Enjoy the story of Citadel Gamez!
Meeting Citadel Gamez,( not her real name), is an experience to keep listening to her wish to have a 2-week holiday in the Philippines, in the South especially, where she will visit her surviving elder sister and at the same time, to reconnect with her roots after 45 years of being away from her birthplace.
Forty-five years without letting herself to visit her homeland. And Citadel wants to run over those hills and mountains, the place where her childhood had been nurtured with so raw and genuine childhood. “Oh, I wish I could climb the santol tree and enjoy the buko,” Citadel said as her eyes sparked with so much ingenuous tenderness. And she remembered their house made of bamboo with veranda overlooking the flowers and fruit trees, and further the green, green grass on the hills and mountains.
Such a great place to live instead to be away for more than forty-five years! Ouch!
“My husband’s friend is engaged and will be marrying my niece in the Philippines,” says Citadel with sparks in her eyes. She continues with so much assurance on her voice, as she speaks as a fully-certified Canadian.” My husband suggested the idea that I should visit my family and experienceb the Philippines. I have mixed emotions about travelling to the Philippines without my husband and children. I’m already homesick just thinking about it.”
Citadel arrived in Winnipeg with her parents and four siblings on September 10, 1980. They were sponsored by her eldest sister.
It was nearly fall and the wind was crispy cold and comforting too different what she had in her city. She was all over the place to see what the promises of her new world were.
Her experience in the miss-mass cultural mosaic then was unforgettable and yet forgivable. She was bullied because she did not know how to speak English. Only yes or no would come out from her mouth. Then, she was referred to an English as Second Language (ESL) program and within a week, she moved back to her old school because, apparently, she says: “I learned English very quick.”
“I was so fascinated with the white people, how beautiful they were and the aboriginal and I hung out with them. And I was a headbanger as I was growing up..tomboyish kinda,” her stentorian voice on her fluid Canadian English gets musical.
Her fascination to see her old city, and its surrounding keeps burning in spite of being away from her homeland. Forty-five years? So culturally dysfunctional, so consequential of a socil practice or behavior patterned or behavior that undermine the stability of her own footing on the land she was born.
“Yes, leaving the many things that had shaped my life is hurting, so culturally dysfunctional but now I have realized after my absence for forty-five years, I would like to go back and deconstruct the dysfunctionality of life experience, and it is not yet late. Probably, next time, our whole family would go and it would be not too difficult to re-orient or to re-learned the ABC of my life when I left as a 10-year girl.”
“But I have some fears lurking on my planned trip, she said with a little bit of worriness: “I might be robbed, blinded or kidnapped. And the monsoon and typhoon which are prevalent in my hometown are giving me certain kind of “no-go attitude”. Certainly, I don’t want to heading into their teeth.”
How many of our kababayans who have not been to their hometown for many years, for 10 years, for 20 to 30 years, and yet sometimes they have some stumbling blocks to reach out to themselves to rekindle the glories of their childhood. And to be in a country with four seasons, going back seems to a long-time wish.
Listen to what Julliene Pagkaliwanagan,(not her real name) a busy community volunteer who has not visited her hometown, outside Manila, for more than ten years. ” I want to go back to reconnect with my sister, my nieces and nephews and many relatives,” Julliene said with eagerness measured by her womanly voice.
“The last time I was in Manila when I had to attend my brothers funeral but she was able to reconnect with their relatives. “I did not like the Metro Manila especially Divisoria, so crowded, so filthy…but lately from what I have been watching, Manila has changed so much and this makes me itchy to go back and shop at Divisoria.”
To be away from your birthplace, from the place where you grew up and found a simple niche in life and found yourself in a strange land is a combination of “lost and found”; or simply cutting the cultural umbilical cord which binds us who we are.
For forty-five years? Expect so many unexpected!
Have a nice two-week holidaze! And it will be on December! Submerge yourself in the swimming pool of coconut water, and eating puto bumbong until the last steam of “tsaa.”