Yes, I am back in Kuching, the “home of my heart”, as I fondly call this favourite city of mine.
I’ve only been away for two years, but it felt like ages. Kuching is one kind of city that carves a place in your heart, and nestles there permanently. You are not likely to ever forget Kuching if you have spent some time here, immersing yourself in the multi-cultural experiences, sights, sounds, food and traditions that are in every nook and cranny of this lovely city.
I am from the Philippines and so I am naturally emotionally attached to the land of my birth, but I settled down here in Kuching in 1984. I’ve lived and worked in a few countries, too – Singapore, Thailand, and in the US. I could, and have seriously thought about settling in these places before. But then, I realized that Kuching is the one place that I desired to constantly come back to again and again. I mean, there are places that you go to, and you know that that’s it; there will be no return trip for you there. But Kuching, for me, is different. It’s the one place which I would miss so fondly after I’ve been in another place for a week or two. And yes, that includes my birthplace. I would be in the city where my family lives in Metro Manila, Philippines and I would want to go back to Kuching after 2-3weeks there. It tears my heart to leave my Filipino kith and kin (especially my parents when they were still alive) every time I leave Manila. But the moment I step foot in Kuching, I feel that I haven’t left home because I have arrived home!
The number one reason on my list why Kuching is the home of my heart is the PEACE and HARMONY among the communities here. With Kuching being the melting pot of the multi-ethnic communities of Sarawak, this is one place where you could clearly see, feel and experience the sense of oneness and harmony among the people. They take each other, and even those outside of their communities (like me) warmly and openly into their lives.
I love, and am proud, of the fact that the people of Kuching are so friendly, hospitable and treat first-time visitors as if they’re childhood friends. Well, that’s exactly how I felt when I first set foot in Kuching back in 1984. Despite all the changes that this city has undergone through the three decades or so that I’ve been here, this one thing remains – the people are as friendly and warm and as hospitable as they have always been. In all these years that I have been here, no one ever made me feel like a stranger or a foreigner. There are always those open arms and the heart of warm friendships that wait for me, be they from my Chinese, Malay, Melanu, Orang Ulu, Bidayuh, Iban or Indian friends.
That is why Kuching is the home of my heart.
Maria Corazon Cortez is the co-founder and Managing Director of Faradale Media-M Sdn Bhd – a subsidiary company of Angkatan Zaman Mansang (AZAM) Sarawak, based in Kuching, Sarawak – that specialises in publishing, event management and media management.