Proud to be a Filipino

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Imagine the consternation on Lauren’s face when I told her that I rejected the immigration papers that Lorna, my sister sent me in 1987.

“Mom , how could you?” I explained to her my reasons.

While reviewing the requirements and the time frame for approval, I figured that in twenty
years, my papers would have been approved. My children would then have the choice of staying in our beloved country or the land of milk and honey. But I didn’t submit the immigration form and instead told my sister that I wanted my children to stay in the Philippines and continue to work for the good of the country. After all, People Power Revolution fever was still high in the air. My heart filled with hope and dreams for the Philippines through my children. As a mom, I felt that my UP student activist and idealistic days can be best transformed in educating my children towards patriotism and nationalism. Yes, “the hand that rocks the cradle is the hand that rules the world” so I thought.

I was confident that if the kids chose to go to the USA after college, it would be a piece of cake since I had a lifetime US visa (it was lifetime then) and if need be, acquire American citizenship from her dad using that obscure immigration law of Filipinos born to American citizens in 1930. I missed the fact that working opportunities are not open to non-American citizens.

It’s been 20 years and now, Lauren screams Screw Nationalism

I suppose some would say that I’m a horrible person for being aware that our country’s society is shit and instead of getting up and trying to change things, I want to get the hell out. I don’t feel like a horrible person, though. I’m not the asshole killing off political enemies, or stealing from the pork barrel. This is my reaction to the reality I see. Philippine society won’t change, at least not in my lifetime. And I want to live my life the way I want to instead of wasting my time fighting a losing battle.

When I read her entry, I felt so sad that I didn’t pursue the immigration angle . That other obscure immigration law requires my husband to stay in the USA for some period of time. So yes, regrets but I cannot undo that now. I continue to have hope for the Philippines despite the fact that the country has not progressed in ways I imagined it to be.

Funny that I have such a long introduction to this tagged post on “3 signs they see happening now that make them shout out, ““It feels great to be Pinoy!” but I do have a point. My list is not about the current signs but the Filipino traits that make me shout that “it feels great to be Pinoy!” and why I continue to think the Philippines is a great country. It is because of our people.

1. Filipinos exhibit bamboo-like resilience even during the most difficult times. I remember the time when Ninoy Aquino was shot in 1983. Our peso dropped drastically that imports got very expensive. I believe it was the most challenging economic crisis ever. What saved the country? The underground economy. The micro-entrepreneurs. Filipinos find ways to save themselves from their financial rut . During those times, I was able to interview a lot of micro-entrepreneurs who came out with products/services’ subsitutes in place of imports.

2. Filipinos know how to have fun. We can see it in our fiestas and parties. I never appreciated this wonderful trait until that Independence Day party celebration in Laos where various embassies were invited. The function room was bursting with foreign diplomats. A diplomat told me that they look forward to our parties. It’s the laughter, the singing, dancing and eating our sumptuous food which they enjoy the most. There never is a dull moment. Pessimists think “having fun” is an escape from reality or too costly. Whatever. Let’s have fun once in a while, right?

3. Filipinos are creative and resourceful. I see it in the handicrafts, the fashion accessories, and the furniture which is truly a Filipno design. This resourcefulness coupled with the proper investment and marketing strategy will continue to offer us hope for the economic independence of our countrymen. I know it’s taking so much time for the government agencies to speed the process but we are getting there with their new thrust, called the One Town, One Product (OTOP) Program of the Department of Trade and Industry.

These are just some of the traits that will make our country survive and grow. Working and having the right amount of fun will pull us through any challenges.

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