I make no secret that I am always searching for a kababayan whenever I travel to Mexico. My first travel to Mexico was to Cancun in the winter of 2013, where upon exiting Cancun airport, a kababayan greeted us.
I thought it was going to be easy to meet Pinoys in Cancun but it was not to be. Even on my second time in Cancun, I did not see any sign of a kababayan there, eventhough I traveled all over Riviera Maya & the Yucatan.
So, when I went back to Canada, I did a little research while I’m planning for my next return to Mexico. And Facebook provided the break I was looking for – I was able to connect to a Pinoy living in Mexico city.
During chat sessions with this new found friend, I explained that I’m searching for kababayans in Mexico and he told me that there’s not too many of us even in the capital – who are mostly staff of the Philippine Embassy.
So, on my third visit in 2015 – I asked him if he’ll be willing to meet with me after spending time in Acapulco (Acapulco was my first stop this time to research on the Manila Galleons). And he agreed.
Little did I know that there is also a Filipino living in Acapulco. This Pinoy from Mexico city informed me about him (Pinoy in Acapulco) while I was staying in Acapulco. And so I excitedly searched for this Acapulco Pinoy after being told about.
It didn’t come easy to do this search. It was my first time in the city and I still have to learn the routes of the public buses. And Acapulco is not like any Canadian or US cities, where one can just go to any hotel and ask for a map and people speak English. Mexico is a challenge because eventhough I already speak a bit of Spanish, there are still many words & phrases that doesn’t come quickly in mind when I need to ask something from a local.
But, through persistence, I always get to the place I wanted to go. I just keep bugging every Mexican I cross path with with combination of broken Spanish & gestures.
To make long story short, I found and met Acapulco-Pinoy, and I was so happy to finally meet and chat with a kababayan in Mexico! It’s a first and I will be lying if I say that I did not feel really glad! And the bonus was – he’s a cook! He made a Mexican-style sinigang for us, while telling stories, as if we had known each other for a long time!
He introduced me and my son to his family while having lunch and then after (he probably misses having a kababayan in Mexico), he took us for a tour of Acapulco. We probably spent a good 2 or 3 hours touring & telling stories before we parted ways.
We exchanged phone numbers and I told him that I would like to stay in his house the next time I am in Mexico, which he okayed. And so, that was my first time to get acquainted with a kababayan in Mexico.
I was looking forward to meet more Pinoys in Mexico and so, after we ended our stay in Acapulco, we bussed to Mexico city – to research my tours and also, to meet in person the kabayan I met on Facebook.
And it wasn’t so difficult scheduling a meet with this Pinoy in DF (Distrito Federal) because we’ve been in touch since I was in Acapulco (not to mention while we were chatting on FB before this trip). Long story short, my kabayan and a few other Pinay friends of his, met with me over breakfast and had a wonderful talk about life in Mexico city. I sure was glad to be able to connect with other Filipinos in Mexico and never thought of it as an enjoyable experience because I’m used to meeting a kabayan in Canada & the US.
I guess it was normal to feel excitement whenever you cross paths with a kababayan in any country in the world. It has been my habit to greet a Pinoy I chance upon wherever I travel but I never thought it will be “more” exciting to see one in a country where I learned that there’s not a sizeable presence – like Mexico and probably the other Latin American countries.
In my future travels to different parts of Mexico, I will continue to look for a kababayan – as I have already started. I would also like to continue researching the possibility of “discovering” traces of those Pinoys who were part of the Galeon de Manila sailings and who decided to make Mexico home.