As an expatriate your endearing articles about our history, ancestry, culture, heroes and others nuggets are my personal conduits and discoveries keeping me in touch to my beloved Philippines. I thank you. I swear these longings make me more Filipino than many of those living in the Philippines. The obvious difference is my deep appreciation and pride of everything Filipino. I suppose being transplanted to another culture does that to you. You stake a claim of whom you are without ambivalence whatsoever.
As a young man growing up with a few regrets, I bought the whole American culture, line and sinker so to speak. At that time we were going through transition from Spanish to American culture. Our national language was adopted in less than a decade so our people were at an early stage of unification; which is still in progress even now. I doubt if it will ever come to pass. However, I cannot undo my past. At my age, I am somewhat of a Renaissance man. I value my heritage, multi race and culture that is Filipino, speaking and understanding three languages. That is more than most people do.
My wife and I have just returned from our intense, busy two-week visit of Manila-Makati and vicinity, staying at the 306 Ascott International Residence Hotel atop of Glorietta 4. The view on our 18th floor non-smoking residence was spectacularly facing Greenbelt skyline, Intercontinental Hotel where we stayed 25 days in 1980 and Shoe to the right and Rustan to our left. Our last visit was in 2005 and stayed a month at the BSA Towers on Greenbelt area.
Some observations seen on local television. Too many American programs being shown. It is not good for our people. No wonder we have an identity problem. We are Filipinos not Americans. Many of our friends speak to them in English. I am not sure if that is good in the long run. Are we robbing and brain washing our children to think Filipino? There is a big difference in essence and thought process. I went through it myself, for goodness sake.
I insisted that our friends take us to Quiapo this trip. I believe it must have been in 1956 (not sure of date) during the total solar eclipse when we were there last. We discovered there is a new Quiapo church and that our friends have not been there for decades. I wanted to see a reference point of my youth in the event this was our last visit. Surprisingly I had a deep appreciation in visiting Quiapo again. It is part of me and who I am. If I was in awe of the churches in Toledo and Madrid in Spain I should equally be proud of our own. And I was.
Discovering our heritage is an eye opener. We need to teach our young people to value our own heritage. There is such an incidental beauty that comes with the discovery. And you begin to love and be comfortable with your own skin because it is your very own; but you have to claim it.
Thank you for another golden nugget of an article, Gemma.
(Roseville, California 95747/ USA)