Welcome to June’s #TrailingSpouseStories. This month we explore our national identity and how it shows in our day-to-day expat life. We also reflect on how our itinerant life has influenced the expression of our national identity and how we feel about it.
Last week I had a friend over. We’ve been friends since the 6th grade, sharing the same middle class, Catholic school girl, college graduate and working professionals backgrounds. We’ve gone separate ways as she left the Philippines for New York City, while I stayed behind, then later on left the country for Dubai and the US.
Here we were again, catching up in person after years of sustaining our tried and tested friendship via online channels. Apart from the usual girl talk and I-can’t-believe-we’re-all-grown up stories, the expat life crept into the conversation often, an exchange of notes on the variety of experiences in the big city and the suburbs and in different countries.
Though we’ve been away from our countries for so long, we both were still unabashedly Filipino, holding Philippine passports. We ate Filipino food often (Homemade sisig was our 1st meal) and, sadly, cannot survive too long without white rice. We read, spoke and wrote the language. We shared our expat lives with fellow Filipinos: family, roommates, friends.
But we were definitely not the same Filipinos that we were back home.