A month ago, I was in the Philippines for vacation to visit my family and friends who are still there. I go back every 2-3 years when I can. It's something my parents instilled in my brother and I. Even though they don't say it, they prove it with their actions. Never forget where you came from.
My parents never talked much of their past. What they went through growing up in the Philippines, trying to make a living for my brother and I. The experiences they had with the many jobs they held, sometimes in another country as my Mom did when she worked as a Nurse in Saudi Arabia for several years. As I grew older, it was only through family members, our Aunties and Uncles who provided bits and pieces of our parent's story. Just recently during our vacation to the Philippines, my Dad told me that my Mom was pregnant with my brother while she was working in Saudi Arabia. She was told that she could stay and give birth. She would be provided for financially but there would be one condition. If she gave birth in Saudi soil, the child would have to convert to Islam and become a Muslim. Nothing against Muslims out there, but we hold different beliefs. Needless to say, my Mother returned home to give birth to my brother. Within a couple months she was back overseas, back at work.
It was a struggle and they didn't want us to experience the things they went through. Like all parents, they just wanted to provide a better life for their children.
We immigrated to the United States in 1990. My brother was 4 and I was 7 years old. We moved a lot our first 3-4 years here. We lived with my Aunt at first. I remember my cousin, used to dress us up and sometimes let us borrow some clothes. The problem was my cousin was a girl. I wore her shoes once, not thinking much about it. I was just happy I had new pairs of shoes on my feet. Some of the kids made fun of me that day, but I didn't care. They were Nike's, man.
Back to the lecture at hand, my parents always made it a priority to come back every 2 or 3 years to the Philippines. It was great, but I always wondered why they never really travelled within the country? Why didn’t they visit one of the 7,000 plus islands in the Philippines like most tourist do? Majority of the time they just stayed at home. They stayed close to the town, the community they grew up in. They talked and mingled with the elders, Aunties and Uncles, my cousins who were growing up and starting their own families. They threw parties, held games, and gave away food, clothes and money. If a family member or close friend needed help in any way, they were there for them in any way they could. They just gave back.
All they wanted to do was to give back. To give back to those who were integral parts of their lives. Never forget where you come from and never forget those who were there for you in your time of need.
Last month, I was able to finally give back. Give back to those who continually show nothing but love to my family. In only four days, we came together as a community to put together our first ever 5k run/walk, along with a medical mission where we provided health education, blood pressure and sugar checks. It was great to see family and friends coming together in a short amount of time to make this special event possible. I’m truly grateful to the volunteers and to all those who attended.
Thank you to my parents for teaching us not with their words, but with their actions.
“Whenever you possibly can, do good to those that need it.” – Proverbs 3:27 TEV
My parents are now retired and are back in California. My Mom recently retired after 20 plus years as a Registered Nurse. They both will be starting an assisted living care company in the next year. They plan on going back to the Philippines in a year or two.