I am not sure if my leaving the Philippines had actually obscured my insight of the real Pinas. It is only lately that I have been inflictedwith self-realization that I am not the same as I was before, with a hope thatI did not get worse, I guess.

Of course, I hate to sound a bit condescending about my past, or my roots or anything that has to do with mylife back in the Philippines. It is just that despite of the drastic change of my lifestyle, the sting brought by my economic inadequacy back then suddenly reminded me of the lucid frustration I mustered, and I can say, it is still haunting me occasionally – just like it does lately.

Those experiences have taught me a thing or two. It bruised me big time but I turned out to be tougher. But that is not the real reason why I am writing about it. I want to let you see the shame and guilt I have been into for what I thought were miserable living in the Philippines.

Back then, I whined so bad that I put the complaining biatches to shame. Only little did I know that there are more people who has no ability to complain at all, not that they could not but they just have nothing at all to feel the need of complaining. What is more devastating is the fact that I am just one of the million Pinoys who do not know other thing more productive than just complain.

My understanding then of beingpoor was my inability to take a vacation in Hong Kong because I do not have the money to pay for the package promo rate. I am so frustrated every time I was unable to pay the tuition fee of my two college siblings in full since my salary can only pay the down payment for each semester. I hate myself because I can only take my then gf to Chowking and not in Via Mare, Chilis, or take a break in Cibo or Red Crabs.

Back then, I have always thought that my life is in constant misery. I would be easily upset by the surge of bodies boarding MRT trampling everyone who would not budge in and the way some passengers smell. I cursed myself for not having my own condo unit near my work place and not being able to afford a chauffeur to drive me to my office.

Most of my miseries that time were very mundane, almost incredibly superficial. But I was not conscious of it, all I knew was I am poor, devoid of any ability to alleviate my state of inconveniences. I was stupid enough that millions of other
Filipinos are deprived of the very basic necessities to survive a day. Children are unable to go to school because they were either abandoned by their parents or have to work instead so they can have something to feed their hungry stomach.

I had the chance to be acquainted with a group of gay teenagers who were giggling while staring at my brother while we, together with my younger sister, were waiting for our computer to be fixed in a computer shop while I was in the Philippines. They throw banters to each other about how awful was the other guy to hit on my brother and tag their pal as “patay gutom” meaning, he doesn’t even have the means to find food lest find a partner. Although they laughed at it, deep inside me is the feeling of sadness that someone has to be told like this just because of his below poverty-line existence.

I went to interview one of the kids (he told me his name is Princess, I did not bother to ask for his real name), his enthusiasm masked the scarcity of resources that made him appear very malnourished. His energy was high and his laughter is typical of a loud gay who is just having fun probably because of the attention they are getting while my sister and brother were embarrassed, because I am entertaining Princess and his friends.

He told me of his dreams, his was simple. The way Princess put it was very quaint, his purpose in life is devoid of complexity, it was rather plain, unadorned and yet the sincerity is perceptible.

He just wants to finish his high school study and be able to dance, then he paused and an unmistakable laughter followed, probably to betray the seriousness of his response and make it appear less melodramatic. Back then, I doubt I knew of someone who would only think about finishing high school as a dream. I always thought that dreams are meant to be high, oblivious to the reality since dream comes free anyway. Then I realized that life is no longer the same as it was before.

Being able to live another day is an everyday feat. Shelters are no longer a choice of concrete and wood, the dichotomy is now between having one and nothing at all. I used to hear that poor people are poor because they sleep on the floor and not on the bed, it has changed dramatically. It is now about what comes between the floor and the naked back. Or even what floor is it, the street or a shanty built under the bridge. Life is harsh. Even worst than I thought.

Living and working abroad has made me realized that looking from a distant point of view, I witnessed images and those conceptions that were never there back then - back in the Philippines where you only see yourself. I was miserable because of my aspiration to feel better and escape from life’s harsh whip. Isn’t that pathetic?

My absence from the Philippines had me. It resulted to an almost transcendent understanding of what really lies beneath and poked the real side of me. The guilt and shame went gushing to my consciousness, embarrassed of my complaints, my pains and personal hassles.

Right now, I am frustrated that there is not much I could do. Unable to do something significant to cause any radical change to the state of my dear nation and its people. I am just another clueless pinoy, not knowing how I can be different and make an impact, even to the least degree of what they may call positive action.

Or probably I know. Just that I do not have the guts to work it out or just being less courageous knowing that whatever effort I do, I will be sucked up by the already corrupt system. Thinking about it, I find myself to have less and less audacity to do whatever is purpose-driven.

Sigh. It just sucks that it is easier to give up and throw your hands to the pblivion of hopelessness.

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