Last week my nephew, Peter Angelo, won third place in English oration at the Iloilo PRISAA (Private Schools Athletic Association) 2015 competition. Representing his school, he delivered a well-written piece particular to the competition’s theme. Sadly though, my piece I did for him was too broad, therefore the school opted for someone else with a broad knowledge about the PRISAA to work on a different piece.
Since my article was not used, I would rather share it to you via my blogsite – it is worth sharing, I believe you’ll agree! Please take note that this is from a point of view of a teenager who grew up abroad, as I want to share it to you unadulterated:
A decade ago I joined my parents to reside in a greener pasture – by greener pasture I certainly mean somewhere outside the Philippines. As a typical child, flying out of the country and living abroad was an extremely exciting quest to discover. I would get to meet new friends from various races, I would get to converse in English with them on a daily basis, I would get to learn diverse cultures, and I could be someone superior – someone “better-quality” than a usual Filipino.
Getting to and living in that part of the world gave me the first three things I anticipated – new acquaintances from different races, daily English conversations and cultural understanding. The fourth item living abroad gave me was not what I was expecting. I turned on the television one day to watch my favorite TV program. Instead, it showed on BBC World a news story on Manny Pacquiao win a boxing fight against Oscar De La Hoya. I surfed channels just to find the same news on CNN. I switched on the laptop and found my Facebook page flooded with chats between Filipinos so ecstatic over another victory the “Pambansang Kamao” contributed to the Philippines. What’s more pleasantly surprising was a good number of non-Filipinos joining in the lively streams of conversations, impressed by the fame this Filipino boxer from General Santos City was making across the world and putting his small hometown in the map while staying humble amid extremely famous fans – the Hollywood big men themselves, such as Sylvester Stallone, Keanu Reeves, Mark Wahlberg, Hugh Jackman, Denzel Washington, to name a few. And I thought, “This guy must be living beyond his wildest imagination!”
Did you hear about the Hollywood Olympics singing champions Aria Clemente and Reymond Sajor, who topped more than 40 finalists from around the world? How about the young math geniuses and siblings, Alyanna and Harvey Uy, who bested delegates from China, Malaysia, India and Singapore? And how about the Filipino women who conquered the elusive summit of Mt. Everest – Noelle Wenceslao, Karina Dayondon and Janet Belamino? They became the first Asian women to set this ground-breaking record. Who has not heard about the sisters Mylene, Irene, Almira and Selena, collectively known as the 4th Power, who flew all the way to the UK for the X-Factor audition and made a positively huge impression on the judges and the audience on their first performance, and more importantly put a big smile on the usually aloof Simon Cowell’s face? They are making waves in that part of the world as we speak.
My living abroad did make a big impact on my personality – not because I got to meet people from a mix of races and cultures, but because of a personal realization that our competitiveness as Filipinos has the capacity to go beyond borders, and this, in fact, was a humbling experience for me. Needless to say, these underdog stories are just a few grains of sand in our long history of Filipino achievers. Our generation has not known so much of world-class talents including Broadway performer Leah Salonga, bowling champion Paeng Nepomuceno, and boxing legend Flash Elorde. They have made their niche in the international scene despite racial discrimination to prove that Filipinos persevere even on times when hope seems nowhere to find. This is when we work best, this is when we overcome hurdles and climb to the top.
Our modern-day heroes, the overseas Filipino workers, are known to excel in their respective fields. They are the nurses of reputable government hospitals, they are the marketing brains behind luxury hotels, they are the kitchen cooks preparing exquisite meals in five-star restaurants, they are the architects and engineers of avant-garde structures of the future, they are the IT technicians and graphic designers behind the worldwide Web, they are the pleasant faces that genially greet you when you pass through trendy offices, they are the helpful assistants in airports who make your travel experience more bearable, they are the household helpers who make a huge impact on the lives of families – not their own – with their sincerely industrious hands.
As I returned home to my dear homeland, my awareness grew even higher with my acquaintance with fellow Filipinos at home and at school. My institution is equipped enough to hone young talents such as myself. We do not need to belong in a first-world country or in an English-speaking nation to excel, because our homeland, the Philippines, is a living, breathing testimony of Filipino distinction, be it here or abroad.
Our talent, our endowment is world-class. And wherever I travel, I definitely am proud to be a Filipino and ever ready to make my own niche in my own little way. Are you?