“Exile Country”

Episode 50 – Monday, March 14th, 2016 (7013)

Runa_Islam,_Exile,_1997

In several years, I’m not really happy to live in one place in Santa Rosa, Laguna. This is because of several “distractions” that bother my entire life. I’m not talking about my family (who have their negativity) but the enemies of my life! Some of my enemies are also living in the same community where I’ve lived for many years and in different “world”. That’s why I have been not satisfied to live a “home sweet home” with some “distractions” in the community which is unsafe for me. Gosh!

I and my family have been still living in a subdivision called Golden City (I thought it was almost called “Golden State (Warriors?)”) for two decades from a tiny slum house in Paco, Manila where I was born there. My childhood life was wonderful when I let myself to play on the streets outside with my childhood neighbors. I thought there were my good neighbors in my community until late 1998.

My deaf schoolmate from Philippine School for the Deaf (PSD), when I studied as a fourth grader, invaded my community. I just called her in initials: NB, who was also in fourth grade during that time. I was so surprised when she and her family moved their home to Golden City to live, not just temporarily, but permanently. This made me so furious, and my childhood companionship with my neighbors was ruined because of their “invasion”. I still remember, in 1999, I almost confronted NB’s frat “evil” brother who was biking back and forth thru my house. I took ashamed in front of my childhood neighbors outside after making my “infamous” and “scandalous” act against that “evil” person.

I made more anger when my mother and my elder brother liked NB’s family to be our new neighbor in our community. This was the stupidest decision that they made, to be honest. In fact, during my nephew’s first birthday, my family welcomed them inside my “territory” to eat the birthday blowout. This was so ridiculous! NB and her family invaded, not only my community, but inside my house! My temper was so high during that time. And this was the reason why they became my enemies, not neighbors, because they ruined my childhood life, not only in school where NB and I were both studying, but also to my childhood neighbors.

The disputed “claim” of NB and her family was still remained intact when I was in high school. NB, in other hand, was no longer studying at PSD, I think, because of being “dumb”. I really hate her ugly face every time when I spotted her around (being a tambay, I mean). My bad though, but this is truth. I don’t know why her family decided to not let NB to study at PSD anymore because she’s unable to get high grades and being a deaf person.

NB (and her family) was not the only one to live in the subdivision where I live. There were other deaf friends from PSD who also lived in this place. I don’t really understand why there were some deaf people living in Golden City who would become my schoolmates at PSD. Was it a coincidence? If ever I didn’t study at PSD (because I was so “silent” and nothing to speak clearly that’s why my mother thought I was deaf) or other deaf schools, I would not know them and meet them personally. When my life was moved from so-called “Deaf World” to “Non-Deaf” in July 2005, I have no longer contacted almost all of my deaf friends and enemies including NB despite of her family are still as my “neighbor” (illegitimate neighbor, I mean) up to this date living (I don’t know if they’re still there because I don’t receive any updates from them).

My problems about “deaf” invasion in Golden City were easily forgotten when I was an exchange student in mid-2004.

Living in the United States

003-I was standing over Washington Monument in Washington D.C. (08-10-04)

In August 2004, I fled to the United States as a foreign exchange student. Behind me was the Washington Monument in Washington, D.C. during my first days in the U.S. (Photo courtesy from Tent Archives)

Luckily, I was chosen among 40 high school students from different parts of the country to become exchange students in the U.S. where we would study there for one year. On August 2004, I left my family, my house in Golden City and my home country, the Philippines, to live in a small city of Talledega, Alabama where I stayed with my foster family – the Woolmakers.

My life in the U.S. was so wonderful and memorable. I felt I was totally free from the problems and distractions that I had at home including my enemies (NB and her family) in Golden City. Living in the U.S. was widely considered as my first “exile” country where I could set up my “own” freedom without any distractions from my family and my enemies (of the state). This was the best ever in my entire life to live freedom in the U.S. (I used to live in a dormitory inside Alabama School for the Deaf (ASD) campus during school days) However, this “freedom” was not lasted forever. Walang forever! And because I was only an exchange student studying and living in the U.S. for only a year (about 325 days), I needed to go back home right after the exchange program.

Well, when I came back home in July 2005, I also went back in a reality where there was still the same before I first left a year ago. Distractions were still intact in my life, and these are still there in my life until the present day. My relationship with my family turned from bad into worse because of negativity from my father who was so addicted watching news on TV about dirty politics in the Philippines.

While I closed my ears to avoid hearing my father’s negative comments, I found a place where I could stay for a while and keep away from the negativity of the house.

Tower 5 as my “Exile Country”

In January 2006, when I visited my close classmate in high school (just called him “Angel”) at Phase 2F or literally known as Tower 5 (although there was no tower in the area), I decided to set-up my temporary “freedom” from the distractions of the house. Because of him living in the area, I let myself to be closer to his family in his house rather than my family at home. His family was less pessimistic than mine even watching news on TV. Not only that, I met most of his friends (known as tropa) to become my new friends (or tropa) in the area. I almost always accompanied with them playing basketball and computer games. I also joined their conversations that I really related (because we’re boys, of course).

I really enjoyed my strong friendship with the tropa, and this made me to forget the problems and the negativity of my family at home. I was so happy to be part of them. However, as what I said earlier, my friendship with the tropa didn’t last after almost four years. It meant there’s no forever. Wala talagang forever!

On a cloudy Monday afternoon of November 9, 2009, one of my tropa told me about the younger pretty sister of my former college classmate and crush (just called her “Cutie Chinese”), who also lived in the same subdivision where we lived, that I must avoid her and her family because of non-sense controversy. He had connected to her who was coincidentally his high school schoolmate. So, I was so surprised that he warned me for unknown reason. This unexpected situation made me so panic and reminded me on what I had done to “Cutie Chinese” and her family earlier on that year where her strict mother had an unexpected confrontation against me. However, just few days later, the expectation was already happened again that almost destroyed my reputation and my entire life (and relationship with my family) because of non-sense issue.

After the worst incident in my entire life in Post-Deaf School Era (since 2005), I broke my friendship with the tropa in Tower 5 including my former high school classmate, “Angel”, who also had connection to “Cutie Chinese” because they were elementary classmates, after almost four years because of “betrayal” regarding to the non-sense issue that I was involved. All of them have been excommunicated ever since (no more contacts or communication in any medium).

Looking for Replacement

Months after the worst incident, I was in trauma (state of shock, I mean) where I couldn’t even go outside the house and around the subdivision because of “Cutie Chinese” and her family who were still there. They gathered around freely while I was so scared to go outside (going to school and vice versa) because of them (even until now). That’s why, during that time, my old and negative-minded parents were always warning me when I was going outside. I felt I was under “martial law” where I couldn’t make myself free (even writing my commentaries that I couldn’t make as I had no freedom to express my displeasures (I was grounded)).

Because of these situations during my final year in college, I decided to not enter the main entrance of the subdivision instead I used to go thru a “shortcut” in other subdivision nearby. Since then, the subdivision where I’ve lived for many years has been unsafe for me (in some places where my enemies are located and gathering around in any place). Even until now, almost every time when I go out from home, I’m always in “red alert” because there is possible if I spot one of my enemies in unexpected time. It sounds so uncomfortable for me.

Almost a month after college graduation, I found a temporary job where I could live at the office. It was a travel agency in Mandaluyong owned by a deaf entrepreneur (who coincidentally also studied at PSD where I had been there). During my working days, Monday to Friday, I was able to stay at her office overnight where I couldn’t be able to commute everyday from home to Mandaluyong and vice versa (26 miles apart). So, during the time when I stayed there overnight for four nights, I felt I was free from my enemies in the subdivision and the distractions of my family (I couldn’t make my personal and private time at my bedroom because of my elder brother). The travel agency where I worked became my new “exile country” where I had freedom and stayed away from my enemies. Unfortunately, having “exile country” in Mandaluyong didn’t last long.

I easily gave up my first (unofficial) job in a deaf travel agency because of some irregularities where I worked for non-I.T. jobs (carrying big money to the bank, back and forth around the polluted neighborhood, working as a “security guard”, interpreter to non-deaf clients, and a lot more that were not I.T.-related). I stayed there only less than a month where I got ill on a working day after I walked back and forth, back and forth. This would be my final working day after I filed my resignation. I was upset because there was supposed to have “freedom” for me but didn’t make sense.

For few years, I tried to be safe from the “distractions” in the subdivision, and I easily forgot the nightmare of the past although my enemies living in the same subdivision were still around though. However, thanks to my long distance textmate who became my girlfriend, I was able to set up my temporary freedom in a far place.

Nueva Ecija, my “exile province”

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This is the welcome arch of the province of Nueva Ecija where I went there 15 times (within the span of 3 years, 2012-2015) to visit my long distance girlfriend who studied her college there.

In June 2012, when I had a chance to meet her (as my girlfriend) in person for the first time, I decided to go to Nueva Ecija where she studied as first year college. This was my first time to travel in a far place… alone. And I used to stay overnight in a hotel in Cabanatuan, Nueva Ecija alone for my romantic date with my long distance girlfriend (happened in the next following morning). This was the farthest to stay alone and away from my family (as well as my enemies and distractions in the subdivision) after living alone (in a dorm only) in the United States way back in 2004-2005. I did this for 15 times within three years of long distance relationship to meet my girlfriend for our date.

Located in Central Luzon, the province of Nueva Ecija was one of the places where I could stay there overnight without any distractions or enemies around. It was not just an “exile country” but also the safe place to live for my dream to live there permanently for my future life. I was dreaming that, in few years after I had a [long distance] relationship with my textmate, I would live with her to rise together as one small family in that place. Unfortunately, all things didn’t last forever, and my dream to set up my freedom in Nueva Ecija would be never happened. Again, in other words, Wala talagang forever!

In late June 2015, our long distance relationship was disbanded after three long years (despite our meeting only 15 times) because of complicated reasons (as it had been mentioned mostly in past episodes). And since then, I have never travelled to Nueva Ecija for so long. I have never had my overnight stay there alone to keep away from the distractions (of my family) and my enemies living in the community. These will be never happened again, and the “exile province” that I used to stay was gone. That’s so sad.

Other places that I used to “exile”

In my history, there were no permanent places to stay (or to live) for my “meditation” and silence (to ease my temper, my anger, and even my danger from the enemies). My stay in the United States lasted only a year; setting up my “exile country” in Tower 5 lasted for almost four years (if the non-sense controversy didn’t happen, it would be supposed to be existed up to the present); the “infamous” job that I used to stay during my working days in Mandaluyong fell short only less than a month, and my overnight stay in Nueva Ecija occurred only 15 times within three years. These were only short-term stay not for my long-term stay. However, there are some places within Laguna area that I’m still looking for set-up my freedom as an “exile”.

Across the town in Cabuyao, I use to stay in St. Clare Monastery where there’s a chapel and a nice, silent garden nearby. I have always gone there on Saturdays (or within holidays) during my morning biking exercise. But this is not my “exile country”. This is a sacred place. And I have been there for only a short time to pray and to meditate my new morning. This is also a place where some of my friends from The Feast are gathering for their prayer meetings.

Another place that I used to stay temporarily is a mall. Every other weekend, I let myself to go some malls nearby like Pavilion Mall in Biñan and Festival Mall in Alabang where I play arcade like basketball shooting and walk around without any companion. How sad that I feel so alone and lonely to walk around inside the mall where most of the people have their good bonding time with their families and loved ones including sweethearts, of course. But again, this is NOT a place to set up my “exile”. This is a public place though, and there might be some enemies gathering around the mall (especially in SM City Sta. Rosa where it is not safe for me to gather despite of having The Feast in the area).

However, there’s one only place where I can do myself freely without any distractions and spotting my enemies around. That is my working place in San Pedro.

Since I started to work there as a graphic designer in 2014, this working place is perfect for me because, at first, I have keys to open the office. (Take note: the office where I work has no strict boss around, in fact I have only three officemates working inside during working hours.) So, I have a privilege to use the office anytime even without asking permission (because I’m a certified employee of the company). And second, it has unlimited internet connection. Yeah, unlike at home where there’s no internet connection, I can use the internet anytime during non-office works. That’s why, in every other weekend or non-working days, I can go to the office to use anytime alone and freely without any distractions. And the office is sometimes considered, for me, as my “exile country”.

I feel “freedom” where I can do anything privately; however, this only occurs every other weekend. As in, I can go on Saturdays or Sundays or even within two days but not always. I can’t make my free time during working hours (except idle time) with my three workmates and visited big bosses (in rarest times, probably once or twice per year) because of my job. And within two years working at the office, I have never stayed there overnight (even once) to stay away from the distractions at home and in the community (the office almost has facilities just like at home except bed and cooking items). I’m thinking that the office is considered as my “exile” but not officially because of some occasions that I can stay there only when the sunlight exists (except for working days), and as I know, the surrounding outside the office is not just a safe place for me because it is located in a commercial office building.

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No More “Exile” But Freedom

girl with raised hands and broken chains

For me, I’m thinking that I don’t want to have “exile country” anymore. But I want to have a permanent place to live for my future, setting my independence and my own family, as well. Unfortunately, how can I look for my permanent place to stay and to live forever without having a love life? Remember, as I have mentioned above, I supposed to have a plan to set my own life in Nueva Ecija (or even in other place rather than Santa Rosa, Laguna) with my long distance girlfriend (as my future wife supposed to be) and to have one happy and optimistic family together. But these will be never happened because of our breaking up last June. And my dream was wasted.

It’s so sad for me, despite of my matured age, that I’m still single, loveless and desperate looking for the “Right One”. I so desperately need to set my freedom from the distractions, the enemies, the negativity and the “noisy” environment of the community in Santa Rosa, Laguna. I really want to get out there. I’m so suffered to stay there with my family for many years that make my life unhappy. I’m so sick and tired to be stuck in an old and unsafe place. Please, please, please!!! I’m already old, and I can anything for myself. I need to find someone for my true love. I need to set up my own family. And I need a nice and safe place to live for them, not only temporarily, but permanently! These dreams will make me happy and free and no more distractions! I need FREEDOM. Please pray for my dreams. FREEDOM will be granted with God’s powerful grace!

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