#RPintheRP: A Travelogue

I was on my way back to Canada — specifically lining up to get my boarding pass at NAIA Terminal One — when Six called me and asked how I was.

“It hurts,” I said. “Everything hurts. I blame you.”

“As usual, it’s my fault,” he laughed. “What’s wrong, babe?”

“It’s my second time to leave the Philippines,” I said. “I thought I should be used to it. Why does it hurt more?”

“Well, babe,” he replied, “it’s always more intense the second time. Just like love. Love is better the second time around. So does pain hurt more.”
***

It doesn’t really make sense to begin my story at the end. However, a lot of things in this trip don’t make sense. Figures. I guess to do it justice, I do have to begin at the very beginning:

Around a month ago (September 14, to be more precise — it was a Thursday), I was sitting exactly where I am now in my apartment at the Plateau borough in Montreal. It was a typical weekday night: I was trying out a Tex-Mex lasagna recipe I found, while planning to re-watch Sense8, when my cousin messaged me that my grandmother passed away.

 

It was a whir of emotions (to say the least) but one imperative remained: I have to go back to the Philippines. After all, it’s been five years.

***

Getting Home (Give or Take a 30-Hour Layover in Vancouver)

Given that bodies — generally — don’t like to wait very long before they start demanding to be put below ground, timing was crucial. I knew that if I were to go home, it would have to be done as soon as possible. Preferably the next day.

“Alright, Riley, we can do this,” I told myself. “All we need is permission from work, enough money to survive, and up-to-date travel documents.” (Yeah, not sure if travel checklist or an RPG sidequest.)

Permission from work was, ironically, the easiest of the three to get — and which I will always be thankful to my direct supervisor Patrice, my HR Rep Paola, and everyone else up the chain of command for allowing me an emergency leave.

Money was a little bit tighter — for this we (sort of?) have to thank the Western obsession with credit and the philosophy of spending that-which-you-do-not-currently-own. I just moved to Montreal from St. John’s a year ago and a good amount of my savings had to go Bye Bye Bye within my first few months, what with finding jobs and that new fangled thing millennials like to call “eating.”

For this though, I would like to also thank my father who graciously — and without the need to pry and prod — sponsored my plane ticket. The next paragraphs will ultimately show that a lot of moving parts had to sync together to make sure that I could get to the Philippines and manage to find a way to get back here.

Which leaves, up-to-date travel documents. The simplest, yes, but ultimately the one that would cause the most headache. In one sentence, my passport was expired.

I did not feel the need to renew my Philippine passport because I am in the process of applying for Canadian citizenship, which would render a renewed Philippine passport moot. In hindsight, this did not take into account emergency trips such as these.

In this section, my friend Barbie (a travel maven!) was a lifesaver. As per her advice, I could theoretically travel by doing the following:

  1. Buy an airplane ticket to Manila.
  2. Present airplane ticket, as well as expired passport, to the Philippine Embassy in Ottawa in order to get a Travel Document (which allows one-way travel).
  3. Upon arrival in Manila, secure an appointment with the DFA Aseana to get my passport renewed, so I could go back.

Everything seems so simple, unfortunately, as this trip would prove, seeming simple is not the same as being simple.

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