Because of their busy schedules, actress and lifestyle columnist Maricel Laxa-Pangilinan, her two younger brothers, Melvin and Misha, and their parents, Imelda llanan and Ben Avancena, can barely catch up with one another. To make up for lost time, they go on annual trips for some family bonding. This year, they chose a safari adventure in Kenya and Tanzania, Africa, with a side trip to Dubai, United Arab Emirates.
"Kami lang,"says Maricel. "Walang mga asawa, walang mga anak. Just to bond. Kasi my parents live abroad, in China. They love to travel, pero they don't want to travel pag matanda na sila. Gusto nila, hindi 'yong iiwan namin sila sa isang lugar, 'tapos sabihin namin, 'Balikan na lang namin kayo, kasi you're too old to follow.' Kung ano 'yong gimik, go sila!"
Coming from Manila and Shanghai, Maricel and her family met up in Dubai before proceeding to Africa, arriving there just in time to witness the great migration of wildebeests from the plains of Serengeti to the Masai Mara National Reserve in Kenya. (The wildebeest, also known as gnu, is an antelope whose head and horns resemble those of a buffalo.)
The trip—which was at the same time a send-off party for brother Misha, who's going to college in Madrid, Spain—took one year of planning and a lot of schedule adjustments, but Maricel said it was definitely worth it, especially after she saw the untamed beauty of Africa: '"Yong mata mo, talagang hindi mo na alam kung saan ka titingin. Ang ganda-ganda. Ito 'yong God's creation talaga."