Lesson: If funds are available, explore the world. It is a very interesting place, especially the people in it.
With the fare a gift from my son, I left the Philippines on June 11th for the U. S. A. It has been an interesting travel. So why “flowers on my feet?” This phrase has been coming to me because of the beauty of my travels; so I might as well put it to great use. Before the ideas leave my mind to give room for others, I have decided to sit down and take time to share my notes about this incredible travel. I am listing them down below for ease of reading, using the present tense as much as possible. I had posted one or two in my Facebook page, which I will not repeat here–with one exception.
1. Most importantly, my son has been extra generous to me, taking care of my material needs and expenses of my other travels within the U. S. A. One extreme example of such generosity is his suggestion that I get a pedicure and manicure to be paid by him. Aside from the manicure, I got what the salon calls, spa pedicure, where my feet and legs were massaged and pampered. Seeing that my walking shoes do not look comfortable for the walking that I do, he buys me a comfortable pair of shoes, along with socks. (My! I am speechless. I think we have reversed our roles.) Needless to say, I am extremely grateful and feel blessed to the nth power. This is my son, who just keeps on giving to his mom.
2. Having stayed in the Philippines for more than a year and speaking the Filipino national language, Tagalog, and the dialect, “Kapampangan,” I find it strange to be speaking English again! Before I left the Philippines, one of my Filipino friends commented when I first arrived in the the land of my birth, I was speaking English most of the time. Then I got used to speaking the national language and the Kapampangan dialect. And now back to English! That must be confusing for my tongue!
3. During the first early days of driving and walking in New York City, I marvel at the skin colors of people walking around–whites, brown, and black. I ride the subway and hear different languages spoken. Indeed, the city is a melting pot. One Sunday that I walk around, with the sun shining after months of snow, it seems to me that the whole working force of the city is out enjoying the day–in the big Central Park, in restaurants, or just walking around.
4. Adjusting to the new time zone is very strange. Since it is nighttime in the Philippines when it is daytime in the U. S., my body gets mixed up when to sleep and when to wake up. For a while, I am like an owl prowling through the night. Then daytime is for sleeping. I get confused what day it is and whether or not I have had lunch, or breakfast, or dinner. Funny! Of course, after almost a week, my body gets adjusted and goes back to the normal hours of sleeping and waking up.
5. Having seen how hard life is for the average Filipinos–a term used for citizens of the Philippines–I find it comforting and admirable that there is middle class in America. A class that has good jobs that pay enough to be able to live comfortable lives. The average American with a good job can afford to have his/her own house and car and live in a nice neighborhood. I see this most especially in the city of Providence of Rhode Island. This is contrary to the Filipino way where many Filipinos get out of the country and go somewhere else to work in jobs that pay adequate enough for them to be able to support their families. Last I heard, there are about 10 million Filipinos abroad, called Overseas Filipino Workers (OFW), working in many countries of the world. The pay for the Filipinos working in the Philippines leaves much to be desired.
6. Driving around in my son’s car, with him driving, has been a source of comfort. Compare this to the way I travel in the Philippines–taking the buses or jeepneys or tricycles–which sometimes take as long as three hours, in my visits to my loved ones. Driving in America is easy due to the courteous and respectful drivers and the roads that are respectable in conditions. The drive from New York city to Providence, Rhode Island takes us more than two hours. We do not mind the long drive because the scenery is beautiful and the roads are in good shape. Even riding the subways in New York City is a pleasant experience. The trains are clean and quiet, with no radios blurting loud music. They are also efficient and can bring you anywhere in the city.
7. In every city I visit, I find parks. In the places I visit in New York, there are two parks–Central Park and the Riverside Park. These are regularly maintained and offer different kinds of facilities for the residents to enjoy. ( In Providence, Rhode Island, there is a place where people can go walking or running.) There are plenty of trees, plants, and flowers for the enjoyment of everyone. This shows me that America takes care of its citizens.
8. Speaking of America’s taking care of its citizens, my son and I go to Thursday evenings’ outdoor movie, free of charge. People bring their snacks and blankets to sit on. My son brings two folding chairs for us to use. We all bring food to partake. There is also a Saturday mart where business people set up stalls to sell their wares. In the midst of these, there is a group of musicians that entertains the visitors to the market place. Some people dance to the music. Then there is the big waterfire festival, with accompanying music, held in the city of Providence, attended by thousands of people. It seems to me the whole town is out for this evening event. I know that there are even people from out of town who come for this. It is held every Saturday evening during the summer months. Not too far away, there is a place for musicians to play their music and a big area for people to dance. Indeed, this is America, the land of the free and the happy!
9. Oftentimes in the morning, I sit down to meditate and read a spiritual book. I feel peace and contentment enveloping my whole being. I am at peace. I am peace! Thank you, God.
This is all for now. Until the next post about my travels.