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Letters | Waiting for Planes

Updated: Dec 24, 2020

5:00PM, NAIA Terminal 3

Parañaque, Metro Manila,


I love flying. I love airports, I love the duty-free shops, I love the bridges that board you onto airplanes, I love airplane food - I take it all in like the stops in a sterile, commercial pilgrimage. Walking through the terminal gates is being sifted for impurities and entering into the threshold of the infinite.

I romanticize flying with little apology. Dad was an OFW as was many of our relatives one point or another. We were even immigrants for a while. I grew up with stories of Saudi Gold and Japanese stereos and how everything in your family's lives will be made instantly better if you stay in America long enough to get a green card. It was, one might say, the Cargo Cult of the Balikbayan Box. I could very well be a devotee.

I remember being four or five and waiting for Dad in the airport - dad and his box containing Christmas and my birthday and all this stuff - books for me, mostly - that was so much better than what you can buy at Harrison Plaza, let alone the Palengke. He was beyond the gates behind the guards. Beyond the gates, behind the guards. Just a few more hours beyond the gates behind the guards and he'll come and it will be Christmas and we'd be a family and there would be so much stuff but the flight has been delayed one, two more hours but just a bit more. Just a bit more and he'd hand me Cathay Pacific's magazine and gift catalog. I would be reading those for literal years. Then we'd send him away through those gates again, where things were so much better, and richer, and cleaner, and classier. What else was there to want than to follow him there? Certainly, if not-being-here was how happiness happens—

Dad has been dead for a couple of months now. Any book can be free on the internet if you look hard enough. I've been past the gates myself several times and not all of them pleasant. There's also the carbon footprint issue, obviously. Obviously. Still.

I love flying.

All my best,



Leaving tonight not for work abroad but for a project in Palo, Leyte. I'll be there all week, providing design support for the 75th Anniversary of the Leyte Landings. I have all the Gunship Revolution posts on my phone for the rest of the week though Roots and Wings' October ish still requires a bit more work. Plus, the DFA exam results are coming this week and I have no idea whether it would be apt or ironic that I'm helping run an event for diplomats right now. We'll see.

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