I truly do wonder sometimes if any of my 4,500++ followers actually read anything on this tumblr. But I suppose whether anyone reads this or not was never the point of all this. This started on my journey of coming home, and now that I am home, it is with me in exploring, knowing, and living home. I was reminded the other day that this space used to be called “Notes from Home.” I can’t bother myself too much with what to call this space anymore, so it’s just been Pilipinas.
Anyway, living outside of Manila has been so wonderful in terms of all the greenery and nature and trees and grass, that I am beginning to fear this place becoming more like Manila as time passes. I still look forward to my trips to Manila - for work, for seeing family and friends, for visiting Fully Booked or any other store that we don’t have here. But Manila has become too crowded for me, too congested. Manila has become, in my head, a huge block of concrete; almost suffocating when I think about the traffic and the lack of trees everywhere. Perhaps urban planners for Manila should seriously consider bringing back forests in the Metro (yes, forests - although I don’t know if we actually have space anywhere there), co-existing with nature instead of destroying it to build even more buildings and manicured lawns. That’s also something I’ve come to appreciate here: wild, untouched nature growing on its own. There is such a substantial difference between a park that’s been made to be ‘green’ and a forest that is naturally what it is: all shades of green and full of life.
Just the other night, my daughter and I heard an OWL - yes, a real, live OWL - hoot right outside our window. Right. Outside. Our. Room. Our eyes widened and we had the biggest smiles in awe of the sound of such a creature. My husband, on the other hand, actually SAW an owl hovering near our house. Are these encounters even imaginable in Manila? I highly doubt it.
I wonder if it is possible to make Manila more naturally green, with more wildlife, fresher air. I wonder.
My first motorcycle ride. In Cebu, en route to ride a fast ferry to Tagbilaran, Bohol, for a two hour drive to Jagna, where I met Drs. Chris and Marivic Bernido, Ramon Magsaysay Awardees and the creators of the Dynamic Learning Program, a highly effective low-cost learning tool that has helped young Filipino students truly learn and excel. May 2014.
comrades seem such a distant/big/ideologic word… until it actually applies to certain people in your life. then you get the weight of the word. because friends are easy to identify, but comrades take years and life struggles and a kinship that emerges organically, almost discreetly, over time.
comrades are crucial sources of strength, wisdom, and community in this long journey towards the Pilipinas we all want.
comrades remind you of the goal, and at the same time remind you of the importance of laughter, of rest, of taking it easy every now and then.
comrades keep the fire burning, the future in focus, and the past in memory - for when we need to know who we were and are, where we’ve been, and what we’ve once thought and believed.
I’ve been busy. For the past three years, mostly with motherhood. For the past couple of months, also with work. For the past thirty minutes, with reading old personal entries on this blog. This one stood out to me:
"There are very short periods of time when I’m not really here. Mostly, it’s when I’m walking from one point to the next, passing in between people rushing, walking leisurely, and standing still. The other day, I ordered my regular drink from Starbucks - or what was my regular drink back in San Francisco - and at the first sip, I completely disappeared from Ayala Avenue and was somewhere in between Sansome and Bush.
It is a little bit peculiar, this sporadic feeling of walking the invisible streets of elsewhere. Perhaps we take with us wherever we’ve been, and Home, slowly but surely, becomes not a place, but something that exists within us, something we keep inside our very selves wherever we go.”
That was August 2009. Almost five years ago. And I can certainly recall the feeling I described, but I can no longer feel it. Wherever I am now, that is where I am. I am in the Philippines, my heart and my mind are. The journey from August 2009 to January 2014 has been eventful, mostly great and happy events, with a sprinkling of major disappointments and disillusionment.
It would be easy to say that there’s a thin line between idealism and cynicism, but the truth is, there is a wide open space of apathy, ambivalence, and vague emotions between idealism and cynicism. Being away from the Philippines, my idealism was comfortably cushioned by the distance, by romanticism, by being away from it all. Coming back home, where the reality I only wrote about before actually is reality, my idealism was exposed to the elements. Reading my older entries, I realize now how romanticized my writing was, how cloaked in blissful ignorance, how naive. Perhaps that was important though, to build enough momentum for me to have come home, and at points of disappointment, for me to not completely give up.
So yes, my feet are planted firmly on Filipino ground.
Sa taong ito, ang hiling ko para sa bawat Pilipino, kasali na ang aking sarili, ay lakas ng loob…
… para gawin ang matagal mo nang nais gawin.
… para ipaglaban ang nararapat na sa iyo.
… para malampasan nang buo at masmalakas pa ang mga pagsubok sa buhay.
… para mahalin ang mga taong mahal mo - sa salita at sa gawa.
… para itaas ang estado ng ating bansa, sa pamamagitan ng mabuting pagbabago sa ating mga sarili.
Maligayang Bagong Taon, Pilipinas!
Amazing how I don’t get this feeling anymore. Yes, I still sometimes imagine Skyway (a specific part of it) as the bridge to SFO, but this feeling, as described in the 2009 post above, this feeling has crossed over to that realm which we fondly call (the) Past.
2012, I have a feeling you’ll be a very interesting and dynamic year.
I (used to) love Sungka. Used to because I don’t get to play it anymore these days. Growing up, my mom didn’t really want one in the house - some sort of bad luck or something.
Haven’t been paying attention to this tumblr (or any of my tumblrs for that matter). Wifehood, parenthood, new studio space, and visiting friends are taking up entire days and nights. Well, those, and Twitter, too.
Hope all is well with you all.
Learning how to play Sungka (Philippine mancala game) (Taken with instagram)
You know, dear readers, one thing I’ve slowly realized in having to write my term papers on development topics about the country, is that I shouldn’t be too negative on the current situation of the Philippines. Yes, there are problems. Yes, there are inefficiencies. Yes, there is still corruption. Yes, poverty is everywhere.
BUT. People are working, and working hard, to contribute to the improvement of things. It just so happens that these people do not make the headlines, the late night news, and our twitter or tumblr feeds. We are so used to seeing these negative stories, that we have come to subconsciously expect them. When the truth is, changes are happening, however small and seemingly slow.
The moment I realized this, I felt more inspired and energized in doing my research. Because there is a point in doing so. There is a point in trying to change things, in our own way. There is a point in staying here and battling it out. There is a point in being Filipino and owning our country. There is hope.
I hope you’d feel the same way, too.
Late afternoon, driving with my husband to my brother’s place (where we are now, spending Christmas), I see people on the street and wonder out loud, “I wonder what they’re having for Noche Buena.” I was thinking how expensive preparing the meal of December can be. My husband answers, “Pansit, fried chicken, buko salad.” And that puts Christmas into perspective. Being with family, the people you love, and being thankful and happy for the good things in life.
I wish everyone a very happy and meaningful Christmas, and an awesome year ahead. Much warmth and love.