Tuesday, January 22, 2008

A Teenager Adjusting in America

Many Filipinos, regardless of their social status in society, have an American dream which they would like to pursue in one way or another. It is as if they have convinced themselves that Uncle Sam’s homeland is a big open door where, like magic, all their dreams could come true. It is like the American country is a cradle of all the answers to all the thinkable problems and frustrations they have in life.

"Lola told me that you have to work really hard in America to be successful. You can’t just sit there and wait for your dreams to become true overnight. For many Filipinos here, they are not just competing against your fellow kababayan and other nationalities, but as well as with the natives of America," Norman related when he was asked about his American dream.

"I don’t actually have any American dream that could be called like. I am here for a different reason. I am not really that happy because I am here, although I must admit that I enjoy a lot of opportunities around here, in addition to the fact that I get to know more of my relatives in my father’s side."

Norman Ababan, now 19, left the country in December 2006 to finally re-unite with his father’s family in Union City , California . That day, he remembered, he felt half of his soul was being stripped apart from him, that any moment he wanted to change his mind and rather stay in his beloved humble country.

"I know it may sound foolish but if only I had another choice, I would rather stay there. I know I belong there.

It was a bit weird when you go out and see a lot of Americans around you. That was a funny part. Back in the Philippines , many told me I was tall for my age. Right here, I suddenly felt small compared to the kids here. It was like I always had to remind myself, uh-uh, I am no longer in the Philippines anymore.”

Norman never really had a hard time adjusting in the US. Most of his days during the first couple of months after his arrival, was with the immediate family. They also have Filipino neighbors and friends there. At first, he had to adapt to the American time and weather. But it has never become a problem at all. He busied himself by going out with his cousins and new friends.

"It was really lonely the first time I arrived here, I missed so many things back home. You really have to do something to occupy yourself so that you won’t think so much about the Philippines . Funny thing was, there were so many things that reminded me of home. We have tuyo here, although I don’t really eat tuyo. Lola always cooks Filipino dishes, just two days ago, she cooked pinakbet.”

In his third month, his lola let him to have a job in one of the local bakeries here. It helped Norman to enjoy his new life. He was able to mingle with more Americans and made friends with most of them.

Things are really doing fine for Norman. Many people were willing to help him cope with his new life now. However, whenever they hear bad news about the Philippines, he couldn’t help but get upset.

"When I learned about those things, bad news in particular, about our country, I really get depressed. Sometimes I realize, we are losing so much because we have never learned to love our own country like the Americans do for their country. I just hope that the time will come, the pride and passion Filipinos felt for the Philippines once in a while would be a lifetime commitment.”

Norman doesn't know how long before he would be able to go back or visit the Philippines. He admitted that he is starting to create his own dreams, even though he insisted to say that those dreams are truly Pinoy. He is planning to save money and put up a business when he returns to the Philippines.

"In everything I do, I make sure that I am doing the good stuff. So that, in my own simple way, I could show to many Americans that we are just like the other races in the world, who deserves respect and does much more better things than the exaggerated news circulating in the papers about the Philippines."

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