So, on a road trip to Porto, my brother, his family, and I had to pass by the town of Sabrosa for work. Sabrosa is the birthplace of Ferdinand Magellan and, it did not escape me: the historicity of a Filipino family visiting the Portuguese sailor who discovered the Philippines for Spain back in the 16th century, and this whole feeling of coming full circle as an individual and as a Filipino.
I had an interesting conversation with my good friends, David and Jennifer Bianco, about not feeling like I belonged anywhere. David felt it strongly, being an American in the Philippines, while Jennifer was more affected because she was half-Filipino and half-American but she grew up in Germany first before growing up in the States and now coming home to the Philippines.
I, on the other hand, shared that I always felt like I never belonged anywhere and it is very different for me because I felt like a Filipino and I knew I was Filipino (having been born and raised here) but just because I looked a bit different and I didn’t speak the language, I was made to feel like I wasn’t Filipino enough for most people. I grew up not fighting or resisting it. I knew where I belonged. That’s what is great about having a wonderful family situation where there is so much love — these things don’t bother you.
I never felt like I belonged anywhere and my parents raised me with a world-view so I wasn’t Filipino in a way where I thought it was not helpful to feel or be Filipino. I liked having a world view and caring about different things and different cultures. I never fought against it. I saw what was good about being a Filipino and held on to that and I resisted what I didn’t think was helpful or beneficial. I also quickly adopted to foreign influences too.
I saw and still see myself as a child of the world. I’m a global child, I think, and react strongly towards a Western ideology.
Being in Sabrosa and seeing the home of Ferdinand Magellan (Fernao de Magalhaes), a sleepy little town with very little activity and hardly any real hustle and bustle, I felt like I finally have come full-circle.
This man, almost 500 years ago, found his way to our shores and discovered us for the Western world. Hundreds of years later, this discovery has turned my country into what it is now and I’m a product of that but at the same time, I’ve also been spat out and kept away from all of it because the randomness of the world has made me a Filipino but not a Filipino, because I don’t speak like one nor do I think like one.
Now, I’m 35 and I’ve come all the way to the house of the man who may have changed the course of my country’s history for good or for bad.
It was a lovely sunny day and it was so early in the morning that the town was practically still asleep on that Friday summer’s morning. My fourteen year old nephew found a flat surface to skate on while my sister-in-law looked for a cafe where she could sit down, have her cappuccino and browse the Internet for news about the world and my brother went to work.
I walked around and tried to get lost as best as I can, but with a town so small, I couldn’t have possibly gone far. It was a very tiny town, like the ones you see in movies or hear about in the city of people who have come from the province hoping for some action and to get away from the simplicity of their homes. I know now what it looks like in a European setting. It looks like Sabrosa.
When my brother was preparing for this trip, he was recommended to have lunch in one of two restaurants, probably the only two of the town. It was so small and quaint that it didn’t even register on my brother’s GPS service and we almost missed it twice.
But we were there and I saw Magellan’s home and for some reason, I can’t shake the feeling that it means something. That means something to me.
It’s about coming full circle, but not just with something about me but something bigger than me. I had this feeling that something just clicked — in a universal sense, in a larger than me sort of way — and I’ve come to terms with the powerful feelings of wanting to move to Portugal since I got here and saw Belem and Sintra in my first few days.
In this sleepy town in the middle of Portugal, seeing the home of the man who discovered my country and opened it to the West, I’ve come to discover that I must now make my journey away from home.
This trip is a holiday. I will return to the Philippines eventually and that’s not what this feeling and this moment is about. I’m an explorer, a traveler as much as I am a writer and an artist. I think both are tightly intertwined.
I am seeing the world. I now must be a part of it. The whole of it. The entirety of it. And I can’t do it from home.