Monday, October 17, 2011

Hong Kong & Filipina OFWs

I've been asked a lot of times about how I was held in the Philippine immigration for an hour before my flight to Hong Kong last April. When I saw the photos of the trip, I thought of reminiscing about it, hopefully for the last time. Haha.

My flight was around 5am on a Saturday. Since it was so early and I was traveling alone from Manila, I decided not to sleep and just proceed to the airport after a late off from work. I wore jeans, flat shoes and black jacket. I didn’t put on makeup and having no sleep, I looked so tired.

It was my first time going to Hong Kong and when I was asked what was my purpose of going there, the immigration officer scrutinized how I look, looked at me from head to toe then said, “Hay naku ne, andami daming mga Filipina na napapahamak sa Hong Kong ngayon, hindi mo ba nakita sa TV?” (*sigh* young lady, there are so many Filipina that have been in danger in Hong Kong, haven’t you seen them on TV?). Then, I answered, “oo nga po.” I know I look young but I answered as smart as I could so that she could determine that I know what I was doing. Then she asked me to wait and fill in some immigration form. At first, I was patiently waiting for the late immigration officer that was scheduled to question me and the rest of the 15 Filipinos who were going to HK and Singapore but when they started to curse each other saying “son of a b*tch, blah blah” at front of us, I felt bad of how our officers behave. Well, at first I thought, that it’s something that I have to accept but the way they talk to fellow Filipinos who go out of the country may it be for travel or work, I think is unacceptable.

Given that fact that there are really a lot of Filipinos going outside the country illegally to find their luck, which we couldn’t avoid (I even have good friends and cousins who did that and looking at their motives, I think that that determination to get what you want is really good), I started thinking that maybe that’s why they are so rude to the fellow Filipinos but looking at the bigger picture, their attitude is really unacceptable. They’ll say “oist, punta ka don!” “bakit ka pupunta don?” with the rudest intonation I've ever heard in the whole Philippines.

I waited for an hour, some waited for 8 hours to be interviewed. Then, when it was my turn, the officer said “your ID is unacceptable.” I told her that it was my real ID and if he thinks there’ll be problem with it, I should tell my employer to change the appearance of the ID. He said that he could think that I just asked someone from Quiapo to replicate it (Quiapo is a place in Manila where you can replicate all important papers and IDs) and I replied, “if that’s the case, what’s the need of having this interview if you can just base your judgement in a person’s ID? Couldn’t you figure out if the person is lying or not?” Then he reasoned out then let me go.

When I went back to the cubicle to finally go (because I was the only passenger that my flight was waiting), the officer said, “If I were your sister, I won’t let you go to Hong Kong just to see your boyfriend. Can’t you be a true-blue Filipina? Be ashamed of yourself!” (I met Taku and HK before he goes to LA for a job assignment. He was from Japan, I came from Manila).

Well, everyone is entitled of his/ her opinion but it’s never right to judge and force someone to believe that your opinion is the right one.

As I arrived alone in HK, I felt so at home having seen a lot of Filipina. They’ve talked with me from the airport, to the bus, showed me around, and helped me explore the city while trying out the trum, MTR and even by walking. I loved the smile and eagerness of storytelling in their faces upon seeing a fellow Filipino. I felt the Filipino hospitality and love for kababayan. I think it was one of the things that made my trip memorable.
When they brought me to the World-Wide Plaza, everything was so familiar: from banks to grocery stores!
where you can find Filipinos in HK during the weekend...
trying not to miss home with these?
And upon seeing the balikbayan boxes and upon listening to their stories how they save and try not to spend their hard-earned money just for their salary to be enough for all the relatives that depend on them, I felt the hardships that each OFW has been going through for years. 
the place when you can send everything back home.
then Filipinos are hoping that what they'll give is enough... 
Then I started asking myself, is the close family ties still an advantage or is it making Filipinos become dependent to their relatives who are brave enough to gamble?
I had a glimpse of the hardships our Filipina OFWs are facing from the moment they step out of the country up to the "living alone and missing home" feeling in Hong Kong plus the fact that in every corner that there's a Filipino talking to a family over the phone, she'll say "Isn't it enough?" or "He is having a mistress?" then cry or get angry. hay...
what I saw in Hong Kong on a Sunday afternoon- Filipino picnic!
I wish our kababayans well and happy.

these were my beautiful tour guides!
I wish to see them again (I hope I remember their names.)

Saturday, October 15, 2011

When I grow up...

"...I want to be a doctor"-- the usual answer of kids in my time, I used to say the same. Haha.

I used to think about how my 25th birthday is going to be, thinking that it’s quite like a “moment of truth” for each individual. I was born and grew up in a countryside, so growing up, I found myself daydreaming on how I want to live my life. I’ve been writing so many things to accomplish before I turn 25 and I even have this 5-year goal listed in a small index card after my college graduation that made me realize today that I’ve quite did a great job in sticking to my goals (except for being financially literate. Haha) for the past years and how some things really change. But yes, what’s important is how you live every day of your life.

When I was in preschool, I wanted to be a teacher.
When I was in Kinder, I wanted to be a doctor.
When I was in Grade 1, I wanted to be an Accountant (My mom even got mad of the student teacher that told me that I couldn’t be an accountant because I was bad in Math. Haha)

Then I started to think about short-term goals like being top in class, best orator, best in Reading and Comprehension competition or the winner in provincial quiz bee, just because with so many influences and so many options, I couldn’t figure out what I really want to be when I grow up. On my third year in high school, I figured out, I wanted to be a Broadcast Journalist, I simply wanted to be in media because of the observation that Filipinos has been influenced by media a lot (every house has a television regardless of their status in life) and I wanted to contribute to the growth of every Filipino. I’ve wanted to understand each side of the story, I’ve wanted to be part of the history and lastly, I want to influence even a single mind.

In 25 years, I lived by my mom’s advice: “every scar, pimple and wrinkles in your body, is a sign of a life well-lived” (you can imagine what my legs look like because of outdoor activities).

My first life lesson: determine what you want at the moment, trust your instinct and follow your heart. It’s a bit tough to try to convince and prove to everybody that “it will make you happy” especially with Filipino closed family which everyone has something to say about you and what you do, that's why you have to trust your instinct because it’s your life and it’s definitely what defines you. Just like what the great Steve Jobs said, "You can't connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards." Everything happens for a reason. Five years from now, you'll know why things happened that way because no matter how hard the rock hit you in the head, you surely learned something good from it. 

Second lesson: determine what you deserve and life will give it to you. If I hadn’t written my life goals in 5 years, I would never know where I was going and what will definitely satisfy me. In life, you need to have a benchmark, to evaluate and define your life. I will now renew my 5-year life goals and maybe make it 10 years since things are getting clearer in my view as time goes by! But one definite example is that, in 25 years, I’ve been in a few relationships, was hurt, cause hurt, didn’t get satisfaction but learned, that forced me to list down the things that I deserve and in a few months of aiming it and living with it, I got the relationship that fits… just crazily beautiful.

Third lesson: no matter what you achieve in life, you’re never greater than others because the moment that you think that you’re better and greater, that’s when you start to be envious, judgemental and greedy. This is related to what Steve Job’s said “stay hungry, stay foolish.” There’s always something to learn so always keep an open mind and heart because life never fails to give us surprises.

Hearing about the great Steve Jobs death recently and reading his speech is a devastating moment, knowing that in the era that I belong, this great man contributed a lot in every progress of my time and of my life. I am fascinated by Apple and used iPhone for a couple of years. I know Pixar and love their movies. Job’s stories happened in my time that’s why they feel so near and real. He is a great man whose contribution will always be in our hearts and inspire us to choose, now.

It’s still 4 days to go before my 25th birthday, all I know is that I promised myself that I’ll explore the Philippines and make sure to go out of the country before I turn 25, and surprisingly, I did, twice. Now, I need to make another list and I still have 4 days.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Family Times Two.

Whenever I talk to foreigners, they always talk about how Filipino families are so tight and how we care about each other. In other countries, when you bump to someone with the same family name, most of the time, you just care less or not care at all but for Filipinos, it’s like a magical moment—determining your connection with each other, then thoughts fly so fast that we think that we might be relatives, etc. That’s what good about Filipino values but when we care about each other too much, that’s where complications start. Well, that's why people are saying "when you marry a Filipino, you also marry his/her whole family! And that's how you'll understand your spouse." Haha. 

Well, today is my (2nd degree) cousin’s house blessing and we had a mini family reunion and played Bingo where I won 100 pesos! Yehey! I just realized that every year when I celebrate my birthday, my cousin Zarah always provide me with a cake! And today, she bought a humongous Black Forest Cake (with dark chocolate and cream cheese) from Conti’s. Well, she actually just want to eat the cake and made my birthday as her excuse (Haha) but it was really sweet of her to give me cake every year. Thank you couz and to her fiancĂ©, Ego, as well!

On my 24th birthday!

Talking about cousins, please don’t forget to vote for my cousin Katchie Mejias as your favourite Hair Stylist in Mega Fashion Crew by liking her photo in Facebook. We’re proud of her dedication in her craft. 

Her mom, our Tita, will tell us stories about how she appreciates the passion of her Katchie seeing her study about her hairstyling even if she’s alone in her room. Who would ever think of a very quiet girl becoming a very passionate Hair & Make Up Stylist? We’re so proud of her and don’t forget to watch het at Mega Fashion Crew at ETC! 

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Less is good.

I don't know if this is just coincidence but recently, I've talked with so many people saying the same thing: when they got older, they realized that there are just few important things in life to keep, may it be dress, furniture, shoes, bags or even friends.

I am thinking if this conclusion was formed at a certain point in time. Is it a fad? Or maybe because the world is advancing a lot and we're facing a lot of options but most of the time, we don't get satisfied. Or maybe my friend is right, that's how it is when you mature, you evaluate and remove unnecessary things in your life that are not your priority and don't give you the satisfaction that you deserve.

Both true for me, I guess. I believe that life is all about making choices and living at the moment. If it's not your priority then, don't be affected by it and always choose to be happy.

I've stumbled upon these videos in TED that gave me a better view on less important stuffs and paradox of choice:

Less stuff, more happiness by Graham Hill
Paradox of Choice by Barry Schwartz

As for me, traveling helped me a lot in realizing what are the important few things for me because as I go from one place to another, I can only bring the good stuffs and I only remember the people that matters.

I remember when my bag was stolen with all the things I used to consider as 'needed' a few months ago and I compare it with the things in my bag now, (well, I still have a lot I guess but it's lesser than before. Haha.) then I realized the big and complete set of make up kit that I used to have is not really needed! Now I just have a few things and maximize them!


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