In the Windy City

My visit to Chicago was the personal highlight of my trip to the US, mainly because I got to be with family! I requested my boss if I could have a couple of days off and do a side trip after my official duties, and she agreed. Hooray! And my impression of Chicago was, they don’t call it the windy for nothing! It was bitingly cold, the kind that a person who has lived in a tropical country all her life, could feel down to deepest layers of my bones. For someone used to 30-degree Celsius weather, below 10 is not normal. But I loved the feel of the city. It was busy, but not in a frenetic, disorganized way. It was chic, and it was what I have imagined America would be, more so than Washington, DC and Philadelphia were in the limited time I was there.

I was hoping to get a glimpse of snow, but I was not fortunate enough. Hopefully I will experience some on my next trip.

My mama’s sister (4th among the siblings), who is also one of our wedding sponsors, and her family live in the suburbs of Chicago. I also have two cousins there, as well as several nephews (no girls there!). Both of them are married to full blooded Filipinos. In this lifetime, their whole family have gone home to the Philippines complete in 1992 when my grandparents celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary. Since then, it was mostly Tita Demi who has gone home every so often.

I stayed at their house in Skokie, and glad that it was before they sold the house. It’s been on the market for a month now since they decided to move in nearer to my cousins.




Next day, my cousins Craig, his elder son, Christian and Tita Demi, brought me downtown Chicago. The brought me first to the Willis Tower, formerly the Sears Tower, and we went up to the Skydeck, which about 1,500 feet, and the second tallest building in the United States. It has an observatory, and one could go up the extended glass ledge and imagine you are 1,500 feet above the ground with a thin glass supporting you. This almost gave me a heart attack! haha. But as with every experience, I cherish this (with buckling knees), and cross it off my bucket list.






We also stopped by the Millennium Park and the Bean for the touristy pictures.




And my special request for this trip was to see a real Chicago Bulls game, which Craig has indulged me with! Thanks so much cousin! The Bulls won over the Charlotte Hornets. It was exciting to be there! All that energy…It was my bad that I dozed off several times during the because my 2-week jetlag was pulling me down by this time. But I immensely enjoyed it at best.






My last day there was spent at the Chicago Premium Outlet in Aurora. Oohhh if only I had that much Just brought some stuff for my family and colleagues at home as pasalubong. Then off we went to celebrate my nephew, Justin’s birthday. We all went bowling and had dinner at a place called Level 257.





My time here was really time well spent. I am very happy to have reconnected with them, especially my cousins and to have met my young nephews. My hope for them is for them to retain their Filipino-ness despite being born and brought up in the States. Someday I wish that they could all visit the Philippines, and see where their grandparents were born and lived.

Overnighter in Philly

So I was recently in the United States, and it was my first time. It’s the twelfth country outside the Philippines I’ve ever been to since the United Kingdom, Canada, Israel, Malaysia, Hongkong, Thailand, Singapore, Malaysia, United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, and technically, Jordan and Japan (okay, the last two were only layovers, so I have actually set foot in these countries, albeit only their airports).

Majority of our official work took place in Washington, D.C. but I also spent significant time in Chicago for my family there. In between, we had an overnighter in Philadelphia after we met with two groups responsible for credentialing foreign doctors and nurses. Since this is the shortest leg among our trips, I am blogging first about it.

Philadelphia is a very historic place in the US, especially as it played a significant role in the establishment of the US government. I wish we had more time so we could appreciate the beauty and old world grandeur of the city. We drove from DC in the morning, and passed by the states of Maryland and Delaware, but mostly coasting through highways so we didn’t see much.



We finally got there by mid-morning and stopped by the visitors’ center.


We finished our meetings around 5:00 in the afternoon, and had to leave early the next morning for our flight. That didn’t leave us with much. We were booked at the Loews Hotel in downtown, and we made the most of our short stay by walking. It was a good thing that the Independence Hall and Liberty Bell were just a few blocks away.



And although I’ve tasted better, we had an authentic Philly cheesesteak from a really forgettable restaurant.


Our hotel was okay, too bad we didn’t get to spend enough time on it to appreciate it. But the room was spacious with a modern design. We were billeted at the 28th floor, which has a great view of the city, including the famed City Hall. Wifi was a little unreliable, though, which is really a huge factor in my liking or disliking a hotel. And during our stay, the elevator lights had problems so up we went in darkness. I’m 50-50 with this one all in all.


My poor baby

Of all the times that you have to get sick, and to spend time at the hospital at that, is when I am thousands of miles and several hours’ worth of flying time away.


I couldn’t imagine the pain and trauma you went through. Mommy wished with all her heart that she was with you. Despite being in beautiful, new places I should have enjoyed, I was thinking of you and praying with all my might for God’s healing hands to touch you. I am glad that you are beyond okay now. I am happy that Ate Mischa never had to experience this, and I hope it won’t happen to you ever again. Poor you, poor Daddy who had to take care of you by himself, poor Ate who still have school to contend with. But thank God for Ninong, Mama and Lolo.