A domestic vacation like no other........

by Allan

Long before I planned to go back to my real home in Singalong, Metro Manila, I was heavily contemplating as to where to go on vacation as I had initial plans of taking an extended period of time off work.

I had my aspirations to go to either Tokyo, take a European tour through Amsterdam, London, the Vatican, & all sorts of historical places.  All the while, all I wanted to do was experience some sort of peace of mind & experience a totally different culture.  I believe I have & a lot more........

Singalong, Metro Manila is where I would have grew up if my family hadn't immigrated to Toronto, Canada in 1974.  As we don't regularly see in Toronto, Singalong, Manila is a vastly overpopulated neighbourhood filled with high levels of poverty, very young parents, a majority of them not having a high educational attainment, & not very much opportunity to ever improve their lives.  Children run rampant in the very narrow streets where traffic dominates & where we have rules & regulations, all the people in Metro Manila seem not to care about traffic & pedestrian laws as much as we do in Toronto.

All in all, majority of people in my age group (19-40) would have spent their vacations in some resort or at least in the Philippines to exotic places like Cebu or Boracay.  I'm proud to say that I've made one of the best decisions of my life.  Call it a very post university/college trip before going into the working world, but the trip thus far has been a very good decision.

Aside from the obvious about being appreciative of what I already have, I was able, as an adult to experience the Philippines as it is today.  I find it very unfortunate that young adult professionals make a fraction of what the average salary, we as North Americans make.  Example, somebody working as an Administrative Assistant here in Toronto would be making an average salary of $35,000 ( Canadian), here in the Philippines the equilavent in that position would be lucky to make an average of P1,000/day (about $23-$24).  Imagine living on $24/day & you're a professional?

As I've witnessed, most of the products they sell at a lot of Metro Manilas fancy malls can only be afforded by Balikbayans & foreigners.  It's pretty obvious the Malls were built for Balikbayans & foreigners.  As is also the case, most of the products on sale at the Malls were at best tweny percent cheaper (electronics, fragrances, clothes, etc.), so there's not much of a difference.  From that alone, I understood how much more difficult it is for local Filipinos in the Philippines.  I understand now why people leave the country, I understand why there are millions of overseas workers.  The mentality of the majority of the Filipinos, including my relatives was to work abroad.  Can you blame them? ABSOLUTELY NOT!

For myself personally, I'm very happy about my trip, but understanding of the mentality of my people.  It was almost forty years ago my Father decided to leave the barangay he loved so much & immigrate to Canada.  It's a fate that awaits millions of Filipinos every year as they have no choice or else face a lose-lose situation.