overseas Filipinos

[OPINION] TikTok, Taylor Swift, and migrating to Canada

JC Gotinga

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[OPINION] TikTok, Taylor Swift, and migrating to Canada
'Entering our 40s, we're yet again figuring out the world and are a bit unsure of ourselves, despite the guarantees of our diplomas and the gravitas of our resumés'

Last Saturday I had lunch with college friends, some of whom I hadn’t seen since college. College was 18 years ago.

Last Saturday I had dinner with journo friends, one of whom was turning 39. I turned 39 in June.

Over free-flowing sushi in a restaurant’s function room that we had to ourselves, my college friends and I gossiped about that “Love the Philippines” fiasco, and wondered whether there were any downsides to migrating to Canada. We were a good mix of advertising and news media practitioners, and one of us was visiting after getting settled in Canada.

Over free-flowing wine in my newly-minted 39er friend’s flat several blocks from that Japanese restaurant, the rambunctious conversation briefly side-turned into a quandary as to whether some Thai people were right to think that the Philippines, as a democracy, was in a better place than Thailand. Thailand’s electoral process failed to ensure that the winner could form a government and govern, whereas in the Philippines, the system ensured that the masses got the very man they wanted for president. See, one of us in the group had been deployed to cover the Thailand polls.

The general mood in both gatherings was relieved sighing over having made it thus far – past the slavery of starting out in whatever line of work, having pursued this or that dream and tried this or that venture, proving oneself in a certain industry or otherwise carving oneself a new life outside of a certain industry, to the extent that we could now afford free-flowing wine and sushi or are deployed to Thailand or have moved to Canada or, in my case, be able to weather job loss and not have it be a death sentence. (I was one of dozens of journalists laid off by the Vice Media Group shortly before it declared bankruptcy in May.)

We were past 48-hour workdays and sleeping under office tables and skipping meals and all the self-denial it took to become the successful professionals our professors promised we would become. But we were generally only relieved at having emerged from the quagmire – not necessarily elated nor satisfied nor even content. Grateful, yes. But are we done? No.

If anything, those 18 years were what it took for us to recognize and acknowledge the BS that we were fed, all the gaslighting and abuse the people above our pay grade subjected us to, in the name of patriotism or paying it forward or gratitude for the privilege of having sought-after jobs. And some of us have had enough and started new lives in new careers, or are planning to. Some others are glad to have advanced to the next pay grade, self-aware and traumatized enough to vow not to become the same monsters who slave-drove us, and instead make the necessary changes for the sake of our juniors.

In both parties, we also laughed and gaped at the staggering rate at which the world changed as we grew up. When we were in college, emailing professors wasn’t a thing yet, and we used miniDV camcorders at thesis shoots that we coordinated by texting on our Nokia phones. It all felt very modern then, and we thought we’d one-upped our mentors by having technology on our side. Who knew that stuff would be garbage in a few years?

My friends and I have now only just found our footing, and here we are, faced with the threat of obsolescence because we weren’t too excited about TikTok and we find Taylor Swift annoying (if we paid any attention to her in the first place) and we live in the Philippines which, by many indications, will remain in the Third World for the foreseeable future.

Entering our 40s, we’re yet again figuring out the world and are a bit unsure of ourselves, despite the guarantees of our diplomas and the gravitas of our resumés. The difference is, we’re not running on full tanks anymore.

(Here is the point where, usually, I’d sneak in the hopeful line to round out my message and attempt to uplift anyone who’s read up to this point. But tonight, I have nothing. I anxiously await word on a job application, and until I know what my next job will be, my life is in suspended slow motion. I’ve been buying shoes – on credit – as a coping mechanism. Not the wisest thing, I know.)

PS: I don’t hate Taylor Swift. I think she’s a great artist. But I prefer Mariah Carey. – Rappler.com

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JC Gotinga

JC Gotinga often reports about the West Philippine Sea, the communist insurgency, and terrorism as he covers national defense and security for Rappler. He enjoys telling stories about his hometown, Pasig City. JC has worked with Al Jazeera, CNN Philippines, News5, and CBN Asia.