Saturday, February 23, 2013

When The Truth Is Harder To Believe

     Some things have been bothering me for many years.  This thing happen to me once in a while but whenever it does, it makes me think for a month.  It bothers me that much.

It's about when the truth seems quite outrageous, people find it hard to believe.  Oddly enough, most of the times, when I lie to cover up something, people seem to easily believe it.

     When I was young, I was an impulsive liar.  Heck, I fooled a lot of people that I was branded a lot of names.  In some cases, I got busted.  But it almost always takes a while before people realize I lied.  I got money out of lying.  I got friends out of lying.  I made people cry out of my lying.  The strange part of it all was, for even a short while, they believed my lies.  Although, some weren't so easy to convince.
     It's probably one of the reasons why my mom kept pushing me to sales.  It was a foolish decision that I kept ignoring her advise.  I might have earned a lot of money from it.

     One of my closest friends almost begged me to stop the lies.  "Enough with the lies!" he said.  I think he tried a couple of times before he gave up and just accepted me as just an impulsive liar.  Come to think of it, he was one of the most brutally honest people I've met.  And I mean "brutal."

     When I left the Philippines, I decided to change a lot of my self.  I decided to stop dancing.  Stop singing.  Never mention such related stuff of my past (that didn't work out).  And most of all, stop the lying.  And since I'm about to start life afresh in another country, where people don't really know who I am, it was surprisingly easy.  What made it difficult was when I started calling my friends back in the Philippines.  At first, it was hard to cope up with my lies. Then it was quite hard to admit to my lies, and apologize.  But after a couple of months, I got over it.  It wasn't that hard after all.

     But the problem started from there.  It was when I started telling the truth that I find people instantly dismissing what I say, because they just can't believe it.  Some people graciously nod, making me believe they listened.  But only to find out they were laughing at me (or at least shaking their heads) behind my back.  Perhaps what I've been telling them was outrageous.  It could be.  But it's a bit hurting when I finally open my mouth and expose myself, so people would understand where I came from, and got nothing but disbelief.


  • I was a highschool drop out.  I transferred to many schools repeating my year level and only to drop out again and again.  Mostly at the last month of the school year.  Yes, I was that stupid.
  • At about grade 5 or earlier, I found a book about architecture stuffed somewhere in our house.  No, not just house designs and catalogues.  It seems like a 1st year college book.  Since I was a kid, I was a sponge for knowledge.  And I liked architecture.
  • So before grade 6 (elementary), I was already quite versed with perspective drawing and those basic stuff.  I was good at it.  But that's about it.  Just basic stuff.
     The first company I worked for, when the boss asked for my educational background, I was coached to simply say "highschool."  That's like the standard here.  They tend not to accept someone with a lower degree.  But at work, it really was irrelevant.  Whether you tell you're an engineer or a doctor, you're still there as a factory worker.  One of my supposed "older brother" (someone my dad assigned to take care of me), told me I did good.  Because many of the others say they're "teachers" or "engineers" or some sort of college degree holders.  Most of them lie.  It puts them at a disadvantage in the long run because the Korean superiors would then be expecting so much from them.  Something they won't be able to deliver.  But all-in-all it still doesn't matter.  No matter our level of education, we're all the same.  Just minions.

     But at work, fellow Filipino workers were often curious of my background.  It's funny because they immediately assumed I got through college.  It's a question of what course I took.  Whenever someone finally asks what college course I took, and I tell them the truth, it's an automatic, "I don't believe you.  That's impossible. The way you carry yourself and the way you talk, that's nothing like a highschool drop out."  Well, I'm flattered... at first.

     Let's call her Nova.  A female co-worker in my very department.  She was planning to build a house and was in the middle of designing it.  One day she asked for my opinion if this or that looks good and practical.  She could only describe and draw poorly on a piece of paper.  But I understood what she meant.  I suggested I draw a bit of what she described for her words to materialize.  I figured it'll be difficult to convey such imagery through the phone, once she finally tells the people-in-charge (in the Philippines), and simply sending my draft would give them a better idea of it.  I started drafting during my breaks and of course, I used whatever I've learned from that book I mentioned earlier.  It's nothing special.  But it seemed a bit technical to some, that they assumed I was an engineer or something back home.  Finally the mystery is solved!  I was an engineer or something!  Yeah, right.  In my mind I thought, "Any elementary classmate of mine could draw the same or even better."
As I did many times before, I told them I didn't need college to know such things.

     Whenever we find quality time (which is rare) my mom tell me stories of her college life.  She took Commerce.  I also had accountant friends in the past.  The knowledge I have about this was from the stories they told me.  The horror of such courses in college, the application in real life, what they actually do when they work for banks, some questions asked during their licensing exams, just some of these and that.  But that's the limit of my knowledge about accounting.

     Let's call her Badeth.  Another female co-worker in my department.  She was highly regarded (by our Korean superiors) as the person with the highest educational background (in my department).  She claims to have finished college and was working for a bank back in the Philippines.  She's quite alright, intellectual wise.  I once asked what the different positions are in our company.  They were quite confusing as there were just so many officials and superiors.  But none of my co-workers understood what I'm asking until Badeth asked, "Do you mean the 'organization chart'?"  And yes, that's what I was asking for.  But that didn't matter to those who were listening.  The fact that Badeth and I understood each other in one term, made them assume I was an accountant back in the Philippines.  Yeah... stupid, I know.  But that assumption was strengthened when I started asking questions about Badeth's working conditions at a bank.  I mentioned spread sheets and what not, but that was all.  Yet, Badeth and I used some terminologies that relate to her field.  Something not commonly used by the ordinary Joe.  And that, again, made them disbelieve my claims on my background.

     Later on, I had a fight with the entire department.  It was them versus me.  Long story.  But I'd like to mention that they actually used my claims against me.  Mocking me for lying about my education.  That they claim I was such a hypocrite pretending to be a highschool drop out, just to make them feel bad.  The hell do I care about them feeling bad for themselves.  I was just telling the truth.

     I didn't mind at first.  I think they just believed too much on educational background that it's the absolute basis of a person's intellect.  But this impression about me got on my nerves after a couple of years.  I wanted to explain (in elaborate terms) what I've been through, why I'm a highschool drop out, and why I believe that's not saying I'm stupid.  I wanted to enlighten at least someone close to me, and hope that someone would understand and help me out on this "impression."

     Her name is Andrea.  She's a bit young, and therefore, her memories of her school days were still fresh.  She claims she also just finished highschool and never stepped into college.  But I was surprised when one day, she mentioned Iliad.  Books alone were never discussed in this particular community.  Let alone a Homer classic.  She was particular about the amazons chopping their breasts off, so they can shoot with a bow and arrow better.  Small details that a person who just browsed the book might not notice.  I was impressed.  Over the months, I chatted with her about academia and the likes.  Recalling the lessons we learned from school and comparing its usage on our current living.  It was such a relief to finally talk to someone without dumbing myself down.
     Finally, we both had a whole day for ourselves and decided I tell her my story.  It took the whole day.  And I started from when I was in elementary.  I told her most of the significant things that happened in my insignificant life.  Most importantly, I poured my heart out and told her the absolute truth.  She appeared to have listened to each detail attentively.  But that was my mistake.  After a month, I heard some people talking about me and what Andrea told them.  That she will never believe all my lies.  That it is impossible for me to have not finished college, let alone highschool drop out.  That I'm a fake example of those who succeed without education.  Andrea declared that she can finally say that I'm "plastic" or not genuine.

     I was hurt.  One reason why it took me a long time to open up, is because it's difficult for me to admit the truth.  That despite it all, I'm just a lowly undergrad.  Despite all the knowledge I gathered in my short life, it's not enough to get me to where I want.  That I am nothing but a sponge who gathered nothing but moss.  It was hard for me to tell someone everything of me... and she used that against me.
By that time, I surrendered and told my self never to open up to anyone again.

     There are many more stories like this that happened to me.  Be it about my educational background, my career in singing, my career in dancing, my experiences in Ifugao, my life at home, my relationship with my parents/siblings, my experiences in Korea, everything.  But the theme is the same.  When I tell the truth, it's too outrageous, they find it hard to believe.  I sometimes laugh on their faces.  Because it was so easy to convince someone with my lies.  But the truth?

     But it's not just here in Korea, or the Filipinos here in Korea.  In a lot of times the same with my friends back home, even until now.  When I finally found a way to talk to my friends back home, I've been wanting to vent out my frustrations here in Korea.  Something that I kind of needed at that time.  There's no shoulder to cry on here in Korea.  So I was hoping there's someone out there in the Philippines who could comfort me in my time of need.  Alas, I get the same vibe.  I feel that they either don't listen, or just dismiss that I'm exaggerating.  That Korea is just such a beautiful country that the things I mentioned are far impossible to happen.  And knowing my history (as a frequent liar), perhaps they think I'm on to my old habits again.  They may deny it on my face.  But future communications tell me that they didn't care, or didn't believe what I told them.

     I guess, in the case of my old friends, I'm "the boy who cried 'wolf'."  But haven't we outgrown these silly and childish things already?  I get nothing from lying about my living.  I get nothing from telling the truth either.  But at least, I can be consistent doing so.  I just wish that the people around me would start believing what I say.  Because truth be told, it's heart-breaking when none of my friends believe me anymore.

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