Saturday, October 4, 2008


It's Saturday. In Dutch, they say zaterdag. Samedi in French. Sabbath in Hebrew. Hari Sabtu in Bahasa Indonesia. lørdag in Danish. The Japanese calls it doyou. For many people, it is plain weekend. Time to unwind, relax, and spend time with the family.

Living in Holland changed my concept of weekends. Here we need weekends because we need relaxation. We need to relax because we can not work (meaning, work in order to put food on the table) continuously. It never ends. It's like a vicious circle. Relaxation then becomes an obligation. One has to relax so that he could gain strength to work again.

It was the exact opposite when I was living in the Philippines. Back then, I looked forward to weekends. It is not the end of the week but the highlight of my week. It is not the interlude but the climax of living.

It is for going to church, singing songs of praises, visiting family and friends, and having the best meal. It is when the soul has the time to catch up with the body. It's when the body, mind, and imagination are in accord. That´s what weekends are for, and I am surprised to realize that I had a change of heart about weekends. Nowadays, I dread weekends. You got that right. DREAD.

I dread weekends because it´s the time of the week when I have to catch up with my washing, ironing, cleaning, dusting, grocery shopping, trimming the plants, weeding and clearing the garden, scrubbing floors, washing windows, sewing clothes... and the endless list goes on.

I dread weekends because the bulk of work is so humongous, I don´t know where to start.

I dread weekends because everybody demands here to be visited on weekends. Yes, the word is demand. Friendship here is an obligation. You are obliged to call your friends. You are obliged to tell them what you are up to. You are obliged to keep them updated. You are obliged to visit them on a regular basis. You are obliged to cook meals for them. (They love Filipino dishes.) You are obliged (and entitled) to only have a cup of tea and a cookie when they invite you to come over. You are obliged to be their friend. And need I say more? Back in the Philippines, I have an entirely different notion of friendship!

But there is an explanation for all of that. In Manila, we had helpers. I only cook when I feel like it. I only clean my room when I want to. I don´t have to please our neighbors about how our place looked like. And life was not moving so fast, as it does here.

I had and have friends who knew me since I was a teenager, some of them are friends from childhood. We are and feel secured about our place in each other´s lives, we don´t have to oblige each other about calling or visitation.

But I live here, and this is my reality now. I'm not saying that one is better than the other. All I'm saying is that, life is different here.

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