Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Introduction

I cannot agree more with Irish writer George Moore when he wrote "A man travels the world over in search of what he needs and returns home to find it". I am a Filipina who had been living in Switzerland for 4 years and there is not one day when I didn't wish that I was home in the Philippines. I didn't come to Switzerland to find myself because I knew who I was when I left. I came here rather for personal, professional and economic reasons as are the reasons of every migrant Filipino. As required of any successful adaptation, I can't help but rediscover who I am in the process of clawing my way into the strict Swiss socio-economic structure.

I don't have so many Filipino friends in Switzerland. In a way, it is a blessing in disguise because having mostly European and Swiss friends helped my thoughts and feelings evolve into new dimensions. I now see myself and our country in a different perspective and surprisingly, it is not a bad view at all.

I believe now that what makes the Philippines poor is our lack of pride for who we are and for our country. We are the first ones to belittle ourselves to the world for no reason other than because insecurity was imprinted in our psyche by our colonial masters. Unfortunately, the world tends to think what we want them to think about us. We have a beautiful, abundant country filled with wonderful, talented, intelligent people who are constantly looking beyond the pacific to define who they are. The moment we stop doing this will be the moment we will stop being poor. Because ultimately it will be pride who will clean our polluted rivers, save our forests and our coral reefs. For one will not destroy what one loves.

Often when my husband and I travel in the Philippines and we reach a place off the tourist track, the first questions that locals ask us are "are you from here?" and "If you are not from here why would you like to come here?" and when we reply "because it is a beautiful place and we would like to see it", the first thing they would do is to look around and wonder what it is that we find so beautiful. When we travel in Europe, locals of remote forgotten towns would point to us a small street and declare with pride "look how beautiful this place is". Love can transform a small street into a grand boulevard. Pride makes a big difference. We cannot wait for other people to be proud of our country for us.

As I travel around Europe, eat French food in expensive restaurants, frolick in the Mediterrean Coast, wander around old streets of Rome and Napoli, and hike in the Swiss Alps, I grow firmer in my belief that the Philippines have something different and extraordinary and in a whole new league of its own. Granted, we have no thousand-year old monuments, but nowhere else in the world would you find a cuisine which is a mix of Southeast Asian, European, Chinese, and South American, endless magnificent coastlines due to being an archipelago of 7100 beautiful islands, a culture based on family, hospitality and friendliness, and abundant flora and fauna brought about by our unique location of being the bridgeway between mainland Asia and Australia. We have everything! We just have to open our eyes and see it!

With this blog I hope you will see what I see, a country full of all the wonderful gifts nature could give just waiting to be appreciated, loved, cherished and protected.

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