I have heard of ridiculously long days but I never thought that the term would literally take form.
The moment I opened my eyes on the dawn of the 4th of November, I knew that I am in it for the long haul. 5 boxes and 3 suitcases are what welcomed me downstairs as I readied myself for the long flight to Texas. The packing seems to go on and on as we tried to cram everything in our now decrepit van. It looked so much older now after forcing in 5 boxes and 3 small suitcases plus 5 people and a few more carry-ons. K, our good friend from church was nice enough to have volunteered to take us to the airport but I had my reservations as we finally pulled out of the garage a little past 6AM. We were Makati-bound when we realized that things were starting to get a bit awry. The restless shuffles of feet in the backseat indicated that both Yaya and lil sis were feeling queasy and uneasy already. We were at the edge of our seats in fear of being late for the flight. I kept on looking back at the big boxes and thought of how long it would take us to check them in. I half wished that I was the one driving to the airport right now. At least driving will take my mind off the boxes and the possible lateness and the roundabout route.
All I could do at the moment was distractedly pray the rosary that we would miraculously make it on time.
By the time we turned left to the departure lane, I was ready to literally jump off the van and kiss the ground no matter how dirty it was. The Lord heard our prayers and we reached the airport at around 7:30pm, I heaved a tiny sigh of relief as we overcame our first hurdle. Hurdle number 2 came up in the form of airport checking in the humongous balikbayan boxes. As expected we went over the allowable amount of baggages for three US-bound passengers. We had one whole extra suitcase. We tried the super human effort of repacking the boxes right then and there to fit all of stuff into 6 luggages. Unfortunately, the effort failed altogether and I ended up paying 150USD for the excess suitcase. We haven’t even left the county and I already spent 150 dollars that I don’t have. Aside from the surprise 150USD that I had to pay, the ticket sales did not include the travel tax which was really unfortunate because I didn’t have any peso on me anymore. I had to literally turn my bag upside down in search of peso bills and loose change that I might have. With the help of my sister’s chaotic purse, we were able to scrape every last centavo needed to pay for the travel tax. Helped by the ground stewardess who assisted us with checking in the baggages, we were able to pay the terminal fee, go through the luggage x-rays, smile through immigration officers and board the plane just in the nick of time.
The cabin air felt thick and hot as we made our way to the seats on the plane. We had to weave out way through baggages, people trying to find their seats and tiny Japanese flight attendants who were trying to help the people get settled. We finally reached our assigned seats, buckled in and tried to catch our breaths. Now came hurdle number 3: The proposal.
Brand new BIL has been concocting a plan to propose to little sis ever since forever. There have been Plans A, B, C but none of them took form because of our busy schedules while we were in Manila, so he had to settle for OPLAN Wedding Singer. So, during the whole flight to Japan, we were quietly scheming how to move about without being noticed. Somehow BIL was ingeniously able to connive with the flight crew. He originally wanted to propose while the flight is moving but since the Japanese are quite a conservative people, the crew strongly advised against a public display of affection. They suggested for the proposal to be done after the passengers have all left the plane. BIL was all fidgety as we started to descend. He made a beeline for the bathroom the moment we unfastened our seat belts and I also hung back a bit complaining of heavy hand-carry luggages. When one of the flight crew stopped little sis on her way to the exit, she got scared because she had planned to nick a pillow and a blankie when she got off the plane. BIL then launched into his speech; introducing himself, introducing us, what brought him to the Philippines, how they met, how they got together and finally the proposal. It felt surreal to be right there, behind the camera, capture every movement, every word and every tear for posterity. I felt like an intruder to something so special yet, blessed yet again to be a witness to something so beautiful. Sis and BIL left the country as bf-gf, then landed in Japan as an engaged couple.
The flight crew of JAL 746 were so sweet as they patiently connived with us. Some of them also took pictures and videos with their iPhones. Some of them were also crying with us. They also gave the couple a bottle of nice champagne plus this sweet card congratulating the couple on their engagement. Unfortunately, we had to leave the champagne bottle at the airport because Japan was not yet our last stop. 😦
For the rest of the flight from Narita to Texas, everything was toned down. All the excitement of the engagement started to settle as soon as we took off. Oh , I forgot to mention that the crew of American Airlines also prepared a little something for the proposal, having received an e-mail from BIL asking help/permission for the proposal. Unfortunately, he did not receive any reply from them so he proposed on the JAL flight from Manila. The crew of American Airlines were such romantics that even though the proposal on their flight did not push though, they still announced it over the PA system before the take off and gave the newly-engaged couple a bottle of champagne to enjoy. 🙂
For the remainder of the flight from Narita to Dallas, we enjoyed nice meals, very nice customer service from the flight crew and a few congratulatory greetings from some of the passengers. This are our meals on this flight. 🙂
They are really yummy, but the meals on the JAL flight are yummier, or I just must be partial to Japanese food! 🙂