[Photo above shows a collage of the top tourist destinations in the Philippines. From L-R (Topmost Row) – Kalanggaman Island, Leyte; Batanes Islands, Batanes; El Nido, Palawan; and Boracay, Aklan. (Middle Top Row) – Langub Gobingob Caves, Samar; Coron, Palawan; Tubbataha Reefs, Palawan; and Siargao Island, Surigao. (Middle Bottom Row) – Mayon Volcano, Albay; Mount Apo, Mindanao; Camiguin Island, Camiguin and Vigan, Ilocos Sur. (Bottom Row) – Chocolate Hills, Bohol; Banaue Rice Terraces, Ifugao; Hinatuan Enchanted River, Surigao and Puerto Princesa Subterranean River, Palawan. Indeed —IT’S MORE FUN IN THE PHILIPPINES.]
This blog could have been entitled and presented differently if only I would have been able to procure the consent of the conservative and old-fashioned Japanese parents of my new found client.
But as I got really so fascinated, nay enthralled, with their story, here I am, narrating their story as a preface to this BLOG, as though I have been given the permission. But just as to respect their privacy, I will not reveal their identities and will just call them Mr. & Mrs. Sato. Actually, I felt that with the typical shyness of old-fashioned Japanese folks, they really just did not want their names mentioned. But I am sure they would be happy to have their tale as some kind of an inspiration to evoke the sense of intense love of country and the yearning for nationhood in every Filipino.
The choice of the surname SATO is felicitously apt. This is because, after GOOGLING which is the most common Japanese surname…SATO topped the list. And SATO sounds almost like the root word of SATISFACTION (i.e. SAT and SATIS meaning ENOUGH) which is a very much deft and neat description, as Mr. & Mrs. Sato were then and are still very much satisfied.
Mr. & Mrs. Sato came to the Philippines almost 40 years ago to spend their honeymoon. Thinking that the Philippines, having been bannered often as a tropical country, and prodded perhaps by the belief that the Philippines is the ancestral homeland of the Polynesians of Hawaii, they skipped going to Hawaii.
Instead of the Sandwich Islands which is the early appellation for Hawaii, the young and excessively romantic couple (i.e. the newly married Mr. & Mrs. Sato) journeyed to the Philippine Islands to spend their honeymoon.
They never got festooned with garlands of leis but with garlands of “sampaguita”. And they never saw the hula dance but just our native “tinikling” dance.
Though perhaps hankering for the leis and the hula dances of Hawaii, the Sato couple slowly and gradually, begun to love the Philippines. And they eventually decided to permanently relocate to the Philippines shunning the modernity and the futuristic outlook of Japan. For them, they really feel that IT’S MORE FUN IN THE PHILIPPINES and that the Filipinos are a bunch of FUNNY people.
Up to now, Mr. & Mrs. Sato are still here in the Philippines and are satisfied with their choice in favor of the Pearl of the Orient Seas, with the country’s relatively uniform climate all throughout the year (i.e. no frigid winters) and the very much affordable lower cost of living. They feel too that the Filipinos are resilient and possessed of an innate sense of humor which places the Filipinos reportedly at the lower rung in terms of suicidal tendencies. The Satos felt that if they stayed in Japan, the daily grind of WORK…WORK…WORK would be the order of their usual day. And such stressful regimen would have eventually gone into their nerves and would have stultified their emotional and social growth, even bringing them to the edge of suicidal ideation.
I also get the same reaction from other foreigner friends particularly an Indian from Punjab, Harbhinder Singh, who has truly grown to love the Philippines and its culture. Just like my other Japanese friend, Yasuaki Mori, who though still based in Japan is dreaming of making Cebu, a city in Southern Philippines, as his family’s future retirement home.
But what I cannot surmise is why Filipinos who have relocated to other countries have seemed to have grown so indifferent and apathetic to their native land. And that they (over thousands of miles distant from their native land) tend to think and feel that their beliefs, ideas and views are grander and better than those espoused by those Filipinos who have stayed behind.
I remember a friend of mine who recounted to me the actuation of a Filipino who after relocating to the United States of America; has never ever said anything good about the Philippines anymore. Immensely deprecating the government and its leaders and even enticing this friend of mine to abandon the Philippines and to relocate to what he has termed as the land of milk and honey.
But what has taken the cake, so to speak, is this story of my American friend Lewis Edwards, whose story I have already journalized in my previous BLOG. And here is part of that BLOG:
“I consider Lew as more of a Filipino than our typical Pinoys. Sixteen (16) years ago, a balikbayan from the US, having been so much immersed perhaps in the ways and culture of the the land of milk and honey, wrote a letter to the editor of a leading national daily. The surname of this letter-sender, as far as I can recall, is ANASTACIO. Anastacio poured out all of his negative sentiments against the Philippines and everything that was Filipino. Anastacio even prognosticated that the Philippines was a hopeless case…the dirty public toilets with no toilet paper even, the ubiquitous dirt and grime and the soot-black fumes from jeepneys and dilapidated buses, etc. It was Lew who brought back Anastacio to his senses, when Lew wrote to the newspaper’s editor totally defending the Philippines and every thing that was Filipino. Finally, Lew advised and counseled Anastacio, who eventually earned the sobriquet “NASTY”, after a string of other Filipino patriotic letter-senders started to bash NASTY. xxx
“But it was Lew who started it all, defending the Philippines and all things about the Filipino from the tirades and jeremiads from NASTY.
“As of today, Lew has helped about 800 night high school Filipino students to graduate and earn a college degree through the A BETTER CHANCE FOUNDATION, INC., more popularly known with its acronym “ABC Foundation”, which Lew organized in 2001…”
Sometimes, I really am urged to wonder and think why Filipinos who have migrated into some foreign land would become so apathetic and indifferent to the Philippines highlighting the flaws of the Filipino and its government. Thus, igniting even further the dissension and divisiveness that have become the usual aftermath of every national election.
But Lew Edwards, Harbhinder Singh and Mr. & Mrs. Sato have not said any deprecating word against our national leader as in fact they have openly supported him and are satisfied with the way the affairs of the state are being run….a no-nonsense campaign to totally eradicate drugs to the hilt, purging the ranks of the police and military as well as ameliorating their take-home pay, reforming the tax system, establishing economic alliances with our Asian neighbors, adopting a truly independent, smart and pragmatic foreign policy that would do away with the Philippines’ unwholesome label as a US lapdog, among others.
Indeed, I LOVE THE PHILIPPINES; its people, its culture and its national leaders. For if we continue to deprecate our national leader, we bring our country closer to the break-up of a strong and unified concept of nationhood.