Tuesday, April 9, 2013
(with the City of Swan Mayor, Charlie Zannino,
who swore as in as Australian Citizens)
Excitement was building up towards the date: 9th of April, the day that I will officially be sworn in as an Australian citizen, along with my two girls. It is a special day, I thought. So, me and the girls made a whole lot of effort to look our best.
We have been anticipating this day for the last four years, so to say I am excited is an understatement. For some reason ever since I set foot here, I feel at home. I want to live in Australia for good. But when the day came to swear in, along was a striking sense of finality that I now have to relinquish my Philippine citizenship. Yes, I know I can acquire dual-citizenship. But I find this Australian citizenship ‘thingi’ deeply unsettling.
I had asked my second-born son to drive us to the venue as I was a bit stressed out as we were running late. As I walked into the venue, I felt tears welling up. In my mind, I felt like turning my back and ran away. My hands were clammy and sweaty, and my feet, wabbly. I assured myself that I was not going to cry. Before the main ceremony began was a choir of elementary kids from my village in Ellenbrook singing some familiar Australian songs I only hear at school programs and at the local radio.
The simple ceremony began with an introduction of the City of Swan District Officials. Followed by a short speech by one of the officers who was previously a naturalized citizen from Italy in the late 1950’s. He was recounting his sentiments and something from that speech resonated with me and helped me reconcile my inner turmoil.
I could see clearly that my love for the Philippines is likened to what one feels for a parent or parents? Without them, I am not borne into this world. I owe them my life and I will fight for them! I feel a strong sense of responsibility for them. That is what I feel when I think of my home country, the Philippines. Yes and true, there’s pollution, poverty, crime, political unrest, among others, but that doesn’t discourage me nor does it change how I feel about my beloved country. Had I not been exposed to all of this, I would never have appreciated what I have now. I choose the Philippines for its colors, exuberance, resilience, culture, spirituality, and most of all, relationships.
Australia, on the other hand, is like the love you feel for a partner or spouse. You marry this person and choose to commit to spend the rest of your life with. God brought us here. Australia is our portion, our land of inheritance, a land that opened its doors of unlimited possibilities and opportunities I would have never dreamed of.
As I swore in with my right hand on the Holy Scriptures, there was sadness in my heart but I was happy! Is there such a thing as ‘joyful sadness’?
I am Filipino by descent, The Philippines is the archipelago of my affections. Australia is where I am now and it is where I want to be.
They say, ‘home is where the heart is’. I embrace you, Australia. You have my heart. I am committed to serve and honor you, and I will partner with you. Thank you for looking after me and my family.
Thank you, Lord, for Australia.
Thank you, dear Australia. The land of dreams and possibilities!