I was listening to 101.1, a local radio station in the Philippines, over the Internet. It was playing Original Pilipino Music (OPMs), old songs from my youth, including the OST of The Never Ending Story. I had this sudden urge to write after hearing a soulful rendition by what I suspect was Jessa Zaragoza doing a Sharon revival.
It is very funny to feel so moved by something usually taken for granted because you hear it all the time in your home country. And the association with OPMs is it blaring from the speakers, while stuck in traffic in a crowded jeepney, in a very polluted street, at the very dark of night.
Being abroad usually makes the familiar in an unfamiliar place such a welcome experience. For example, hearing the Top 40 in the Philippines even when you’re thousands of miles away or hearing OPMs that you grew up with and were already alive in your grandfather’s time.
So many things change when you are far away from the place you call home. Any little reminder of it becomes such a big deal and sometimes it moves you to tears. This time it brought a big smile to my face as I was reading The Alchemist, a book by Paulo Coelho, speaking of dreams; the radio was playing in the background and had already rendered “Ikaw ang lahat sa akin”, I’m not really sure what the title is and some song revival by Olgie Alcasid.
For many OFWs, April Boy Regino is a real idol. I heard him in Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates before his X-forming “Di ko kayang tanggapin” days. I was totally amazed. I almost cried!
It is when you take yourself from what you know, from what you grew up with, from things you take for granted, that you realize what they meant for you. They were home.
Being a wanderer though, it’s hard to call one place home - but for me, I really found it in the Philippines. I could identify with the place, I could identify with the culture. I realized it was me. A part of the Philippines had traveled with me to all the places I went to. I left a little part of the country in everywhere I went as I took a little part of my host country to the Philippines. And I will continue to bring a little piece of the Philippines to wherever I go. And I’m glad that I can hear OPMs a thousand miles away from home.