[Post by Angela Flemming]
My travel to Palawan was a beautiful experience that I will never forget. It was wonderful to reunite with the group of Palawan delegates who traveled to Suquamish last fall. Their visit to Suquamish held special significance for my family. My mother, who is from the Philippines, had the opportunity to host them for an evening and was able to speak with them in her native dialect — a chance she does not often get living in Western Washington.
The entire trip to Palawan was a comfortable and enjoyable time — but it wasn’t until I had been home for several weeks after visiting that I realized I was absolutely in love with the people. The moment we set foot on their sand, they made us feel welcome and at home. These are friends that I will never want to forget and it is this experience that makes me tell even my family in the Philippines that we need to go back to visit Palawan.
It’s a given that the beaches were beautiful and the sites wondrous; we were in the Philippines, after all. Every day of our visit included trips to amazing locations on the island that I would have never dreamed of. I am so glad that I was given the opportunity to visit along with other Suquamish delegates. We traveled there with little, in order to leave as minimal an impression as possible on the land; traveling light was also necessary, because we were flying on small planes. We were fed food from the land that was simple, clean and elegant and every morning I woke up energized and excited for the day. By night, I was tired and ready for sleep because there were so many activities to take in.
We did so many things during our stay, including a visit to Ille Cave, the Palawan Heritage Center, a day of island hopping in El Nido and much more. What I remember the most out of this whole experience is how welcome I felt. I felt like I was visiting family and friends and they couldn’t wait to share and brag about their heritage to me. I couldn’t wait to watch, listen and experience it for myself. This feeling of not being an outsider is what will make me come back as often as I can afford; and I can’t wait to share with my family. “Balik, balik” or “come back, come back” was what many of the locals told us as we left and everyone among us said that we will be back.