Quantcast
Latest Stories

On Upper Thomson Road, feeling the tug of home

By

Chilling Out@Club July, one of the eateries lining Upper Thomson Road in Singapore. PHOTO FROM THE RESTAURANT’S FACEBOOK ACCOUNT

SINGAPORE—From Marymount MRT station, any bus I board to work traverses Upper Thomson Road. It is a long stretch and is one of the busiest in Singapore. Well, considering Singapore’s dense traffic, which road is not? Upper Thomson is swamped with traffic lights and loaded with road signs and intersections.

JCU Singapore, the school where I work as a literacy teacher, stands proud along this road. JCU students, employees and other people who live and work nearby cross this road, which is connected to a lot other roads in the vicinity. It becomes busier during morning and evening rush hours and during lunch times.

I see a lot of people from different racial backgrounds every time I walk on Upper Thomson to and from my workplace. Up north of JCU is Casuarina Road, lined with restaurants that offer delectable dishes. Indian curry is famous here. Down the stretch is Sembawang Food Centre, a place known for its makan and chicken rice, and where I usually sip kopi, Singapore’s local coffee. I’m always astonished by such a busy highway loaded with wheeled machines—buses, cars, cabs, lorries. I’m also often stunned by the different languages I hear, as people of different ethnicities queue for food or sit and chat near the food stalls. I smile at their whims and caprices as they enjoy the company of their friends or colleagues.

All the while, I still can’t imagine that I’ve been living in a busy and still fast-growing metropolis. Then, one drizzling afternoon, my colleagues and I were stuck in a local café, unable to go back to our workstations. I was brought to a sudden halt. My mind started to take me back to the serene Tops Mountain View, a famous hill that allows one to get a glimpse of the entire Cebu City. I was suddenly savoring the calm breeze from the breathtaking Bantayan beach and the mellow, sober music played by some optimistic local musicians and artists at Outpost Bar.

I was transported further to Calle Z, a local restaurant in Tacloban City, which serves the tastiest bulalo in town, then to Rafael’s Farm in Babatngon, Leyte, which stands proud of its splendid landscape and lush green gardens amid commanding mountains. Further down, my mind jostled me to our home in Bool, Culaba, Biliran, making me feel the cold gust of the west wind as I strolled around my grandparents’ farm where my cousins and I used to play those memorable games in the mid-’90s.

A question popped in my head: Am I enjoying this busy life in the Lion City, or do I miss the life back there in the province, a life that is quiet, rustic, pastoral? Where one does not hurry to catch the train or queue in the bus terminal? Where one can still splash in the lake on a summer day or dive into the deep sea of Mactan or rest on the sands of Boracay while gazing at the horizon—that line where the ocean’s surface romances the blue sky?
After a while, my consciousness whispered to me:“Find home wherever you are!” I asked myself, “Is my consciousness giving me a better advice, a better option, a choice worth making?”

Come on! It is just a road! A busy road! No big deal! I assured myself.

But Upper Thomson forces me to create mental pictures and bids me to indulge in a recollection of the past. Such a road makes me reckon with things back home and brings me to the point of nostalgia.

“You must be thinking deep,” my American colleague uttered, discovering my silence.

I smiled. Then, the mental images I had in mind began to shatter. But I tried to contain them. I tried to restrain and re-form them. After all, distance allows people to be sharper of mind.

I remember the Guyanese poet Grace Nichols, who said, “Wherever I hang my knickers, that’s my home.”

Thanks to Upper Thomson Road for keeping me on my feet. Despite the distance, despite being lured by the diaspora, despite the intense longing for home, I’m able to stand my ground. I thank Upper Thomson Road for being a mirror of home.


Follow Us


Follow us on Facebook Follow on Twitter Follow on Twitter


Recent Stories:

Complete stories on our Digital Edition newsstand for tablets, netbooks and mobile phones; 14-issue free trial. About to step out? Get breaking alerts on your mobile.phone. Text ON INQ BREAKING to 4467, for Globe, Smart and Sun subscribers in the Philippines.

Tags: diaspora , Global Nation , homesickness , nostalgia , Overseas Filipinos , Singapore



Copyright © 2014, .
To subscribe to the Philippine Daily Inquirer newspaper in the Philippines, call +63 2 896-6000 for Metro Manila and Metro Cebu or email your subscription request here.
Factual errors? Contact the Philippine Daily Inquirer's day desk. Believe this article violates journalistic ethics? Contact the Inquirer's Reader's Advocate. Or write The Readers' Advocate:
c/o Philippine Daily Inquirer Chino Roces Avenue corner Yague and Mascardo Streets, Makati City, Metro Manila, Philippines Or fax nos. +63 2 8974793 to 94
Advertisement
  1. Filipinos second-shortest in Southeast Asia
  2. Afghan hospital guard kills 3 US doctors, including Fil-Am pediatrician
  3. HK victims to get P115M; traders raised money
  4. Career diplomat is new PH consul general in Los Angeles
  5. Senator hopes PH will also get same vow
  6. Filipina, 51, shot dead by 24-year-old American boyfriend
  7. US4GG: Aquino should ask Obama for TPS approval, drone technology
  8. Obama to visit Filipino soldiers in Fort Bonifacio
  9. Believe it or not: Filipinos love US more than Yanks
  10. Abandoned in Malta,15 PH seamen return
  1. Filipina, 51, shot dead by 24-year-old American boyfriend
  2. Japan presents $57-B ‘dream plan’ to solve Metro congestion
  3. Hong Kong accepts PH apology; sanctions also lifted
  4. Japan says visa-free entry still a plan
  5. 85% of Filipinos love US – survey
  6. 10 US presidents who visited the PH (and what they said)
  7. WHO warns vs spread of MERS-Cov, urges vigilance in taking precautions
  8. 19 Ukrainians, Russians, Filipinas rescued in bar raid
  9. 150 Filipino teachers in Maryland to lose jobs, visas
  10. Japan mulls no visa rule for Filipinos
  1. US to China: We will protect Philippines
  2. Japan mulls no visa rule for Filipinos
  3. DFA grants visa-free privilege to 7 countries
  4. China warned: Don’t try to tow away BRP Sierra Madre
  5. Back home in Manila, and feeling out of place
  6. Filipina, 51, shot dead by 24-year-old American boyfriend
  7. Japan presents $57-B ‘dream plan’ to solve Metro congestion
  8. China: PH tarnishing Beijing’s international image
  9. What’s inside BRP Sierra Madre?
  10. Hong Kong accepts PH apology; sanctions also lifted
Advertisement

News

  • Aquino to lead Air Force turnover rites
  • Security in place for Obama as police hope for ‘peaceful’ visit
  • Retired SC justice Lorenzo Relova; 98
  • Ligots fight 2nd forfeiture case
  • PH will be partly cloudy in afternoon, evening—Pagasa
  • Sports

  • Sharapova advances to Stuttgart quarterfinals
  • Galedo caps ride of redemption
  • Beermen, Express dispute second semis slot today
  • Lady Agilas upset Lady Bulldogs in four sets
  • NLEX roars to 7th D-League win
  • Lifestyle

  • ‘Recovered’ Banksy works on display ahead of sale
  • Marinduque: Visiting the ‘palm of the ocean’
  • First at Vatican in 60 years
  • How Jing Monis Salon gave Krissy the pixie
  • Want to be a supermodel? Work on your inner beauty, says Joey Espino
  • Entertainment

  • Paul McCartney to play at Candlestick concert
  • Kristoffer Martin: from thug to gay teen
  • Has Ai Ai fallen deeply with ‘sireno?’
  • California court won’t review Jackson doctor case
  • Cris Villonco on play adapted from different medium
  • Business

  • PAL hailed for ban on shark fin cargo
  • BSP to change tint of P100 bill
  • Nielsen sees car buying boom in the Philippines
  • How author of best-seller exposed ‘one percent’ economic elite
  • Bangko Sentral readies new bank lending rules
  • Technology

  • Cloud strength helps Microsoft earnings top Street
  • Vatican announces hashtag for April 27 canonizations
  • Enrile in Masters of the Universe, Lord of the Rings?
  • Top Traits of Digital Marketers
  • No truth to viral no-visa ‘chronicles’
  • Opinion

  • Editorial Cartoon, April 25, 2014
  • No deal, Janet
  • Like making Al Capone a witness vs his gang
  • MERS-CoV and mothers
  • A graduation story
  • Global Nation

  • Only 4 Etihad passengers not accounted for
  • Abandoned in Malta,15 PH seamen return
  • Senator hopes PH will also get same vow
  • HK victims to get P115M; traders raised money
  • Afghan hospital guard kills 3 US doctors, including Fil-Am pediatrician
  • Marketplace