Saturday, October 22, 2016

Land of the brave

I recently visited the US again. I often go to New York to visit my best friend. This time, I also got to visit a dear friend whom I had not seen for over 10 years. He lives with his family in Arizona. What an amazing trip this was.

Having travelled most of my life, I still marvel at the courage of those who have decided to uproot themselves to pursue their dreams, their love or to try out their luck in an unfamiliar land - not their own. It's difficult enough to move around a country but to move from country to country, that's courage.

The story of my friends are all too common. Jam decided to pursue a better life in New York and Luige followed his heart in Arizona. But it doesn't always end well. I'm glad it did for these two friends.

I truly believe that more than the "land of opportunities", the US is the "land of the brave". How many migrants have tried out their luck here with barely nothing in their pockets. I'm talking the first wave of migration and the land expeditions. It must have taken so much courage and hope to start anew.

Having seen my friends thrive in their milieu, I am amazed at the strength and courage they have displayed. Jam, a linguist by training, a teacher by calling, virtually knocked on every school to find work. And when she did, she taught her heart out. I'm sure that Jam has made such a difference in many students' lives. One of them, showing courage. I am in awe of Jam and all that she has had to endure just to get where she is now. She is one of the people that makes the US worth calling the "land of the brave". Now, she is a school director and still making a difference in every child's life she is able to mould with her kind heart. Aside from teaching, Jam also found her love in New York. She is now happily married and owns a home in Long Island. A real success story.

Luige, on the other hand, was a star journalist. He worked for the leading newspaper in the Philippines. He made front page almost every day. He wrote hard-hitting stories and exposés. But he asked himself what he wanted to be remembered for when he died. What would he write on his epitaph. Luige is gifted with the use of words, so it's just apt he is a journalist. His answer was: I did not want to be remembered as writing for a newspaper. He told me that every story is a great love story. His certainly was. He fell in love with Pearl from the very beginning when he saw her in the track oval at their school in the Philippines. Pearl had long beautiful hair and she was smart. Every guy's dream I would say. Luige decided to marry Pearl before she left for her nursing career in Arizona and years later, they were blessed by an equally intelligent little boy - Sol Elijah. Sol means "sun" and he certainly is a shining light in his parents' lives and we were blessed enough to have received some too. Luige didn't have any qualms about joining Pearl but like many established journalists, there were doubts of how to write again and for whom. He ended up working for the Arizona Capitol Times covering the Senate and House of Representatives beat. Now, he is an editor.

Jam and Luige are two of the many success stories that make up the land of the brave. With their courage and strength, they contribute to the richness of the US. It makes it all worthwhile to visit over and over again. Not just to marvel at city sights or the Grand Canyon but to meet these two wonderful people and their equally awesome partners in life.

Thank you for your friendship Jam and Luige. I am truly blessed to have you as my best friends. 

No one else but You

I hear you loud and clear.
No one else but You.
I look but I cannot see
what I am looking for.
And then You show me what I had not seen.
Love is all around me,
in the gifts of those You've sent me.
I see You in all of them.
I see Your smile, Your heart.
I see the kindness and compassion,
I see Your love for me.
And because I have it,
I shall look no more.
It has been You all along.

(Thank you God.)