Since moving to Singapore, I’ve been away from home – home being Manila, Philippines – for nearly two years now. I hadn’t even thought about going back; every chance I had to take time off, I’ve used it to travel around. It’s not that I don’t miss home. It’s just that I’m thrilled to have more opportunities to travel than I did back home, and I simply wanted to take advantage of that while I was here.But tonight, I’m flying home.This isn’t a tourist trip; in fact, I doubt I’ll be doing much sightseeing at all. I only have three full days in the city, and I’ll be spending so much time catching up with friends and family that I won’t have enough time to even do a day trip outside the metro. This is almost strictly a social visit, and that definitely isn’t a bad thing. I feel like I’ve been out of the loop so long that I’m sure a lot of things will throw me off when I get there. My goal is to catch up as much as possible.

The fact that this is a social visit to my homeland makes it completely different from all my previous trips. For example, I am finding that packing my bags is a challenge. On one hand, I can pack for it much like any other trip, as I am returning to Singapore anyway and can do my laundry. On the other hand, I’ve accumulated so much crap (mainly clothes) here that it’s time I should bring stuff to leave in Manila, not to mention make room for more stuff (again, clothes) that I’ll probably be buying back home. I almost packed up the suitcase I used to move to Singapore, but that’s just overkill.

Then there’s the matter of trying to meet up with everyone while I’m home. I’ve already scheduled to meet with some of my friends that I’m closest to, as well as my family. But there’s so many people I’d love to catch up with, and so little time. I’m also juggling my time with hopefully watching a few shows and musicals. I’m pretty much resigned to the fact that I won’t get to see everyone, but I’ll do my best.

My biggest concern, of course, is what to eat while I’m home. I’ve been lucky that Singapore has such a huge Filipino population that it’s not difficult to find some of my favorite Filipino dishes, such as adobo, caldereta, tinola, lechon kawali, sisig, and even Tapa King. Still, there’s just something special about local foods cooked at home. I do miss a lot of the grilled meats from home. Interestingly enough, I’m also looking forward to eating at fast food and restaurant chains from back home, stuff like Jollibee, Chowking, and the like. Probably not “real” Filipino food, but it’s stuff I grew up with, and I guess that counts as comfort food. (I’m honestly surprised there isn’t a Jollibee here in Singapore.)

Despite all these little challenges, the best part about visiting home is that I don’t have to worry too much, unlike traveling to a foreign country. For starters, my mother is picking me up at the airport, so I don’t have to deal with haggling with crummy cab drivers. I don’t need to waste cash booking a hostel, as I still have a home to return to and a bed to sleep in. I know my way around the city (assuming not much has changed, of course), so I don’t need to fumble with public transport maps or a guidebook. Plus, I won’t ever feel lonely while on the road; I’ve got friends and family who’ll keep me company.

Manila, I’m coming home! (But just for a little bit.)