slice of life

Cousin bonding before corona: Milkteas and fitting rooms

I always wondered how it feels to have cousins the same age as you, whom you can treat like close friends. You don’t force yourselves to go to reunions because you have that cousin you’re genuinely happy to see again.

My parents are both the eldest among their siblings. They had us at a young age, so by the time my aunt and uncles started their own families, my siblings and I were already teenagers. Whenever there’s a family gathering, I bet my cousins are confused about whether we are their cousins or their aunt. The obvious age gap made it awkward, and I just always see them as kids.

(I do have a cousin that’s close my age, but they’re guys.)


February 1, 2020 — Another reunion. My uncle and his family in Canada paid a short visit back to the Philippines. On their last week, they threw a birthday party for their daughters at the most famous fast-food chain, Jollibee. My mom, dad, my youngest brother, and I went to the party to say hi before they fly back home in a few days.

It was the typical kid’s party: children’s games, a program, lots of singing and dancing. And of course, Jollibee meals.

We were about to say our goodbyes but Gabrielle, my 13-year old cousin, wanted to bond with me some more. (We only got to spend time once, back when she was a little girl!) Her parents were gracious enough to allow her that afternoon even though their schedule is already packed.

The coronavirus scare is rampant, but we were able to roam around the mall freely. I haven’t been in Makati for a long time (since I started working virtually) and it was refreshing to tour her around even though lots of times we got lost. Lol.



We talked about her schooling in Canada, her friends back home, what’s her routine like, places she’s been while in the Philippines, places she loves to go to in Canada. She also asked me tons of stuff like boys, work, current issues and topics girls talk about.

The thing about meeting a person for the second time, after many, many years have passed, is that conversations alone aren’t enough to discover one another deeply. Experiences have to be shared. We both wanted to be friends with each other but for us to truly connect, we have to share an activity that we both enjoy. And so we did!

We both love milk teas so we tried Tiger Sugar Milktea. While sipping our own cups, she mentioned that she missed another fun event at school where they are given the liberty to dress up looking like a famous icon (as I recall the convo).


To make up for that, we did our own dress-me-up event. We picked the weirdest, goofiest set of clothing we’d find at Forever 21 and have the other person fit ’em. Ta-da! In the process, I got to see her spontaneous side. What makes her laugh and what she thought was fun. (It was like a scene in a coming-of-age movie before getting introduced to adulthood!)

Above is the outfit she chose for me, complete with a fedora hat, bee sunglasses, and boots. It’s layer after layer after layer of clothes with different textures! Obviously we won’t be sporting this look in an actual event or day-out. I had a blast as it was an exercise for our creative minds as well.



Above is the outfit I wanted her to wear for our goofy outfit challenge. As you can see it’s not as colorful as her selection for me — did adulthood make me boring?? — but notice the fur cardigan, the shiny wedges, and the cat-eye shaped sunnies? I think I deserve a goofy award for picking those items!

We got a hang of choosing clothes for each other so we decided to go for another challenge. This time, we’ll buy one another a set of clothes worth PHP 500. Of course, it would be hard to shop with that budget inside a mall so we went to the bazaar area in Landmark. Below is what she picked for me!



This time, because we know we’ll purchase these items, we were more careful with our choices. We constantly asked one another our body sizes, consulted each other’s style, and observed if the clothes we’re eyeing would be appropriate for a casual day, me in the Philippines, and Gab in Canada. (The oversized yellow shirt she bought me became an instant favorite, because of the blissful memory that comes with it.)

We also went window shopping at some beauty stores! I never had someone lecture me about makeup and things, it was fantastic to hear my young cousin talk about something she’s really interested in. In the end we purchased mask sheet! (Skincare is everythingggg, according to my charming cousin!)




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