I was at Madison Avenue with my reliable director. While he was recording parts of the parade of Filipinos proudly waving the flag, I was at the back too shy to even talk to my fellow countrymen. I heard them speak in my native tongue which was an irony to my lips laden already with the New York “Twalk”. It was indicative that the day would be hopeless for me. Suddenly, my Hispanic Director called me to go in front to catch a better view of the parade. In truth, I was shaking like a leaf unknowing what I would feel upon being so close to proud Filipinos. Then it hit me like a boomerang! I am here, I am a Filipino! I may have been absent in so many celebrations, I may have more friends from other races now, I may have been speaking English more yet I made it a point to come here – “ to this Avenue that is being graced by my rich Filipino Culture. I have returned HOME.
I started standing straight, smiling and demanding to my director to take more shots of interesting people and marching bands. When the parade ended, we had to control our hunger pangs inspite of the aroma of Filipino delicacies. It had always been on our agenda to finish shooting a video before succumbing to our needs. I scouted for Filipinos willing and unselfish to grant interviews to my channel. While they were speaking, my whole aura changed. I laughed like the way I used to laugh back in the Philippines. I was able to share private Filipino jokes with vendors and other “Pinays”. A group of women sang a song about loving one’s country; which brought unexpected tears to my eyes. Hearing their views on what Independence means made the scorching heat bearable. I am so fortunate to be in the City of the Free and immerse in my culture with full abandon. I digressed that the only person who can stop me from going home to my roots is myself. I realized that I may be thousands of miles away from the country but like a lover, my heart and soul would always be with my beloved.
Filipinos fly in planes to work hard in uncharted countries.
Sail in big ships to earn money for our families back home.
Leave what is most important to us, Mother Country
Yet we stand strong and continue to thrive.
Endure hardships and never become disheartened to achieve success.
Not only for oneself but for others
The Filipino Flag is speared to our hearts
And with each beat, we carry with us our rich culture and heritage
Excellence is our destiny and we only need to take one step further to achieve this.
Today in New York City, I have come home to my dear country- the Philippines.