Written by: Julia Falkenklous
Our last day in Manila was beautiful. We enjoyed our last taste of warm air, the noisy honking of jeepneys, and our tour guides asking us to huddle together once again for “one last picture with the banner.” American Manila Cemetery & Memorial was unforgettable with a total of over 17,000 graves of fallen American soldiers from World War II. It really put things in perspective for us to see each and every soldier’s name recorded on stone walls and to see cross shaped tomb stones extended back as far as the eye could see. The rest of our day was spent learning about Jose Rizal whose tremendous faith helped to lead the Filipino people toward independence and away from maltreatment from Spanish rulers. After falling in love with the Philippines for the past 10 days, this was the perfect way to end our trip and wrap all of our knowledge together. We have all grown very fond to not only each other but especially our delightful tour guides Maan, Akiko, and Lois. We said our sad goodbyes but promised to keep in touch through email and Facebook. Many of us expressed our genuine desire to meet with them again someday in the future. I have never experienced this closeness in such a short amount of time, this feeling is definitely one that needs to be reiterated in our relationships once we return to SU. As we waited in line in the airport of Manila we encountered a few issues with terminal tax taking longer than expected. Normally, many of us would have approached that situation with agitation. Instead, we waited in line for about an hour laughing about our sleepiness stupor and inside jokes that have accumulated over our trip. The bond our team has formed is rare and priceless. We end our trip talking about upcoming reunion dates and things we want to continue to do together upon our return to Winchester.