there.

  3. that’s real immersion right there, being totally part of the chaos. I find this ironic. When I was new to Canada remember the first time I rode the TTC (as there are no trains in Cebu), I felt joy (perhaps, the same kind of joy you’re feeling when you rode the jeepney). The irony is that here I am, a Filipina, born and raised in the Philippines coming to Canada and immersing into the Canadian culture, and there you are, a Filipino (by heritage), born and raised in Canada, finding your way into the Filipino culture. We are two ends in the spectrum of identity searching trying to meet at the center to create more understanding.

    Perhaps, through this project there will be more understanding between the FOBs and the BACONS and decrease the GAP (if there is any). Who says they can’t be mixed? They can if you let it be.

    Basically, you’re a FOB in the Philippines right now as I am/was a FOB in Canada.

    • In both cases, FOB was probably, “Fresh of the Boeing 747.” lol

    • I think its the same for most if not all who come “Home” or are in their “New Home”. Its great at first, but like all things in life, the more of it you experience, the less Nostalgic/Nuanced/Amazing it becomes.

      Even if you’ve lived in that place your whole life, there are always somethings you miss out or fail to notice or appreciate. Weird thing is, those little things seem to get noticed by those who are new to the place.

      Enjoy your stay in your home country, try not to judge it too much or compare it to what you’ve been used to. We know our shortcomings but despite that, we do our best to make our guests feel at home (hence the malls, air-con, starbucks…)

  4. …I meant, “Fresh OFF the Boeing 747.” lol 😉

  5. when vince comes back he’s gonna be a changed man I tells ya!

  6. Yes, guys!

    Man, this blog is taking me back to my first trip back — and the blog I kept of my own thoughts and experiences. I look back at that and say it was definitely life-changing for a Canadian kid like me — so I’ll bet Vince comes back a changed man.

    Vince, maybe you’re thinking some of the same things I did! Thus, I share my old blog with you guys. Some of my thoughts back then on seeing new things, figuring out where I stand, being with friends and leaving people behind too — and working on shit.

    I think we’ll find that this experience repeats itself every time goes there looking for something. We need to keep documenting these experiences and drawing common observations — making great art — like you are!

    here’s something I also wrote on my last day.


    how can a sun set on a world that just got round?
    how can one be down without first hearing the sounds?
    seeing the sights
    reversing day for night and seeing the light?
    balik bayan, the hardest part is
    knowing that HOME is where the start is.
    so the native son does not go down
    in fact, it circles round
    leading others to follow to the ends of the earth
    for now the sun sets as this glorious day ends\
    until the native son leaves HOME once more
    and comes back HOME again.

    • Thanks for the link Len. I actually remember reading your blog when you were doing your thing. Way before I was ever around Kapisanan and our cool community peeps. And here I am 5 years later blogging it up. man the cyclical nature is just crazy cool.

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