Websites, newspapers and radio are full of horror stories of air travel within the USA, but they are just talking about the structural changes that has happened in American Aviation Industry. Indeed, in a country where the Aviation Industry is taxed to the hilt(17 different taxes making up to 20 % of the fare), competing against the likes of Emirates(Dubai), Etihad(Abu Dhabi) or Qatar Airways(Qatar) is out of question.
But when it comes to a more HUMAN way of travel, involving the interesting lives of ordinary people, very few countries can match the US of A!
I am flying to my European home today, and the SuperShuttle arrived promptly at 0600AM as promised.
A bushy haired, muscular man with chinese features is the driver. I say, Buenas Dias since most non-african drivers tend to be from Latin America, here in Miami. Good Morning, he says, eagerly helping me with my luggage.
I was the only passenger and we made good time to MIA.
What a lovely conversation!
You will learn if you keep your ears open, say the American Indians and I did learn a lot in a the very short time from this driver, Vito, from the Philippines.
Have you heard about my country?, he enquired.
Not only have I heard about it about your country, I have visited your country also.
Manila, Baguio..a brief visit flying Royal Brunei airlines from BSB.
When you talk about Philippines with any one, some of the themes that come up that touch the lives of all Filipinos are:
-Nursing in USA/UK/Europe esp Germany
-Hotel/Service Industry mainly in the Middle East, occasionally in Malaysia, Singpour and Brunei
-the corrupt government of Estrada and Marcos
-Americanization of the Philippines, something they are very proud of
-Cultural diversity of Filipinas including Indigenous(First) peoples of Asia, such as Ilongot/Bugkalot people of southern Luzon
-Hawaii/Guam and Filipino migration
Believe it or not, we touched on all those subjects! in the short journey from my sister's home to MIA.
Vito, married to a Nurse, father of a Nurse has been in the USA for 36 years. I am an American citizen, I am so grateful that this country has given me a life that I couldnt have dreamt about, but in my flesh and blood, I am a Filipino, said He.
How refreshing is it for me to hear that,especially after the few days in Houston just this weekend, full of people who are ashamed of who they are: the Mexican Immigrants and their children.
From when we were children we were taught to be nice to others, we are taught to help others that is why you would find many of us in the service industry, nursing and transportation and hospitality management. We were the only country to be colonized by the Spanish and their culture after 300 years has had its effect.
He had served seven years in the US Army, to show gratitude for the country that helped him achieve his dreams, his mother/father, his older brother/family they are all here in Miami. In Miami, asians are as rare as vegetarian food in La Habana, Cuba! there are only about 5000 filipinos in this area, compare that to the thousands of Colombians, Venezuelans, Peruvians and Brazilians and not to mention the 2 million cubans who make South Florida their home.
I told him: it is so good for me to talk to someone who is proud of his country of origin. If you had said to me, I am an American(despite your US citizenship) I dont think we would have had such a nice conversation..
thank you, have a safe flight, said Vito, the muscular long haired Filipino.
(Friends in Miami)