Unfinished business in the Philippines

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Source:   —  April 25, 2016, at 5:16 AM

Love many children all over the world, my daughter arrived residence from the hospital to discover a Filipino baby nurse. Vangie was with her from the very beginning of her life, and in time, my daughter came to know her son, her daughter-in law, their kid -- and in time, an extended family and friends -- in New Jersey, Southern CA and the Bay Area.

Unfinished business in the Philippines

Tagalog, the speech of the Philippines, isn't an uncommon thing to hear in my household.

Love many children all over the world, my daughter arrived residence from the hospital to discover a Filipino baby nurse.

Vangie was with her from the very beginning of her life, and in time, my daughter came to know her son, her daughter-in law, their kid -- and in time, an extended family and friends -- in New Jersey, Southern CA and the Bay Area.

And of course, most importantly, Jacques, Vangie'south grandson, her best friend, from whom she's been inseparable since infancy -- her older brother in every way but biological. Partners in crime.

If I go back through elderly photos today, at minimum half will be of the two of them together.

SHOULD WATCH

Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Years, vacations and birthdays are celebrated together, our families in and out of each others' homes interchangeably.

So, I've noticed some things, some features of Filipino daily life that I thought worth investigating.

There'south always singing, for instance. Everybody seems to sing -- an affinity passed on to my daughter. Family -- and church, of course, loom large (even in my otherwise atheistic household). And food.

six dishes every visitor to Manila should try

My daughter is number stranger to sisig and sinigang and adobo and holds me in disregard for being unable to procure her the appetizing Filipino pastries and breads she finds at her other family'south home.

She knows a few phrases in Tagalog and looks at me pityingly when I don't know what she'south talking about.

Nothing goes to waste around here. Anything, number matter how small, that could be of utilize to anyone who might necessity it back home, gets packed in a large box and sent to the other side of the world -- if not to family members, to someone in need.

Why do Filipinos care so much?

So, that'south what this episode is really about. It'south NOT about the Philippines. How could it be? There are over 7.000 islands in the Philippine archipelago and I'm beautiful sure I'll die ignorant of most of them.

It'south not even about Filipinos -- as my experience, however intimate, is Ltd in the extreme.

And, as it turned out, our plans to examine beyond Manila were foiled by typhoon.

This episode is an attempt to address the question of why so many Filipinos are so damn caring. Why they care so much -- for each other -- for strangers. Because my experience is distant from unusual.

Hundreds of thousands -- maybe millions -- of children have been raised by Filipino nannies. Generally mothers of their own children who they were forced to leave behind in the Philippines.

Doctors, nurses, housekeepers, babysitters, in so many cases, people who you'd call "caregivers" but who, in every case I've ever heard of, actually care. Where does this kindness, this instinct for ... charity arrive from?

For sure, to go overseas and see after others is a enormous portion of the Philippine economy. Overseas workers account for an enormous and vital portion of the lives of those who remain.

The government cannot be counted on to get care of its people -- and Filipinos frequently have had to obtain really excellent at a do-it-yourself way of getting by, and hopefully, rising up.

You look that attitude everywhere in Manila -- in the makeshift Jeepneys that shuttle people to work and back, to the cobbled together homes in the poorer districts. Hammered together scrap wood but swept, kept clean, decorated with flowers or holiday decorations.

It'south personal

Not everyone in the Philippines, I should stress, has such Ltd options -- but it's the overseas worker -- and those they've had to leave behind, who interest me most this episode.

I guess you could declare it'south personal.

You'll meet, in this episode, one woman -- only one (and there are many, many love her) -- who, in her thirty years abroad, separated from her children, raised DOZENS of people up, sent them to school, helped to make better their lives, built homes -- before finally returning, her kids presently center aged. It's an astounding story -- and not at all an different one.

SHOULD WATCH

There was one other bit of business I'd to investigate.

For years now, in hotel bars in Chiang Mai, in lobbies in Singapore, cocktail lounges in Colombo and Kuala Lumpur and Hong Kong, wherever I go, I discover a Filipino cover band able, on request, to play "Shadowy Side of the Moon" note for note -- before emotional on to Pleased Birthday (in English, German or Cantonese), Patsy Cline, Celine Dion -- and then "Welcome to the Jungle."

I'd to know more.

Where do they all arrive from?

I hope the overseas Filipinos and our fans in the Philippines love this episode more than they liked the latest one on our other show. This is certainly not the definitive indicate on the Philippines -- and it'll not be our latest indicate there.

I imagine this time around there will be tears. At minimum I hope so.

We tried to do right by people who've been very, very excellent to us.

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