“Home is where the Heart is.”
You’ve heard this saying before. You know what it means.
It’s kinda like saying, if you have love…you have a home. I have the love of my husband. I have been blessed with beautiful children who love me as well, so my home should be wherever they are. SHOULD is definitely a key word here…
When I moved here almost 8 years ago, I knew it would be an adventure. I knew it would be difficult. I knew there would be times that I would be terribly homesick. All things considered, I still thought that I could make Manila a home for my family in no time at all.
The first couple of years weren’t too difficult. I focused all of my efforts on making our home comfortable. I wanted Nino to come home from a long day’s work to a clean house, kids who were bathed and well taken cared of, and well on their way to adjusting to our new surroundings. I looked for places to buy my comfort food, I prepared dishes as I would when we were living in NY. I learned how to drive in controlled chaos. I figured out which was the best dry cleaner, and how to send a letter in the not so nearby post office.
I joined the Parent Association in the kids’ school, because it seemed so foreign to me as a public school teacher from NY. I needed to immerse myself in the culture of a private school with different expectations and ways of teaching, to understand how my children could succeed. Together, Nino and I figured out where to buy the books, the uniforms, and supplies that the kids would need to be sit-in students for the half year of school that was left on the calendar in Manila.
I immersed myself in Nino’s family, making it a point to be available for every family function and every Sunday dinner. If my children couldn’t be around MY family, then they would enjoy their “new” family here in the Philippines with relatives who have loved them from afar. I would visit my own family who lives here as well; my Tita and Tito, together with their children (my cousins) who were and are the extension of my mom while I lived here.
By the third and fourth year of living in Manila, I tried to find my way in making friends. I learned some hard lessons about the cultural differences, acceptance, and looked in the mirror at my own insecurities of fitting in and wanting to be liked. I made some really childish mistakes with some of those friends. But that is mine, I own it, and for a different post at a different time.
I realized (after joining different women’s groups) that I am not fully Filipina nor am I fully American. I take offense when I hear Americans complain about the way of life here in Manila, knowing that they are visiting or passing through because their career has brought them to the Philippines. I used to take offense when I would be quoted twice the price on items my Filipina counterparts would be able to haggle down to almost one fourth the quoted price I was given. Now, I see it as a challenge.
I have picked up on the cultural nuances and phrases that I misunderstood when I first moved here. I’ve grown to love the many dishes that I could not eat growing up in New York, despite my mother’s best efforts to serve them to her Americanized children.
And, I thought to myself that I couldn’t possibly make Manila my home, if I was looking back and saying “In New York, I used to do…”
Have you heard of this saying?
“If you have one foot in yesterday and one foot in tomorrow, you’re not living in today.”
Once I embraced my life here in Manila, I could create a life here. I guess that made all the difference.
I am not sure if it’s because we are in our 8th year of living here. I’m not sure if it’s because I’m 40 years old now. I’m not sure if it’s because the birth of Evangelina has shifted my perspective so greatly, that I know and full understand that everything happens for a reason. Eight is infinity and affinity and is a very special number to many people. It’s lucky. In numerology it can mean many things. Just looking at the number eight can imbibe balance. The number 8 is in the bible too. In many different ways. Needless to say, the number 8 is one that I take notice of. (and the number 5 too.)
About a year ago, Philip Phillips came out with this song and it just spoke to me. You know what I’m talking about. I’ve written about here before. The kind of song that just makes you jam. Stops you in your tracks. It makes you connect with your inner self and helps you find your center…even if you didn’t quite know where your center was at before you heard that song.
This song makes me move, stomp my feet, clap my hands, and jam it out.
It makes me realize, Manila is my home.