Writing on Air

Writing on Air by Jim Paredes

Archive for January 26th, 2006

Yes, it’s true.. 53

Posted on January 26, 2006 by jimparedes

Sorry for the long hiatus. I was in Aus for two weeks. It’s no secret we are moving, thanks to my kids who have been bannering it on their blogs for months now. Here’s the story from my point of view.

I wasn’t going write about this until I was ready. I am ready now.

I first thought of migrating a few months after ERAP had won. Even if I did not vote for him, I was (in hindsight) naively hopeful that he would be a leader that would prove his detractors wrong. As it turned out, I was among the many who were so disgusted and disappointed with how things had turned out. I saw no hope for the next six years then.

It was at that time that I applied for Australian migration and got it in 2001. At the time I applied, I felt it was a good time to not only sit Erap out but to pursue one of the things we had always wanted to do—spend part of our lives living abroad. The decision to move was/is as much about personal growth as it was/is about the disappointment with how the country was being run.

Before EDSA 1, we as a family actually had green cards which we surrendered in 1989. Believe it or not, we did so right after the deadliest coup by military adventurists and so never got to push through our migration to the US. We had made our choice to stay put here. It was also our statement then, and the statement was that we were staying to defend the gains of our newly democratized country from the military predators. We were staking our lives and our children’s to show our belief and support for our new democracy. I believed then as I do now that sometimes, one must do things even if others think it’s crazy. I remember going to the US embassy and surrendering our green cards two days after the coup. The immigration officer was flabbergasted as to why we were doing it when so many desired to have the chance to live there.

But in 2001, we felt it was the time to take the option of migrating again. To our great delight, we were promptly approved to migrate to Australia. We had a 5 year window to push through with it and the opportunity expires this 2006. We wanted to leave immediately. I was tired and had no enthusiasm for any political activism. I felt a deep let-down then which lasts to this day. It dawned on me that we as a people apparently had not learned anything important even after EDSA1, and were squandering our opportunities for real change. Politics aside, I also wanted to do new things, like pursue studies or just have a different milieu to wake up to and engage. Maiba lang.

But then, other things happened which delayed our move. There was EDSA 2 which kind of gave me second thoughts about leaving. But as things turned out, hope for change was very short-lived.

Even more important events where happening in our personal lives. On the home front, my mother-in-law had been found to have cancer and she passed away in just a few months. Lydia, her nurse and companion took care of her till the end. In the aftermath, Lydia herself contracted breast cancer which again forced us to delay our move indefinitely. We thought it best to get her treated here amidst the healing company of her friends and loved ones until she had recovered. And if all this was not enough, Lydia’s father died last year also of cancer.

Now that all of that seems to be over, we can resume with our plans.

So, why Australia? I’ve always enjoyed my trips there. More importantly, it is because we would like to give our kids a chance to live independently (financially and in all ways), in a society that is stable, equitable, fair and safe. As a parent, I always think about what my kids’ future will be and constantly worry about their safety. Australia might be a good starting place for them. It is kind to immigrants—free education, medical benefits, social services, etc. and is still a decent place. I am a believer in encouraging my kids to be independent and this is a good place with great opportunity for them to be on their own. If they wish to return later on to the Philippines, then that will be their choice entirely. Just as Lydia and I chose to give up the chance to live in the US before, it will be their turn to independently and freely make their own choices.

As for Lydia and I, we are doing this while we are still young, crazy and strong enough to start anew. Will we live there for the rest of our lives? No! We are too ‘hopelessly Pinoy’ to completely uproot from this country and society. We are not even selling our house. We will most likely end up splitting the time between Sydney and Manila.

I am looking forward to doing things I have not done in the next year or so. It would be good to study, maybe pursue a masters’ degree, or do other jobs I have not done. Whatever lies in store, I am saying ‘yes’. One has to do crazy things now and then. It will be an adventure.

Am I disgusted with the way things are? Yes, absolutely, just like everyone else. Am I abandoning the Philippines? An emphatic ‘No’! It might be good to experience living in another society even for a while. Many Filipinos I admire–Rizal, Luna, Ninoy, etc.– had lived part of their lives abroad. I have met many OFWs while performing with APO in the US, Canada, Europe, Middle East, NZ and Aus and I wish to also have that experience of living in societies which are more functional.

I am lucky to have friends like Danny, Boboy, Betta and Butch of APO and management who have made it easy by being supportive. APO is truly a free society. We have always been encouraging of each other’s plans to grow in the directions we have chosen through the years. Will it be the end of APO? No! From Aus, I will be joining them on tours abroad, and in big shows in Manila just as we have been doing for the past few years but on a more limited basis. The main difference is that I will not be available for regular TV appearances and small shows.

I know my deciding to leave has caused some concern among some of my other friends. If my decision has caused you some sadness, I’m sorry, but people have to do what they have to do. Call it a sabbatical. I could use a break for now. Maybe it’s my Jungian call to adventure! Maybe it’s about mid-lifing. There are other aspects of me wishing to find expression somewhere and in ways I have not tried. I would like to do all this while I still have the strength, enthusiasm and the lust for life to gamble with fate.

Hopefully I can come back revived. I am quite sure that given the way things are here, I will be coming back to a place that will be largely unchanged. But the difference is, I will come back with fresher eyes and a rejuvenated spirit to see its many blessings once more, and once again have the enthusiasm to work to move things forward.



  • January 2006
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