Month 5. I have been working for almost four weeks now. The job isn’t like what I used to do but I feel grateful that there are people who help others like me adjust to a whole new environment. I pray that I survive this gracefully and help the institution that hired me. No vivid descriptions at this point.
In the past weeks , came the realization that I am indeed in a brand new universe. The language I speak is not mine, the rules I follow are all alien to me. However, as they say – “When the going gets tough, you have to be tougher than the goings-on.” I have proven that jobs in my home country aren’t half as bad. Considering how professionalism is valued by people and that education matters most to people more than how much they earn. Here, it is a different scenario. People revere and respect work as a be all and end all of things. It doesn’t really matter if you start from the lowest rank as long as you can start somewhere. Work is life. Now I can evade questions of people who ask me every second if I already have a job (Lol).
Right now, I can say there are two things that can happen, the good and the bad. But I look forward more to the good part where I wake up and embrace my new reality. Maybe then, will I be able to recount details of what’s going on here with me. The bad – hopefully does not happen when I pack my things and leave.
By The Clock.
Filipinos always romanticize the idea of migrating to another place. The folks back home have very high regard for the green buck. The dollar has a face. It is the face of the Filipino who works his sweat and blood to earn money. Yet, it is not so bad anyway. I work less hours and I am able to earn close to what I am earning back home (without the full benefits, for starters). But the responsibility of paying up for the many social duties like insurance, healthcare, et. al. makes it a bit almost like when I am back home. There is justice though, and the workforce is always getting what they have worked hard for, and on an hourly basis.
Yet, there is something very exciting with what is going on with my life. I feel a sense of growth because I now am slowly being integrated in this brand new place and hopefully soon do things I’ve never done before like drive my own car. For some this is a regular thing. Yet for someone who has never tried it, this is a herculean task. I am excited though to visualize how much farther I can stretch myself and become at ease with this brand new experience. I am lucky that my parents always help me go to work each day for now until I learn to drive by myself. The picture of this country as a dream is really just a dream. Or maybe it is too soon for me to say. I am just thankful that this country has welcomed me and its people are now sharing this field of dreams with people like me who are not from this place. We have anyway the same human longings like the need to be respected, accepted, and trusted.
Sometimes, people back home are disillusioned because from my point of view, anywhere it is just the same. The key is to work hard and earn your means. My advice to young people is that if they can make it big back home, then they should stay there and be the best, turn stones over, kick some ___. I on the other hand, came here with a different reason which is to reunite with my family, and I know for a fact that it won’t be an easy ride. The unknown is right in front of me.
I also found strength and courage after meeting many Filipinos in my own workplace. They are much older than me but are working two to three jobs to sustain their needs and send back money back to their loved ones at home. This I think is the true essence of being a Filipino in exile – to survive the odds and look at the brighter side. Sacrifices had to be made, and life goes on. Day in and day out, I feel better and stronger. On the bright side, I can always write after office hours and take my self to another dimension and get used to, and figure out the conundrum of this situation.
Moral lesson: He who does not get stretched does not grow (and earn a buck). With more to give, there is more room to be stretched. (It’s just the) Tip of the iceberg.
Lost at Sea
It’s a mirage. Believe me. Maybe I should look at it from another angle to see the good side. Only if I can find it. Last night I dreamed that I was inside a ship. Then in that ship, I was trying to get inside a subway to get to the city proper. However, I took the wrong elevator and ended up in the same place. It was a weird dream. I saw my mother and my husband looking for me in the places where I went. I see them asking people whom I’ve met inside that ship. But they cannot find me (though I was looking at them while all of these were happening.) My interpretation was that I was the one who was looking for myself because I felt lost as I left the place of my origin, just to find my family somewhere else. Yet in the end, I still lose myself (my daughter, left behind in Manila. Her choice.) Its a maze really, and the blow took me by surprise. I am sort of complete, incomplete. The only way I can defeat this feeling is to look at it from a good stance. It’s to early to say that it’s a mistake, and too soon to say that I have made it. Everyday I just thank God that I was reunited with my mom whom I have not seen for 26 years. I was able to hold her in my arms, go shopping with her, cry to her, laugh at her jokes. I was getting to know (again) this remarkable woman who gave birth to me. I was also able to spend time with my only sister, who was then a scrawny teenager when she left Manila at 14. I could imagine it was even scarier for her because she was young and America is a huge place for a girl who barely spoke the language (except when in school). Now, you look at both of them and they would pass for locals here. The accent, oh yes, the accent. Yesterday, somebody asked me where (which country) I came from, perhaps because my accent betrayed me. I wanted to tell the guy, “why don’t you just let me write down a three page essay and let’s see if who masters the language better?” That was me and my ego speaking. At the end of the day, I succumbed, and tried to get those words spoken in such a way that the locals could understand. I sounded funny sometimes, and yes this is (was) a humbling experience.
Angels on Earth
When you feel so weary that there is no hope, suddenly, angels in the form of humans appear before you. I am lucky they say to get the job even if I have just arrived here. True enough, I have a good guardian angel who believed that I can do this. No mention of names. For now.
(unfinished for now) pa.