Growing up in a different country has made me appreciate my birth country less. I always thought that for something to be beautiful, it has to be the obvious. I thought I'd always be the "I'm not proud to be a Filipino" type of person. Well, I was wrong.
I was born in the Philippines, but grew up in Dubai. For me, Dubai is the city where almost everything is perfect. It is my happy place, my comfort zone, and my home. Philippines, however, was the opposite. It made me so sad and homesick when I had to spend my entire college life here in the Philippines. A lot of the things that I can do in Dubai, I can’t do here. I can’t go out and walk without inhaling pollution in the streets, without fearing that your valuables might get stolen, or that you might attract too much attention by the brands that you wear. When asked to define Philippines, my answer was always corrupt, polluted, dirty, uncivilized, and possibly all the other not-so-good things I can think of. But then, my professor once said, “How can you appreciate other things when you can’t even appreciate your own country?” He’s right. If I can’t see the beauty of my own country behind its flaws, how can I learn to love the different sides of what life has to offer? I have to learn to look beyond the imperfections to appreciate how beautiful one is. For two (2) years of living here in the Philippines, I realized just how blessed I am to be born in such a rich, happy, and God-fearing country.
|Philippine eagle at Mount Apo National Park|
In the Philippines, there are always different sides of the story to tell. It can be action-packed with the jeepneys, the pedicab drivers, the taxis and even the buses, when they try to squeeze in-between lanes to avoid heavy traffic jams. On the other side, Philippines can also be romantic and serene when it comes to spending nights in white sandy beaches while enjoying the calm breeze and the sound of the crashing waves. I can go on and on about how beautiful and diverse Philippines really is. But for me, what I love most about my country is the Filipinos’ spirit of “bayanihan” (it is when Filipinos become one to help and to achieve a common goal), and optimism. Through whatever storm we may face, we would always find reasons to stay happy and thankful. That’s the kind of attitude that differentiates us from the others. That’s what makes Philippines one of a kind. Then, I realized, that is what makes me proud to be a Filipino.
|The "Bayanihan" Spirit in the Philippines|
To find real treasures, you must be a hunter. You must have the courage and the passion to explore. Understanding the richness of a country’s history, its culture, its way of life, its people, and how they differ from the other countries, will open your eyes to a whole new perspective. Always try to look beyond the modern infrastructures, the mainstream country must-haves, and be open to new learning and discovery. A country will always be more than just a country. You might find things that are not admirable and pleasant. But then, what is a country without its flaws?
As seen on Huffington Post