Going back?

I don’t know how to answer whenever I’m asked, “Have you gone back?”

They always mean the Philippines. I know a few things about the Philippines.

Hundreds of islands. Dozens of dialects. Corruption in the government. Fought (and lost) a war against the United States for its independence. Really bad traffic. Surprisingly cool in the mountain provinces. Soda in a plastic baggie.

There’s more, but I find all of this self acquired knowledge woefully incomplete. I don’t know where the stereotypes end and my culture begins.

I know these things, but I don’t know them. I haven’t experienced them firsthand. So how could I return to someplace that I’ve never been?