Thursday, January 17, 2008

A Memorable Family Reunion

For eighteen long years, Anthony Alfonso has been residing in Ontario, Canada. He knew pretty well that his present life lies on the very same place, though feels, his heart is truly living somewhere else - the Philippines. If not for the family’s decision to move and migrate, Anthony thinks leaving his true home will be the farthest probable thing in mind.

It was 1988 when his father applied for a job in Canada. Together with his elder siblings, they moved to Canada leaving the rest of his family behind. According to him, "Wala naman talaga plano magpunta sa Canada. Kasi wala naman kami kilala dito. But my father just applied and passed. I guess they took the risk and gambled so that we, their children, would have a better future."

For him, leaving is by far the hardest decision. He relates how difficult the adjustment was; leaving his friends and the kind of life he had been used to. There was too much apprehension as well as he realized the uncertainty and unsure future Canada will be offering. "It was very hard for me at first, to think it’ll be another place, and with all the new adjustment needed. I also felt that there are so many things I’ll be leaving behind like my true friends.”

And yes, it’s been almost eighteen years since Anthony remembers it all once more. The decision-making; weighing the pros and cons of him leaving, up to the very days when he eventually moved to a strange place, always yearning for good old memories. It just ended one time when he came back to the Philippines in 1996.

"Since I got here in Canada, once pa lang ako nakakauwi diyan,” he said. And by the moment he arrived, Anthony felt really at home. He said that only a few of his relatives knew him coming for he wanted his arrival to be a surprise.

"Nung umuwi ako ng Philippines for the first time in my life, I felt 'At Home' talaga. Coz iba talaga ang lupang sinilangan! Malayo sa stress at problema. Akala kasi ng ibang tao sa Philippines, porket nag ibang bansa na ang isang tao ay mayaman na. Hindi totoo yun! You have to work hard for it para umasenso sa buhay. Mas stressful sa ibang bansa kasi naranasan kong mag work till 12 midnight everyday. Tapos pasok sa school ng 6 am the next day. Kung di ko gagawin yun, di ako makakapagtapos!”

He remembers how his relatives prepared a small gathering for him. He was so excited to see them all again. Anthony totally felt happiness realizing this is what he loves about the Philippines - the warmth of family; the truth in friends, the value of looking back and reminiscing old times with those who really matter. His longing for his old home even took him to his favorite “isawan”, as his other relatives brought him there to savor this treat that evaded him all this time.

"Very memorable yung reunion sa akin kasi when I saw them I realized na ang bilis palang lumipas ng panahon, and I missed so much stuff and happenings nung nawala ako sa Philippines."

If given the chance, he wants to visit at least five times a year if not move back. It only shows that there are still those who want to spend their days in their own country, regardless of its flaws and shortcomings. And Anthony has never left his home… he merely wandered yet keeps in mind where his heart truly belongs.

Now, he is working as a Quality Assurance Analyst, living in Toronto with his wife Jackline and their son. Surely, he wants to visit anew and if his last was a personal reprieve… this time he will not be alone.

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