Quo Vadis, Pinoy?

by Ronnie Dizon

More than 15 years ago, I took my family to this “promised land” to seek better opportunities for my children. The properties we decided to take with us were contained in 4 balikbayan boxes. At the airport, the customs officer dutifully cleared us with a side comment: “They have everything, except the sink.” We did not know what future we would have but relied on a relative’s assurances that surely we would survive and our situation would indeed be better here.

During those early years, we longed for the company of friends and neighbours who would always find time for a little chat and would not hesitate to come to the rescue whenever a problem, be it personal, family or community manifested itself. How we would miss the bayanihan spirit everytime there was a special gathering at home! Some would readily don the apron and join the food preparation, while others would assist in making sure the backyard was converted into a bright and welcoming party area. Still others would take care of the musical extravaganza with the aspiring artists belting out their favourite karaoke songs.

As days wore on, we began to be introduced to not a few kababayans and we slowly began to feel at home. The children also started to develop new friendships and ties with their schoolmates of different cultural backgrounds. They easily settled in and in no time began to enjoy their school carnivals, outings and field trips. We all then took up Australian citizenship so we could stand proud as adopted children of this “sun-blessed” country. As our children started their career directions, we decided to live out here in Sydney’s west to join the exodus of so many Pinoys. By that time, real estate development in the area had started to boom. We literally began a new journey of acclimatizing ourselves to our new “Pinoy” environment where we understood first hand the real meaning of “Keeping up with the Joneses” with many kababayans literally jumping from one job to another on the same day, sacrificing sleep and family life so that their dream houses could be built and list 1, 2, or 3 investment properties in their ATO declarations! We came across the self-professed community leaders who have hidden agenda of their own and those who believe that they “alone” could lead. They were probably remnants of a dictatorial regime. They still try to cling to their positions regardless of community outrage. There are those who would forget their friendliness once dislodged from the top position of their community organisation. Gone would be the pledge to assist the needy, especially local residents, and their support for projects of fellow Fil-OZ. There are those who belong to the group of the “intelligentsia” who write commentaries and lampoon community personalities instead of influencing and provoking some action towards real community building! Some even had some childish tantrums overseas!

I therefore ask Quo vadis? because truly I cannot perceive any concrete direction toward which we Pinoys are heading. I wish someone out there could show us the way. It appears that we all need some spanking to straighten us up. Whatever happened to the bayanihan spirit we are so proud of? Where has our kapit-bahayan gone? Are we, Pinoys to continue our fragmented state of mind and still uphold the tall poppy syndrome? We are known to be the best educated migrants in this part of the world. Why can’t we utilize our brains and put our heads together to be united and be happy for a kababayan’s good fortune?