'They tried to make me go to Rehab'

Today we went to go and visit my second cousin in rehab. The journey took about four hours, travelling North of Manila to Magalang, Pampanga. The drive was a tiresome one with 7 children and 6 adults in one car. We even got lost once or twice (Filipinos don't really believe in using maps), consequently paying twice than what was required at the toll gate.

Upon arrival I noticed that rather than looking like a place where people try to break away from their alcohol and drug addictions, it looked like a resort. I wasn't able to take a photograph from within the camp, but I did take some on our way there. The mountain you see below is Mt. Arayat.

Who would have thought that I would be checked for AH1N1 (Swine Flu to us Westerners) at a rehab camp and not at the airport? Anyway, once we (including the 7 children) had entered the camp, we were greeted by my Kuya (a term used to address male relations older than oneself). For someone who had been taking drugs for 38 years and had only been admitted into rehab for 10 months, he looked quite well. He had put on weight from the last time I saw him (which was a year ago when he was leaning back over the ledge on the second floor), his eyes were a little bit more focused compared to the darting-dilated pupils I remember, and he could sustain a sentence without any added sound effects.

The children were asked to go and play whilst some frank discussion took place. The clich├ęd 'If you don't help yourself then I can't help you' monologue was recited by my gran, whilst the rest of us sat and listened.

We were then taken on a tour of the camp. Men and women are placed in different dormitories to the North and South, with a large basketball court separating the two. As if the scenery wasn't enough, there were cats, dogs and hybrids of chickens and ducks (I don't know what they are called, and no I am not joking). All this with Mt. Arayat looming beautifully over the camp. The only thing that was missing was a swimming pool.

After our tour, farewells were finally exchanged and 'take care's were dutifully returned. On the way out I could not help but notice that my Kuya looked somewhat resentful. His earlier remarks had been rather nihilistic and even though he only has two months till he is released, his face portrayed a sorrow and resentment only capable of someone who is harbouring a deep hunger - One for the outside world and its vices.

On a lighter note, I fondly recall something my five-year old cousin said on our way back home. What he said (to one of the children) was so silly that I cried with laughter:

Sino ka ba? (Who are you?)
Oh Stephanie, alam mo, once upon a time kinain ka. (Oh Stephanie, did you know, once upon a time...you were eaten)

Not laughing? I guess it was one of those 'you had to be there' moments.

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