While the entire continent is basking under the glorious days of Eurocup 2012 at Poland and Ukraine, I am sitting here, thinking of what I can write about despite the need to write any article on Europe and on the Philippines. Thinking of these two things, Europe and the Philippines, I cannot help but laugh at the irony I receive for every greeting from someone back in my home country. For many of my fellow country men, Europe is a big opportunity to become big, next to the States. If one was able to land there, he or she will be famous or is known to be incredulously rich. Other cases tell us that Filipinos that are ‘half-bred’ like some of our celebrities today, would easily get the popularity votes. To have something in relation to being foreign is a quality some of us would love to have. This mentality is so funny that I can hardly think of sending anything back home to my colleagues. I could not care less if I stepped foot on some places or if I missed opportunities to travel across Europe. I am also a student and aiming to get a Ph.D. so travelling for me is even my second or third priority if I take into consideration, trying to survive my designated country for the entire semester as my second.
I’ve already stayed in two countries, namely Italy and Poland. Of course, I encountered several Filipinos in Italy and those who stayed there for a long time were very different as compared to those who traveled or passed by Italy for vacation, etc. Yes, Rome is majestic and glorious, Venice is colorful, while Florence is spectacular. These were picture perfect in the cameras and post cards. People get dumb founded whenever they get something from these places. Some of my friends get too stupefied that they think I had the time of my life here in Europe. Yes, their system is incomparable to ours when it comes to transportation and security, but to survive and be practical in what you do, it’s tough. If you expect the sweet life, you’re dead wrong. It’s only in lucid dreams that you imagine yourself in some fancy hotel in the middle of some sub-urban area in Italy, France, or any part of Western or Eastern Europe you’re familiar of from those popular travel sites you’d come across. But honey, let’s face it, spending like a tramp is a prejudice here in Europe. Imagine that by simply cooking something on your own is twice or thrice less expensive than buying something in the street or ordering from a restaurant. Of course, curiosity tells us to buy impulsively and taste something new and local in that area we’re staying, but practicality seems to be something you’d appreciate especially when you actually live there for several months. If you think surviving traffic jams and snatchers in the Philippines was enough, think again. Here, you’d have to be the jack of all trades or practical enough to learn the ins and outs of every country, or city, plus it helps if you are fortunate enough to be fluent in 2 or more languages. So, you still think it’s easy to live in Europe? Think again. I had to learn two languages that aren’t related to one another (i.e. Latin versus Slovakian) just to buy food, and other essential needs. What more if you had to cross another country like Netherlands, or Sweden? Just crazy.
By this time, you still think of reasons to compare the life here and life in our home country. Well, complaining isn’t going to get you anything. There’s no such thing as paradise nor the sweet life. Every path we take whether it be staying in our country or some other for good has its consequences. The difference is that we cope for different reasons. I and the other Filipinos living abroad cope with the lack of reaching out to our family, roots, and so on. We even try to catch the news via the internet. You guys from the Philippines I guess try to cope with the reality in our country and if not, day-dream on having better lives on some other part of the world. Yes, there are some countries that give ‘better opportunities’ for us, but do you think these are things worth stressing about? If our country ain’t that bad, we can grab those ‘dreams’ we try to pursue but I hope that before going any further, you know the consequences and losses you’ll be getting in the near or long future.
Living abroad is not the only viable answer to a better life, and I think those Filipinos living in transit beyond our home country know why.