Even Men Cry

Kuya came back from the US just a few days ago. And along with him came a huge balikbayan box full of “returning presents” or pasalubongs. But not only these came with him, along with him were stories about a strange land, a land far different from our own. It was like seeing a movie before one’s eyes through the words that vividly captured the moments of joy, excitement and homesickness my brother felt during his one-month stay.

I’ve never been to the United States of America. I’ve seen it through television, but I’ve never actually set foot on this strange land. Concrete jungles with steel beasts, with people madly rushing from all corners, busy intersections and crowded city buses, a mishmash of people speaking a language very different from our own, food served without rice, no pandesal for breakfast, very cold weather [which for them was warm]… A land different from my home. And THEY said we were strange.

“Home is where your heart is.” My wandering heart has found its place, a place it can call home. No, it’s not in a house, in a country nor in this world. It’s something more than that. It’s a place where I can be myself, where I can be free. And I found it in the least likely of places, it was within me.

Yesterday, we went to a GK site at Barangay San Andres, near our municipal hall in Cainta. And I saw with my very eyes what hope has done for these people. Such a great transformation! Everyday lives are being changed, shaped for the better. This GK site is but one of many across the Philippines, but in this small community, you can feel being at home, being at peace. It was beautiful. Even though I went home that day dead tired from carrying sacks of cement and gravel and teaching and playing with the children there, I came home, stronger than ever. I cried that day, when we were watching a video presentation about what GK’s done, whilst cradling a small child, Rochelle, on my lap. While watching she would interrupt with her innocent antics and with her coy smile. And I cried tears of joy for what I realized. There I was, cradling a child, an innocent child, our hope. And I was there helping build her future. And as I cried I kept mumbling, “Pangako, pangako…”, a promise for the future.

Home… It’s not in buildings of wood and stone, not in worldy goods, not in this world… It’s something unexplainable, like love, where words fail to capture their meaning. It’s not in impossible dreams nor in distant lands. It’s been here all along, and I’ve never thought about it as much. My home is here.

Confucius once told the people the paths one could take to attain wisdom. The first was through reflection, which was the noblest. The second was through experience, which was the hardest. The third and last was through imitation. How amazing… All it took was child a child to teach me how to love again. She was so little, so fragile, still in her shell, enjoying the simplicity of life. And I, so young, but with such chaos within! I learned yet another lesson from a child: That Life is simple.

Peace be with you, friend.

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