Embracing your best, proud promdi self
Being ashamed of expressing a liking for fresh vegetables, shy of whistling to call for breeze, or embarrassed of knowing, by first-hand experience, that a buffalo’s tail can inflict so much pain are just few of the discomforts I had when I first moved outside my small rural town.
You see, when children migrate to the bigger cities, their parents’ number one reminder is “Don’t show you came from the province. They’ll try to trick you.” So we do our best to be more reserved, tuck that happy provincial vibe away and replace with a stoic English-speaking snob.
But that didn’t last long. The friends I made within a few weeks were very welcoming. UP’s laidback atmosphere and the accepting outlook of both students and teachers peeled off the indifference in me. Add there the fact that most of us were promdis*, so every day was a vibrant exchange of experience and culture.
The promdi struggles, not only in Uni but in all big cities I wandered off, were not about getting rid of your rurality. We’re entering the age where diversity is celebrated. You will be loved for your uniqueness – don’t worry about that – but oddly, when you don’t choose to be same like the others when it’s convenient for them, then you don't belong.
Come lunch time, that delicacy you brought from the province will surely be shared around. But when you decide to stay at home in the evening instead of socializing, you’re suddenly the strange one.
Your skin will be valued for being as it is – whether Malay morena or East Asian yellow – but your baggy clothes or old coin purse will incite unsolicited advices. “We can’t go out when you look like that! Your curves don’t show in that shirt. And you need a legit wallet.”
You can whip up a mean provincial recipe of sinuglaw and everyone would love it, but God forbid if you add native touches to their adobo. No one will eat it because of that "unfamiliar herb" you used.
The pressure to be like everyone and still be yourself doesn’t just come from the new people in your life. Sometimes, it also comes from those back home. You are press-ganged to still talk to old friends for hours, despite your busy schedule in school or work, so as not to be labeled as “others”.
Then, there’s yourself. You’re new, unsure of which path to take or if the path you’re on is the right one for you.
Finding the balance in all these is the magic you need to conjure yourself. The main spell is I choose what makes me happy. Stay at home if you don’t feel going out. Wear clothes that you’re comfortable with. Cook whatever makes you feel at home. Talk to your old friends, but only after you’ve given time for yourself.
Because what promdis don’t realize at first is nobody really cares about who you are but yourself. One thing I love about bigger cities, aside from it grants bigger dreams, is the sense of anonymity it affords a newcomer. Sure, you will get a snide remark on your tattered shirt but that’s just about it. The rude person will forget about you later on, move on with his life, and still remain rude. You, on the other hand, embraced who you are and bravely took your space in this new territory.
If you’re still confused on how to put everything together – the strange city, concrete culture, and identity doubts – just stick to life’s golden rule: let them do them and let you do you. Honesty to yourself will gain you honest friends. Together, your strength will be in each other’s mastery of the big city promdi-ness.
Promdi – an informal, oftentimes considered inappropriate, Filipino slang for those who came from a small town; “from the (promdi) province”