My Pinoy Life In Tanzania
Dar Es Salaam, Tanzania
In June 2003, my father passed away and suddenly I didn’t feel like staying in the Philippines anymore. Serendipitously enough, a friend invited me to go to Africa and as they say, the rest is history.
Tanzania, I can say, is the crown jewel of Africa. It is famous for the biggest safari game park called Serengeti, the beautiful Mt. Kilimanjaro, and amazing beaches with sparkling sands and blue waters that are heavenly to look at. For those who want to visit, I would recommend all of the above and a visit to the island of Zanzibar, the land of spices). Tanzania has two types of weather: summer and winter, but I can describe it as being hot and cold. During summer, it is hot but dry and during winter, there is no snow, save for the top of Mount Kilimanjaro.
There are plenty of cultural practices among Tanzanians. One example is their traditional dancing styles that vary from one tribe to another. They also have various dressing styles that are attractive to visitors and foreigners like us. But even if we are in a foreign land, we still observe Filipino customs and traditions and instill Filipino values in our children – like religion. We make sure our children do not to forget Catholicism. Likewise, there is the Filipino value of family and the importance of close family ties. We also try to typify the Filipino value of hospitality and helpfulness. We extend support or offer help to others, when we can.
Work in the Crown Jewel of Africa
I work in a private security company. I am in charge of the country’s business operations, focusing mainly on the petroleum depot, embassies, power plant and other private companies. It is challenging and pressure-filled, but I enjoy it. It is a big help and a great joy that my wife, Chari and our four children, Theo, Kimberly, Marco, and Naomi are with me. Filipinos are highly regarded here. They are professionals and skilled workers. I have been living here for more than 10 years and so far, I have not seen or heard of any mistreatment of Filipino workers here.
There are Filipino communities in my area. I don’t have the exact number of the Filipinos in the whole country, but I could roughly estimate the number to be about more than a thousand. The communities are quite active. They celebrate Independence Day, Halloween, and the Christmas holidays. They also conduct outreach programs to help the poor and the orphans of Tanzania.
Love it, hate it – but this is home
Other people call this place Tanzania, but for me and my family, we call it home. Two of my children were born here. We left and yet we came back. You hate it, you love it – that’s how I would describe my relationship with this beautiful country. I like this country a lot– its beaches, food and the friendly people, but there are also things I don’t like here. For example, I don’t like the congested roads, garbage all over the place especially after the rain and some other things best not to mention. But no matter what, this is still home to me.
I think I am one of the lucky few that didn’t find it hard to adjust living here because I had the privilege of bringing my family immediately. So, I have not succumbed to bouts of homesickness.
I think it also helps that I have other hobbies. I have formed a band with some friends who also work here. We named our band “Traffic Jam.” I play the drums, I have two Filipino friends who play the bass and rhythm, a Dutch friend of mine plays the lead and another good friend from Sweden plays guitar as well.
Teaching Filipino values
I would suggest to any one living away from the Philippines to teach your children the culture of the Filipinos, especially the language. Don’t let them forget their origin so that they will grow up with a sense of Filipino identity. Visit the Philippines from time to time and promote our country to your foreign friends to help boost our tourism industry.
Tanzania is a good place to work for overseas Filipino workers as they respect Pinoys in this country. Most of the Filipinos here are in managerial positions, working in NGO’s, in development agencies like the United Nations, big companies, hotels, telecommunications and power plants. Tanzania is a peaceful, quiet place to live in. So, KARIBU Tanzania! (In English, “Welcome to Tanzania”)