Monday, February 25, 2008

Home Sweet Home

Sophia Castillo-Plaza, "Peaches" as friends would call her is one good example of a Filipino who made it to the top of her goal but still have her roots anchored firmly on the ground. In the advent of nurses and doctors flying away for the sake of jobs abroad, Peaches chose to comeback and stay not only for her country but for her family as well.

After staying for about two years in New York and a year in Washington DC for a scholarship program, there is nothing in this world that can stop Peaches from seeing her country again and missing her family so much, that she literally pull every minutes and seconds of time for her to come home.

"I graduated from my masters and had to come home as part of my contract. On a more personal level, after all the learning, I wanted to be useful. I felt that my country needed my skills more than the US did. They had enough brilliant people there. There were more opportunities to make a difference in the Philippines. More challenges to face, more issues you can try to solve."

Her conviction in helping her countrymen by way of service is indeed noble, she endured loneliness and the difficulties in adjusting to a western culture just to finish her education and come home to be her family’s pride. According to her she was so careful not to violate any laws there, as the government has a lot stricter implementation of rules especially to non-citizens.

"I guess I was really scared in breaking rules since they were really more bent on implementing these than here in the Philippines."

The American setting of "openness" brings more solitary feeling to Peaches, she met different people from all walks of life there yet she always feel alive and excited whenever she met a kababayan among the crowd. Philippines is known to be adaptable to western culture and yet she found it more appalling when she was came face to face by the different views of people she came in contact there, a scenario where she found it hard to be more bullish and vocal about her opinion, a contradiction in set up as when she was in the Philippines. “They just speak what’s on their minds and I had to condition myself that it was okay to do that. Here in the Philippines, I had to watch what I say because people were more sensitive.”

Her being opinionated and strong in nature back home was way too timid in the US, a push over and too nice of a gal. That’s one of the reason she misses her home country so much.

"In the US people were more direct to the point and I had to train myself to receive what they say and also to say what I think. I would always be amazed when a stranger approached me to compliment what I’m wearing. I think Filipinos are too shy to do that."

The friendly atmosphere in the Philippines are what is lacking in the US, there aren’t too many people snooping behind your back, which is good and bad at the same time, but you got to miss a lot of friends and family back home as they are always with you every step of your life. Having too much independence in the US gets life too cold. In between studies and mingling to different people there, Peaches missed so much her friends whom she can talked to whenever she needs a listening ear at any given particular moment.

After her years of studies there Peaches finally muster all her strength and reasons to finally came back home, she left behind here in the Philippines her husband whom she was married for about 3 months only when she left for the US, and coming back home was never this sweet.

There was of course some discouragement from the part of her mother, as being a mother she always wants what’s best for her child, her mother told her that life is difficult here in the Philippines, and staying and finding a job in the US would be a good option, but Peaches says otherwise. On her own words:

"I just missed the food. All the fat, grease and salt! Filipino songs – it just has a different effect on me."

With her family in her mind, all the hindrances and struggles in her life abroad were all worth it, sacrifices teaches her lessons in life that cannot be learned in any graduate school in US, or elsewhere in the world. And after a long journey in life, there is nothing compared to home sweet home.

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