Pangarap: So, Our Journey Begins
For any one family that has taken their immigration seriously, the day of the oathtaking is THE day. It is that one day that seems to culminate or summarize all that has been given up for and have gone through in the years of waiting. It is that one day that could have made all decisions right despite all the pains and the difficulties.
After the citizenship test, I did not anticipate the oathtaking schedule to take place 6 weeks after. The officer said to wait for 2-3 months for an invitation. But it did come in 6 weeks. When you are finally holding that invitation, you are looking at the paper but not really being able to read or understand anything. At least, that was how I can describe what happened to me.
When I was looking at the document, I felt a sudden rush of memories in my head. It was like a flash of emotions and thoughts coming back to me, the last 5 years when we were struggling and counting the days to get to this point.
I would admit, I asked myself, “Was it worth everything?” Having to give up everything and embracing a new, humble start-over? Would I be able to rewrite the book I have written and say the same things all over again? Am I prouder of myself because of this achievement?
During the years that we were waiting, every day I had to remind myself that I had come to Canada for the sake of the children. Any good thing or success that comes my way would be a simple bonus. But it was not that simple to accept. I realized that I cannot be happy if I cannot provide well for my kids. I cannot be happy if I do not love the job I am doing. Unfortunately, that did not happen in the 5 years of our waiting.
The jobs I got were decent but not decent enough to provide well, not decent enough to see to my professional growth, not decent enough to make me happy as a breadwinner, not decent enough to see happy faces on my children. For five years, my kids were not getting any birthday gifts or Christmas gifts from me. To a mother, that was painful, really painful. They were eating practically only 2 meals a day. They never had the luxury of exploring much part of BC because we could not afford it.
People who migrate or people who know people who migrate usually have boxed notions and expectations of a migrant’s life.
First, they know that we are not happy. Or, that they expect that we are not happy. Because they say, wala pa ring kasing-sarap sa manirahan sa sarili mong bayan. It is still best to live in your own country. They know that deep within we still long for home. May be not everything about it but everything that we love about it. This is the reason why we keep coming back home. We save or hope to save to be able to visit home.
Second, they know that we are not self-secure. There is always that feeling of having to struggle, having to prove oneself or to compete. It may necessarily be a day-to-day things but certainly there is that desire to be on top of one’s game, or at least to belong. It is tough out there. There is no room for slackers and complacents. We also needed to live up to our own reputation or may be the good reputation of Filipino overseas workers, in general.
And third, they know that we shall never be first-class citizens. No matter how much you achieve elsewhere, you are still a second-class citizen. Para kang nanunuluyan, laging naninimbang. It was like sharing a home or living on rent. There are rules that you may not agree with but you need to live up to anyway. You need to survive this.
Some of the greatest lessons of migrating will be too painful to learn along the way. But just like any decisions that we make in our lives, this journey has to culminate into something tangible and intangible.
Tangibly, to reach that goal of citizenship. As one of my sons was getting restless and bored of waiting for this citizenship, I admonished him to look at his situation with a more open mind and a sense of gratitude. He was grumping that his classmates back home were already working in the jobs that were in line with their university course, and here he was still unlucky to find a job in the same field. Not that I do not appreciate the luck of his friends, but I had to tell him that all that they have achieved and earned in the three years that he was away from home will never compare to what he will achieve and eventually earn in the three years that he was waiting here. This citizenship is not something that money can buy; you need to decide to earn it.
I remember a friend affirming my decision to hold my ground in “detaining” my son abroad because of the story of her own son whom she was not able to convince to stay. Years after, even if he wanted to come, the mother had to find other “creative” solutions and spend a lot of money to try to bring him back here. It had to take her more effort to get him back.
Intangibly, this migration must make you better off, specifically on the more important aspects of your life–emotionally, socially, psychologically and spiritually. This is a journey that enables you to come face-to-face with the fact that there is more to life than just money.
Of course, who would not want financial success? But if it does not come in this journey sooner, it is not bad to be thankful that you had been there, done that once. You had visited many fine restaurants, had been to many parts of the world, had frolicked in the best local beaches, had worn clothes and shoes and bags that you loved, had lavished friends and families with gifts and giveaways, had travelled in brand-new cars and SUVs, had been pampered by nannies and assistants, had showcased your prowess in boardrooms and convention halls.
What you do not realize is the fact that you earned all of those things in one lifetime that you worked hard for–being an obedient child, getting a good education and inching your way up the ranks at work. And here you are, two or three or probably five years as an immigrant and you griped that your past life was better? Remember that many people migrate to better their lives, while here you are, coming already having tasted that better life.
Maybe, appreciation for intangibles is an excuse for failure. Fortunately, it is not my idea of thankfulness. I can’t get slapped in the face. If you cannot be thankful for how much your faith has grown, for example, or the health and safety of your family, or the new friends and new learnings, then your migration did not accomplish anything at all for you.
I have always defined maturity as the ability to postpone self-gratification, to delay your own happiness. It is not martyrdom. It is simply how you live this journey. It is simply how you survive this journey.
So, am I happy? I am not as happy as when I was in my past life. But I found a new definition for happiness.
So, am I better? I was far from better off financially. But I am better as a human being.
So, am I contented? I am not satisfied with what I have achieved. But I am confident that I am going to find what had been meant for me all along. It may not be even what I thought it was. But my faith has grown stronger to believe that the best is yet to come.
Along the way, though, as in the three maggis, keep your eyes focused on the bright star.
Nobody ever said that our journey, will be easy. But as I write and as you read, we share our strengths and we can hold to the promise that “Where two or three are gathered in My name, there I am in the midst of them,” Matthew 18:20.
Bolet is a marketing communications practitioner and dabbles in writing as a personal passion. She is author-publisher of the book: The Most Practical Immigrating and Job Hunting Survival Guide, proven simple steps to success without the fears and the doubts. The book is available in Amazon.com, Barnes & Noble, Chapters/Indigo, the Reading Room and other online bookshops worldwide, and in National Book Store and Power Books in the Philippines. Please check out https://www.amazon.com/author/boletarevalo.