Tourist. Dependent. Master’s Student. OFW. I’ve been to different countries under different travel visas. I’ve lived in two other countries under different travel visas. But despite my extended leaves of absence from the beautiful Pearl of the Orient, I’m like Dorothy who, in the end, would say that “there’s no place like home.” I may not be living in my home country at the moment, but I love the Philippines. And, despite its imperfections (hear me rant about the traffic and LRTs) I’ll keep loving it until the day that I die.
My family spent two years in the beautiful land Down Under back when I was a kid. My father was taking up his PhD in the University of New England. And you know how awfully lonely it gets, being away from family. Thus we spent the time that we could spend with him there, in Australia.
I remember being so proud of my home country that I may have annoyed my playmates to bits with my “In the Philippines…” lines.
“In the Philippines, we had this wooden ‘hanging bridge’ that would rock back and forth when you’d try to cross it. And it’s not just a bridge – there are holes and it’s way, way, way high up and there’s this huge river under it.”
“In the Philippines, they already taught us long division in the third grade.”
“In the Philippines, our whole clan would go out to the beach on my birthday… and guess what? The sand at the beach is black.” (I’ve never been to Boracay and I haven’t been to the white beaches of Pangasinan and Batangas yet, during that time of bragging).
Twas a good thing my friends were polite enough and didn’t abandon me when they got an earful of all those lines.
However, in 1999, my mom, my brother, and I went back home because circumstances called us to do so. We had to leave Dad behind, but I was so, so glad to be back home. Glad to be back home with the rest of the Lubricas, glad to go back to my old elementary school, glad to actually see jeepneys once again, and glad to walk over that much publicized hanging bridge.
And taking the cue from the Department of Tourism’s new tagline, I was just so glad to be back because, indeed, it’s more fun in the Philippines.
It’s more fun in the Philippines because when you step out of your front door, your whole neighbourhood becomes an extension of your family room – all your cousins, extended cousins, nephews, nieces, what-have-you’s are all already there, just one holler away.
It’s more fun in the Philippines because most elementary school kids go through a folk-dancing, poetry-reciting, declaiming, slogan-writing, poster-making, or an all-of-the-above stage. (High School kids get in on the fun as well, but eight-year-olds would always be the best kunday-kunday dancers.)
It’s more fun in the Philippines because journalism and sports events enable kids and teens to hone their talents early and allow them to travel from Luzon to Visayas to Mindanao.
It’s more fun in the Philippines because seven people can fit into a five-seater car and twenty seven can fit into a jeepney that’s supposed to hold only twenty.
And it’s more fun in the Philippines because only the typhoon Ferya could bring down an unofficial tourist attraction like Balili’s hanging bridge. (And okay, I’m not saying that typhoons are fun. Okay, maybe they are, compared to the predictable Malaysian weather. But you have to admit, as students, you’ve looked forward to those days of no-school. And, as professionals, you’ve seen the humour in trudging through knee-length water just to get to the workplace. Admiiitttt ittt…)
So what on earth am I doing here still in Malaysia?
Sabi sa Pre-Departure Orientation Seminar (PDOS) na kinailangan kong daluhan noong nilakad ko ang mga papeles ko sa POEA, ang mga OFW daw ay gumaganap bilang “ambassador of goodwill” sa mga bansang pinagtratrabahuan nila. Lubos akong sumasang-ayon sa pahayag na iyon. Nandito ako para itaas ang bandila ng mga Pinoy! Hindi ako umalis ng Pilipinas dahil hindi ko ito mahal. Subalit, isang dahilan kung bakit ako’y nandito pa ay dahil sobra ko siyang mahal. Sa aking mga taon ng pag-aaral dito sa Malaysia, napansin ko na may maling kaisipan nabubuo laban sa mga Pilipinong nagtratrabaho dito. Gusto kong mabasag ang kaisipang iyon. Nawa’y sa aking pamumuhay at sa aking pagtratrabaho dito, makikita ng mga tao na sikat at kakaiba talaga ang Pinoy.
Gusto ko ring makakuha pa ng karanasan at kaalaman na maibabalik ko pa sa Pilipinas, pag bumalik na ako doon. Hindi ba’t tumira si Pepe sa mga bansang banyaga ng ilang taon din? At tingnan niyo naman ang naging epekto ng buhay at mga kasulatan niya sa bansang Pilipinas.
Marami pang ibang dahilan kung bakit kahit na madalas ay uwing-uwi na ako (at kahit na madalas ay pinaglalaban ko pa ang pasaporte ko), pinili ko parin na manatili dito. Kaibiganin niyo ako at mag-usap tayo ng masinsinan at malalaman niyo rin. Pero wag niyo sanang isipin na lumabas ako para lumabas lamang. At hindi ko rin sinasabi na ang Pinoy ay lumalabas para makalabas lamang. Marami akong kilalang mga Pilipino na saludong-saludo ako, subalit dahil sa kanilang sakripisyo, nabubuhay, napapaaral, at nagkakaroon ng masmabuting buhay ang kanilang mga mahal sa buhay. Inuulit ko, hindi madaling tumira sa ibang bansa, lalo na kung malayo ka sa mga taong importante sa iyo.
So. I just chose to write all my reasons for staying here in the Filipino language, because it seems ironic that I’ve been writing a whole post about how much I love the Philippines in English. But for anyone reading this blog who’s from outside the Philippines, and for those who wouldn’t understand a word in Tagalog… Well, I am promoting my country to you. Google translate if you will (it’s inaccurate, by the way), but I hope that everything else I’ve written shows the sincerity of my love for my country.
We have our imperfections. But it’s a fun country and I love my homeland nonetheless.
I’m proud to be Pinoy. It’s more fun in the Philippines! :D