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I am a citizen of my people

The boxes of relief goods I sent will not feed all of Typhoon Yolanda’s victims.  It will not clothe all the children, nor will it solve the country’s problems.  But as a citizen of my people, I will do what i can to ease the sufferings.  I am a citizen of my people, they are my obligation.  I am responsible to feed, clothe and shelter the many.. and not to cater to the few who has been using my people for their own gain. The super storm brought massive damage to infrastructure.  it displaced people, orphaned countless kids. It took lives. It shattered dreams. But most of all, it exposed our country to the rest of the world.

 I can look at it from a third person’s point of view.  I can pity the people and donate what I can and my life goes on.  I wasn’t a victim anyway.  But i look at it as a citizen of my people.  i feel their hunger, their thirst and pain.  I feel their anger.. i feel their anguish and frustrations. I am angry that my people were and still are being forsaken by it’s own government… that people in authority did not deem it urgent to help them after the storm has passed.  I am angry that more died waiting for help… that the some of the dead were left on the street let alone given a descent burial.  I am angry that at this stage still countless are hungry.. that foreign countries are eager to send help but our own local mechanism seem clueless about the urgency of the situation.  I am angry that my people did not have a leader who can herd them instead a president who pointed his finger to local officials, who if not dead, were alive but lost everything or everyone…that he threw the first blame instead of standing up for my people..  I am angry that there are people like Binay and Roxas who pretend to do their jobs as elected leaders but yet they are gobsmackingly obvious about their motives..  that they use the tragedy to up their game for the 2016 elections.  I am disappointed of the incompetence of the government agencies who should have been in charge of tending to the needs of my people… that there are warehouses full to the ceiling with relief goods but aren’t being distributed.  I am disappointed of the fact that logistics is the biggest challenge for the relief operations because of the lack of system and directives from people who should know better.

 I am frustrated about the whole situation being politicized.  This isn’t about politics, this is about the lives of thousand of my people.. I am frustrated that tax is imposed on donations from other countries.. that imported goods are put on-hold just because they are imported and some material-hungry official want them for themselves… I am angry about the cover-ups.. that i myself distrust local media and i would rather watch foreign news to be updated on the events in my country.  I am angry that our being a third world country is an excuse that more should perish until our leaders can figure out what to do.  i am sad that the government has no concrete plan on how to put back the pieces just yet.

But amidst all these, what inspires me are the stories of heroism, both survivor and savior alike.  Little acts of kindness my people impart with each other to survive.  My people have survived disasters both from nature and acts of man. My people are survivors, they are resilient, they are brave.  They are strong and resourceful.  They are kind hearted and find purpose in everything.  They appreciate what little they have because they didn’t have much to start with.  My people will get through this, WE will get through this.

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PI vs. Aus

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. 🙂

My thoughts on…

thought i heard someone tell me that for a woman to “get what she wants out of her marriage, she has to be in control of it”.  well i totally disagree on two ideas of the statement.. the “being in control” is a no-no for me.. you don’t marry someone to be in control over with.  marriage is the union of two souls.. not the union of a soul to control another soul..(what the?)  marriage should be two-way.. if marriage was to have control, then lady, you should have gotten into the first class army so you can control not just one not even two but a batallion. 🙂 neither the man nor the woman should be in control.. i think both should be INTO the marriage rather then be IN CONTROL.. you don’t marry someone and expect them to change to suit your taste and standards.  you just don’t.  change should be self-initiated, not commanded.  because if it was, eventually, old ways will be back which will be much annoying.  you inspire them to change rather than holler and expect the change you want the very next minute. that would be stressful. and you see, women thrive on emotions while men thrive on reason.  which for me, works perfect together.  a woman cries over a sad movie while the man analyzes how and why it happened in the first place.  a woman easily reaches out for her purse to give a penny to a beggar while the man reasons that if an old cripple can find a decent living why not that man who has his limbs? emotions vs. reason.. which is why, again, neither should be in control. because if the woman is in control, the relationship will be focused on emotion whilst reason will be neglected and vice versa.. 

second point, the “get what you want” idea .its a rather selfish idea honestly.. for me, the moment you get married, the ME becomes US, the I becomes WE. .  if marrying someone is an excuse to get what you want and where you want to be, then the whole perception of it is wrong. you don’t necessarily get everything you want, that is descriptive of a fairytale.  rather, it is achieving things you want for each other, not just for one person. remember the vows you made? for richer or for poorer, in sickness and in health etc..? this means that if the “trying to make ends meet” moment comes, both should work it out.. not just the wife making the sacrifice while the husband spends on nightouts with the boys.  neither should the husband while wifey splurges on a shopping spree. both should have a share of the “ends” and make them “meet”.  in sickness and in health.. this for me doesn’t mean that if one is sick, so should the other be.. no.. this means dropping the evening chatter over wine with the ladies to nurse a husband who hasn’t bathed because of a flu or giving up games night with the boys to go home and fix dinner because the lady of the house is not well. that is marriage for me..

i haven’t been married that long but i abide by three important principles. Communicate, Compromise and Commend.  i’m not saying these will work for you but sure does for me 🙂

hope i made sense.. hahaha

just sayin’…

Jen