I’ve just finished speaking to Nanay over the phone. The call summary of my mobile phone read 54:36 when we ended our conversation. A lengthy chat like this is only happening once a month, or luckily, every 3 weeks. It’s not practical for me to ring and talk to her weekly (except for emergency situations, of course) considering the cost of an international call from Australia to the Philippines. A daily exchange of short message service (SMS) is enough for us to update ourselves with each other’s activities, achievements and anxieties.
Nanay was actually watching the evening news on the national television channel when I rang, and as compliance to my request, she instantly turned the TV off. It’s not that I don’t want her to watch the news, but because the sound was very disturbing as it was actually a noise when my ears started to capture it over the telephone line.
“The news are not really very good,” my mum said, “it doesn’t matter if you interrupted our viewing with your call.” She enumerated the headlines and issues for the day: the bombing and the battle of the rebel troops with the military in our province, the GRP and the MILF peace process, the oil price and the protests of the concerned groups, the charter change and the opposing teams, the justices and the alleged bribery case in the GSIS-Meralco issues, and many more. I just can’t stop my mum from mentioning these things earlier, as a respect, and tell her that tomorrow morning I’ll be updated about these things through my Australian-based source of Filipino news.
Aside from the national news, financial problems, personal matters and family worries were as well discussed. [Don’t be bothered, I’ll not reveal it because it is classified and it is not my issue here.] It’s good to have updates from my loved ones back home. I can compare and contrast, and finally realize the situations of both countries which are very important to me. While the Philippine media is very busy presenting issues regarding those very critical national concerns, Australian news this evening was mainly focussed on how their Olympic athletes fight for their 5th gold medal and showed how their swimmers established another world record in the Beijing Games. My favourite Australian current affair show tackled issues on how they can help save the Murray River and Australia’s plans to combat climate change.
Upon hearing all the news (including our family problems) back home, my thoughts of giving up this job as a chook-minder (in this driest state in the driest continent in the world) has been offset. Perhaps it is good to stay here in S.A. and happily pick up the daily mortalities inside the sheds and drive the farm tractor to bury those decomposing dead birds by myself; or start putting on a pair of earplugs in my ears and enjoy shearing the thick, tall grasses in the farm perimeter using the auto-mechanical slasher. I admit that being a poultry farm worker is not easy but packing up my things and rushing back home is not a very good decision at the moment (the detailed reasons? That's another story).
Now back to my phone conversation with Nanay... As we shared our stories, my 3-year old nephew—RJ, was grabbing the mobile phone from my mum, screaming, “ako man!” (me too!), which means he wanted to speak to me, as well. His grandma allowed him to.
“Daddy, bakal eroplano nga nagakamang kag nagalupad, kotse, kag bag ko nga may karito ha...” (Daddy, please buy me an airplane that crawls and soars, a car and a bag with a wheel...)
I instantly answered, “Yes, I will,” because I know that with his young, innocent mind I could surely satisfy his countless fantasies in this world!
But I suddenly started to think about tomorrow, how about if a growing RJ will soon ask for something about the Real World: to give him peace and harmony, a government with integrity, food security and a happy family?! Can I buy and give him at least one of these? I wept.