When a kid from Dubai discovers Manila for (almost) the first time

  • Sunday, January 22, 2017
  • By Ion Gonzaga
  • 0 Comments



Every trip to Philippines is a homecoming for us. For the little one, Aya, who's born and is growing up in Dubai, the trip means discovery. It's amusing to see how she discovers the culture we grew up with.

Aya had some funny encounters with authentic Filipino traditions - food, transport, places and people.


Seeing a "lechon" in the menu for the first time, when asked for her order, she said, "JUST PIG!"

One time I was eating balut and she came curious about how the "egg" looks different. I told her about balut being a duck embryo, and she had a taste of it. Surprisingly she liked it. From then on she always ask for "DUCK."

She noticed the frequent rooster crowing in Bulacan and is eager to find out where the sound is coming from.

She had Laguna's authentic tsokolate and suman for the first time and instantly became her favorite.

She saw a lizard and wonders why it's not falling.

She learned some of our childhood favorite street games, "Langit lupa," "Maiba taya," and "Pitik bulag," among others.

One time, we gave coins to a boy selling sampaguita.  From then on, she collects coins and always looking forward to meet a "boy who needs money" on the streets so she could give the coins herself. She feels delighted to give.

She discovered "Pashao" (Siopao) - Chowking's choco siopao.


She discovered pick-up sticks.

When she first heard a group of kids singing Christmas carols, she said, "I think the kids need money daddy."

Last year, while on a bus, the conductor yells "Tulay! Tulay!" Aya heard it differently she yelled, "Dubai! Dubai!"

There's an unlimited supply of Yakult for her from her tita lolas.


She conquered her fear and cuddled a dog for the first time and felt how great it is to befriend one.

She had tricycle rides and find its engine sound so weird.

These little discoveries are the fondest. For her to understand all these things is on us.  As much as possible, we seize the opportunity to immerse her to the culture and allow her to understand how we live when we were her age. We try to let her do things she won't be able to experience in Dubai, even if she'll feel uncomfortable with it. Unfortunately, you can only do so much when you stay in a condo in Manila. You don't have the perks of playing on the streets, or the luxury of allowing her to do absolutely anything on your own backyard.

The game has changed.

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