Saturday, September 12, 2015

Double Diaspora

8:32 AM

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Culture shock is something you never expect to hit you when you're in your home country. 

Diaspora is a word we’re all too familiar with, given the continuous mass emigration the Philippines has been facing for a long time. Filipinos go and go (and leave you hanging on them like a yo-yo), and a lot of them live abroad permanently. Sudden Pinoy food cravings and not enough people understanding halo-halo (how do you even describe halo-halo? Purple yam with jelly, beans, ice and milk and stuff?) make the Philippines easy to miss, but eventually Filipinos settle down and find somewhere to buy halo-halo, or even make their own bowl of this glorious dessert if they’re hardcore.

What about authentic halo-halo? So what if Filipinos created homes abroad? They could always come back to the Philippines, even for a bit. Frankly speaking, coming back home isn’t as easy as it sounds.

Suppose you leave the Philippines to live anywhere else (your pick, as long as it isn’t a galaxy far, far away). Perhaps you’re studying in your dream school, or you landed that job you always wanted. On Friday nights, you hang out with your new group of friends who take you everywhere in this new place. After some time, you’ve finally settled down and grow comfortable in a country that doesn’t feel so foreign anymore.

Of course, you miss the Philippines terribly, so you look for Filipino stores and restaurants to visit when you’re feeling a little nostalgic, and then buy a jar of Stick-O for you to snack on when you watch On The Wings Of Love (or whatever you want, really). Something catches your attention and boom, a blast from the past pulls you back into the Philippines. You create a list of things you definitely have to do when you get back. Occasionally, you picture what your life would be like if you were still in the Philippines, but force yourself to step out of your imagination.

Now you fly back to the Philippines, having spent so much time away from the country. In fact, you were away from the Philippines for so long it doesn’t feel like the Philippines you left behind. For some reason, a country full of Filipinos speaking Tagalog feels strange, foreign even. You invite your friends to gather at your favorite after-school cafe, who then tell you an SM condominium now stands in its place. You want to ride a classic Filipino jeep, but instead you see electric jeepneys moving through the streets. Thinking of grabbing some food? In a surprising turn of events, the government stopped Jollibee from selling their prized Chicken Joy (BLASPHEMY. How dare they call themselves the leaders of the nation!?). Your old home doesn’t make sense anymore.

That imaginary reverse culture shock you felt is the result of a little something called double diaspora. A person experiences this after being displaced for a second time. In this case, you feeling like a foreigner in your home country is your second displacement, which shocks you more than a Pikachu electrocuting you in the rain. The sense of belonging you had in the Philippines was lost after your return because of contradicting images of the past and the present. Awtsu, di ba?

While people are away from their home country, history intervenes. In the scenario mentioned earlier the land previously occupied by that cafe, along with other establishments in the area, was bought by SM. Jeeps are upgraded in an effort to go green. As for Jollibee… let’s not go there. For better or worse, the country changes all the time. If you’re not witnessing history happen, you will be displaced. Unsurprisingly, the second leg has a larger psychological impact on the person experiencing it, considering how reality of now can easily shatter the reality of what used to be.

We often replay the past in our heads and look forward to the future, but the present is capable of offering as much joys and riches as both the past and future. Today will be gone the moment the clock strikes twelve to mark the beginning of another day. If you’re in the Philippines, orayt, rock n’ roll to da world (I’m sorry, I had to)! Whether you choose to leave or stay, learn to really live in the Philippines if you don’t already. Savor the taste of classic Pinoy barbecue, because western barbecue equals ribs, sausages and burgers, and you won’t find them on sticks. Head up the mountains or jump into crystal clear waters, because there are prettier places outside of Manila. The Philippines has tons of hidden and not-so-hidden treasures, and you never know when you’ll have to say goodbye to Chicken Joy.

Article by Andie
Art by Sean
Science has been Andie’s thing since she was four (she once thought the Milky Way was the gateway to heaven). She doesn’t mind being called a geek—because it’s obviously true—and is now a physicist in the making. She believes her puns, jokes and pick-up lines are amazing, even if everyone else around her doesn’t. Andie constantly thirsts for adventure, and is ready to give almost anything a try.

Sean is a 15 year old muggle-born who is proud to say that he is perfectly abnormal, thank you very much. Peculiar in many ways, he is a far cry from that common stereotyped teenager.  He has a great passion for art, and would love to do nothing more than making collages and other creative thingamajigs. 


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