Picture taken from http://blogs-images.forbes.com/daviddisalvo/files/2011/11/DNA.jpg
Years ago, as I was watching a documentary on TV, I heard the term "genetic predisposition" mentioned quite a number of times. The documentary was about a woman who had adopted a son, raised him as her own together with her biological children, and somewhere along the way lost her adopted son to a life of petty and not-so-petty crimes until he found himself behind bars for good. Or so they thought. The son escaped and ended up killing an elderly couple. His mother was dumbfounded. Unanswered questions swam in her head. How could he do this? Where did I go wrong? Did I treat him differently from his siblings?
As she dug deeper into her son's family history, she discovered that his family, both mother and father and relatives on both sides, had had a string of various crimes under their belts. Drugs, prostitution, murder were just some of the things that they added to their list of non-achievements. Prison was a popular destination for them, as Puerto Vallarta is to American honeymooners and pensioners. All of a sudden, the mother was having a major light bulb moment. She thought, maybe she didn't do such a bad job raising her son. Maybe he was genetically predisposed to live a life of crime, just like his parents and most likely their parents before them.
Although I reject the notion of predestination and our genetic makeup dictating our future, there are indeed cases where children, whose parents have or at least at one point had substance abuse problems, end up having the same addictions as adults. Is it because they, as children were exposed to such a lifestyle? Or is it because their genetic makeup is so similar to that of their parents that they end up mimicking their parents experience. Talk about the worst case of mimesis.
Before I start going onto online libraries and delving further into addiction and genetic predisposition, let me tell you what this blog entry is really about - it is really about my own genetic predisposition and addiction to scouring the internet and searching for promo fares! This drives my husband crazy, because one day, I tell him I would like to go to London, and then the next day, I tell him I want to go to Osaka.
Traveling sets one back quite a bit, and if one's pocket is not a bottomless pit, then the well of fortune might dry out sooner rather than later. One travel essential that I never ever leave home without is my ATM card. And of course, before I leave the country, I always make sure that there's enough money in there just in case my credit card fails to work. I prefer paying with cash just so there won't be any surprises when I get back. I enjoy my trips better when I know that everything has been paid for. I can maximize the experience without worrying about exorbitant credit card bills when I get home.
I guess my own addiction to traveling started as a young girl, when my mom sat me and my siblings down and told us "We're going to the United States next year on one condition... no line of 7." Line of seven, meaning grades from 79 and below. I was always just an average student, so this was a huge deal for me. But I was nine years old, in fourth grade, and was coping quite well in class. At the end of the school year, all my grades were 80 and up which meant I could actually go to the United States, see Mickey Mouse at Disneyland and Jaws at Universal Studios.
That was my very first trip outside of the country. It was a long journey, and I remember stopping at Honolulu airport where I played with my siblings Grace and Jun, and my parents' friends' kids Archie and Nica. We went up and down the airport escalator, as our mothers waited impatiently for boarding. I had on a plaid jumpsuit and a yellow blouse, and I carried with me the Little Twin Star handbag my mother had bought for me in Baclaran. It was such a fun experience until I felt my stomach rumble as tiny beads of sweat formed on my forehead. I had eaten something I wasn't supposed to.
When we got to California, we stayed with my uncle and his family. My paternal grandmother had been living with them for quite some time. My uncle, Tito Willie, was such a gracious host, driving us around Southern California, taking us to different theme parks, and malls. My brother and my cousin bonded over wrestling and jigsaw puzzles, and Saturday morning cartoons. Those were definitely fun times, and it is not at all strange that I remember that trip more vividly than some of my more recent ones.
During that same trip I met Tito Daniel, Tita Edna and their son Albert. I think he had just turned three, cute as a button, sporting a pageboy haircut. Tito Daniel and Tita Edna also took us places. We went to Lake Tahoe where it was so cold, and where I saw snow for the first time. Tito Daniel was driving their oversize van, and we were seated comfortably, since he had proved himself a competent driver. I distinctly remember him saying how dark it was without the headlights on, and all of a sudden, he turned them off just to show us how truly dark it was. We screamed in unison, and magically the lights were back on.
We also saw San Francisco for the first time - the magnificent reddish bridge, whose color was far from gold, some Chinese looking places, an extremely windy road which was a mini version of the Bitukang Manok in Quezon. I also remember hearing how the fortune cookie had originated from there and not from China. The revelation did not crush me, as I had had no emotional attachments to real or perceived historical and cultural data. I was in the United States, and school was a few weeks away! I ate cotton candy and cried over Woody Woodpecker dolls that remained unbought by my mother. I was nine.
After the United States my mother would often take me and my siblings to nearby cities like Hong Kong, Bangkok, and Singapore. I remember learning more from such trips than I ever did inside the classroom. These were details that I still can recall now, decades later. I learned how people are different, and that different is good. I learned the concept of tolerance and acceptance, and how under the epidermis we are all the same. We get hungry at noon and at around 7 pm, and some of us are monsters pre-morning coffee. I learned that the idea of "when in Rome" should apply to all the cities in the world, as long as what one intends to do falls under the umbrella of legal, decent, and humane.
I also learned that not asking question would get you nowhere. If you don't know where to go, ask. And don't even attempt to ask a question in a foreign language if you're not sure you'll understand the answer. I learned the hard way that one should always greet a Spanish cabby a "Buenos dias" or "buenas noches" or a simple "hola" will probably do. I once got inside a cab to get to school without greeting the driver a "buenos dias", and he gave me a lecture about how people should always greet people a good morning. So there I was, in danger or showing up late for class (a rare occasion), sitting inside a cab and being schooled by a cab driver about proper etiquette.
Traveling is my drug. Even with very limited budget I manage to find a place to explore. I don't travel like other people though, I save my trips for those I know I will enjoy the most. The most exciting things happen when one travels. I was once proposed to in a bazaar in Istanbul. The guy was a salesman so I didn't really believe him. He just wanted a sale, and he probably saw all of my mom's friends and the other people in our group, and thought to himself "money"!
When I was very young but already well aware of my mother's Japanese heritage, I actually had a suppressed dream of going to Japan. My mother once said that she could not get a Japanese visa because of her Japanese name, but she did try to go there once, perhaps to find her roots, or at least to make sense of her Japanese-ness.
Her father was born to a Filipina mother and a Japanese father. She never met him because he had died before she was born. And the only picture she ever had of him was inside a wallet that was stolen from her when she was very young. I can't imagine not having a picture of your own father. It is hard for me to entertain that thought.
Earlier today I checked cebupacific.com to see if they had cheap flights to Osaka. My husband and I had talked about going to Japan, and I told him I would book the trip once I found cheap tickets, which, today I did. Php 14,480.26 for two. That's about USD 320. I found us a cheap but decent room in an area that's close to both metro and train stations. And now I am just elated. At first it was just about exploring a city that I have never been to, but now it's something deeper than that. I will be the first one in my family to set foot in the land of my mother's ancestors. I am thrilled beyond words, not only because of how cheap everything has been so far (hotel for 4 nights only costs Php 10,561 or USD 233) but also because I might learn a little something about myself.
So going back to my genetic predisposition - I believe I am just wired to travel. Perhaps I was a gypsy or a Bedouin in a former life, if one were to believe that life could be rehashed or remade like movies or songs. Or perhaps my ancestors were some of the people who walked on land bridges, braving extreme weather conditions to settle on one of beautiful islands of the Philippines.
Next month my family and I are all set to go to Guam for my nephew's birthday. This is THE trip that I am looking forward to the most. I am excited to spend afternoons with him as he fiddles with his Lego. He's turning 9 on February 18 and is excited to have a party at Chuck E. Cheese's. I want him to be happiest on that day together with his friends, schoolmates and of course us.
I guess the best trips are the ones spent with loved ones, and I am happy to be always surrounded by them when I travel.
To check fares and hotels visit www.skyscanner.com.ph www.cebupacificair.com www.booking.com