It’s my third day in Manila, and it passed by my having my first fight, este “discussion” with my dear sweet brother, ending with us both not sleeping till 430 in the morning and my crying into the night.
Like any fights, it started pretty small.
It was already midnight, and we only had one computer to share. I needed the PC to send some important emails while he had to arrange some pro forma invoice for a client. When supply is less than demand, there’s always bound to be some trouble and there was.
But the issue wasn’t about the PC. It was a factor, but the main reason I was so pissed at him was because he took so long in the bathroom. I was pissed because I had thought that he was talking to a girl whom he was courting in the bathroom when in fact, I wanted to brush my teeth, shower and call it a night. That was from 2:15AM to 2:45AM, and by the time he came out, I was already very pissed.
Harsh words were exchanged. I criticized him for using the bathroom to talk to a girl and then wasting his time on the PC merely surfing and not doing his work. He got mad because he thought I was insulting the girl he was courting and for misunderstanding him.
Basically, like any fights, it was about a series of misunderstandings. And once people start getting irritated, everything goes down the drain. It ended with my little brother loudly shouting, “The fuck!” three times at me. I felt that was so not him and told him so, with him responding that he didn’t want to talk about it, which I felt was rude.
So, we spent the whole hour talking about it. Since the issue was still hot in our minds, heated words were exchanged with me crying my eyes out because I couldn’t believe how my sweet little brother could just swear at me and felt that his swearing was justified because he was mad.
“It’s my defense mechanism,” he defended himself. “When I’m mad, I swear. That’s how I deal with things! If you weren’t being such a pain, I wouldn’t have sworn at you.”
I told him, “I don’t care if you were mad or not. Hearing you swear at me, it hurt. It doesn’t matter whether I pissed you off or anything, but I didn’t deserve that.”
One of the lessons I learned in Taiwan was that it sometimes didn’t matter if what you did was technically wrong or not. Oftentimes, what’s more important is how you made the other person feel.
For him, swearing was just natural to him and it would take him awhile to get rid of the bad habit. Hence, I should understand that this is how he deal with things and accept it.
For me however, hearing him swear at me hurt. Hence, I deserved an apology.
Finally, we both apologized. Me, for being so callous with him with the PC and the girl he was courting. I didn’t meant to hurt him but I did, and I apologize for that. He on the other hand apologized for swearing.
I cried because I had looked forward to this trip so much, only to encounter such experience with merely three days here. As I’ve shared with you before, I’ve been very restless in Taipei a couple of weeks now. I felt like a lost boat with no anchor, with no purpose. I feel that my life is at a crossroad where I’ll soon be deciding where my life will be going and I had hoped that coming home would give me some answers.
I had truly missed home. I really do. After being in Taipei for over three years, I had yearned to finally be with people who unconditionally love me. I am so sick and tired of the superficiality that I am accustomed to in Taipei. I feel that back there, people like me because of my position, instead of who I am. I don’t know how many friends I can truly count on, and one after another, they have disappointed me.
Sigh, forgive me. I’m rambling.
Frankly, I’m just bitter because I had been very disappointed with a guy I considered as a close friend recently. Whereas we used to be close as twins before, I feel that we’ve been drifting apart these past couple of weeks. I look at him and I no longer recognize the guy that I love and care for. And for those who know me, they know how much I value my relationships, and losing a friend devastates me in many ways. I guess, how I feel right now, is a repercussion of my feeling of loss.
Anyway, looking on the bright side, things can’t get any worse than this, right? I mean, how bad can it get?
Sure, my eyes sure do look puffy this morning. They hurt as well because of all the crying. But at least, my brother and I had already made peace with it. We’ve already aired out our respective views and have closed the issue. Today, he accompanied me shopping at Megamall which was a real treat, and later, I’d probably be joining him as he parties with his friends. Should be fun.
Another thing that irks me is that people are turned off by my constant use of English.
I can’t help it!
It’s not my fault that I don’t really get to practice speaking in Tagalog in Taipei. As most of my friends back in Taiwan are either Japanese or from Canada and the United States, I’ve already grown accustomed to speaking in fluent Mandarin or English instead of Tagalog. Truth be told, although I can speak it, it feels a bit weird hearing it roll off my tongue. Often times, I find myself stumbling, looking for the right Tagalog word to use. It just feels so unnatural.
Unfortunately, people back home have a tendency to speak more in Tagalog, peppered with a few English words here and there. Hence, they tend to look badly on my straight English. Because of my Americanized accent, they think that I’m purposely showing off, that “I’m all that,” and look down to those who cannot speak straight English like I do.
What the heck?!
Since when have I been penalized for speaking in straight English?!
Take for example my little brother. He speaks English well, but has a heavy Filipino accent. When we were discussing issues last night, he strongly insisted that I stop speaking in English because I sounded haughty and a know-it-all. But how can I force myself to use straight Tagalog when it just feels so unnatural to do so?
Another instance was when I met up with some of my brother’s friends in a family association meeting. Because I was more accustomed to using English and Mandarin, I was predominantly using both languages. As a result, my brother’s friends tried to keep up by using loose English, Tagalog and Mandarin with me.
But as one guy said, “Hindi ako bagay sa discussion niyo kasi pa-English English pa kayo.” Loosely translated, that meant that he didn’t want to be part of an all-English discussion because he felt his English wasn’t good enough.
Another big sigh.
Truth of the matter is, after Taiwan, all my Fookien (Chinese dialect used in the Philippines) has already gone down the drain. I could understand half of it, but I cannot speak it. Hence, I had to resort to Mandarin, which I am more at home with. As for my English skills, I haven’t really practiced my Tagalog in Taipei because I didn’t have too many friends from the Philippines. Hence, using it now seems weird and I’m not used to it.
Unfortunately, since people here cannot speak in straight Mandarin or English, I come off as a know-it-all. 🙁
Look, it wasn’t my intention to make him or anybody feel left out. But what am I to do? Pretend that I can’t speak Mandarin and English and revert to broken Tagalog and awful Fookien instead?
I can’t really win, can I?
These are just some of the issues I’ve encountered on my stay here.
What’s scary is, it’s only been three days.
It just emphasized the fact that after three years in Taipei, I don’t really belong back home anymore.
Where I am a foreigner in Taipei, I feel like a stranger in Manila as well.
Dusty streets, pollution, dank buildings that need a fresh coat of paint.
People who I don’t really mesh well with because all they have seen is Manila. They’ve been here all their life, and are too close-minded to recognize anyplace else.
Ultimately, where do I belong? Where is home, really?
I guess, this is the question that I need to answer in the next couple of days.
Because I don’t think it’s here or Taipei.
The search begins today…