This love month is not only for expressing our love for our expat partners. There are other people and objects of our affection like our home countries. This month we, trailing spouses, talk about our homesickness, our longing for our home countries, which we do love in more ways than one.
I have a love-hate relationship with my home country. I daresay I will never ever pretend. I hate pretending. I won’t praise it to the high heavens and say that the Philippines is the best country in the world or that I have been awfully, depressingly homesick and have been itching to come home at the soonest possible time.
There are days that I cringe, seeing the news feeds littered with corruption then covered up by the oh-so-random why-should-this-even-make-national-headlines local celebrity news. Good thing that I can now “hide” those unwanted newsfeed on Facebook. There are days that I roll my eyes on how we react violently when someone else, whether Filipino or otherwise, points out its flaws, which are actually true, instead of addressing the problem and nipping it in the bud. There are days that I even abhor it for how its potential and bright future is jeopardised by the greedy interest of a few.
I don’t miss the pollution. My family used to live atop a hill, where I woke up each morning to the view of Metro Manila blanketed in a grey haze, where the tops of the skyscrapers were the only edifices in plain sight. I went down there everyday and breathed in all that pollution? Que horror! I don’t miss the traffic, which took me one to, as awful as, two hours to travel a measly 10KM, whether by public transportation or private vehicle (a rarity at that). And I’ve read that the traffic has even worsened. Que horror! I don’t miss the floods that rise with a short drizzle and cause even more traffic. I don’t miss wasting my precious, unredeemable time in transit, unable to pull out my phone, or moreso my laptop, to work in fear of getting mugged. And lose those gadgets I’ve worked and saved up for plus the intangible work docements, photos and what not? Que horror!
I’d rather not deal with those things on a daily basis. Thank you very much. But I will say that Metro Manila is NOT the Philippines. There is still other things to love and miss in my home country.
I miss that 2-3 hours (Or maybe 4-5 when traffic is real bad) out of Metro Manila, I can already feel grains of sand in between my toes, dip my toes into warm sea water, inhale pollution free salty air and dive deep into the pristine waters and gape at the bustling underwater life.
I miss that I do not have to sum up all my courage, forage for hard-to-find, expensive ingredients and struggle to learn how to make my favorite Filipino kakainin like the rainbow colored sapin-sapin, Ilocano tupig, puto Calasiao, bibingka Mandaue, putong Manapla and budbod kabog.
I miss all the fresh tropical fruit. I miss ripe yellow mangoes in the middle of summer are as sweet as honey and succulent as can be. The mangoes here, imported not from the Philippines, just pale in comparison. I miss that I can easily buy (on the street even!) and enjoy sweet bananas in all shapes and sizes possible. Sorry everywhere outside the Philippines, your big ass, story book blemish free yellow bananas are flavorless. I miss the mangosteens, marang, atis, lanzones, star apple, kamias and many other “exotic” fruits, which I am pretty sure is just normal over there.
I miss the accessibility of Connie’s Kitchen gourmet tuyo. Other gourmet tuyo brands available in the Asian supermarket just do not come close, so is not worth The Husband’s hard earned dollars.
Speaking of tuyo, I miss that I can cook it without any judgment or even complaints from the neighbors. Or that I can cook tuyo without worrying about the lingering smell in the apartment that may cost me.
I miss all the pancits I could not possibly make on my own (for now) – pancit luglug / palabok, pancit habhab, pancit puti, pancit molo, pancit miki, pancit sotanghon.
Obviously, I miss the food. I could go on and on and on…
I miss (and am envious) of all those paid non-working holidays. As mentioned before, in the US, we have less than 10 of those for an entire year.
I miss that people understand the importance of having a tabo in the bathroom. I’m sorry America, but using tissues on your bum bum after you do a #2 is not enough. Even the softest, quilted tissue paper cannot guarantee 100% cleanliness.
I miss the affordability of good service, especially that I can get an exceptional 1-hour full body massage with tip for under $10. Oh Lordy, how my body craves one right how. Its been a year since my last massage.
I miss that I can get away with not doing the chores (at least some like ironing or washing the dishes, my not so favorite chores of all time) because I could afford to get help, whether it be a house keeper or a laundry service.
Its really those little things that I miss the most, those that make life a little easier, a little sweeter and a whole lot tastier.
And, of course, I miss the big things like my family and friends, who have seen me grow through the years, literally and figuratively, and who still support me through the miles in virtual interactions and prayers. It is painful to elaborate and go on how much I miss them, but life really does need to move along where I am now. Where I am is my home because if I continue to dwell on the ties that I’ve physically left behind, I may not be able to move forward at all.
I guess my relationship with my home country is true love, like the love one has for family members. You love them and you hate them sometimes (please don’t say you don’t), but you can never stay mad at them forever. All because you are, in the end, tightly weaved into each other’s lives. Because you are family.
The Philippines is my family. And, in as much that I don’t want to admit it – I do miss it a whole lot.
Read more about other trailing spouses’ experiences with homesickness:
- Elizabeth of Secrets of a Trailing Spouse shares how homesickness wasn’t what she expected
- Clara of The Expat Partner’s Survival Guide tells how she has been homesick all her trailing spouse life
- Tala Ocampo writes about the Life that Was in the Philippines and how she would still say yes to the trailing spouse life
- Yuliya of Tiny Expats relives the sensory experience of being back home
- Jenny of My Mommyology explains why we become homesick in the first place