MY PINOY LIFE IN PARIS
By Uno Rodriguez
I moved to Europe in 2010. I first stayed with my relatives in Antwerp, Belgium and after a year, I moved to Paris. I moved to Europe because at one point in my life, I asked myself about where I see myself growing old. I love the fact that in France, you can enjoy the benefits of the tax that you are paying; that you can secure your future here and you can live life to the fullest. You can live your life here quietly, or loudly, simply or extravagantly – it’s really up to you. People here are very tasteful and fashionable, but also very polite and mindful. Indeed, “Viva La vie à Parisienne”.
Well, we all know that Paris is considered an international city. Aside from having breathtaking historical sites like churches, museums and chateaus, Paris is the birthplace of “People Power”. We all know that this is the place where the voices of the people are heard – case in point, the beheading of France’s last King and Queen, King Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette. This is the reason why France gave the Statue of Liberty to the US, as Americans tried to emulate that strong spirit of democracy. In addition, every day in my life here, I always see these three important words: liberté, égalité, fraternité which means Freedom, Equality and Brotherhood. I may not be French but indeed, the French have made me feel like I am their brother as I enjoyed both equality and freedom.
Is there a Filipino community there?
There is a big population of Filipinos here in France. In fact, there are a lot of active associations here in Paris. To name a few: BBM (Bagong Bayani ng Mamamayan), Calabarzon and Metro Manila Association, Sandigan Group, Peñafrancia, Hiligaynon, VisaMin, Proud Pangasinense, Bisdak and other organizations consisting of Filipinos from from Pampanga, Ilocandia and Caviteños. I can attest to the fact that every weekend, there are different events happening all over the city.
My Pinoy Life
I see myself growing old in France. You can always feel like a tourist here and be mesmerized by the beauty of the Eiffel Tower and Sacrè Cœur, and the grandness of the Louvre and Chateau Versailles. And it’s not just Paris that’s wondrous. There are also the neighboring cities of Nice, Cannes, Antibes, Monaco, Lyon, Bretagne, Toulouse and Normandie.
It’s no secret that France has the reputation of being a culinary epicenter. If there is such a thing as “good food” in the world, you will find it in France. Plus, the shopping here is marvelous.
When people ask me if I am happy here, I answer them “No.” Why? Because, I am tranquil here. For me happiness, is just temporary – but if you are in a tranquil place in your life, then you have inner peace. Peace is always joyful.
What cultural practices/behaviors have you acquired from your host country?
A lot of people think that French people are snobs. I disagree. The French are very courteous, and will go out of their way to extend politeness to strangers. I think the issue comes from the fact that very few of them know how to speak English, and they are generally unwilling to learn it. Hence, they appear snobbish.
In France, I learned to value the time I spend with other people. A casual dinner with friends can last for hours. In Paris, after work, you can invite your friends for a dinner in your place or in a restaurant. True human interactions are important here. This has taught me how to appreciate good conversations, how be polite, and how to appreciate the arts and cultures of different people from different countries.
My message to Pinoys around the globe
Embrace the unknown! Naturally, France felt like a mystery to me at first, but it didn’t take long for me to get used to its quirks and fully embrace its unique culture. To all the Filipinos worldwide: enjoy life, take chances, travel more, and experience the beauty of this world while you still can.
I have a tattoo on my back that says, “The greatest risk in life is risking nothing.” Moving to France was a risk for, but with God’s help, I am now in the best place that I could be. I hope all of you will take risks too.