Splicing thought-strands on home, coming home and homecomings

[ Note : no promise of coherent thoughts here kabayan, and as proof we even invented a new word, thought-strands.  Belated happy birthday to a new kabayan friend, Mr Patrick Pardo ! Thanks and acknowledgment to buhayUK for his YouTube vidLastly, every member of the Pinoy community in NZ, please take a peek at this article that might have far-reaching consequences on kamag-anak who need to follow us to NZ , maraming salamat po! ]

THE FUNNY thing is while lots of things and places look prettier abroad, everything acquires more meaning back home.  Why, for one thing, the work you do feeds more people, sends more students to school, and builds better houses than if you had stayed home.

I sometimes wondered in younger days how relatives and friends were able to stay, as OFWs and aspiring migrants, interminable and agonizing years away from their loved ones.  It was because they spent so much virtual time and online (and now Skype) time while away, and because they spent so much quality time together once they were reunited, if only for brief moments (in relative terms).

On balance, a career cultivated before strangers and strange lands may be daunting, but the patience of acquiring new technology and world-class skills is quite compensating.  There is also the small comfort that because life is easier in temperate climes, you age more gracefully and are better able to help your countrymen, assuming you return, once you have made your fortune elsewhere.

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I like to poke fun at Kiwis I’ve made friends with and perhaps you have as well, who save up religiously for months and months at a time, live frugally without fail, only to use all their funds for a trip abroad.  It’s a fairly well-known rite of passage among university grads to leave eveything behind, soak up the scenery, live as a local in a chosen venue (usually UK, Europe or less often, the Americas) and along the way, use up every red cent (or singkong duling) that they own before heading back home.  It’s endearingly called doing your O.E. or overseas experience, and your odyssey of youth or coming of age is not, cannot, would not be complete without the O.E.

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I hate to break it to you kabayan but in a roundabout way, many migrant Pinoys are guilty of doing the same thing every two years or so (more frequently for the newbies), there is a crying need, almost like salmon spawning upriver, to return to the Motherland or Inang Bayan.  To renew ties with family, update registration, taxes or documentation of precious property, revisit old haunts or rekindle fond moments, what have you, but there’s always a good reason to go home.

It would have to be a cold-hearted wretch who never looked back wistfully on what might have been and all the grand dreams of resettling as well as helping less fortunate countrymen who didn’t have the same opportunity.

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But as always, reality has a way of intefering with one’s fondest dream; we hurl ourselves on the conveyor belt of work and gravitate towards our comfort zones, and before we know it years pass.  If not for the constant badgering of parents and friends to find time and come back every now and then, we would be stangers in our own land.  But as they say, you can take Noel out of Manila, but you can’t take Manila out of Noel.

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The last time I was home was December 2009.  Shortly after, esposa hermosa followed and I haven’t found the time or budget to repatriate.  Two years and three months doesn’t seem like a very long time to non-migrants but to me it already feels like an eternity.  Each time I go home, boulevards are wider, children are smarter, malls are larger.  On the other hand, people are poorer, hopes are more fragile and dreams seem more distant.  What to do?  I’m almost tempted to believe in the cynic’s injunction : each time you leave, burn that last memory of home in your mind, for you can never go home again.

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Just one more cautionary tale from my bayong.  A couple I know, soon after they obtained the all-important permanent resident status here in NZ said that they owed it to themselves to see the sights and know everything they could about their adopted land, which is what they did,  majority of their first few years here.  After being able to say been there done that, they went on a European and Holy Land tour, and then after that, couldn’t resist the discounted pleasure cruise around Southeast Asia.  The years stretched into a decade and before long nearly 20 years had passed.

Isn’t it about time na magbalikbayan tayo Mahal said Missus.  Indeed, agreed Lakay, and off they went, landing in NAIA for the first time since the incumbent’s Mom was herself president (and before the airport was named after Dad).  Lo and behold, their contemporaries were long gone, either passed away or themselves in other lands.  Their relatives were nowhere to be found as they failed to update their contacts and were hardly facile with FB.  The beloved haunts of yesteryear were replaced with unfamiliar edifices, malls and condominiums that had little or no connection, neither in feelings nor in history, with them.

They had become strangers in their own land.

This is an extreme example and odds are, you won’t let this happen to you kabayan.  But you never know.  Never forget it, but be it ever so humble, there’s no place like home.

3 thoughts on “Splicing thought-strands on home, coming home and homecomings

  1. Pingback: Yet another day for the rest of your life « YLBnoel's Blog

  2. I have felt that – being a stranger in our own homeland. Tried to see places where we used to hang-out before, and found that somehow it is not the same anymore. But it will not deter me to come back, even just for a glimpse of the memories.

    • It’s actually more common than you and I imagine bro, the phenomenon of “never being able to come home again” as the home you imagine, including the memories, people and places from long ago have in fact ceased to exist and remain only in our minds. Thanks for the comment and more power to your very popular blog Pinoytransplant!

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