“Pauwi Na!”

by Carmelita Cochingco Ballesteros.
October 22, 2010

(Music and Lyrics by Noel Cabangon
From the Album Medjas, 2004)

Pauwi na ako. For good.

I have been an overseas Filipino worker since 2000. I’ve completed a 10-year period of living and working as an ‘alien’ in Taiwan and as a ‘foreign talent’ in Singapore.

While I was working in Taiwan, foreign workers were issued an Alien Registration Certificate or ARC. My nephew, Bon, always teased me about being an ‘alien.’ In Singapore, foreign workers are called ‘foreign talents” and we are issued an employment pass.

“Why are you giving up a good-paying overseas job?” I’ve been asked this question many times ever since I made it known that I’m going home for good.

Noel posing with Carmel before the noontime gig

Here are my answers:
First, when I left to work as an OFW in 2000, it was my intention to go back home. For good. I just didn’t know when.

Second, money isn’t everything. Family and country are more important. When my grandson was seven years old, he told his Daddy:
“Di bale walang bahay. Di bale walang kotse. Basta may pamilya.”

My son was considering an overseas job for himself then, and this was the counsel to him by his young son.

Third, I want to invest time in an earnest relationship with my grandkids. They weren’t born yet when I left the Philippines. I’d go home every now and then, and each time, we’ll have to get re-acquainted.
Fourth, metaphorically speaking, I want to dig in my own backyard and discover the ‘acres of diamonds’ (Russell Conwell, 1890) which have been there all along.

I don’t think there’s a literal ‘acres of diamonds’ in my backyard. In the first place, I don’t have a backyard. I want to go the route of entrepreneurship.

I know that I will need a different set of skills and competencies as a businessperson. I’ve been preparing myself over the years. Most importantly, I will need a different mindset.

Having a job from an employer who gives me a regular paycheck every month is certainly comfortable. But I’d like to stop being an employee, and I’d like to start being my own boss.

I will need a different mindset when I go home. For good.

I have a colleague and friend who’s been insisting that I lay out my plans in black and white, each step of the way. She’s concerned that I might be jobless and penniless. I tell her that God has always provided for me and my family, and He always will.

Last Monday, October 25, Noel Cabangon was featured in a noontime concert in the university where I teach (National Institute of Education, Singapore). He is the singer-songwriter who performed at President Noynoy Aquino’s inauguration at the Rizal Park, Manila on June 30. I went, of course.

He sang nine songs during a one-hour show in the performance room of our music majors. In-between songs, he told us vignettes about himself and his journey as a musician.
Let me share with you the one song which spoke to my heart. It’s the best reason why I’m going home. For good. Here’s the youtube link, in case you want to listen to it.

Ako’y pauwi na sa ating bayan
Lupang sinisinta, bayang sinilangan
Ako’y nananabik na ika’y masilayan
Pagkat malaon din akong nawalay
Sa ating inang bayan

Ang aking dala-dala’y
“Sang maleta ng karanasan
Bitbit ko sa ‘king balikat
Ang binuno sa ibang bayan

Hawak ko sa ‘king kamay
Ang pag-asang inaasam
Na sana’y matupad na rin ang pangarap
Na magandang kinabukasan

Bayan ko ako’y pauwi na
Ako’y sabik na ika’y makasama
Bayan ko ako ay nariyan na
Ating pagsaluhan…

Ang pag-asang dala-dala
Ako’y pauwi na sa aming tahanan
Sa mahal kong asawa, mga anak
at kaibigan
Ako’y nananabik na kayo ay mahagkan
Pagkat tunay ang pangungulila
Dito sa ibang bayan

Ang aking dala-dala’y
‘Sang maleta ng pagmamahal
Bitbit ko sa ‘king balikat
Ang pangakong matibay

Hawak ko sa ‘king kamay
Ang pag-asang inaasam
Na sana’y matupad na rin ang pangarap
Na magandang kinabukasan

Mahal ko ako’y pauwi na
Ako’y sabik na kayo ay makasama
Mahal ko ako ay nariyan na
Ating pagsaluhan ang pag-asang dala-dala

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