Friday, April 13, 2007


Leaving sometimes isn't a matter of choice. It's coming back that is. The Hobbits of the shire travelled all over Middle-Earth, but they chose to come home, richer in every sense of the word. We call people like these balikbayans or the 'returnees' -- those who followed their dream, yet choose to return and share their mature talents and good fortune.

I was raised to be patriotic since I was in preschool. We would sing the “Lupang Hinirang” every morning during the flag ceremony, and we would chant the “Pilipinas Kong Hirang” every afternoon during the flag retreat. Not to mention the recitation of the “Panatang Makabayan” after the singing of the National Anthem. I would sing and recite every word by heart. I learned to love my country and my countrymen deeply.

In college, I went to the University of the Philippines; I received a higher level of education on patriotism. It is the kind of education that taught me how to make a stand and remain firmly on the side of the political arena that protects and upholds democracy and human rights. I learned to love my country and my countrymen more deeply.

I used to disapprove of Filipinos going abroad to work. Why couldn’t they stay and help uplift the condition in the country? Why couldn’t they give up the Scent of Apples and the Great American Dream of leaving the country and becoming American citizens? I guess I was too young to understand why this was happening to my country and my countrymen who I learned to love very deeply.

Just recently, my sister-in-law Maui Angala, forwarded to me an article “The Filipino Dream” by Rod Nepomuceno. A portion of it read:

Believe it or not, there is such a thing as the Filipino Dream. Ask Henry Sy. Ask John Gokongwei. Ask Lucio Tan. They built their empire here in the Philippines. There are so many people out here who are living the Filipino Dream. (“The Filipino Dream”, Rod Nepomuceno)

Hey! Aren’t they the Chinese businessmen, just few of the many Chinese tycoons, who are trying to dominate the Philippines? As far as I know, very few full-blooded Filipinos doing honest-to-goodness business really make it that big in our own country. Why is that so?

But still, it is good to know that there are still Filipinos who dream the Filipino Dream, who I wish would one day take the position of the Government Officials who do nothing but tarnish the Filipino pride. That is indeed a silver tint in the clouds of doubt.

I was conscious of the mayhem of our government against our own country, our public officials against its own populace. I knew much but there was nothing I could do. I felt helpless in my own country. Shame on me!

I was dreaming the Filipino Dream one time. I wanted a school which can cater to all the needs of my Filipino students. I founded FUNSHINE special school in Fairview QC, and it has later branched out to FUNSHINE preschool in Lagro QC. I was making a difference in the lives of the Filipino special children. But I was never a business tycoon. I have always been a passionate teacher. And I had to help myself too, for me to be able to help these children better.

Now, I am one of the Filipinos with the Great American Dream. I am one of the Filipinos who are setting out on their journey to foreign lands to fulfill their dreams. I am one of the Filipinos who have the aspiration of coming to America and earn dollars to realize the Great American Dream. I am one of the Filipinos wanting to come to the United States to uplift their social and financial condition and to help those whom they would leave behind in their own country.

I may take advantage of whatever opportunities come my way. But I will come home. A borderless world doesn't preclude the idea of a home. I'm a Filipino, and I'll always be one. It isn't about just geography; it isn't about boundaries. It's about giving back to the country that shaped me.

And that's going to be more important to me than seeing snow outside my windows on a bright Christmas morning. (“Blonde and Blue Eyes”, Patricia Evangelista)

I still dream the Filipino Dream. Who will make it happen?

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