Tuesday, July 19, 2011


  To be successful is to assimilate. To be comfortable is to conform. 

  I was on my way home, playing music on the bus when this Filipino woman* complemented my messenger bag. I thanked her, and a couple of seconds later she started talking about how she missed the Philippines a lot. She missed the food, the crowd, the shopping malls, and other things. I wanted to tell her that everything will be alright; she should be grateful that this city has a large Filipino community where you see them everywhere you go. I was about to, really. But when she told me that she has been here in Canada a few years longer than me, I was surprised. She was the first woman I spoke with who has lived here for a couple of years and hasn't enjoyed their stay here. So when she told me that she misses the Filipino dishes and that she doesn't like eating steak, that was when realization hit me. She does not want to conform in the Canadian culture which is why she doesn't enjoy her life in a foreign country. A country where most Filipinos would like to settle and live. But that was only my theory, for I had no idea what made her say and think that way, so I should not judge her for experiencing paralysis even after a couple of years. I don't know her subculture, history, and perception in life that made her say those words. But I would like her to move on; I would like her to realize that there is more to this place than just a country to earn money. That way, when she has fully accepted her fate of living in a foreign country where majority of the population speaks English and not her (or our) mother tongue, she would be able to live comfortably and enjoy what this country has in store for her. 

  I think one of the key to living in a foreign land and not get homesick often is to assimilate into their culture and customs. I'm not saying that one should go to the bar every Friday night and live like there is no tomorrow (or a shift early Saturday morning), but a person should learn the culture and customs so that they would be able to conform and act accordingly. It's like getting the best of both worlds (I won't admit that I just made a Hannah Montana reference.). And as for worrying about entertainment and activities, give yourself a break. Once a week. Or a month, if you want to save or think you're overspending and have no control due to the installment payments of almost all the stores here. That way, you are able to reap a week's hard work. And in time, you will be more comfortable living in a foreign country while retaining your culture (in this case, Filipino culture). It's hard, I admit, because I'm also in the process of assimilating and conforming, and at the same time thinking about my culture and my former country. 

  Funny how I just made up these thoughts while I'm being fried by the summer heat, closing my eyes every now and then, and listening to the Bee Gees (Don't judge, but I really think Islands in the Stream, Our Love (Don't Throw It All Away), and How Can You Mend A Broken Heart are really good songs. Or maybe that's just me. But I couldn't help it when some of their songs are really catchy.). 

*I used Filipino woman instead of Filipina for gender equality

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