A vow to roam the country...
Yes, your PinoyTraveler (that's me) is not at all religious but just the same made a "solemn" vow to roam the Philippines as much as I can and as long as I ever live! This vow was "solemnized" by the fact that this occured during a Sunday mass!
I was a young 19 year old then. Way back then, really!
The 9:30AM mass, the last row (pew) St. Patrick's Catholic Church, Palm Beach Gardens, Florida - as homily was in progress
American Guy: (smiling and with great enthusiasm noticeably inched to get nearer to me and whispered)... "you a Filipino? a Pinoy?"
PinoyTraveler: (also whispering and wondering why the urgency of the question) "yes sir, I am, why?"
AG: It has been like ages since I saw a Filipino. I love Filipinos, the Philippines. In fact I married one! <giggles> You see my wife there in the front pews? You will recognize her, she is the only Filipina there. Very religious like you! Even leaves me behind so she won't be late for the service!
PT: I see, well I'm happy you like the Philippines.
AG: So how is the Philippines? Is everyone okay? Are the politicians really that bad? Have the prices really gone sky-high? Are you here just to visit or are you TNT? Will you be going back soon? How is Cebu? Is it true the city is booming? How about Bohol? Have you seen the dolphins and the whales?
PT: <stunned at the barrage of questions that came in just one breath>.. I have not been to Cebu or Bohol yet sir...
AG: (before PT could even finish his sentence).. it is such a shame you have not been to Cebu! And what are you doing here?
PT: just visiting friends... to tour the area. Am going back to Manila on Wednesday...
AG: Again it is such a shame! What is there to see here? Everything is artificial! We even have a lot of fake grass all over this godforsaken place! You should not be wasting your time and money here. You should see your whole country first before you set out. You know, if you do that you will realize there is so much beauty and culture and nature in the Philippines than anywhere here in the states...
PT: Yes sir, I will do that! It sounds interesting!
AG: <now hissing with a fiery look in his eyes>... The hell you will! Its not just interesting, its life! Its the best place where you could ever live! Promise me you will explore your country first, then come out to the world and brag about it! I envy Filipinos, I envy the Philippines! If I could only marry the whole country, I will. If lightning can strike me now and I wake up a Filipino, I will be the happiest man on earth!
and so on and on... until the mass was over and we were out of the church and the couple invited me for lunch and so on... WOW!
Whatever fervor or whatever resolve was that burning in his heart, I was so intrigued that in my mind I said: oh ok, let me roam my country and see why this big white man seems to be ready to kill to be in it!
Little by little, I am discovering that yes, indeed, my Philippines is it! Really!