Uncertain Times

Uncertain Times

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Gian's reflective paper for EN12 - R13 - 0809 - Ateneo de Manila University

Text of Uncertain Times


    But was there even a time when things are certain?

    I consider myself burned out that daI consider myself burned out that day. Apart from the usual stress that my unending saga of schoolwork brings, the date February 25 meant something deeper. That day dreaded me for so long, and now it has come. It is time to decide if the family will follow the Filipino diaspora a thing called migration, a thing that meant changing my life.

    It took me a long time to settle myself. I have hated talking It took me a long time to settle myself. I have hated talking why-go-out-the-country with my mother, the planner of this indecision. She recommended that the family move abroad to Canada with our grandmother, in a bizarre place called Saskatchewan. This was during the time when my father gave up our furniture business caused by the rising price of the raw materials (and its scarcity due to the log ban).the log ban). Apparently, Saskatchewan had a nomination program where foreigners are invited to populate the area. Now thats weird. The size of the Philippines, home to almost 90 million people, is only a quarter to this Cana-dian province. However, the population of Saskatchewan is only a fraction of that of our country. Talk about strange!

    From the stories Ive heard, Saskatchewan offers a cozy feel. Grandma would repeatedly recall her fishing esca-pades and that encounter with a wild mountain bear when she had gone camping! Well, kidding aside, the place is a seeming promised land for my mother. There, she tells, the government will take care of you: free medi-cal benefits, a steady stream of pension income (once you become a citizen), a high chance of employment, and the promise of a brighter future. Tempting, isnt it? In fact, it was so tempting that almost half of my known rela-tives in our barangay, Lolomboy, went there. So huge was their number there that the Filipino community in my grandmas place was dubbed Little Lolomboy. With this, my mother assures me, feeling homesick is not much of a problem; it will not take long before my Little Lolomboy neighborhood erase my longing for the real Lolomboy back here. And with the benefits that the family will get from the Canadian government, retirement for them will be easy, and for us, a good future awaits. Be practical, my son, as my mom puts it.

    However, it is not simply an issue of fishing, mountain bears, and all the childish fantasy of seeing snow, nor a matter of practicality or securing our future. Its something way larger. I recognize the fact that there are good pay-backs in going abroad, but I feel that the so called Ameri-can Dream (or call it the Canadian Dream if you like), is not meant for me. Going abroad echoes that save yourself first mentality, the idea I have long hated among our compatriots. I am very apprehensive of materialism, and I prefer to live simply in the country where joy is not found in the number of digits my bank account has, or the number of cars I own. My father, born with not so much, taught me this. Things such as being together in the family, the com-pany of friends etc. are far more important for me.

    This brought me to ask: Why are people having this men-tality? There used to be a time when children would say A policeman! A doctor! or An actor! whenever you would ask them what they dream of. Now ask them and theyll tell you I want to be a nurse and I want to go abroad. What happened? Why has the country become so money-oriented? Nababayaran na nga ba ang lahat ng Pilipino?ng Pilipino? This option to go abroad was a chance to give my parents the grace of a peaceful retirement, but it would separate me from the dreams that I have. For me, money does matter, but it never goes first in my priorities. Im confused. Im pressured. Life may never be the same again. The invitation to Canada is a one-time, big-time offer. Once the family declines, reapplication will be almost impossible; by that time, my parents will be over-aged. impossible; by that time, my parents will be over-aged.

    Tears flowed from my eyes that day, the first time they flowed again since my mother left us for Italy four years back. I locked the room of my dorm, with various thoughts racing in my mind. Should I give in? Should I tell them that I will stop studying in Ateneo to give them the chance? Then, I began to think of praying. I asked the Lord for pardon because for many times I had gone angry at my

    mother for insisting our bright future. After that, I waited and I waited.

    Several minutes lateSeveral minutes later, my phone rang. I was my mother. In a shaking voice we talked, and after a couple of greet-ings, she had it straight to the point. We were not going. I was struck and speechless while my mother collapsed into crying. She, in a rapid and almost unintelligible tongue, told me to study well, take care of myself, and be a good son. Then abruptly, without letting me say a single word, she cuts the call.word, she cuts the call.

    I knew what that meant. Shes planning to go back to Italy and work there. I have heard this plan once, when my mother told my father that she might go back to Italy if we do not proceed to Canada. This made me feel down a bit more. But the prospect of not going to Canada gave me some hope. I am, by now, in between the lines of happi-ness and sorrow. It gave me a chance to prove that living here is more fulfilling than escaping to that place flowing here is more fulfilling than escaping to that place flowing with the riches of the world. It gave me a chance to follow my dreams I have set for myself, and a chance of the simple life.

    I still believe in that idea that greener pastures should be found right here in our home. I hope and I pray that one day, going abroad will mean leisure or business transac-tions, not labor and migration. Someday, somehow, I uphold the idea that people can still dream of a bright future without leaving the Philippines. I know we can sur-vive. Yes, these are uncertain times, but was there ever a time where things were certain? It only takes a little faith and determination belief in that day where we no longer have to worry about families separated by distance and fi-nancial stratification.

    The next day, I went home and embraced my mother. I made her feel how grateful I am, and how I do not want our family to be separated again.

    I still believe in that idea that greener pasturesTIMESshould be found right here in our home

    GIAN loves where he was raised a FILIPINO