It has been twelve years and counting. I remember that early morning in January of 1995 like it was yesterday. I woke up at five but my mom has been up for a while making breakfast. My flight to the United States leaves at eleven. My mom asked me for the hundredth time if I have my visa and passport inside my bag. I said yes. Then she asked me if I remember where I packed my toothbrush. Once again, I answered yes. She handed me a roll of toilet paper and told me to take it with me. I said, "I'm going to Chicago, not the mountains." She started crying. I hugged her and reassured her that I'd be back in a few months. I said that once I get settled in there, I would be sending her a balikbayan box regularly. Her face glowed and she finally stopped crying.
It is nine o' clock in the morning, time to say goodbye to some friends who stopped by. My dad put my suitcase in the car and we drove to the airport. It was an ordinary sunny day. The Ninoy Aquino International Airport was packed with people. It didn't help that I was accompanied by my mom, dad, two sisters, grandmother, uncle, aunt, cousin and the rest of the barangay. I kissed them all goodbye and went inside the building. I was proud of myself. I didn't shed a single tear.
It's now time to board the plane. I find myself very excited. The plane smelled like a new car and the people were friendly. I got into my seat next to the window. That's when I realized I won't be seeing my family for a while. I started crying and didn't stop for at least two hours. I had to force myself to stop thinking negatively and focus on the future. Today is the first day of the rest of my life.