Back home and feeling like an outcast

'Living a life free from it all'

By A. Mabini

I am here in the Philippines against conventional wisdom. If I can tell you how many of my loved ones advised against this idea and how many doubts I had, you would wonder why I went ahead. But I did, and if there was ever a decision that I was happy with the possibility of failing, this was it. I would not in a million lifetimes regret this foolish decision.

But here I am, and unlike Air Supply, I am not living a dream. Rather I am living a life free from it all. All except the challenges of language barrier, cultural misunderstandings, and the sadness of an outcast.

I keep going forward, one city at a time, hoping to God that I will find myself or whatever the hell it is I’m looking for. Within the month and a couple of weeks I have been here, I’ve had my heart broken by many things and many people, my hopes found and lost, and my doubts increasing.

My determination to not fail is the fingertip clinging to the edge of survival. I am barely hanging on but I am committed to an idea and I would rather not be anywhere else. Actually a lie, I would rather be somewhere convenient without compromising my motto to live free. But if it is, then there really is nowhere else I’d rather do but struggle and live free.

Beautiful pictures I’ve taken and posted on social networking sites do not tell the whole story. The hundreds of children I’ve passed by on a provincial bus, walking kilometers to and from school. The high school students who sit on jeepney rooftops not because they think they’re cool but because it was a necessity. The shy smiles on the beautiful young Pilipinas who know that their chances of making their paths different from the hopeless path of their parents are very slim, makes me feel ‘hiya’ of the opportunity I have left to chase a dream. The homeless individuals sleeping by the sidewalks I’ve passed on my way to a party makes me ashamed of my luck.

But I move on because this is Manila, the playground for fools, foreigners and pretentious assholes like me on some nights.

I started this piece not knowing where I was going to end up but I suppose this has become a confession of some sort, a confession of my initial failure to find myself. I hope that on the second leg of this trip, I will find a reason and more importantly I will find myself.

A. Mabini was born in Davao City and raised in New York. He’s back in the Philippines hoping to “find myself.” For more of his writing, visit his blog Burning Dog.

One Comment

  1. M. Matthews wrote:

    A wonderful story of young man trying to find one self after coming back to his native Philippines.

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