The truth about not having a legitimate place to call home

Moving around isn’t new to me. Ever since I can remember, moving has been a vital part of my life. Moving houses, cities, states, countries…I loved it. I adapted pretty well and I would somehow oddly feel a surge of satisfaction with each move. Sure, I’d feel sad leaving friends behind. But I looked forward to the change like I looked forward to shopping for new school supplies at the beginning of the school year. That said, I never really established a home base. I don’t have a place I could wholeheartedly represent. I never had an attachment to a place strong enough to consider home.

Growing up in the States, I was always proud of being a Filipino. I would beg my mom to cook Filipino food (my step dad is American so most meals were Mexican and American), I would hang out with my Filipino friends, and I would proudly talk about my heritage if anyone asks. I would get defensive if anyone would backlash my birth country. I talked about the Philippines like it was the best place in the world. But I was too young. I didn’t really know much. I’ve seen too little to actually back that up.

I had nothing but excitement when I flew back here. I was going to be absolutely on my own for the first time and I was ready to give it my all. Years passed by and I’ve gotten to know the country a lot more than I ever did. I’ve seen the good, and sadly I still continue to see all the bad. No longer in a state of oblivion, the reality of this country came to me by surprise like a hard slap in the face. This country, the place I talked so highly about, is dreadful as fuck.

Actually, let me get that right. The country is beautiful. The nation needs work.

Filipinos are good people. We truly are hospitable. Although it took me years to finally see that, it brought a little bit of my pride back when I finally did. If you know where to look, people are incredibly kind. However, Philippines, as a nation, is a different story. I don’t want to generalize Filipinos since I am one in the first place, but it’s that big portion that sometimes makes me feel a little bit embarrassed of being one. The government being corrupt is one thing, but the entire nation electing celebrities with no political experience to make decisions about the country? Unbelievable.

The truth is, I don’t feel Filipino. No matter how tinged I am with Chinese and Spanish blood, my Filipino physical traits stands out. My skin screams Filipino. I cook and eat the food, I speak the language, I know its culture and history– but that’s it. I cannot connect with the culture. I’m not religious at all and that’s basically 1/4 of what comprises the culture here. I hate the term Filipino time (a stereotype term to rationalize why one is late — because they’re running on “Filipino time”). I despise the fact that bureaucracy runs the entire country, and it’s not an organized one. Imagine having to go through ten different steps and windows just to do something minor, like renewing your passport. I think the sense of humor here is straight up bullying. For instance, making fun of someone’s weight or English vocabulary is considered funny. I think the pride is hypocritically outrageous, like, how offended the nation gets with negative, but mind you, honest, remarks –yet we’re so quick to throw out criticism (let’s not even bring up the Pacquiao-Mayweather fight). And worst of all, I cannot stand the idea of “utang na loob“. There is no English word for it, but it basically means that if someone did you a favor, you are expected to return the favor to them when they are in need. Okay, I understand the concept alright, I would love to return the favor of anyone who got my back, but this is pretty much implied as an expectation. It’s basically advocating keeping tabs. What’s even more alarming is that I actually learned this from a religion class I took.

The irony of all that, is that despite it all, I still continue to fall in love with the country. It’s not a bad place to be in. Though I feel safer anywhere else than the streets of Manila, the wonderful places tucked away from the city that I’m slowly discovering are surreal. Places so magical they’re nothing like I’ve ever seen. These, and a few more perks, are what makes me feel damn fortunate to be able to be here.

Coming to this country with a westernized state of mind still continues to be a challenge to me. The way I don’t understand many things here is probably an embarrassment to this country, but I’m okay with that. I will never completely feel that I belong here, but it will always be my first land. I cannot wholeheartedly call this place home, just like I can’t claim America to be the one. I’m not searching, because home to me is when I’m moving. Being at home means being in the unknown. Home is wherever I want it to be.

13 thoughts on “The truth about not having a legitimate place to call home

  1. Well, you have been living in the US for most of your life, and you have imprinted on its culture, morals, beliefs, and standards. Unconsciously and instinctively, we implement these when we visit other places.

    We understand where you are coming from, and we especially feel the same way with our government and the negatives of our culture. But we still consider ourselves proud Filipinos.


    1. Yes, there are many things to be proud of about being a Filipino that I didn’t get to mention. People like you, for instance. It makes me feel good to know that Filipinos love to travel and chase adventure. I honestly meet more Filipinos traveling abroad than Americans. Idk, is wanderlust in our genes or something? Anyway, thank you for reading! Looking forward to your next adventure post.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. While I can’t entirely relate… the feel you. That square peg round hole concept is just something that I guess certain people can’t avoid.


  3. I agree with you that the Bureaucracy is horrendous. But when you think about it, it is a kind of job creation scheme. Everyone plays their part of the charade, no matter how small.
    The other thing that gets me in the Philippines are all the entrance fees, environmental fees, terminal fees, ……. fees for this, fees for that, and more fees for something else.


    1. Hi Dave, you’re right about the job creation scheme. I never saw it that way but that does make sense. However, other things just doesn’t…for instance, during a medical exam, they make you go through single steps. That just means waiting longer. There would be a line for vital signs, another line for eye checkup, a line for the physicals, etc etc… Why can’t they get my vital signs while talking to the doctor or just right before that?!! UGHhhh.

      I’m actually okay with the entrance fees and environmental fees IF it actually goes to the right hands. As you might already know, Philippines definitely has a corrupt system so none of the citizens’ taxes goes where it should, hence, tourism needs to make their own funds. But I mean what do I know about where those actual payments go *shrugs*.


  4. I agree with you that the Bureaucracy is horrendous. But when you think about it, it is a kind of job creation scheme. Everyone plays their part of the charade, no matter how small.
    The other thing that gets me in the Philippines are all the entrance fees, environmental fees, terminal fees, ……. fees for this, fees for that, and more fees for something else.


  5. I felt safer somewhere else, not in the streets of Manila. I guess I’m lucky enough that I live here in South Cotabato, that I did not experience being stuck in the traffic for how many hours every day, that I could actually enjoy the ride and have fresh air while having a beautiful green and wide landscapes while going to different cities and municipalities in SOX. Most of the time, people would ask me where I came from and every time I answered them, I’m from South Cotabato, they would step back and had this statement, speaking about the bombing and the massacre which is far different from what’s this place have. Those events were literally far from here. Well, wherever place every one of us may be, “home is where your heart is at ease, where it feels safe and secure”. I may felt secured strolling and let myself get lost in the streets of Singapore for I know that it’s just a swipe away from the MRT station, rather than be in a private company car in Manila. But when I see the plains, hills and mountains of South Cotabato, this is it. As the plane landed, it’s just Mt. Matutum on the other side and the beautiful sun rays kissing the waves of the Sarangani bay’s are waiting for you.


  6. I have never been in the Philippines,but I am sure that is a wonderful country with lovely people! I have lived for few years in India,though. I know what it means to see a country that is having issues. When I moved there, at first I was looking on the surface and I was seeing only the bad things that I have never seen in the city I grew up in, but after staying more in the environment I started seeing that actually the people are much more real and honest that the people from the western world. You have to be always proud of you heritage! Thanks for sharing!


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