(A letter from Jane)
Look at me now. Remember the first time you saw me leave you. I was still plain and simple. That day, I wore my comfort clothes- a plain white shirt for my top, paired with my classic Levi’s jeans. I thought I could never grow out of such fashion style. Think of me when I was clad in plaid, and I had flip-flops on my feet. You told me before that I looked beautiful, with my black hair tied up to pony tail, face bare from make-up, and no huge accessories dangling on my ears.
Look at me now. I am grown up. I can pull off pink top and purple pants with my nude pumps. I can wear a bondage dress with my red stilettos. My MAC cosmetics do an awesome job for a make up, far from the Johnson’s baby powder you handed to me when we were still together. I know now how to spot the authentic Chanel or Louis Vuitton purse from the knock-offs. And even if I carry a knock off purse, no one could tell that I am faking it. I am a better actress now, and I know my stage. Yes, I have changed.
Did you miss me? Did you miss that little girl who used to recite the pledge of loyalty in your face? You thought I will keep those three stars and the sun engraved in my heart forever?
I actually did. Everyday, I convinced myself that you are my home. But everyday too, you made me feel I was just in a cage; you made me feel that there’s always a better life out there. When I asked you how to uplift my family’s condition, you told me that the answer is found abroad. When my farm was dying and I couldn’t feed my family, you said that the grass is greener at the other side of the fence. When I worried about the future of my kids, you doused it by telling me that I can save up faster if I leave them.
See, you were the one who pushed me away. I don’t really want to leave you. Had you not instilled in me that you are no good for me, I would have not turned for another refuge. Please know that you used to be the only refuge that I knew. Had you told me to stay, I would have. I would have become your artist, and not a white man’s caregiver. We could have painted the country more color. I, together with the people you shooed away, could have gathered our dreams and erase your disillusionment. You could have been a better Philippines.
All you had to do was to make me believe that you are my best place. How come you never uttered that? I despise you that moment when you failed to hold my hand, or show up in my dreams, or do some weird signs, just so I’ll keep my feet in your land. I waited for it, in vain.
If you see me in stilettos, remember that I am just standing tall not because I am comfortable in these shoes but because I’ve been used now to the fear of stumbling. But if you would offer me flip-flops and take me to your blue coast, I might take your offer. I might as well not put on my MAC make-up and just dive in to your seawater I’ve been longing to bathe once again. I might give rebirth to my artistry, and make you the canvas of my beautiful piece.
Look at me now. All I can do is wish.
Look at you now. You’re like a mother mourning for your kids you cast off and lost.
My heart is still marred for what you did. I don’t think I am coming back again…
Para Kay Juana
My heart bled as I was reading your words. I do not know how to heal your wounds, or if I ever will have the chance that you let me heal it.
I do not mean to push you away, Juana. Long before you were born, I prepared my place for you. I thought, you would enjoy a good playground in your childhood,and a good community to settle in when you become adult. I would like you to experience the mountains and the seas, and not just to look at them in post cards, and travelogues. But I guess I lost control of the decades after. I did not see it coming that people’s definition of leadership will change to praising popularity instead of integrity. I did not see it coming that people will eventually lose the sense of history. I fought hard for centuries just to prepare for your future, only to be in despair to see you leave me.
It is ironic that after all this time, this battle is the most difficult to win. I do not know how to win you back, and those Filipinos who have been disheartened living in the country. When I fought for freedom and independence from the Spanish, Japanese, and American colonies, I thought that that was the climax of my history. I did not know that this could be worse. How do I teach you to love me again?
Please know that it wasn’t me who pushed you away. Don’t you think it has something to do with our society? It has taught you to adore everything in the west- music, movies, fashion, and what have you. What right do I have to deprive you of the freedom to know what’s in the other world? I would admit though, I did not see it coming that your fascination for the west would eventually outweigh your willingness to stay with me. Don’t you think it has something to do with our history? The 300-year Spanish occupancy has somehow taught your forefathers to become workers instead of becoming a boss. I would have loved to see you run the businesses in my country, and not the foreigners who don’t even have a clue what I went through just to keep this country standing. Does it have something to do with my people? You voting the wrong person in the office, you not voting the right one or you not voting at all? I refuse to admit that it is my sole mistake. I don’t think I deserve all the blame and hatred you wrote in your letter.
I don’t mind you wearing the designer clothes and purses if you do so because of your appreciation to Louis Vuitton or Coco Chanel. Just don’t do it because you want to prove that I fell short of giving you the good life.
I am like any mother mourning for losing you, and like any mother, I still long for you to come back. If you must, I should let you know by now that it will give me hope for redemption. Maybe, I can stand on my knees now as I source out my strength from you. But if you choose not to, I will bow to your decision, even if it will hurt. There’s just one favor I ask from you, if in the west you find your place and one day someone will ask you about your country, please, don’t deny me.
I wish you your happinness.
Note: The writer used the name Juana to represent a female version of Juan dela Cruz (the character who represents the Filipino.) The article has nothing to do with the writer’s personal struggle or story. In fact, she loves her home country so much. This article is written to depict some sentiments of the Filipinos who choose not to go back to the country, and create answers on behalf of the country which couldn’t utter words.