having lived in the Philippines for most of my life and having lived here in the land down under for close to a year has made me see comparisons between these two countries. the very first difference that i saw when i got here was the traffic. we left Manila 17th December, where traffic was crazy with all the christmas preparations and stuff. the drive to the airport was a bit normal for a Manila traffic with a few stops here and there but the days prior to that was insane. we got stuck in traffic in Alabang for over an hour. We arrived in Brisbane 5am 18th December and things were immediately different. We drove from the airport to the house for about 30 minutes. We saw a handful of cars along the way, but then again it was early morning so who would drive that early? The next day, we went out for a tour. Still, less cars than i am used to or maybe because they were all in order thats why it wasn’t crowded…? i was like where are the people?? i was used to seeing people walk the streets, jeepneys honking, people screaming at the TODA loading stations. But none here. The first time i drove, it was weird. It felt like i had to move in perfect harmony with everybody else. no overtaking, no honking, just hands on the wheel and eyes on the road. i was used to crowded streets where squeezing thru no matter how small the space is as long as you don’t hit the other cars was the way to go around. i was used to seeing traffic lights but not exactly following them sometimes. But here, with speeds over 130kms per hour, you should be insane not to follow the lights when it tells you to stop, unless you want to crash at full speed. all the cars are perfectly lined with a safe distance from each other. in my country, 2 lanes always make 3..
The first time i saw McDonald’s here was a happy moment for me. i thought it was somewhere i can always find a piece of home at. atleast with the food. but i was disappointed not to find chicken and spaghetti on the menu. what???
i had a chance to transact business with a government office (Australian Transportation Office) early on and i was really impressed on how they do things here. you arrive at the office, get a number and fill up a form. when your number is called 5 minutes later, you answer a few questions and thats it. transaction done. 20 minutes the most..you interface with just 1 person (no chance of having fixers around or moreso corrupt employees).. Here’s the PI scenario.. You arrive early only to find out there were others earlier than you, or were they? thanks to those guys hanging around yelling “stencil ma’am” at the office gates. you get forms and proceed with smoke emission testing which will take you a day or P300 if you want it done shortly. Then you go back to that little window and be told to pay for an insurance which is type-written and with the same insurance number with God knows how many more people. But then again, you need to. After having accomplished everything, you again go back to that window to be instructed to be back the next day as the officer is out for the day. When you turn to leave, you are gonna be offered a deal. (you know what that means).
i was walking to school one day when i saw this poster of Ozcare (an organization). it says Ozcare, caring for Aussies. i thought well, we have that too..PhCare, caring for your PH balance. lol maybe thats why we are third world because we care for other “important” things. that was a good laugh, but on a serious note, i think there’s a point to it.
the first time i saw TIP goodies here (tip is a special collection of good and working furniture, appliances, what nots that people wanted to get rid of placed outside the house to be collected on a quarterly basis) i was amazed.. really! TVs, microwaves, washers just there waiting to be collected. i said to myself in my country, a 20 yr old fridge would have to deal with all the rework on it just to prolong its life than getting a replacement. i wanted to pick them all up and ship to the Philippines! i thought with all these, my poor countrymen can have a taste of better things in life. but then again, i can’t do that.
i have gone to a few hotel – like houses here where the homies are just an old couple spending majority of their time in the bedroom due to difficulty in moving around. i thought when was the last time the furniture was moved because people were really living in that house? three, four bedrooms..bedrooms not in use. such big houses.. it’s ironic how these houses are fully functional, beautiful even, but nobody to live in them while back home boxes and sheets of torn tarpaulin signages are “home” to families of 5,6 or even 10 members. if only these houses can house the homeless in my country, there will be a whole lot less people living in the streets.
i asked one day on the way to church if there are any street children or beggars because i was used to being mobbed by street kids the moment i park yelling “bantayan ko ma’am” (i’ll watch over you car). my husband gave me a puzzled look and said none. there are no poor people here because the government provides for those who need help. sure enough, there were none. that got me thinking if Australia has a population of 23M with atleast say 20M of them paying tax and the Philippines having 97.7M people with atleast 80M strong paying tax, then howcome my country has a high number of people living in poverty? 😦 it’s sad…
it’s common to see old people (i mean old like 70ish and older) doing groceries in their buggies (battery/petrol operated wheelchairs) on a daily basis. even oldies unable to walk or talk go get their shopping by themselves just as long as they have their buggy and a list of what they need. i offered to help an old man one day who was struggling to stuff his shopping bags and cane into his car. i asked, you need help sir? he answered politely, “i’m alright, i got this. thank you”.. i watched him struggle some more until he finally settled in and started the engine. i was in disbelief that he will be driving home. what??? i am sad for him. again i thought, in my country, old people like him didn’t have to do the groceries by themselves. old people in my country stay at home to play mahjong or spend time with the apos. old people in my country are cared for and not let alone to do this and that, go here and there on their own. there always will be someone with them, caring for them. i thought, if you go to my country, the old are loved and cherished there… yes the old here are rich with the benefits and all but they struggle in a different way.
i understand why this happen here.. when you grow old, you have two options.. live alone, or live at aged care homes. because at 18, children are free to live on their own. they do have family weekends here too.. but at the end of the day, they go home to their own, leaving the poor oldies again. i remember living with my parents at 30.. until today, my sister goes home to my parents’ every weekend at 33..
i realized that no place is the perfect place to live in. i realized that every place has it’s own black and white, ups and downs, positives and negatives and so on..
i realized that “home” isn’t a place but the family who makes the place, the people and especially life worth living wherever, whatever. 🙂