Friday, July 15, 2005

Dear San Andres, Wish you were here.....

My flatmate is a Filipina nurse who hails from San Andres in Romblon. We are of the same age and faith. She was kind enough to allow me to live with her when I needed a place to stay last August. She recently asked me to edit this article. As I've been writing a lot about longing for home, I thought it fit to include what she has written:

For the past three years, I have been away from San Andres and all the things that make me feel at home. The sound of tricycles and jeepneys at my door, the familiar cry of ‘taho’ in the morning and ‘balut’ in the evening. I don’t hear the sound of sea waves when I tuck myself to sleep, not even a rooster crowing in the morning. Be it the good, the bad, or the ugly, I miss my home. The thing that makes it a little bit worse—I’m in the land down under and it’s winter!

Things here are different. One day, I was unwell and was told to rest. That means I have to spend the whole day lying in the couch with the remote controls lined up beside me. If sports coverage is the thing to go by, there are only three choices: football, rugby or cricket. All of these don’t make sense to me. I want to go back to the ‘real sports’ and cheer on my favorite Ginebra San Miguel Team.

The other thing that makes me really miss home is the freedom to wear comfortable clothes anytime. I can go anywhere in plain shirt and jeans. I can hang-out with friends wearing the same kind of clothes without considering the season. No need to rug up with wool coats and wear layers of clothes to keep myself warm.

Another downside of living overseas is the food. I miss those home-made meals like ginataang langka, pinakbet, pansit, adobong kangkong, inihaw na tulingan and a lot more. Or afternoon snacks like halo-halo, gulaman, turon and banana-cue. Because juggling work and study is always difficult, I have no choice but to resort to microwave cooking. I usually cook twice or three times a week, store the food in the freezer and re-heat when I need to. Anyway, the word ‘cuisine’ really is in the stomach of the beholder.

The only consolation I have for all the homesickness and bad eating is that I have a Filipina roommate. And because she’s from UP, she has this ‘makabayan’ kind of attitude. We both love Filipino music and Filipino food. Most of all, we’re both looking forward to that time when we can be reunited with our families and friends.

I would say that living overseas is not all about the glam and vanity of earning dollars. I still believe that the best things in life are those that don’t have price tags. Deep inside my heart, I miss my hometown and the people that make me ‘feel at home’.

I feel like Dorothy in ‘The Wizard of Oz’ crying “I wanna go back to Kansas. I want to go back to Auntie Em…there’s no place like home”.

There is a famous Aussie song that goes this way (I’ve changed the word to San Andres on the last line):

I’ve been to cities that never close down
From New York, to Rome to old London town
But no matter how far or how wide I roam
I still call ‘San Andres’ my home.