Sunday, 10 February 2013

Just another JUAN IN EU

I am guilty. I have drawn myself to utmost exhaustion that I have almost forgotten this blog (last blog: 13 July 2012). Nonetheless, throughout this absence, the earth still revolves on the same orbit  , most adults still need to work to earn money and Saturday still precedes Sunday. But Oh! There's one big thing. The world became more united through one common denominator – GANGNAM STYLE!

JK Rowling also had a run for her money this January 2013 – Harry Potter sales were overtaken by one book – JUAN IN EU (Don't quote me on this! Haha). It is a collection of inspiring stories of Filipinos in Europe. It is mostly composed of successful entrepreneurs, world-class chefs, award-winning professionals, international models and singers {Madonna Decena (Britain's got Talent finalist) and Vincent Bueno (Austria's got Talent grand winner)} and … ahmmmm.. Me?!? Really. 

I was first approached by Mr. Albert Jaru, former boss of TFC and now works for Western Union (his story was also featured in the book). He sent me a message that he is compiling a series of short stories and he wanted me to be a part of it. My first impression was WHY ME?!?!? And my second big question was WHY ME AGAIN?!? I do not have any inspiring stories to tell. Moreover, I do not consider myself as a successful individual nor have I been a propelling influence to change other people's lives.

I am not really sure on why had he shown particular interest in my story. Perhaps, he remembered the sad story I have told him of a young guy who was so lost that he almost killed himself. That guy was me. It was during those troubled times that I have met him.  I worked part-time for TFC (Barrio Fiesta 2011) to keep my sanity and has been given special tasks such as touring Filipino celebrities in London (you could check out my blog regarding KC Concepcion's tour) and assembling the stage that would be used for the said event. 

Either way, I was thrown into a burrow of ambiguity. He gave me a certain deadline but I would be working consecutive night shifts prior to that date. I have no story to tell. I have no time to write. I am not a person worthy to be a source of inspiration. But hey, Mr. Jaru has believed in me. Maybe somehow, I should believe in myself. And so, during my one hour break in my night shift, a story has been told.  Just to reiterate, it is not a success story but it is a story hopefully would be worth-reading. 

I am sure that this article would illicit mixed reactions from its readers. I am not even sure what my own family would think about it. But it is a story of failure and how one man can choose to change his life – destructively or otherwise. After all, the book does not only celebrate a Filipino's success but also his failures and his capability to rise above it. Because in a nutshell, I am only just one of them. Just another Juan in Europe. 

Here is a copy of the article published and is available in some Filipino stores across Europe.



It’s not a life I would have chosen for myself. 

Ironically, I am thankful for every ounce of blessing that has come my way and the person that I have become. Buhay Overseas Filipino Worker, Buhay Abroad. Nobody has ever said it would be easy. But reality hits you like a bullet in the eye and the sheer force of being isolated from your family and your home country has never been so challenging. 

I came to London in 2006 to join my Filipino partner who works as a nurse in this part of the world. We were madly in love – and words could not even define the intensity of our relationship. I have the most amazing partner and he made the whole process a lot easier for me to adjust living here in the UK. There was not a gray cloud on sight and everything makes perfect sense. And yes, at that conjecture, I was living my own European dream, our own European dream. 

Until 2010, I fell in a trap so deep that it has broken everything apart. The dilemma had just begun. A real life teleserye was about to be disclosed.

I fell in love with someone else – he is a Filipino writer based in the Philippines. It was wrong. It was unfair. It was totally inappropriate. But there are things beyond our control.  And I found myself helplessly in love again – but with a different person. It was a force stronger than me – like Niagara Falls or something. I could only succumb to that power. But to make matters worse, I have chosen the writer over the person who had done nothing but to give the whole world to me. I have broken up with my partner. I chose to live alone and had commenced a long-distance affair with the anonymous writer. It was unplanned and it was a result of a very impulsive decision.

As expected, our set of friends was extremely furious at the course of action I have taken. I have received hate mails, even death threats. I have messages like, “Wag lang kitang makikita sa central London at bubugbugin kita. Bubuhusan ko ng asido mukha mo!”. As a result, I was frightened to go out in public. I always sneak in under the radar, travel during off-peak hours and wear hoodies in an attempt to avoid being a human target.. I have no friends – they have all turned their back at me. I have been called by every other name imaginable – cheater, user, and a selfish a**hole. To add fuel to fire, I found myself all alone on a foreign land with no one to turn to. I am in the midst of breaking down… I have broken down.

But the more pressing issue is that I am financially struggling. Even money has turned its back on me. The salary from my hospital would not be in my bank account until the end of the month. And even then, it was not enough to cover my expenses. I was literally homeless for a while and had sought shelter from some people I barely knew but were kind enough to lend me a space in their homes. I was a nomad. I leapt from one place to another. I was struggling to make ends meet. I could not afford a deposit or a down payment either. I have no place to live. There was even a point where all the money that I have is down to the last few pennies in my pocket. I could not forget the time when I was in a food shop and I was praying to God that my coins would be enough to buy a £2 loaf of bread.  I was sobbing my way out of that shop and every night, I cried myself to sleep.

I have thought of suicide several times but I have spared a thought of my family who depends on me to survive in Bulacan. They were totally oblivious of the struggles that I am facing. But I have chosen this and this is my own battle now. In due course, I was forced to seek medical help and I have started to take some anti-depressants. It has worked somehow. I have learned to drift away from my suicidal tendencies. I was also offered an accommodation at my workplace since my colleagues have realized my plight. 

Through it all, the lover from the Philippines have been a portal of strength. But what I have feared all along has transpired. He has been cheating on me. The “karma” principle has never been so veritable. I was torn into pieces. And the face of suicide has re-appeared once again. I have been left with no choice but to break up with him. Two failed relationships, one devastated 27 year old man. I was alone now – ALONE in every sense of the word.

The next few months have just been a series of nonchalant existence. I have worked 6 days a week to cover up mounting financial cost of living in London and to cover up my depression. It was dark, and perhaps, the darkest part of my life. The sadness was truly palpable and every fiber of my being has lost hope. 
But I needed to carry on. My family depends on me and that every single time I feel like giving up – I thought of them to alleviate my worries. A man by the name of Ambrose Redman has quoted that “courage is not the absence of fear, but rather the judgement that some things are more important than fear.” My family is more important to me than my own struggles. They are the pillars to which I stand upon. 

I diverted my attention to prayer instead. And so I prayed. I prayed so hard that it shook me to my very core. A bible verse has said “Be not afraid; for I am with you always”. My belief system has been utterly battered but a part of me is hopeful that my faith will save me, one way or another. And it has. 

I continued to believe in HIM and He answered my prayers. I consequently find comfort on a new set of friends who have accepted to me for the person that I am. I have learned to acknowledge my flaws and deficiencies. I asked for forgiveness from all the people that I have hurt in the past especially my partner who has loved me from the very start. He was God’s blessing to me – he was always there. In fact, he never left at all despite my failures. Inevitably, he has welcomed me again with open arms and we were back in each other’s arms. We got back together and the world is a better place once again. We have now been together for eight years and is getting stronger. We are looking forward to buying our very own apartment next month and have been both successful in our respective careers.

It has been said that what breaks us make us stronger and that experiences are the best teachers. The whole process has allowed me to reassess my priorities and ascertain what really matters in life. I believe that my courage to stand up despite all the tribulations has allowed me to become a better individual. Our mistakes form part of our humanity but it does not define who we are. It does not shape our fate but rather we could use it to our own advantage.  

I loved. I lost. I have loved again. I have managed to rewrite my own fairy tale ending. In a world of scepticism and biased judgement, I know we will defy all odds and prove to everyone that happy-ever-after do exist, even in a foreign land. We just need to have faith and to believe. 

Ninoval Roque hails from Bulacan. He moved to the UK after studying at the University of Santo Tomas in Manila and Our Lady of Fatima University in Valenzuela. With a keen interest in writing and the media, he runs his own blog called “Ramblings of my Mind”. He lives in London with his partner, where they both work as a nurse. 

1 comment:

  1. Real friends stick with us during the lowest moments of our lives... it was good that you found someone who believed in you despite the heartbreak you both went through. Madalang makahanap ng ganyang mga tao.

    Your story is worthy of the book. Saludo ako sa iyo :)