I have lived in the Philippines since the day my mother and father got the urge to conceive me. And I have never been to any other country except while watching the National Geographic and CSI or reading The Da Vinci Code. Most of my college friends have left the country years ago to seek the American Dream. Not for lack of trying, but they failed miserably in convincing me to follow their pursuit. They couldn’t understand, but I couldn’t explain well either. Even when I was young, it had never been an aspiration to live elsewhere.
Of course, there can be a number of reasons for my hesitation. I may be the type of person who fear abrupt changes in her environment or a psychologist may diagnose it as low self-esteem and a feeling of inferiority to reside in progressive countries. Really? I speak perfect English and I have always been able to talk to foreigners at work without any problems. It was something I pondered on for sometime. While it may be true that I sometimes fear leaving my comfort zone, I had been able to introduce changes in my life whenever necessary. But what was it that keeps me rooted in this country that very few foreigners understand?
Some may believe me to be a hypocrite, but there was only one reason I could find — I do love the Philippines. I have been known for my fierce loyalty and it is this very nature that keeps me hoping that I have a future in this country of street food, jeepneys, and call centers. We have been mocked and ridiculed by other nationalities as the country of domestic helpers or mediocre medical degrees. Yet, it cannot be denied that our workers overseas are known for their diligence, ingenuity, and intelligence compared to our Asian counterparts. Our gift for language is unequaled in Asia, hence the sprouting of call centers on every corner of the city.
So, what is stopping us from moving forward? It is not substandard abilities — it is substandard leadership. The Philippines rarely makes it to prominent Top 10 lists. However, we have never failed to rank high among the Top 10 most corrupt governments in the world. Even the World Bank saw fit to affirm the corruption. After we have found the courage to come together and oust a 20-year dictatorship, many believed we have finally defeated our demons. Now, the Filipinos are tired of going to the streets to fight — our leaders have not changed. We have not changed.
Still, I have never lost faith. I look forward to a progressive country teeming with pride and talent. We are a resilient people. We have overcome adversity and remained on our feet. I look at my children and I know they are the answer. But we must not forget that the responsibility to forge the great leader of our country lies in our hands, the parents. For now, we live beside railroad tracks surviving. Someday, it will be unnecessary to move aside to let the train pass — we will be bigger than trains.