May 29, 2009
Oh, much, indeed. I am going home to the Philippines. I. Am. Going. Home.
I don’t know if I ever told you all that I felt like I had sold out when I agreed to come to the U.S. Do you know, migration was a topic of fierce argument between me and my classmates in high school? It was that much real to us. Everyone we knew–teachers, classmates, and friends—they were all migrating to the US or to Europe, or to whatever else place had jobs for them.
My Filipino teacher cried in front of us because of her struggle with her family about going abroad. She wanted to stay and continue to teach in our school, but her family wanted her to seek greener pastures abroad.
When I told my friends and my schoolmates that I was going to the US, do you know how many tried to stop me? The sense of abandonment was palpable. Not merely as friends, but as a society, we felt like our land was a sinking ship with scurrying rats left to keep company the people who couldn’t leave. One friend asked me to return one day because the Philippines needed me.
I’ve been in the US for 5 years and every day, those words haunted me. Even the scary incident of a Filipina American citizen being abducted by the Philippine military will not deter me from coming home. Even if my mother tries to stop me because she fears for me, I will not be stopped.
You know, it’s strange, even Filipinos born in the US…I think they feel the tug, too. That tug across a vast ocean whose sound must seem to echo their heartbeats. I’m convinced that there is such a thing as group memory and group dreaming. Maybe all of us Filipinos abroad, maybe we all dream the same thing and remember the same thing. Even if it’s through the stories of our mothers and fathers, of our kin left behind.
I’m going now, and just as Val always tells us, I’ll carry each one of you on my back as I trudge through the streets of Manila, or the mountains of the Cordillera. I’ll carry your spirits, and in the same way, bring back the dreams and memories of our half left in the Philippines. Half of our people. Half of our soul. Half of ourselves.
Sisters, we are in pieces, all over the world.