Confession Of A Homesick Heart
I believe that life is neither predictable nor uninteresting. I know there’s more to it than meets the eye but lately I feel a bit eccentric – an erratic mixture of glum and glee – towards the colorless and boring lifestyle of Singapore.
It’s mid-November but the temperature is still 25 degrees Celsius reaching as much as 30 degrees Celsius despite heavy rainfall. Since Singapore is a multi-religious country with only 14% Christians, you won’t find any Christmas decorations in the neighborhood unless you check the malls or visit the Orchard Road where the glamorous and fabulous shopping malls are situated.
I’m deeply yearning to feel the Christmas breeze on my face, which I believe has been brushing the islands of our beloved country since -ber month started. Every night, as we watch the Filipino news on TFC showing shopping malls full of Christmas decors; small and big houses that are still adorned with lanterns and trinkets in spite of all the tragedies that have happened in the past couple of months, I get teary-eyed on the realization that for the first time, we’ll be celebrating Christmas away from our Motherland, away from the people whom we used to share this day with. The humid air and untimely sprinkle of rain bring enough loneliness to my days. ‘Though my parents in-law are coming over for Christmas, their presence will not be enough to fill my intense longing to come back home where Christmas is much more appreciated. Where I can be with my family (father and siblings) and relatives again on this very special occasion.
Who wouldn’t miss the embrace of the cool morning breeze that makes you curl up under your sheer blanket? The dazzling Christmas displays in the streets that fascinate every passerby; the bright and twinkling lights strung in every house that playfully dance to the beat of Christmas carols; the brightly colored lanterns that come in different shapes and sizes. In the Philippines, we decorate our houses as early as September. We have the longest and merriest Christmas celebration in the world that formally begins on December 16, which also marks the start of Simbang Gabi or Misa de Gallo. Oh and how can I forget the fragrant smell of puto bumbong and bibingka dripping with melted butter and sprinkled with niyog that gets people going for the nine dawn masses? And Christmas day itself, when we celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ and meet with our relatives and friends so that we can share the blessings that we have received the whole year through.
I know that this kind of emotion is common to most OFWs/expatriates who’ve been away from their families or been living in other parts of the world for a very long time. Starting a life in a whole new world is quite tough and the adjustment period, a bit difficult. In a way I am happy that my family is complete this Christmas. We have to make little sacrifices to make ends meet but we’re looking forward to each day with hope. I firmly believe that life may look sour at the moment but eventually, all our sacrifices will come into fruition. Come what may, Christmas will come around and life in Singapore may continue to appear dull and colorless to me. But what is important is that, we value the true essence of Christmas and we keep the spirit alive in our hearts, saan man kami naroroon. Only in this way we can overcome the oddity of homesickness. Only in this way we can joyfully celebrate Christmas.