I wasn’t supposed to come on this trip. It was initially a trip planned by two of my sisters, but when the other one decided to come along, my mom thought it best that I did too. My last visit to America was in 2004 and I was still in College then, so it was due time. The only problem was I hadn’t renewed my visa yet. But when I had a successful run at the embassy and was blessed with a 10-year multiple entry, it was clear: “I am kasama” (I am going).
Planning the Trip: “I Am Kasama”
Almost everyday I bring Beckham (my dog) with me to work. On days that I don’t, I’ve trained him to recognize patterns by always saying, “You’re not kasama” (You’re not coming) as I get out of the house and he would patiently see me out of the door (with his puppy dog eyes). This phrase was often used jokingly at home when we want to leave someone out and don’t want to include them. So when I got my visa and finally decided I was joining the lot—my mom felt truly happy, almost victorious. I am kasama. We are all kasama.
Through several sessions we built the itinerary. The plan was to take the PAL flight to NYC and to ride the bus to Georgia. We only had 2 weeks to spare so it was heavily packed and my sisters magnificently built a winning itinerary. Before the trip we had to get transit visas to Canada and I had to finish open cases in the clinic to make sure I left nothing pending. Oh, I running like a circus freak during the last few days, but soon after we were about to leave. Our bags were packed and we were off to our very first sestra adventure.
In 2013 we were supposed to go to Davao as a sestra pack but my other sister had to bail. We never got to plan another trip–until this one and it was such an amazing vacation. From walking 31,000 steps on our first day in New York and travelling by bus for almost 22 hours to Georgia, to braving pre-halloween traffic to JFK airport, this sestras trip easily took the top spot as the best trip I’ve ever been on. We watched a musical, we hopped from one museum to another, we went on amazing food trips, watched the ballet at the Lincoln Center, walked through New York’s famous neighborhoods, fed catfish in Georgia and saw the White House in Washington DC. It was truly amazing and I am grateful to the Lord for the provision and the blessing of good health for everyone. The trip went by smoothly, with my mom tagging along via FaceTime, the entire trip.
The Trip Papa Never Took
In July 2015 when Papa fell ill and underwent angioplasty, we thought he was going to be given a new lease on life. He said, “When I get better, I wanna go to the US”. But he never got better. After the surgery he immediately required dialysis so mom said, “When you’re more stable and we find a good dialysis clinic in the US, we will make the trip”. It was pushed further and further and mom believed things would be better by January but that never came. Papa passed in October.
While on the bus to Georgia, my mom and sister was having a conversation about this and I was reading the whole thing on my watch. Mom started to cry and in my lonesome, I started to sob as well. Papa should’ve been on this trip. My grandma used to call my Papa to say that she’s getting the house ready for their visit and he really wanted to make it. Of course it’s sad that he’s gone and he will never make that trip but somehow it felt as though our presence there was the fulfilment of that plan.
After my Papa died it was so hard for everyone. We all coped with his loss differently but one thing was true–we were suffering. 2016 was dark and heavy because we had to force ourselves back into our routines when nothing really made sense. The reality was too much for us to accept but we had no choice. Personally, it was all chaotic and aimless until I found myself in the mission field. I found a different kind of peace in the field, especially when I started working with the Army. This world was familiar to me… I knew it all too well, once before, and I was seeing it now in a different light. Somehow, by being in the field with the soldiers, I feel my Papa’s presence. Eventually, I found peace and calm in my grieving and painful heart.
2017 was a year of recovery for my family. In March we went on a refreshing vacation to Shangri-La Mactan in Cebu to celebrate my 36th birthday and then we planned this trip to America. At first glance it may not be much, but the depth of the meaning of this trip is more than just another stamp on the passport. In not so many words… it signified our liberation.
VIF: Very Important Family
When Papa was still alive and well, he always loved to travel. When we travelled, he made sure to give us the best experience and he would joke in his pseudo british accent that it’s because, “You are the Very Important Family”. And we are. We are the VIF. We are the Victorious Inserto Family and we survived through it all. So with God’s grace we will continue to walk victorious in His name.
Our New York – Georgia trip was a refreshing bonding experience. My mom was right when she was convincing me to go and I am grateful to the Lord for allowing it to happen.
As I write this we are all still jetlagged and hungover from the trip. I am trying to fight it because I want to be like Papa (he never gets jetlagged). But of course I slept all day yesterday so I already failed. I’m forcing myself to wake up, though, because I have a thousand of photos to edit and check from the camera.
Goodbye for now,