Two Filipina-American sisters on a camping trip ponder the natural condition of the human heart.

Words to know: Some words are in Ilokano, a minority language in the Philippines

Balasang: young, unmarried lady. The Tagalog equivalent is ”Dalaga”

Manang: Older sister.   The Tagalog equivalent is ”Ate”

Ading: Younger sister.​

It was in California. And not the California everyone thinks about. No palm trees. No “SouCal” sun. No girls in bikinis with spray tans and boob jobs. It was Northern California in the winter. Instead of swaying palms there were piles of leaves on the ground. Instead of the warm sunlight the state was famous for, there was a London-ish fog. No hordes of barely-clad, blonde bombshells. Just two balasang in parkas.

It was winter when the Manang had decided she didn’t want to be stuck in the quiet city suburbs any longer and that going back to her homeland of the Philippines was a good choice for college. And it was winter when the Ading decided that the family should go camping.

The two had woken up earlier than the rest of the family. The Manang awoke with the heartache that comes from knowing the dream is over. The Ading awoke because of the excitement she had the night before. And they ended up walking together towards the lake. It wasn’t decided that they would do so. But they were both wandering alone towards the lake. And the gravity of the Manang’s demeanor slowly and naturally pulled the Ading in.

The Manang sat on a rock that hugged the shore and hung over the lake. The younger sister chased a lizard that had decided that, today, he didn’t want to lose his tail. The Manang stared down into the abysmal water, seeing a cloudy face staring back from below the surface. She leaned back and landed on top of her bag.

Eluded and defeated by her cold-blooded prize, the Ading huffed to the rock and collapsed on top of her sister. The Manang looked down with a scowl and red lipstick smeared across her face.

“Hey, Manang. Why do you have such a big bag?” 

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