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Holiday Break

(Just for Fun, The Cadet Experience, Class of 2023) Permanent link   All Posts
Joshua Orbe

The last few weeks of the semester were stressful but exciting. I did not realize how fast the months flew by. My company mates and I had come a long way. 4/c year was almost over. I reactivated Facebook as soon as leave began. I saw all my friends and family were awaiting my return home.

I had been looking forward to going home and spending time with my family for so long. My mom paid me a surprise visit during Parent’s Weekend and it still brings me great joy thinking about it but I missed my dad and sister too; I hadn’t seen them in 6 months.

My flight was out of JFK. I had to commute by myself from the Academy to the city. My sponsor mom gave me very specific instructions on what to do, where to go, which train to take. Travelling alone was confusing and scary. I always followed my parents’ lead as a kid. Now, I was in control and it was terrifying. Thanks to my loved ones who guided me, I made it home safe. I had proven to my parents and to myself that I could handle myself even if I had to travel halfway around the world. I was no longer the boy that had trouble crossing the street.

Upon arrival, I was picked up by my dad. I saw my sister and mom, and also our new dog. Sadly, he was sick at this time and eventually passed away a few days after. When I exited the airport, I was greeted by the hot Philippine air. I had grown used to the colder temperatures in Connecticut. It was enough to give me a headache. I also had trouble readjusting to the food for a while but a few days later, I was back to normal, like I hadn’t even left. My beloved home didn’t change much. Physically, I saw improvements in the cleanliness of the cities, newer buildings, new roads, but it was still the country I loved. I rest easy in knowing that it will never change, and I look forward to the day when I return for good.

I visited my old school, the Philippine Military Academy a day after getting back. Two plebes lost their lives this year, and the Academy had been shaken. Drastic changes were put into effect. I chatted with my old squadmates and we exchanged stories of our academies. It is yet to be seen if the new changes put into effect at PMA are effective and sustainable. I only hope that the Academy can bounce back and that the culture changes so that no one is ever again lost to hazing.

After that we went back to our house in Bataan. I met with my old friends from high school. They were on break too. Our friendship just picked up where we left off. We watched a movie at a mall, ate, and went shopping, just like old times. It seemed like there was a giant reunion at the mall. I even ran into someone I used to like. It was weird.

After Bataan we went to finish off transferring stuff from our house in Cavite to our new quarters in Manila. I had many good memories in the old family home in Cavite it was weird seeing it bare of furniture.

Then, we flew south to Iligan to see all the aunts, uncles, and cousins. We did what we always do every year and had a big New Year Party. I appreciate my family more this time. We went to a beach this year too. Riding a banana boat is a painful but amazing experience. My arms, and legs hurt from trying to hang on to the boat and my face and belly hurt from laughing so hard.

When we got back form Iligan, it was almost time for me to go back to school. The night before my flight, my family and I had dinner with some of the former Filipino USCGA International Cadets. We compared our experiences and I listened to their stories and advice. I enjoyed learning about my predecessors and hope to bring back some of the lost traditions.

I cannot wait until next Christmas!

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