notes on home

There’s no place like home, it’s been said — nothing like the smell and feel of your own bed, the warm feeling of being in your own room, and the way the sun filters in through your windows.

There’s nothing like a trip to make you realize and appreciate the little things that define home. And for that matter, nothing like a trip to sort of shake you up and help you value and see, without comparing with others, what your life is really like on all levels.

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A few days back, and already, a number of things have shaken me up — such as:

The traffic. Do we really need wider roads? How about less cars? Or better regulation of car sales and registration? How about more effective implementation of traffic rules?

The way we drive. Do we not stop for pedestrians? Really? And can we all try not to get there first?

The number of our fast-food restaurants. I know the merits of such eating places when you’re in a pinch; I’ve done drive-thrus myself. But there are too many fast-foods and not enough places serving home-grown, home-cooked meals. Too many coffee places, too.

The number and size of our malls. Is this really a source of pride for us? How could we really think this is development, much less progress? Could we try bringing basic services to all parts of the country before anything else? Could we put a little more thought into what our country is turning out to be?

The fact that there has not been justice for the families of those killed in what’s been called the “Ampatuan massacre.” We’re letting them get away with it? Really?

The huge billboard on the highway, promoting a new TV show hosted by a controversial celebrity (who hosted a similar show on another channel), which promises “saya” and “pag-asa.” How can we experience true joy when we pin our hopes on a show featuring dole-outs and a man with no sense of propriety (it seems to me)?

For the sake of having a better shared experience as a community and as a nation, I hope concerns like these can be addressed by our leaders, and considered by all who call themselves Filipino.

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Despite its problems and challenges, I still say, there’s no place like home, whether it’s a physical structure, a community, or a nation. The street where I live may be strewn with potholes, but I felt them forming, know where they are, and have learned to not just to avoid them but to tell the authorities about them.

All this talk of home reminds me of The Wizard of Oz and Charles Small’s beautifully written song, Home, from The Wiz (sung by a very young Diana Ross). Home may be where everything is familiar and known to you, but it may also be a place where things are new and strange. There’s a part in Home that goes, “Living here in this brand new world might be a fantasy / But it’s taught me to love / So it’s real, real to me… ”

The last part tells us that Dorothy has found home — and maybe there’s no need to click her heels three times after all? “And I’ve learned that we must look inside our hearts to find / A world full of love / Like yours, like mine / Like home.”

What a mushy thought. It’s good to be home.

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