I am a Filipino … on foreign soil.
My color, my nose, my height, my accent, and many more of my physical attribute points to an obvious fact, that I am a Filipino. However, being a Filipino is not just about the physical attributes but about one’s heartbeat.
I write this blog entry as I celebrate The Philippine Independence Day together with the 90 million Filipinos in the Philippines and all over the world. I wanted to write this blog using my Tagalog vocabulary (sapagkat aking nabatid na mas tatagos sa puso ng mga mamababasang Pinoy ang bawat katatotohanang aking isasambilat) but I also wish to inspire non-Tagalog speaking Filipinos as well so I decided to write this in English. You might wanna play this cover (my brother Dan and I made for this special day) while you read this blog haha.
“Pinoy Ako” by Orange and Lemons
Almost a year and six months ago, hesitant as I was, I started a journey towards a land most people regard as “greener pastures” or a “land flowing with milk and honey”. As a young man, it has never been a dream, nor an ambition for me to leave the Philippines and live in another country. I said to myself, I will serve my country to the best of my abilities, even on the simplest of things. Nevertheless, God-inspired and God-directed [not self-willed], I left the comforts of home, of family, of friends and set foot on foreign soil — the vast lands of Canada. As promised, living in such a blessed nation like Canada is as good as it gets. Comfort. Security. Peace. There’s nothing you can ask for.
Or so it seems.
Canada. It is no lie nor a secret that living in this country is more comfortable compared to the standards of living back home. No wonder people try so desperately to flee from our poverty-stricken country to land in so-called “paradise-like” countries as others seem to depict. People here eat more than four times a day. Babies here receive the same amount of money a minimum-salary worker earns back home. The Sick here can go to the hospital without worrying about medical expenses. Policemen are trustworthy, transportation is efficient, and the government is reliable. Life here reaches the expectations of a comfortable life that’s been promised to many. I tell you, as good as they may all sound, FOR MOST FILIPINOS, IT COMES WITH A PRICE.
There is no better place than home.
Here, we are second class citizens. Though there comes a point when a Filipino can obtain Canadian Citizenship, we will always be second best. There’s so much to miss from back home.
Language? The diversity of language brings confusion and depression to the Filipino soul.
Attitude? Nothing beats the million smiles I see everyday back in Manila even if there is no food on their plates.
Festivities? I already told you how I missed Philippine Christmas and New Year. I miss the culture. I miss the jeepneys and tricyles. I miss the Basketball Leagues. I miss the Malls. I miss seeing and talking to people on the streets. I miss swimmings and outings. I miss my family and friends. I miss Philippine Food (isaw, hotdog, andoks, Jolibee, KFC, McDonalds Fried Chicken, street barbecue and chicken balls, halo-halo, and the list of foods I miss goes on). I miss the Philippines. I’m one Homesick Filipino.
Losing the Filipino Heart
The sad reality of migrating to other countries is that some Filipinos loose their love and care for our country. Ask a Filipino when was the last time they prayed for the Philippines. Ask a Filipino what was the last thing they did for the Philippines. You’d be lucky to hear a positive answer once in a while, but the sad truth, most Filipinos abroad (excluding OFWs) seldom do anything to help our country, or at least pray sincerely for its blessing.
Most Filipinos want to go back home and some of them actually get to go back. But what do they do back home? Complain about how poor, dirty, corrupt, and sick our nation is. They begin to compare life here from life there and the complaints will never stop.
And then, there are Filipinos who have completely turned their backs from their Philippine roots. Those Filipinos who’d never want to go back to the Philippines. Filipinos who doesn’t care whatever happens back home.
Proud to be Filipino
Canada is my home now but my heart still bleeds Filipino blood. Never in my lifetime would I lose my love for the Philippines. So, this independence day, I remember my roots, my heritage, and my identity. Just like Jose Rizal, Andres Bonifacio, Gregorio del Pilar, Apolinario Mabini, Ninoy Aquino, and our modern Philippine heroes, I too am proud to be a Filipino.