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.
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