A recent trip to Singapore with my husband earned us countless but nameless friends.
As Tony and I leisurely roamed the streets, visited interesting spots, and dined in restaurants of the world’s only island-city state, he with his cane and I with my scarf, we idly talked about what we didn’t see the last time we were there.
That’s when it happened.
Filipinos within hearing distance (shoppers, idlers, waiters, salespeople) smiled, came closer, and like old friends, engaged us in conversations about their family and why they came to Singapore. They asked which part of the Philippines we are from and for how long was our visit there.
What they didn’t ask were our names, neither did we ask theirs—perhaps mutually thinking our paths would never cross again.
The Filipino diaspora, which has transported our countrymen to probably all parts of the world, cannot—and will not—sublimate one’s longing for home. Talking to someone who speaks the same language in a foreign land somehow makes home a little closer.
I liken these shop talks with these strangers-turned-friends to grace thrown in, like a spice in a brew that perks up what would have been a flat and bland face-off between two people who have had these same-old, same-old exchanges for over four decades.
There are approximately 200,000 Filipinos working and residing in Singapore today. What a blessing for Tony and me to have befriended a fraction of them!