Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Blood Is Thicker Than Water, Indeed...

I thought I had LOST this email from my brother... he sent me this email back in the SUMMER of 2007.... am sooo HAPPY to have found it filed in one of my folders.... and not LOST after all... the email included something he had written and was published a month prior to me getting the email, during the annual Asian/Pacific Islander Heritage Month...

I remember feeling back then, after reading this, how though we could be as different as Night & Day -- we still hold the same feelings for our childhood memories, family & friends, and the country we were both born in.... This feelings of longing is even more intense and rekindled now that I have been going back a lot, to look into our MOM....

We left The Philippines together at a young age and moved to the USA to be with our father... like all siblings, we had our fun times... our quarrels... our differences... and the last time we were really together, prior to our DAD's Funeral in 2006, was before he left for the US Air Force -- many, many years ago....

I am soooo PROUD of him for this article and thought I would share it with you all..
My Kuya Benjie: Taken back in late 2007 during the last weeks of his stint in Iraq.

Stranger In My Own Country

By: SMSgt Reuben P. Teruel
United States Air Force
51st Logistics Readiness Squadron

So many memories…

I miss my country, where everything is so different yet so familiar at the same time. I miss my relatives, the people who taught me never to forget where I came from, because it is a part of who I am and always will be. It is this fierce pride in my heritage, my culture, that has kept me devoted to my motherland.
I know that I do not belong in America. I do not belong in a place where I am supposed to be obsessing over superficialities while people in my country are struggling to survive. Nor can I ignore the yearning inside of me to go back home, to the people and places I love and miss so much. I cannot simply go on with my life and pretend that I am still the carefree person I once was, because nothing is the same.
It has been so many years since I left. There are some things I can still remember, having thumbed through the same old pictures many times in my attempts to hold on to days gone by, but other memories have been lost in the dark recesses of my mind. Images of what I have left behind greet me at every turn, making the wait seem even longer and the longing even stronger. Though it was only last year that I was talking and laughing and mourned with my relatives, it’s really been more than 30 years that my life is filled with tears and the sorrow of goodbye. The dull ache of homesickness still remains and it never goes away.
I want to go back. Back to the chorus of the roosters at dawn, the sound of jeepneys and tricycles rushing by on the street and the familiar ring of a vendor's bell as they pass by. All of that is gone now and there is nothing more to do but go on with my life here in America and wait for the years to pass until I can return once again.
I have already missed so much.
I wonder how different my life would have been if I had grown up in the Philippines. Sure, I would not possess most of the things that I have now, but would any of that matter? Time has passed by so quickly and going back, I felt like I was a stranger in my own country. I have been away another year but what is a single year after so many have already come and gone?

Nothing can ever replace what I have lost.
There are times when I have to remind myself how blessed I am to be here. I carelessly spend money on trivial items and proceed to whine about not having enough. I do not want to forget all that I have seen and yet it is starting to form a hazy picture in the back of my mind.
And so I sit here helplessly and watch as my country slowly deteriorates. Unlike so many others, I need not worry about where my next meal will come from or have any fears about my future, simply because I grew up in the United States. Yes, I have greater opportunity than many can ever hope to have but there is no escaping the irony and the guilt that comes with it.
People tell me that it is hopeless, that I should follow the example of the millions of others who stayed abroad and send money back home. Help the economy, they say. But if everyone were to leave, who would be left to help the others that have no choice but to stay? For the simple reason that I can, I must go back. Do I think that I as an individual can make a difference? Not only do I believe I can…but I must make a difference. I have had more than enough ease and comfort in my life and there are others who will never know what it is like.
I speak for Filipinos everywhere, whose lives and families have been torn apart by distance and time. I speak for those whose dreams have been smothered by the weight of reality and for others who have left in search of an illusion and who may never return.
I weep for my dying country, where hope itself has grown weary from hunger. I’m longing to one day return home for good in the land of my parents…the land of my birth. To live amongst my people once again. I know life maybe harder but there is no denying…home is where my heart is. After all, you can take a Filipino out of the Philippines…but you can never take the Philippines out of a Filipinos heart.
One day I shall return. Someday…I will be home…