This editorial piece was written to introduce the April/May 2006 issue of PINOYexpats, which I compiled and edited. The theme was ‘Homeward Bound’.
As expatriates, our perspective is inescapably coloured by memories of home. The stories in this issue of PINOYexpats explore the myriad ways in which we find ourselves bound to the Philippines, the home of our hearts.
Nowhere is this more evident than in the work of our PINOYexpat of the Month, Larilyn Sanchez, co-director of the award-winning short film, Balikbayan. With the Philippines—and the Filipino—as her muse, Larilyn gives us an insight on what inspires her work and why expats love to send ramen noodles home.
Indeed, the not-so-humble Balikbayan Box is an expat icon. We’re polling expats to see what you’re hiding at the bottom of yours. How strange this custom may seem to foreigners! Simon’s observations about his Filipina wife’s preparation for a trip home captures the excitement, mayhem and sometimes utter confusion of travelling with a balikbayan.
Meeya counts the cost of coming home and reminds us that the currency of the heart cannot easily be converted to dollars and cents. Of course, dollars (or francs, as the case may be) work to our favour when we partake of the joys of shopping in Manila.
If this leaves you feeling guilty, don’t be. Alexander Lacson, author of 12 Little Things Every Filipino Can Do to Help Our Country, provides 10 tips on how we expats can help ‘our’ Philippines and number one on the list is to spend your foreign currency back home. If you’ve always bemoaned your inability to help our kababayans back home, here’s your chance!
Coming home is more than just a vacation, a shopping experience, and a drain on our finances, as illustrated by three narratives from very different types of expats. Remember your first trip home? How about the relief of returning? And do you ever wonder about those who have stayed behind?
For some people, ‘coming home’ is not just a stopover—it’s a destination. (Which begs the obvious question: Where will you live?) For Alex Lacson, his experiences abroad fuelled him with the desire to promote change back home. For RJ Rosales, coming home posed a different set of challenges from being an expat in Australia.
Amidst all this, we sometimes forget the legacy we leave behind for our children. As much as we try to instill in them a sense of pride in their heritage, they often face a different kind of struggle in trying to understand what it means to be a Filipino. Our featured site, Tagalog On Site, provides a unique way for this next generation to discover their cultural identity.
And if these matters are slightly too weighty, leave it to Junnie to provides us with an entirely different yet compelling perspective on the journey home. How refreshing it is to rediscover our homelands incomparable character and, away from the hustle and bustle of the city, its natural beauty.
These stories and pictures remind us that the journey home is as much about our personal fulfilment as it is about pasalubong. We hope you enjoy this issue of PINOYexpats as we try to bring your hearts just that little bit closer to home.
This editorial accompanied the April/May 2006 issue of PINOYexpats, an e-zine for Filipino expatriates. The original piece included links to all the articles, which are no longer online. Where I could, I’ve tried to link to some of the people mentioned.