By Icoy San Pedro

I ALWAYS find it perplexing whenever I hear some returning residents (who have been away from Davao or the country after so many years) come home, and complain about how backward their country has remained, especially in its local interpretations of Covid-19 restrictions. I have heard one balikbayan do a major rant online about how in the country they have lived for so many years, they have already done away with wearing masks in public. Shocking to her, there still exist ordinances in our country against the non-wearing of masks in public places and they are strictly followed by the locals.

Sadly one might as well include some friends among these people; those who regularly leave the city to visit relatives abroad for a while, then return home griping about how out-of-date our systems are at the airport, how ill-managed the traffic is here and then complain about other aspects in our way of life in general, in comparison to what they’ve seen and experienced outside the country. I can only guess as to the why of all these (and they’re not nice) but perhaps, there must be a social science explanation that could be had somewhere.

In fairness to them, it could all be nothing but a natural reaction whenever one is in awe of foreign shores. I still fondly remember when I and one of my sons first landed in Changi Airport in Singapore years ago. As a little kid then, he had exclaimed loudly at the exit, “Wow! Mindanao of the future!” as we transferred from one terminal by taxi (a Mercedes Benz no less) to another.  But alas, the guys I’m talking about here are no longer kids. In all, a childlike amazement or sentiment may be excusable but theirs is downright irritating.

Has anyone ever wondered how local people who are witness to these tirades feel?  For one, we live here and it’s like, them entering our personal abode and then downright complaining how dirty or how tupsy-turvy things are inside.

Then I wonder if they have ever experienced being complained about or ridiculed during the first time they entered in the foreign land they now reside in. I remember back in the 70s, when I first came to Manila. Jokes about us, people from the provinces were quite common. These jokes always had something to do with how unfamiliar (ergo ignorant) we had been of urban ways and fixtures, such as tall buildings, paved highways, even street rules, food and etiquette. Surely, being the butt of jokes is never funny and this bigotry has always been well-entrenched into modern culture. Unless the countryside literally rose up and ate the city, us probinsyanos just might as well grin and bear it. I recall an elder who once said, when I asked him of this. He flatly said, “Stand your ground” and of course, I knew what that meant. I could say the same for these whiners now, “Stand your ground.”  But that would come with new meaning, “Don’t bother coming, stay where you are.”

Source: Mindanao Times (