Dear Foreign Retiree, Why You Should Retire in My Town?

“Dear Foreign Retiree, Why You Should Retire in My Town?”

Hard works, stress, and nonstop problems are caused by being active in the line of duty. Finally, after many long years of work, a chance to relax for the rest of your life, spending most of the cash you have earned when you are still on the service.
            Most of the people dreamed to have a vacation abroad or even spend the rest of their lives in foreign countries, but I have a question left hanging in my head.  Have you already seen the seven thousand one hundred beautiful islands of the Philippines? Have you experienced how to live in the most interesting provinces of the Philippines? Have you tried to plant a seed in the land where you spent most of your life? If not, why not stay here and spoil yourself to the most delicious food and taste the exotic dishes in different parts of the Philippines? Be captivated by the colorful festivals in different places and be amazed with the eye-catching beauty of the sceneries around the country.
            I myself had been through many places. My father is a soldier, so we as a family always stay together. I was born in Zamboanga City where you can find the colorful Vintas hand-made by the locals in Zamboanga but we just stayed there for a while as I recall I was three or four years old when we have to go to Basilan. You can see the beach not that far from home few walks and you can enjoy the calm breeze of the sea. I was five when my father was assigned in Jolo, Sulu my mother’s hometown. We stayed at the military barracks; we don’t need to go to the market to have a meal because all our favorite vegetables were planted at every backyard. Chickens went running around and the fruits were everywhere. You can feed cows and goats, and have some milk from it. Most of the forests in Jolo are still preserved until today. I find the life there as the most simple life that I have. I was eight years old when we went back to Zamboanga. I recall on the way to our school I could see pineapple plantations where you can see bunch of pineapples harvested every day, taste the mangosteen and marang which can only be found in Mindanao. One can enjoy the stinky smell and delicious taste of the best dried fish ever.  You can walk along the shores and enjoy the waves in the sea. We just stayed there for half a year when my father was needed to report in Manila. We rode on an aircraft made for soldiers and their dependents.  It was quite an experience. We have to stop over at Cebu City where you can find the famous Magellan’s Cross. I have heard that the one displayed there was the original cross that Ferdinand Magellan first brought to the Philippines. It was already sunset when we reached Manila, but we have to travel again for almost five hours to stay at my grandmother’s house in Pangasinan where the Hundred Islands is found. Pangasinan is known for the big fat milkfish, catfish, homemade fish sauce and sweet ripe mangoes. My grandfather and I used to go to the rice fields every morning and pick mangoes. We used to go to the backyard and got bamboo sticks to use for the fixing of the fence and bamboo shoots for our lunch together with kamote tops and grilled milkfish. We always have breakfast cooked by our relatives in Pangasinan and they usually gave food to us before breakfast. Then after six months our family went back to Manila with our father. We stayed here for almost 13 years now and I can say that I have been through many wonderful places here at the Metro. I have been in Laguna when we went for an educational trip in college. We went to UP Los Banos. We visited the Botanical Garden and the beautiful resort at noon. I have experienced staying at Mount Makiling for three days and two nights hiking together with my friends. It was once in a lifetime adventure. We were trained to live life on our own, made our own fire, cooked our own food, built our own tent for our shelter, and learned how to swim. It was not that simple. I was in loved with the delicious buko pie in Laguna. After that we had a family trip in Tagaytay City. We saw the smallest volcano in the world – the Taal Volcano. Afterwards, we had a horseback riding and sightseeing at the park. We have tried harvesting pineapples in the farm. It was a bit tiring but we enjoyed it a lot. On our Philippine History class, we visited Bulacan and we saw the oldest church in the Philippines, the Barasoain Church and went to the Biak na Bato where the KKK led by Andres Bonifacio took cover to ambush the Spanish soldiers. Most of their writings can be traced in the walls of the caves. After a long walk, I enjoyed the cold water flowing at the river and it was so refreshing. We went to take a bath and washed the mud on our clothes on that river. When I was in my second year in college, I joined an educational trip to Pampanga. I have tasted the most delicious food. We enjoyed our breakfast at one of the finest restaurants there. The restaurant was first managed and built by the grandparents and they passed the ownership to current owner’s parents. They served us the tapang kalabaw and it was supposed to be that hard to eat because its meat was not so tender. However, they have done something during the processing where the carabao meat would almost melts on your mouth. I was shocked when they served us stuffed fried frogs. Most of my friends tasted the exotic meal and they told me that it just tasted like chicken, but I did not have the guts to try. Afterwards, the chef showed us how to cook kamaro, a rice field insect, which according to the farmers in Pampanga, was a daily meal. At lunch we went to one of the famous cooks in Pampanga. She served us home cooked vegetable dishes. The vegetables came from her own backyard and it was quite surprising to see that she and her children still lived at her grandparent’s house. It was still in good condition and after eating, we went for a walk and I witnessed how religious the Pampangenos were because in almost every corner of the streets, one can see a church. It was everywhere and they were able to preserve their heritage and culture by applying them in their everyday life. For instance, in a certain university they use Kapampangan language instead of Tagalog or English as a medium of communication. They kept most of their antiques at the museum and even the antique houses were still standing. We also visited the church affected by the lahar flow in Pampanga. It was almost half buried because of the eruption of Mount Pinatubo. Pampanga is known for their longanisa, tapa and many preserved delicious meats. Here in Manila, you can see the Intramuros. It served as a Spanish defense wall during its period, the historical Rizal Park where our national hero Jose Rizal was executed, the Manila Ocean Park, the Bay Walk, the well-known universities here in our country, the Ateneo de Manila formerly known as Ateneo Municipal where Rizal studied, the University of Santo Thomas which is the oldest university in Asia, the University of the Philippines – a well known producer of the most finest scholars. At the Global City Taguig, you can enjoy the nightlife at different bars and restaurants, and even avail your own condo unit. In Makati you can see many hotels, malls and business establishments. In Marikina City where you can find the biggest shoes, you would notice how clean the city is. The Baguio City which is home of the Philippine Military Academy produces the most of the finest soldiers we have. Taste the sweetest strawberries in this summer capital of the Philippines. Witnessing the colorful Panagbenga Festival and of course taking pictures and conversing with the native Igorots are worth of adventure. The Corregidor Island known for its past experiences during the Spanish and American Periods, the white sand beaches of Boracay, the Mayon Volcano in Albay, pili nuts and spicy dishes from Bicol, the tarsiers and Chocolate Hills of Bohol, the mangrove, pearls, and underground river of Palawan, the charming ladies of Iloilo, the beautiful, captivating women and the delicious durian and tuna of Davao City, dolphin show in Subic, the antique houses in Vigan, extreme sports in Camarines Sur – these are just few of the fascinating places you could visit in the Philippines.
            The Philippines has many to offer. Just open your eyes and witness for yourself how many pleasing places we have in our own land. You don’t have to be separated with your relatives and close friends to be in a place you desire the most. You can enjoy more of your savings because you can buy stuff in much cheaper price. Why not go to Baclaran or Divisoria where you can have the stuff mostly at your own price compare to other countries? Here you don’t have to adjust in many changes because you have already got used to the cultures and traditions. Our heroes died in fighting for this land to call it as our own land. Now that we already have the most of the rights to stay here, why do you have to go far places to live? Let us enjoy the essence of being a Filipino. Let’s help one another as we establish a good and reliable system of government that can provide our needs. As a foreign retiree, you can suggest ideas that can help the citizens achieve their goals. Let us be good stewards of our resources. Many foreigners are dying to have a visit or even to stay here in the Philippines and have a living. They are much interested in our homeland while we just take it for granted. We should be the ones who should appreciate the beauty and essence of this land. Many have tried to conquer our Mother Land – Spaniards, the Japanese and Americans – but none of them succeeded because our heroes proved that this country should be united as one in the hands of the Filipinos. Many people had died and suffer to protect this land, why not appreciate it? Try to remember the times where you had fun playing at the beach reminiscing the feeling of being free from any burdens in your childhood experience. Why not stay and watch your family especially your grandchildren grow? Share them the moments that you enjoyed the most. Tell them stories about the wonderful places you’ve been with. Take them to the beautiful parks and nature. You don’t have to be that far to experience heaven on earth. You have many options and chances to enjoy Philippines. Feel the simplicity of life here. Help promote the beauty of Philippines to foreign lands. Encourage and show other people the best of life here at the Philippines. I can guarantee you that there is no other place like Philippines. Around the globe we are known for being hospitable and lovely, so what are you waiting for? We need you here more than anyone else. We do have the most and the greatest features that a country can offer. So I encourage you to stay here and let us enjoy the scenes and the adventures as each day passes. The Philippines is already a heaven; you don’t have to turn away and be on other places to experience pleasure. The Philippines is a Paradise.

This essay was written by Ms. Mae-rizza Sotelo, my student in Rizal’s Life and Works. This piece is our official entry to the 1st PRA National Essay Writing Competition administered by the Philippine Retirement Authority for this year.  

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