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Growing Up with Ninang


When I was young my mom went to America to work as a nurse so I grew up with my Ninang. Ninang is my mother’s sister, but she is also my godmother. I call her Ninang because in Bisaya, ninang means godmother.

Ninang ended up taking care of me from age five until age ten when I moved to America. Ninang was a nursing student. Even though she was very busy, she took very good care of me. She made sure to help me get ready for school and prepare my meals and take care of all sorts of errands. My little cousin also came to stay with us in Davao later on so my Ninang had to take care of two children.

When I was ten I went to live with my mom and my dad in America. I lost touch with my family from the Philippines until my Ninang went to the United Kingdom to work as a nurse in 2003. During the summer of 2003, I went to stay with Ninang for three weeks. I had lost contact with family from the Philippines for so long that having my Ninang around was the best.

She doesn’t know it, but I have to say she brought my feet down to the ground and since that trip, I decided to focus on my studies and make my family proud so now I have one undergrad degree, an associates degree, and two masters degrees. During my stay in the United Kingdom, Ninang and I went to Maidenhead to visit friends from Davao and ate lots of Kentucky Fried chicken. It was a blast.

During that trip, I bought the book the Life of Pi. That book was such a great read. It is about a boy who journeys to Canada with his family after his family sold their zoo, but during their boat ride from India to Canada, their freighter sinks. Pi is then stuck on a lifeboat with a few animals, one of them being a Bengal tiger. I absolutely loved the book.

The book, the Life of Pi and Ninang got me to thinking about perhaps visiting the Philippines for a little adventure for myself. In 2005, after having graduated from Rochester Institute of Technology, I decided to go to Davao City to visit my family. During that trip I rekindled my bond with my grandparents, reconnected with my cousins, and even met new family members. The trip was filled with fond memories I will always cherish. Unfortunately, Ninang was not in the Philippines during that trip.

In January of 2015, I went back to Davao again and luckily my Ninang visited Davao with her family. In February, Ninang and her family visited Davao for a week and I got to see her for two days. We had a party for Ninang and her family in San Miguel. It was loads of fun and I got to meet Ninang’s children for the very first time. Ninang’s children were in their college years already. My how time flies. The day after their party, my grandparents, cousins, and Ninang’s family went to Paradise Island. All of us a great time swimming and basking in the hot Philippines sun.

I would have to say Ninang has been in many ways a lifesaver for me. If she had not been around when I was growing up I don’t know how well I would have fared in Davao City. If Ninang and I had not reconnected during the summer of 2003, I probably would have never reconnected with my family in the Philippines again. Ninang has always been there for me through thick and thin and so I thank her for all that she has done for me.