Both my parents’ lives are somewhat of a reflection to the other. Both of them ran away from home at 16 to escape the constraints of their abusive and narrow-minded households. My father moved into the cheapest hotel he could find and went straight to work for a firm. My mother moved in with her aunt and it wasn’t long until her cousin offered her a simple job in Hong Kong, my mother pounced at the opportunity to take it, dropping out of college to do so.
My father spent his youth traveling and enjoying it with a group of friends, from living in Jamaica for a few months, to road trips across Europe that lasted weeks. It was after a trip to Cebu, when he went back to Hong Kong and met my mother. She probably evoked fond memories of his holiday, her Filipina charm and beauty had him at first sight. She moved into his apartment after a few months and became the talk of the town, but she didn’t care; they were in love.
It was two years later when my dad was being shifted to work in Washington, my mother didn’t have the right papers to go with him, and she was ready to go back to her home in the Philippines. They were forced to separate, and my mother thought that was the end, but she was wrong.
My father, after a few lonely weeks in Washington, must have realised what was important to him. He booked the first flight to Manila, rented a broken down car when he got there, and ventured off onto a quest to find her, with only a map as his guide. Along the way, he stopped for directions and asked a man if he knew who “Maria Luisa Santos” was, and by some strike of fate, that man turned out to be my mother’s cousin, who showed my dad the way to her