Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Home is where the heart is

By Jhae Dela Cruz

I found out about Cory Aquino’s passing while I was getting my daily dose of online news from Inquirer. Since I’m a little far from home, I make it a point to keep in touch with local news.

What struck me most about Cory is how well she balanced being a mother to the whole country as well as a widowed mother to her own children. She always said in her interviews in the past that she was “thrown into politics”. But everyone, including her, has a choice, and she chose to be brave in order to serve her country. And that alone, is a very noble act because it’s a start of her lifelong sacrifice for the Filipino people. She stood up for her beliefs and led the whole country to the freedom that they wanted and needed, guided by her faith in God.

While reading the news, a realization hit me. I’m almost ashamed to admit that I don’t know that much about Philippine history. Sure, I know all about the basic stuff, with all those years in school but I felt like it’s not enough. In no time, I got addicted in reading about martial law and Cory Aquino (well, I have to start somewhere). At least, I can say now that I don’t feel like a hypocrite anymore in writing this piece. In my job, I spend a lot of time talking to guests from all over the world and I enjoy learning new stuff. Sometimes, I encounter people who visited or stayed in the Philippines at one point in their lives. They tell me stories about their experiences and then a friendly banter will start. I tell them about how the Philippines is now and how crazy it is living there. I talked animatedly about how a two-lane traffic can become 5 or how you can’t even use your cell phone in public places, lest you want to risk losing it to snatchers. I shared how public transportations work and how hot it is in the country. But I get surprised when they tell me that, “I bet you’re happy you’re in this country now…” I guess they misunderstood me when I shared all those amusing anecdotes about the Philippines. I’m not saying all those stuff because I hate my country. On the contrary, it just cures my homesickness by reminiscing about my crazy life in the Philippines. I didn’t tell them those facts to make my country look bad. I’m actually just sharing it so they can understand how it is living in there and to show how Filipinos adapt to things that they can’t change. After all, I always follow it up with this: Philippines may sound crazy to you, but it was, and still is home to me and right now, there’s nowhere else I want to be.

It might be crazy living in the Philippines, especially these days with elections just around the corner. But Cory, until death, believed in change and wanted nothing but the best for our country. Her love for her country is unmatched, even unbelievable. Cory’s death did something good. Filipinos all around the world united to mourn for the woman who helped bring democracy again to the country. It also reminded us how we should protect that gift. Personally, it made me to go back and try to learn more about my country’s history and trace my heritage. It also made me think of how of much I love the Philippines and how no matter where I end up at, it will always be home to me.

Janine "Jhae" Dela Cruz is an Aguman alumna from batch Sampelut 2003A and is currently based in Atlanta, GA. She actually started writing this piece about Cory and the Philippines even before Cory died, so now she finally found the inspiration to finish it. This is still part of the Aslag Online tribute to the beloved former Philippine President, Cory Aquino.

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