Sunday, July 27, 2008

First Pit Stop

by Nardito Sapon

I have been taking taxis for some years now in my daily morning ride to the office and I have often thought how some cab drivers resembled our barbers back home in certain ways.

It seems as if it is not only their duty to drive us down those well-paved Jurong roads and do what they are being paid for, but also to regale us with some stories, mostly on their work before becoming a cab driver, some familiar, some unheard of and some on how it was in Singapore ages back.

Many of those short glimpses into their lives, including the storytellers themselves, I could no longer remember, but there is one I shall never forget.

This particular cab driver seemed to be a breed apart from the rest. He sounded well-educated and even talked about some cosmic forces regulating the planets’ movements and was a confessed avid watcher of Discovery and Animal Planet cable TV channels.

But it was his chance remark that made me retrace my overseas work-life roadmap. In particular, it made me check where I am right now, not so unlike the x-marked “You Are Here” kiosks found in big shopping malls. Am I truly headed where I want to be? Am I on that strategic path that will lead me back to home?

It was totally unexpected. Upon learning I was a Filipino, he candidly remarked, “What are you doing here? You have a country far richer than Singapore. Here you can find trees, but most do not bear fruit. You can see tall buildings, but there is not enough land.”

I was astounded as he continued, “Go back and find your gold mine in your own country.” He sounded serious. I could only smile and utter a meaningless yeah in return.

I didn’t have a chance to tell him the real score, the true plight of my beloved Philippines, as the cab negotiated the bend to Gul Avenue and abruptly stopped at No. 39. However, I made an unspoken promise to make an effort to heed his call, “gold or no gold.”

There’s more or less 1 in a 15,000 chance, but if ever I get to ride his cab again, I would proudly inform him that a group of compatriots working in various parts of the globe recently launched an internet blog site.

He will not be interested in it, that’s for sure, much less would I be able to convince him that in being part of this group, I have embarked on my journey back home to become an ex-foreign talent. And most importantly, I have found the first pit stop in Barangay OFW.

Copyright © 2008 to Barangay OFW. All rights reserved.


Tony Tokyo Japan said...

Could it be that we both took the same taxi with the same taxicab driver or are they mostly the same? Especially after knowing that I was from Philippines. I still remember that day as I make my way to a job interview to IBM Singapore last March 2007. He asked me the same question "What am I doing here in Singapore wherein my country far more better in resources...??"

But the most astounding comments he left to me was mostly pain after he commented on how corrupt our government was, even naming personalities that as if he has been checking our country status all the time.....
I could not help it but I remained silent..... Gave my taxi fare and left.....

His negative comments gave me the challenge as well, as to why I am here on a foreign land, to earn much more than what I did back home.... No matter how negative he said to frustrate me.... And so I did....

Sometimes, it takes a negative to spark a current out from a positive.......
So be thankful with the negative as well....

Dr. Carmelita C. Ballesteros said...

@tony tokyo japan

I agree that a negative remark could spark a positive chain reaction of reflection and action and reflection. All of us need to reflect on this 'negative' question? What are we doing in a foreign land? Why are we neglecting our own country? Is the bigger pay worth the social costs?

I admire Mr. Nardito Sapon's honesty and courage. He's already taken action; he has already made a decision to go home soon...

Nardito C. Sapon said...

Hi Tony,

Thanks for affirming the experience.

Chances are he is the same cab driver. Or if not, they all are carrying the same message, posing the same challenge and urging us to come to our senses.

You did right by reacting positively to a negative remark.

It is my only hope that someday, all of us OFWs will collectively face up to a greater challenge - that of returning home and doing all we can to help our country regain its lost glory.

God bless po kabayan.

Tony Tokyo Japan said...

Sir Nardito, I can honestly say that I am most agreeing with your intention to go back home; someday, to settle down. As to when, I still do not know. My family's need-to provide, is far more outweighing my wanting to be at our homeland.

It may take a Nardito Sapon to take the inital step to help up our country, or even the whole Barangay OFW or other OFW organizations; but someone has to stand up and do it; rather than point fingers and complain.

God bless us all and our Pilipinas kong mahal.....