Rewriting History

After almost half a century on this earth, I can say that I have been a witness to many milestone events. Spending half of my life in the Philippines and the rest in America, I would say that both of these places are seeing current events that history experts probably never imagined would happen.

This I can say for sure, as I have seen it happened: people who hated you today, will embrace you tomorrow. And people who revered you today, will curse you tomorrow.

As the saying goes, “the only constant in this world is change.”

Take for example the changing political landscape in America, where I reside now.

Who would have predicted that someone like “the Donald” who many considered as a joke, and many would not take him seriously as a presidential candidate, even in his own party, would end up taking the highest office of this country. And he won it in a convincing fashion too.

If you listen to all the hurled insults during the campaign period, you would think this world is out of its mind. Or maybe it is. A circus act? Racist? Sexist? Fascist? True or not, it does not seem to matter.

The people have spoken. He is the elected 45th president of the United States of America.

Politicians, especially from his own party, who have tried to distance themselves from Trump before the election, are now backpedaling trying to align with the new elected leader.

How would America be under President Trump? Let’s just wait for the history to write itself.

Then let’s go to the current events in my homeland.

As good students of history know, the former President Ferdinand Marcos was deposed and expelled by “People Power” revolution in 1986. I was in college at that time, and been an eyewitness and even a part of that historic event.

Who would have imagined that after three decades, he will be embraced again by the same nation that derided him as a dictator, and would consider him now as a great president and a hero, finding his final resting place at the Libingan ng mga Bayani.

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And who would have thought that a name that has been synonymous before to a hero, or a name even toyed to be considered as a saint, would be the same name that many people would find now as unfavorable.

What changed?

But to be candid, people are restless and are always craving for a change. Unless that change that they clamor for is brought in, their loyalties would change. And that’s very understandable.

Whatever happened have happened. The events of the past did not change. It is the perception of the people that have changed. Whether it is right or wrong, I don’t know. Nor am I in a position to pass judgment.

Perhaps let’s just wait for the history to rewrite itself as the years go by.

 

Awit ng Isang Alibughang Anak

Ako’y nakatanggap ng sulat noong makalawang linggo. Galing ito kay Uncle Sam. Sabi rito, ako raw ay inaanyayahan sa isang opisyal na interview o panayam.

Sa wakas! Hindi na ako pamangkin lang. Maari na rin akong maging anak. Ampon nga lang.

Matagal-tagal na rin naman akong naninirahan dito sa Amerika. Sa katunayan, dalawampu’t isang taon! Dalawampu’t isang taon ng pagiging dayuhan.

Naging masalimuot ang landas na aking tinahak para maging isang mamamayan. Iba’t ibang letra ng visa ang aking pinagdaanan. Nagsimula sa letrang B (tourist), naging J (exchange visitor), tapos naging O (non-immigrant with outstanding ability), hanggang naging H (non-immigrant worker), bago nabiyayaan ng green card (permanent resident). Mapalad pa rin kaysa ibang kababayan na ang visa ay TNT (tago nang tago).

At ngayon, iniimbitahan na nila ako para maging isang naturalisadong mamamayan (naturalized citizen). Sa madaling salita – maging ampong anak ni Uncle Sam.

Ito ay kung maipapasa ko ang aking interview.

Ito na ang huling hakbang sa pagiging citizen. Tapos na ang mga background check. Tapos na rin ang finger-printing. Interview na lang.

Madali lang naman daw ang interview. Maraming mga tanong ay personal. Maaring gusto lang nilang maniguro na ikaw ay mabuting tao, at magiging kapaki-pakinabang na mamamayan, at hindi palamunin lang at uubos ng buwis ng bayan.

Kasama sa interview ay ang pagsusulit sa salitang Ingles. Kailangan makapasa sa pagsasalita, pag-unawa, pagbabasa at pagsulat sa Ingles. Walang naman akong problema dito. Kahit Grade 1 na batang Pinoy kayang-kaya ito. Kahit ba Carabao English tayo, papasa pa rin.

Ngunit kasama rin sa interview ay mga tanong sibika (civic test). Ito ay mga tanong tungkol sa mga batas, mga prinsipyo, kasaysayan, heograpiya at samo’t saring kaalaman tungkol sa bansang Amerika. Dito ko kailangang mag-review.

May reviewer naman silang binibigay. Sinasaad dito ang mga 100 na katanungan na maaring itanong sa interview.

May mga tanong na madadali:

Tanong: Ano ang pinakamataas na batas ng bansa?

Sagot: constitution

Tanong: Sino ang tinaguriang Ama ng Amerika?

Sagot: George Washington

Mayroon namang mga tanong na medyo mahirap ngunit kailangan mong malaman:

Tanong: Kailan isinulat ang constitution?

Sagot: 1787

Tanong: Ano ang 13 na orihinal na estado ng Amerika?

Sagot: New Hampshire, Massachussetts, Rhode Island, Connecticut, New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia

Noong isang araw, ako ay nag-review. Habang ako’y nag-aaral at nagpapaka-dalubhasa sa kasaysayan ng Amerika, ako nama’y hinaharana ng mga kantang Pilipino na aking kinamulatan, na tumutugtog sa aking CD player.

“Noong isilang ka sa mundong ito,

Laking tuwa ng magulang mo,

At ang kamay nila ang iyong ilaw.” (Anak by Freddie Aguilar)

Ako ba’y pinaparinggan ni Ka Freddie? Ampong anak ba kamo? O baka naman alibughang anak?

Para bang nasa gitna ako ng dalawang nag-uumpugang bato. Dalawang kulturang nagbabanggaan sa aking damdamin at isipan. Dalawang lahing nagbubuno sa aking pagmamahal. Dalawang bansang nag-aagawan sa aking katapatan.

Tapos nabasa ko sa aking reviewer ang tanong na ito:

Tanong: Ano ang isang pangako na kailangan mong gawin para maging mamamayan ng Estados Unidos?

Sagot: Talikuran ang katapatan sa ibang bansa.

Biglang bumigat ang aking damdamin. Parang may kumurot sa aking puso. Hindi ko alam kung sarili ko itong konsensiya, o ako’y pinaparamdaman ng mga multo ni Rizal at ni Bonifacio.

Sabay sumalang naman si Noel Cabangon* kasama ni Gloc-9 at kumanta ng “Manila” (originally sang by Hotdog) sa aking player.

“Maraming beses na kitang nilayasan,

Iniwanan at ibang pinuntahan,

Parang babaeng ang hirap talagang malimutan….”

Hindi na ako makapag-concentrate sa aking binabasa. Ang isipan ko’y nagsimula nang magliwaliw sa isang lugar na aking minahal at patuloy na minamahal.

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“Hinahanap-hanap kita Manila

Ang ingay mong kay sarap sa tenga

Mga jeepney mong nagliliparan

Mga babaeng naggagandahan….”

Ibinaba ko na ang aking reviewer. Ipinikit ang mga mata. At marahang sumabay sa pagkanta.

“Manila, Manila,

I keep coming back to Manila,

Simply no place like Manila,

Manila I’m coming home…..”

******

(*songs from the album “Tuloy ang Biyahe” by Noel Cabangon)

(**photo above is from philippineslifestyle.com)

Rest Stop

Thanksgiving time is hands down the busiest time of travel here in the United States.

It is estimated that there will be about 24 million people scuffling through the airports during the Thanksgiving season. If you think that is an impressive number already, that is only a very small portion of all travelers, as 90% will be traveling by car. And more than 50% of these road warriors will travel more than 100 miles.

If you are driving for long distances, you must be thankful for rest stops along the way, where you can pull over and stretch your legs, or take a toilet break, or even catch a few winks before you continue on the long road ahead. We have done long drives before and we appreciate the value of a rest area.

Iowa, where I reside now, is smack in the middle of America, and the house where I live is just 2 miles from I-80, which is a major road artery that connects the east and west of America. Interspersed along I-80 are some of the biggest and nicest rest areas you can find.

Though some friends of ours, who travelled from California to Toronto, or Michigan to California, or even shorter drive from Indiana to Colorado, and were passing through I-80, have stopped over our home for a break and a visit. Of course we did not charge them for bed and breakfast.

Yesterday morning, I learned that our place was some other form of rest stop as well. For the birds.

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I was out on my Sunday morning run, and as I approach a pond, I heard a ruckus. Lots of trumpeting and flapping. When I looked up there were flocks of geese circling above me.

They were taxiing for a landing.

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I realized that this season, with the winter approaching, is also a busy time of travel for the migratory birds, as they fly to warmer places. These birds travel from few hundred miles to several thousand miles depending on the species. Some will fly a few thousand miles non-stop until they reach their destination. While some will have some rest stop along the way.

Obviously these flocks of geese were stopping over in our place. Maybe it was for a quick bite and bathroom break. Maybe it was to cool their wings. Or maybe it was for a relaxing swim in the pond. Whatever it is, I believe it was due to our excellent accommodation. And we don’t charge them!

Below is a short video clip of this rest stop.

If only turkeys can travel and migrate too during this season. They would be flying (or running) away to some safer place. That is away from our dinner table. Yet the only rest stop they will end up this Thanksgiving is inside our belly. Aren’t you thankful you’re not a turkey?

In any case, wherever you are traveling to this holiday season, or wherever your final destination in your journey in this life, may you have a safe trip.

Happy Thanksgiving!

(*photos and video taken with an iPhone)