I never thought I'd sound like a typical migrant from a tropical country when I got here, but the winter just made one out of me. Excuses, excuses, I know. I just probably miss the Philippines so much that I never realized the small things that irritated me back home are the ones that will make me want go back.
The sun. I know its sounds so mundane but I miss the sun back home. I miss the way it burns my skin, the way it 'defrosts' my fingers when coming out from an air-conditioned room or the way it shines so early and sets so late. I know the sun rises and sets from here too. But I don't think you'd appreciate it when its 4 degrees outside and the wind is blowing so hard.
The baywalk and everything that comes with it. I miss running along baywalk in the afternoon. Although I don't exactly miss the smell, I miss seeing the different stories I encounter. I miss the stark contrast - street vendors and homeless and just a few steps away are the luxurious hotels, coffee shops and restaurants. I don't appreciate the 'gap' that these things illustrate. But these afternoon runs keep me grounded, open my eyes to reality which is a constant reminder that I have role in decreasing that gap. Here, that gap is so small that it makes you forget people needing your help. You can be so comfortable that you might forget that the world doesn't revolve around you.
The public transport - its convenience. Yes, our public transport, especially the jeepney, is very convenient cause it stops where and when ever you want it to stop. Don't get me wrong, I'm a good citizen. I stop in the designated places. I just miss the fact that just a few steps away from the gates of the hospital where I used to work, I can hail any type of public transport I want. This is in contrast to walking 750 meters everyday during winter just to get to a train station.
The food. I miss the fresh seafood, affordable buffets, things that you can buy in the street. I miss fishball, squidball, corn on the cob, banana cue, turon.... and the list goes on. I am salivating just thinking about the food back home. I know I can cook some of it here, but it doesn't taste the same. It's probably the ingredients, or maybe something else.
The language. I miss speaking Filipino. Wait, change that to 'conversing' in Filipino. After speaking English all day, you'd want to shout in Tagalog when you get home. Or when you hear strangers talking in Filipino, you'd want to butt in just because you miss it so much, even thought they'd think you are a weirdo or ill-mannered.
The fact that everything is open after 5 pm, and I mean everything. You go home at 7 pm, and you can still buy a television or a new sofa if you wanted to. If you can't appreciate this, try living in a place where everything closes at 5 pm and you get off work at the exact time. No wonder, online buying is so popular here.
My patients. I miss their greetings when I walk in the clinic every morning. I miss our small talks - about their children and how proud they are of them. I miss seeing their smiles when I make them better. I miss that opportunity where I can make a difference in a few lives.
The people. I was just telling my friend M last night that even though life is very comfortable here, I was happier in the Philippines. Mainly because everyone's happy, everyone can carry a tune anywhere, anytime and they smile at every opportunity they get. Filipino happiness is contagious.
The churches. I miss going to a jam-packed church every Sunday. I miss doing a weekly novena with a community and not feel so different and isolated. I miss that fact that there is a church in almost every corner that holds one (or more) mass daily. I can even attend a mass in a mall if I wanted to.
My family. Enough said.
I really don't know what the future holds for me in this new place where I can't call home yet. One thing is for sure though, I will always miss Pinas and I will always have a reason to go back home. After all, home is where the heart is. I can't wait for that day.