“Doctor,” she began, “I saw you last year for my stomach troubles.”
She was a teacher at the international school. She was a Chinese national married to an Italian gentleman. They had a daughter in the international school.
“We left last year for the mainland to see if we can live there,” she explained. “We found it very hard. Especially for my daughter. She is half-Chinese, and does not qualify for the benefits of a citizen. Her tuition is excessive. They wanted a quiet girl, but my daughter has her father in her.”
She related the story of how they tried to live in Europe several years ago, but found that their daughter could not fit in. Their values were different. She was treated like an outsider, instead of someone who was half-Italian.
They finally had a dialogue about their lives here in Manila. Here, they are accepted for who they are, even though this country is foreign. Her daughter, a citizen of the world, not fully accepted in either countries of her parents, found a place where she felt loved, accepted, and cared for.
It was a validation for being who we are as Filipinos. Quiet, accepting, uncritical, non-confrontational, smiling, resilient, persevering, and kind.
Yes we have tragedies, typhoons, and the occasional bad stuff (corruption exists precisely because of these qualities). But on an average day, I wouldn’t want to be any place else.
“My stomach is ok,” she concluded. “I just wanted you to know this… and I wanted to be sure that you will be here when I have problems.”