The Craziness Of It All
I have yearned to return to the Philippines since coming back to the U.S. from that land in 2004. I only took my newborn (4/9/03) FilAm(Filipino/American) daughter and my Filipino wife so they could meet my parents who were both in their seventies. Dad is now eighty-five, but Mom passed away in 2010 and that’s too bad because my mom and my daughter were becoming close, despite the their age gap.
I had made three previous trips to those islands; my first journey to their land was in 1998. I still recall stepping outside of the airport that first time and inhaling chunks of the polluted air, but I thought the reason was because of the congested traffic picking up and dropping off and because of the confined, on three sides, waiting area. And there was no wind to blow the stench away.
The only thing I knew of the Philippines is what I’d been told by a trusted friend, what I’d read at the library and on the computer in preparation for the trip. It was a land of friendly people, the Philippines, “Land of Smiles” .
I did have doubts about going that first time, mainly because of my disability. The permanent disability is a TBI or traumatic brain injury and all parts of my body were affected, you name it…slow thought processing, right-side partial paralysis, nonexistent dexterity, balance, coördination, speech impediments. The doctors even told my first wife that I would be a vegetable if I lived. But I am far from being atrophied or vegetable like.
I chose to go to the Philippines instead of another foreign land mainly because their generous monetary exchange rate would boost my lowly income from disability insurance. Another deciding factor was that most Filipinos spoke English (third largest English-speaking (per capita) country in the world). However, some did not understand what they said so it would become frustrating to me occasionally.
I took that initial trip and my disability proved itself not to be a problem and that was good because another reason for going there was to receive affordable therapy. I was unable to get therapy in the U.S. (unless I were to go on welfare and I refuse to depend on that!) and the therapy I had there was wonderful, though not progressive.
That Philippine therapy was the same as what I received in the U.S. five years earlier but at a higher cost in America. In the U.S. my co-pay was a third of my entire monthly income; I realized that could not be sustained for another month and that cost was through Medicare, supposedly inexpensive. In America, the cost was too high for one visit per week. In the land of beautiful ocean fronts, Coconut Trees, courteous, smiling people, wonderful foods and entertainment, the fun but respectful physical therapists came to the townhouse where I rented a room, for my sessions. The country’s labor force is exceptional… there was no need for going to the clinic or hospital for my twice weekly sessions with two Pilipino therapists who were always smiling.
There was one magnificent difference, for me anyway, and that was instead of a boring walk on the treadmill or pedaling the stationary wheel which they always brought with them… the lovely and pretty therapists accompanied me as I walked on the grassy knoll towards the sandy beach. That way the ladies could measure my walking on different surfaces and not always on the smooth belt type of surface that was neither rough nor bumpy nor like real life.