Being among the many Filipinos living in the United States, I am one of those who were blessed to have found a home away from home. America is a great country. A wonderful place to live. The land of opportunities where dreams happen. A place for greener pasture for some, a refuge for others.
Unlike most kids my age, I didn’t dream of migrating to the US. For some reason I was given the impression that only rich kids who needed discipline are the ones who go and live in the US. Philippine movies, for quite some time pictured the US as a place where rich parents send and hide their kids when they misbehave or got impregnated.
I used to wonder what’s in America that makes Filipinos change? I remember when me and my siblings would role-play, our dialogs would include “Since you disobeyed us, we’re sending you to America to finish your studies there. You’re leaving tomorrow!” So pardon me if during my innocent and growing up years, I had this notion that America is home for the rich and spoiled-brat Filipinos. I am neither a brat nor did I come from a well-to-do family that’s why the thought of living in America never occurred to me at all.
I didn’t have high expectations either. I had a few realizations though. I think the longer I stayed here the more I got to know that America, in its greatness is also poverty-stricken. Somehow, it got stuck in my mind that poor people do not exist in the land of milk and honey. True, America is one great country, but even the American people struggle day to day to live without decent incomes.
Education is another thing. Most American kids at the age of nine still have difficulty reading. A real shocker to me considering that I am from a third-world country and Filipino kids at that age can read and even speak English well!
This coming September (2009) marks my fifth year in the US. Looking back, the decision to move here and leave behind the family and friends I’ve known my whole life wasn’t bad at all. It has been a very rewarding experience embracing a culture entirely different from my own and yet be able to retain the Filipino practices that has been part of my family tradition. It is truly East meets West in America. I have found a home away from home, merged into a wonderful family and acquired a new set of great friends. I can’t really ask for more.