And so I am back in the Philippines, surrounded by familiar and unfamilar faces. It starts in Abu Dhabi airport, as hundreds of Filipinos working in the Middle-East, otherwise known as Overseas Foreign Workers (OFWs), prepare to board the plane. A unique ambience, made of excitement and nostalgia, as the accumulated pain and repressed fears comes closer to the surface. Some of these people have not been home for years. They long to see their relatives, to feel home again, and safe. That feeling is so palpable and moving, even a foreigner like me gets the goose bumps.
Then in Manila, the pervasive sound of laughter bubbles up around me, in malls, in elevators, in meeting rooms, in the street. People keep laughing all the time, about anything, and this is so refreshing. Its a question of attitude, a way of looking at life.
My French friends find it hard to believe I am actually here for work, but how can I ever explain how much work here can at the same time be pleasure? French companies based here know about this unique mix of professionalism and joie de vivre, as can be seen on their facebook page. Go for pink and apple green, ye super-accountants, engineers, managers!
And of course the culinary trip to pampanga with a bunch of ladies and art-buffs, the Beti church, Art-Nouveaux houses lost in the middle of dusty villages and the splendid swamps where birds come from all over Asia. As always the best stories come at sunset, like the great-grand mother who would be taken out of her grave by the villagers once a year for all saint’s day and exposed for a couple of days until she was authorized to go back rotting undergrouond. Now I understand better the crazyness of certain Filipino movies.