Saturday, March 22, 2008

Independence Day

For the past nine months, I've been eagerly anticipating the day I return back home to the Philippines. And that day finally came last Wednesday. And let me tell you, the past few days have been some of the happiest days in my life. It was such a great feeling to see my parents again, healthier and happier than they were last year. I have experienced a reawakening - a rebirth of the old 'rob'. I feel much more healthier, happier, stronger, and more inspired than I've ever felt the past five years since I left my home country.

I've been analyzing what it is exactly about the Philippines that makes everything so much better. What is the secret sauce in it that enhances the flavor of almost everything in daily life? I still haven't figured it out. It could be the warm, sunny weather where you can go out in shorts and sando on the street, and feel right at home. Maybe it's the genuineness and friendliness of the people where I can be myself. In the US, everywhere you go, people have their defenses up - they don't reveal too much of themselves out of fear and privacy. I have found this environment both very strange and uncomfortable. In the Philippines, people have their defenses down and are mostly free to talk about anything without fear of malice or offense. Here, I can be as silly or act as dumb as I want, and we all have a good laugh about it - trivial matters are not taken seriously. There is also a very relaxed attitude on time ('Filipino Time' as it is popularly known). I would talk to my parents and friends without needing to rush to the next appointment or meeting. This results in a healthier outlook on life, and a state of mindfulness where we are all living in the moment. There may not be a single secret sauce, but rather a whole smorgasborg of spices in Philippine life that makes everything taste better.

In the west, people have a tendency to equate material possessions, career achievements, and 'busyness' with happiness. The one with the most toys, most prestigious title, and the one who is preoccupied the most is judged the winner. In the Philippines, these are all side quests in life - distractions to the most important goal of joy and happiness. We take our time to appreciate the finer things of living: Family, Friends, Food, Relationships, Health.

Having lived in the US the past five years, and just returning home, makes me appreciate so much more the country I came from and my true identity. Filipinos already live in a paradise - most just don't know it yet. But let's keep this a secret between the two of us, ok?