Filipino Roots

The ever meaningful Philippine Flag. Photo credits to my husband.

As you all know, I am an expat living in Central Europe but I am very proud of my Filipino roots.

I love Philippines. I really do. In fact, I consider it as the best home ever despite all the not-so-good issues that its citizens complain about.

The camaraderie. The hospitality. The love and warmth. The happiness. The Pinoy resiliency. And yes, the Filipino spirit. These make Philippines the best home ever for me.

It’s not that I don’t love Hong Kong and my husband’s country. I love both with all my heart, but as a Filipino, my heart always go with my first home and first lovePHILIPPINES.

I may be away from home, but I think of it every day. No joke. I might be speaking Deutsch most of the time now, but that does not surpass the great value of Tagalog in me.

And if you are to ask me whether I am happy or not in my husband’s country, of course I will say I am HAPPY, but you know, I can’t help but to think of my parents and siblings back of home.

I am definitely happy here with my own family, but this will never change the fact that I also miss Mama, Papa, my sister and my brother and their own families.

Moreover, questions like these occupy my mind…

What is my family doing at the moment”

“Are they ok?”

“How are my friends in there?”

“How’s the education in the Philippines?”

“What happened to my former students?”

“What’s new in my hometown?”

“What are the current events there?”

“When will be my next vacation to my beloved country?”

Oh, how I miss Philippines. Really!

Five months of being away from my home country isn’t easy. More difficult than being away from Hong Kong.

It might take three to four years from now before I get to visit Philippines again. Seems like an eternity huh. But yes, I have to wait. Good thing, I have lots of patience. Anyway, time is just fleeting.

After a few years, I’m back again. How excited I am to see my family and close friends on my next vacation. To spend quality time with them and to see them happy are what I dream of once in a while.

It might not be too soon, but at least, it will happen in the near future. I hope and pray that my family and friends in the Philippines will be (and are) always healthy and safe.

Trusting God is what I do now. In time, my family, friends and I will meet again. That’s for sure.

For now, I just have to be contented to having our daily communication via Facebook, Messenger, Instagram and Whatasapp. I am really grateful to these social media platforms. They make it easier for me to connect with my home country and of course, to my dearest family back home.

My Filipino roots will stay with me as long as I live. Wherever I go, whichever language I speak, whatever foreign food I eat or whatever lifestyle I adapt to, these will never change the fact that I am a Filipino, by blood and by heart.

Mahal kita, Pilipinas. Pangako, babalik ako. Kitakits ha.

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How is it like to be an Expat?

Expatriates. Abroad. Different Culture. New Language. Away from home. Far from family and/or friends.

These are just some of the issues that expats around the globe are currently experiencing.

I know it because I am an expat myself. Actually, I have been an expat since 2016. Kinda long now and to tell you the truth, my journey has not been so smooth and easy.

The beginning of my expat life was difficult, especially in terms of language barrier and socialization. When I was still in Hong Kong, I found Cantonese and Mandarin so difficult, that I gave up the thought of learning them someday. Going to local restaurants and buying some stuffs in the wet market, dispensaries or some local shops gave me a hard time because of the language barrier.

I tried to buy fresh goods from two Hong Kong wet markets, but talking to the salespersons there was not that easy for me. They seldom spoke English and for me, that’s one hard thing to deal with. I ended buying a bulk, instead of only pieces because of the language barrier. It also happened to me in some dispensaries and supermarkets in Hong Kong. There were a few times that my fellowmen would save me from talking to the locals and explained to me what the salespersons wanted to tell me.

Not only Cantonese and Mandarin were difficult, but also German language, however, unlike the first two languages, I had the guts and time to study the latter. I spent hours at home and in school just to learn it. (Why? Because my husband is a German-speaker! Hahaha)

Aside from the language problem, I also had an issue with socializaton. I longed for moments like bonding with my dearest family, going out with friends, and spending time with colleagues and former students.

Most of the time, I was only with my husband and two Pinoy friends. Very seldom that I socialized with my husbands’ colleagues. Well, drinking and going to bars were not really my cup of tea; so, I declined the invitation. Not to mention my pregnancy which made me vulnerable during those times.

I also experienced some down and difficult moments like homesickness, boredom, and culture shock. Every time I saw photos of my friends’ families on Facebook and other social media, and whenever I saw families at the park or in the mall in Hong Kong, I got sad and felt the dreaded homesickness. Truly, it’s sad and a little boring to be away from home, but the fact that me having my own family gave me hope and happiness as well.

Facing a new set of rules, a different lifestyle, and a totally divergent culture almost made me rather weary and a bit shocked. I could still remember my first two months in Hong Kong and first month in Central Europe. Encountering some people who looked down on me, or scrutinized me just because I’ve got different color and nationality. Waaah, this I hated!

But I did not give up. It’s not because I had no other choices. It’s because I began to realize that I was actually blessed to be in different countries in the span of three years. I started to be positive, embraced the fact that I was not alone, and of course, adapted to changes around me.

Yes, expat life is difficult, but if I start thinking of those people wanting to be in my shoes, I just feel blessed. I have traveled and experienced a lot since 2016–going to Europe twice a year, visiting my family three or four times a year, having some Macau trips, and living in Hong Kong for three years to name a few. Wew! Not bragging though.

Here I am now, enjoying my life as an expat and a stay-at-home wife and mom. Thanks to my very supportive and loving husband. He and our kids serve as my inspiration for defying the challenges and solving the issues in my expat life.

And of course, thank you to Facebook, Messenger, Whatsapp and Twitter for connecting me to my loved ones and friends in the Philippines.

Above all, thank You, dearest Lord, for giving me this one great chance of traveling some parts of the world, and for entrusting me this expat life I have now.

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It all started with a ‘Pho’

Being an expat in Hongkong is not that easy.

New culture. Different lifestyle. Difficult language. No friends–these summed up my first two months in Hongkong.

Boredom and homesickness were my companions. My husband was most of the time at work and sadly, we only had much time at night, during weekends or holidays.

I was longing for my family and close friends back then. For an extrovert like me, this I tell you, it’s really hard to be alone. Thank goodness! There were Facebook messenger, Twitter, and Whatsapp for communication purposes.

One day, my husband asked me if I wanted to meet the Filipina wife of his colleague. Of course, I said YES. I had been waiting for that moment to happen, the moment which could possibly give me new friends.

Her name’s Ruth. She’s a wife of a Hongkong national working in the same company with my husband.

Before I met Ate Ruth personally, her husband messaged me on Facebook. He asked if it’s ok with me to meet Ate because she’s also alone and bored. Woooaahh, we were in the same boat huh. Anyway, he gave me her number and told me about his high hope of me being friends with Ate.

Our supposed meeting in the first week of November was postponed because I went to the Philippines for a short vacation.

It was in the last week of November that I met her and her then-one-month-old baby boy. Our rendezvous was at New Town Plaza in Sha Tin. She’s very nice and accommodating, something that really made me think she’s the one I’ve been waiting for in Hongkong haha.

My new friend and I strolled around some shops. You know, women and shopping sounded almost the same! hahahaha just kidding. I wanted to buy some nice clothes then, and gladly, she helped me decide on which clothes to take.

We had our merienda at Viet’s Choice, her favorite restaurant. It was my first time to eat in a Vietnamese restaurant.

Oh, how I liked the delicious taste of the Vietnamese noodle soup called pho. The rich, savory taste of its soup base, the yummy combination of ginger, fresh mint, cilantro, onions and other herbs, the flavoursome chicken meat, and the good taste of the flat, long rice noodles caught the attention of my picky tastebuds.

My favorite kind of Pho. Sliced Vietnamese ham gio lua Pho with iced milk tea

Another kind of Pho. Sliced beef brisket Pho with hot milk tea

Of course, I ordered my favorite milk tea. It’s always my choice of drink whenever I was in an Asian or local restaurant.

I was really glad Ate Ruth chose Viet’s Choice. We really had a great time eating and having conversation there. In addition to that, we also discovered that we shared some common traits. Nice to know!

Who would have thought that the start of a good and strong fellowship just happened in a restaurant called Viet’s Choice? It was indeed a special place for Ate and me.

Fast forward to the present —–

Oh, how I miss eating pho and drinking milk tea.

And…

how I miss my close friend.

Like what I’ve said, it’s not that easy to be an expat in Hongkong, but because of the presence of Ate Ruth and her family, my social life in Hongkong became colorful. 😀

I do hope to see her again in the future. Guess where? In Hongkong or maybe in the Philippines.

Time flies so fast. For sure, we will see Ate Ruth again. Maybe not so soon, but definitely after a few years.

But for now, hello Facebook and Whatsapp! hahaha

Time to pause for a while and eat some dinner.

Gute Nacht. Bis Morgen.

JL