Tuesday, 31 July 2012
When I came home to the Philippines in April 2011, it was just for a month vacation. That one month slowly progressed into many months. I religiously monitored the events in Libya through news on television and in the internet and was constantly praying for all my friends, colleagues, and students whom I had left behind. I was happy to be with my family but there was that restless feeling that I should be somewhere else.
When the Khaddafi regime had fallen and his sensational death was aired in all media, the thought of being able to communicate with Kiko, my bestfriend, who remained in Libya together with his family, filled me with excitement. He and Fr. Allan, a Filipino Franciscan missionary priest, were my sources of information on the ins and outs on Libya. In October, Fr. Allan was encouraging: "Kailangan namin dito yung skill mo in communication so balik ka na.(We need your skill in communication here so you come back now.)". Kiko, on the other hand, was less optimistic. He would tell me about the dangers in the Tunisian border ( the entry point in going to Tripoli), the absence of money transfer stations, the limited bank withdrawals, the increased prices of commodities. There was a time when I told Kiko that it seemed that he did not want me to go back and we had a quarrel over it. He told me that as a friend, it is his duty to inform me about the true situation not just the things that I wanted to hear.
In November, my boss, Dr. Shabous, instructed me to send an application as a new teacher. He was very concerned for me to go back to the college so he advised me to do it. At that time, there were talks that repatriates would not be rehired. By the end of November, I was informed that I was accepted back by the college but the final decision is with the university which might take some time. At this time, Kiko was not reassuring. He even suggested that I apply in Saudi. On the contrary, Fr. Allan was supportive. He told me that if I could get a certification that I would be rehired by the college, he would submit it to the Office of the Labor Attache and I would be given an exemption from the travel ban. Somebody had to work for that within the college, and the person who could do it, Mr. Francisco D. Napalit, a.k.a. Kiko simply believed that I should not go back to Libya yet at that time.
December came. It was like being suspended in the air. There was no news about my application. When it became clear that it wouldn't be God's christmas present, I prayed that it would be His birthday gift. Not the return to Libya itself, but a clear sign whether I was meant to go back or should I make way for a new beginning. On January 1, as the only one who was still awake at that time, I was lazily browsing over on my Facebook account, when I saw that Terese, a colleague in Zletin who was like a sister, was online. I decided to say hello before going to sleep. She was excited to hear from me and asked me when I would go back. I told her about the application in Tripoli and Kiko's lukewarm assurance of a positive response from the university. She said: "Sister, if Tripoli will not get you, there are openings for English teachers in Kohms. You can apply there."....Surely, it was the sign I was looking for. The bleak ending of 2011 was met by a bright and vibrant new beginning of 2012. My heart sang Alleluiah that very moment....I am going back to Libya!