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Roof top swimming pool. Legs tanning. Manila, Makati, Rockwell.

I made it to Manila. 

I’m writing this poolside on the rooftop of a condominium tower in downtown Makati.

The breeze is warm. I can hear the metallic honks and whistles of the Manila traffic several stories below. Palm trees rustle in the hot wind, silhouetted against tall, reflective skyscrapers. The pool water shimmers with the breeze.

I’ve been to the Philippines almost every year since I was a child, and yet… I’d never thought of it as a place where I could settle down and grow some roots.

After spending the vast majority of my 21 years in London, I’ve made the decision to experience working life in the Philippines, the homeland of my family.

So far, it’s been hectic. Sorting passports, permits, recognition and citizenship… But no mind. It’s all worth it.

I made it to Manila.

It’s a Wednesday afternoon and I feel free.

There’s nothing more in this very moment that I could ask for.

No more cozying up in chunky sweaters and turtlenecks. No more painfully expensive Oyster card top-ups and cold, wet drizzle. No more chapped lips and runny nose. I say hello to fresh fruit, warm sun, and thousands of islands.

I can barely wait to start my adventures here.

I guess I’ll start with a swim.

Mel Legarda

Melissa Legarda is the founder of illumelation. She has worked as a travel blogger, creator and writer since 2015, and has collaborated with well-known brands worldwide. She has helped over 1,100+ students improve their travel photography skills since launching her creative courses. Her mission is to encourage and empower others to travel and create more. Find her on Instagram.

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