Yet another day for the rest of your life


Migration disrupts our comfort zones, but expands our horizons immeasureably ![ Note : To put it simply, not only I but the rest of Pinoys with families still Pinas-based are in danger of being overtaken by events. ]

Dear Ganda and Bunso :

SAYING RIDICULOUS things should be the least thing you would expect from a parent, but as you very well know, I could do worse.  Here it is:  In return for creating and watching over us, I think that God sometimes reserves the right to throw the proverbial monkey wrench into even the most carefully laid-out plans of Juan and Maria. (just fill in your names pls in place of those Pinoy generics).

At the risk of you thinking of me as irreverent or heretic, there must be a reason for all the things that go awry, sticky or haywire with the most stressful results, and that is that God doesn’t need a reason to make things go the way you hadn’t anticipated.

You fall in love, you marry, raise a family.  Does getting separated enter your mind at any time? It does as a rational possibility, but never as anything else. Buy a piece of land, build a house on it, and pour into it every ounce of energy, love, effort and beauty that you could conceive.  Does the possibility that an earthquake from a nearby fault line or a tsunami from the omniscient sea could swallow it up forever ever figure in your Plan B?  Umm, maybe as a nightmare buried away somewhere in your subconscious, but otherwise NOT.

Similarly, you grow up in the only country you’ve ever known, learn its whys and wherefores like the back of your hand, go to school, graduate, go to school again, choose a career you could possibly be passionate about, learn everything about it (the career), consider other potential careers, and finally decide on the one career that you fancy, then guess what?  Your mom says it’s time to uproot yourself, reinvent the way you perceive your future, and live in a country half a world away.

At first blush it doesn’t seem fair.  For Ganda, just when you’re almost at the end of your quest for a degree and ready to face the world.  For Bunso, just when you’ve gotten into the groove of being Cool Guy on Campus, with friends and cronies who do as you do and think like you think, with your passions, causes and places you gravitate to during free time, it seems almost inconceivable to tear your emotional placenta away from this nurturing milieu.

You will probably not hear this often enough, but you have spent a remarkable three years away from both parents, have enjoyed a rather progressive education, and have done quite well for yourselves as 19 and 16 year olds go.

But there is simply no comparison when you juxtapose (pasensya na sa word) financial rewards, career potential and quality of life (not always in that order) indicators here and there, in the Pearl of the Orient and the Land of the Long White Cloud.  Opportunities aren’t as bleak there, and things are not so rosy here, but the Philippines being the Philippines, and New Zealand being New Zealand, you probably know what I mean.

It can only get worse here as regards the processing of migration papers via the family policy stream.  In so many words, the gatekeepers will pile more and more requirements atop existing ones, some reasonable, and some not.  The simplistic image of the First World closing its heavy oak doors to malnourished children of Asia and Africa acquire more grays and hues in the real world.  New Zealand has to care for (1) an aging population, (2) unproductive fringes of its society (no one can deny that) and (3) unskilled appendages of its migrant communities.

Even as you agonize over the unfinished business you leave behind, and obsess over the alternatives to a moved-up migration schedule, you know in your heart that what your mother is doing is the prudent course of action.  Given all the uncertainty surrounding migrant policy, we can probably kiss goodbye to the days when children, siblings and parents of NZ permanent residents had vested or inalienable rights to come to New Zealand just because.  Nothing is permanent or certain anymore, and eventually you will concede (as you have probably already conceded) that nothing now is more important than sorting your status as permanent residents of the country that will adopt you sooner than later.

Just a few more pieces of well-worn advice that I hasten to add, from the same old fogie who changed your diapers, bathed you and waved goodbye as you boarded the school bus :

Keep in touch with friends, colleagues and contemporaries.  Just because you’re leaving doesn’t mean you’re leaving forever.  You may find yourself back in Inang Bayan sooner than you think, if circumstances and opportunities allow.  Which is like saying, never say never.

See as much of the Philippines as you can, cuz even though never say never is good, you never know when you’ll be coming back.  Now is as good a time as any to see sights and breathe the rarefied air of your homeland.

(and lastly…) Take time to thank people who’ve made life easier for you there, and Nana and Lolo are the obvious candidates, but there are so many others without whom the tranquility and ease of your young lives would’ve been disrupted.  Long after the small kindnesses have been forgotten by others, you should be there to pay it back, both to them and the people who will come after you.

Your last few months in the Philippines will surely be eventful.  It will undoubtedly be an experience that you will look back on fondly.  But beyond that, the rest of your lives await you on the other side.

I love you always, kaawaan kayo lagi ng Diyos.

Papa

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