PINOYS (Filipinos) feel at home and work anywhere all over the world, but are nourished and invigorated by the soil of the homeland. If you’re the typical OFW or migrant from the Philippines, you want to go back home every year, renew and reunite, act like you never left home, and boost your reserves for another year toiling abroad. There’s nothing like living in your hometown, going around the province, and spending day after day with friends, loved ones and family.
Although you can schedule anytime to do this, there is no better time than going home during the Christmas holidays. Everything seems merrier, everything seems mellower, and everybody is in a damn good mood. Suddenly, you don’t mind spending extra pesos (that anyway don’t seem much because of your OFW dollars), you don’t mind that tipsy uncle who tells you a little too many stories of his youth, and you don’t mind treating everyone and being the taya (party host) once in a while. After all, you’re only in town once in a blue moon.
We’re not even gonna organize guidelines on what an ideal trip back home should consist of. Rather, I’m just going to set to electronic paper crib notes (kodigo) on what I think I should, and probably what some of you guys should, be doing. Bato-bato sa langit lang po:
meet, balance and spend quality time with your former work buddies, school mates, bosom friends and family, in reverse order. This takes a lot of discipline and time management, but the reason/s should be self-explanatory. You know who are most important to you diba? You know who you miss most, and you know who you can’t afford not to be with esp spend quality time with. Answering these questions often produces the order stated above, e.g. katrabaho you can always meet and greet on the fly, but family (esp your folks) you meet again and again. Doesn’t take a lot to explain this, but the actual logistics is something else. I just leave the details to you.
Spend time pampering yourself, esp about the things that you can’t do overseas. I’ll use my time-worn self as an example: Sigh, my myopia-cum-astigmatism gets worse every year, and I will probably need new glasses every now and then. It’s expensive getting new prescription lens to accommodate my middle-aged orbs, but it’s around a third of the cost compared to if I do it now in Wellington. The reason is economies of scale and labor costs, but I’m not complaining, it’s just the way it is. Another big deal is getting your teeth done, no matter how trivial and routine the treatment may be, it’s always cheaper back home. There are so many other things that you can save on, it doesn’t need to be medical, cosmetic or health/fitness related only.
I honestly don’t think it’s dodgy or unfair to our host country. I myself feel more comfortable with kabayan doctors, dentists, optometrists etc. On the other hand, I pay taxes naman wherever I’m situated, so I can’t feel too guilty about my preference.
Visit the places that inspire you, or those that revive memories. It’s a bit frivolous or decadent, but I love to visit the biggest and liveliest malls in Metro Manila, because it reminds me of my younger years and the fact that the economy is once again bustling and driven by consumer power, a healthier balance of trade and of course, OFW dollars. I’ll be completely honest you: the ambiance and aura of our haute couture stores and fashion centers, in the heart of third world Philippines, actually look better than anything in New Zealand. At least, to me.
But I want to visit Fort Santiago, the National Museum and right down my folks’ alley, Paco Park. Reason? They remind me so much of salad days and the simple fact that I haven’t been there for over three decades.
There, I think I’ve said my piece. It should be obvious to you Precious Reader that Mahal and I are planning a trip home, the first in two-and-a-half years that doesn’t involve a sad event. It’s also a first trip (since six years ago) that we’ll spend at least New Years day in Pilipinas. It promises to be interesting times.
Thanks for reading!