Posted by: Leap of Faith | February 14, 2007

And now it’s Jim

My mind has been wandering the whole day. Despite several pending items in my in-box, I have decided to just take it slow today and enjoy my last day of work for this week. My internet connection in the office was, however, not working for most parts of the day. So that was a real bummer.

Anyway, everything is back to normal and I have resumed my new found past time of checking the blogsites of Filipino Celebrities. I know it sounds so “Jologs” to do it but it really is a good way of killing time. Most, if not all, of the sites I went to were well written. If anyone is interested to know the blogsites of my celeb friends (feeling!) just yeller!

During my lurking, I read a nice entry written by Jim Paredes, who migrated to Australia last year. I think this was also published in The Philippine Star so some of you back home may have read it already. In any case, to all of you who are thinking of leaving our country or to those of you who already have (like us), I hope you find this article to be helpful and enlightening.

Sunday, January 21, 2007

Great faith, great doubt, great effort

Humming in my UNIVERSE By Jim Paredes
The Philippine STAR 01/21/2007

Moving to Australia last year was a big undertaking for my family. We had to wait five years to do it. We had already decided to move in 2001 but the cancer episodes and deaths that shook our family prevented us from moving when we wanted to. It’s been 10 months now since we left Manila.

I was watching a TV documentary on SBS-TV here in Sydney about how some Africans spend years and risk everything to cross the border from Morocco to Spain just to make it to Europe. As an immigrant myself, I was on the verge of tears watching how much suffering they had to go through – emotionally, physically and psychologically – to have a shot at a better life. I salute their determination and their stories have raised the benchmark for me on how indomitable the human spirit can be.

I admit that my family was compelled not by economic reasons but by wanderlust to move to Australia. That, and a respite from life as I knew it back in the Philippines plus other reasons not anywhere as dramatic as those of the Africans.

But even so, it was a major undertaking on our part. In 10 months, we have passed through many hoops to get settled in a place of our own. My kids Ala and Mio seem to have gone past the initial depression of feeling lost in a foreign setting and are assimilating to Aussie life quite well. Lydia is doing fine although it is tough for her at times since I an often out of Sydney doing work in the Philippines or elsewhere. Many times, she finds herself alone and feeling the pain of alienation and meaninglessness in suburbia.

Last year, I, too, felt the loneliness when I had to be in Manila for four months instead of being with my family. The irony of it all hits me sometimes in a funny, and at other times, an unfunny way –that I actually do part of my work in the Philippines to support my family abroad!

Looking at our situation, I recall a quote from St. John of the Cross where he describes the three stages of human endeavor: the first stage involves great faith, which then evolves to great doubt, and finally, to great effort. In my own life, I have seen this dynamic happen many times.

When we left Manila, we were all optimistic that we were doing so for the right reasons and that we had the wherewithal to do what we were doing. We believed that we had planned our migration meticulously well and that everything would fall into place. And in many ways, it has. We have come quite far settling in, in the short time that we’ve been here.

It feels good to be on a sure footing. It’s comfortable and reassuring to be in control of things, people and events. It’s nice to know all the facts about something before making decisions and commitments so that things turn out just how we expect them to.

But we all know that life isn’t always as predictable as we wish it would be. No matter how much we plan and second-guess how things will turn out and take steps to make life turn out a certain way, we soon learn that life has this annoying habit of going its own way in spite of our best-laid plans.

For one, we underestimated the loneliness. It can hit you and cut deep to your core – enough to plant great doubts in your mind about the worthiness and even the sanity of this great move you have made.

I’ve heard many immigrants, myself included, ask: “What the hell am I doing here?” I was quite taken aback when a friend who has been living in Sydney for 15 years, has a great job and has acquired five houses, told me that he still occasionally asks himself the same question in spite of his success here.

Planting oneself into a new setting and culture takes time and a lot of planning. You need to know the terrain, choose the best part of the country to settle in, and ensure that you not only survive, but thrive. Australia is a wonderful country. But just like any place outside of home, it can be an alienating experience to be assaulted constantly with a foreign accent and a way of life that is so different from life as you’ve always known it back home. And you may find yourself missing the very reasons that compelled you to leave home – the chaos, inefficiency, uncertainty – in this too predictable and orderly society.

When I get this feeling, I know it’s time to consciously exert great effort to keep my optimism and spirit alive and afloat. This loneliness, too, shall pass. There will be better days ahead. Soon enough, the very foreignness of everything again takes on a magical character that always manages to arouse my sense of wonder.

My son and I were talking the other day and he said that when one gets over the loneliness, living here is actually a good deal. I was happy that he saw it that way. I do not know if I can ever completely immerse myself in Aussie society and culture, enough to become a player here outside the Filipino community. But I know that this isn’t a permanent place for me to live in.

I am learning that migrating is not about attaining a certain status, or achieving something, or even getting to a final destination. As the Zen mantra goes, the journey itself is the destination. Every day is what it’s all about, as I realize that every little gain I make in this new setting is a sprout, a bud, or even a sapling making its presence felt along the road I have chosen to travel on. Paying attention to the right things has its rewards.

It doesn’t really matter which country you have moved to, or whether you even left the Philippines at all. We are all on a journey. As my wife and I are learning, it can get better every day if we choose it to be so.



  1. Very insightful and well-written – Atenista kasi (hahaha!). Kidding aside, his sentiments really echo what we feel at times as we make the most of everyday that we are here in the kingdom. As he says, it can get better if we choose it to be so 🙂 LYP! Mwah!

  2. Very true…Life here or anywhere outside the Philippines can really make you feel lonely, especially when you don’t have any close relatives nearby. Millie!!! Dito ka na rin. hehehe. I certainly agree that happiness is ones choice in whatever state of life you’re in. =)

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