For the most part of my life, I’ve always watched people come and go…and there’s nothing I can say or do about it. I don’t want to sound like I’ve been abandoned many times in my life and being whiny about it, but I often pause and wonder how it would feel if it’s the other way around. What does it feel to be the one who’s leaving, instead of the one left behind? What does it feel like to be the one pushing the luggage cart to the terminal reserved for international flight instead of the one waving goodbye through glass doors?
Last January 18, a dear friend of mine left for the States for greener pasture. She wasn’t the first one in our immediate circle to leave the country for a job. Another friend also left the country two years ago, but she’s in contract and she’s going to return every four years. Now this one, she left for good. She’s going to apply for an American citizenship. She’s the good, hardworking daughter who wants her parents to grow old in the States. And frankly, her decision has left me questioning my own life choices at this point.
My life choices are determined by what I want, not what I should do. I know there’s no problem with this. What’s wrong with pursuing what you love? Still, I’m burdened by the knowledge that I’m the first born of the family. I graduated college first. My grades were okay. I’m burdened by the knowledge that my mother placed all her hopes and aspirations, all these expectations of being the future breadwinner, on me. Better pay, better job security, and definitely a better life for my mom and two brothers.
To be fair to my mother, she has always supported me in whatever I want, despite the shortcomings and failures. I guess she is just worried I haven’t decided a proper course of my life yet. Perhaps, I’m burdened by the knowledge that I’m making her worry. She has supported my decision to stay here and not go abroad. She is now supporting my decision to go back to school.
I wish I can give her a better life in just a snap of a finger, especially after what she had gone through in the past years. The thought of going abroad crossed my mind many times and even my aunt overseas offered to take me in. In the end, I decided to stay to pursue law school but the feeling of guilt remained. It would take another four years for me to have a proper job, and I would have to endure another four years of watching my peers build their career, go overseas, get married, have a family or just travel around the world for fun.
Making a decision is like popping a gum into your mouth. Sticking by it is chewing it for many years to come (gross – but it depends on how long you should chew it) and NOT wondering about the flavors of gum the others are chewing, then spitting it out before you can taste the real flavor of what you chose. If you can have one gum or more, that’s alright but remember that you cannot just bite off more than you can chew.
I made a decision and that is to stay in this beleaguered country of ours. I’m open to studying abroad but I will always go back here. You may be thinking, ‘You’re still young. Your decisions may change’ and I guess I’m a fool to declare avowals of love of country at the prime of my youth, where I’m unabashedly thinking I can grace the world with my passion and drive for social change.
And that’s the point: I’m still young. I’m still in the intersection of choosing what path should I take to serve my country. I still have the energy to do what I can and I’m still brimming with the prospect and ideas of contributing to the change. It might not be amount to much, but hey, it’s the thought that counts, right?
A day before my friend left, I told her that our country isn’t as hopeless as she think it is. That when day, when she decided to come back for vacations in-between applying for her immigration status, she will see the change, eventually. It’s not about having foolish expectations or having blind hope, but being optimistic to what lies ahead, to what this generation can do. And yes, the ones left behind, the ones ‘foolish’ enough to stay despite the system, the burden of making it possible falls mostly on our shoulders.
While our modern heroes are working hard on other countries, ploughing through the loneliness, homesickness and discrimination just to send money here, it’s up to us, the ones left behind, to make their sacrifice worth it.
Because we ourselves have sacrificed comfort and security, the pleasure of having turkey dinners on Thanksgiving Day as snowflakes dance outside our windows, the efficiency of medical services provided by other countries we cannot afford here, and the overwhelming difference of earning dollars instead of pesos, we might as well be all-out in making this country worth returning to.
If we’re going to stay here for good, we might as well change this country for the better.
Kindly allow me to join the bandwagon of netizens self-analyzing and self-assessing themselves at the last day of 2015. I mean, it’s better than writing on a crummy list of New Year’s Resolutions that never found themselves beyond the paper.
I don’t consider 2015 as the best or worst year for me. In fact, I don’t consider a year as a bad or a good year. 2015 started out as horrible in a sense that I didn’t get the scholarship I want and I’m basically back to Ground Zero of what I ought to do in my life, but the last few months are filled with wonderful experiences and learning that I couldn’t simply count it as a ‘bad year’ for me.
I developed a strange sense of calmness and peace of mind in this year. I found myself as more patient than I had been before, and I don’t stress on things too much. Just like in climbing a mountain, I learned to find my own pace and not force myself to catch up on others just because. On the other hand, I learned to focus my energy and time on things that matter, including people. I learned to be more forgiving, especially to myself.
I already have a clear focus on what I’m going to be in the coming years. What I really need to focus on is getting there.
Hopefully, when I welcome 2017, after all the miscalculations and wrong turns, unexpected storms and devastating waves, I can finally say that I’m on my way.
A day before we went to an out-of-town trip, my office mates and I decided to sleep in one of the guestrooms in the office for the night. We borrowed the office projector and my personal laptop to watch a Star Cinema movie called Etiquette for Mistresses as a part of our “big screen” movie marathon
It’s a movie about mistresses (if the title fails to convince you) and it stars big names like Kris Aquino, Claudine Barretto and Kim Chiu. Anyway, I don’t want to spoil the entire movie nor I want to share my two cents about it. There’s this just particular scene where Kim Chiu’s character, a spirited and cheerful young lady hailing from Cebu, sings a Cebuano song for her lover over the phone. It’s a pretty song called Labyu Langga, a piece written by Jerika Teodorico for VisPop 2.0. Check it out here:
And then I surprised my office mates by singing along with it, word by word, like a fluent Cebuano speaker would. They were like “Naiintindihan mo ang kanta?”
but of course, their exact words are: “Hoy Feeling Cebuana!”
I said I know some words but not entirely the song. I’ve been listening to it on Spotify along with other Vis Pop songs which are also nice to hear, considering my Cebuano vocabulary is more or less limited to a Tagalog’s common knowledge of basic phrases (Maayong buntag, Daghang salamat, Ano nimo ngalan?)
I’ve been vocal in my support for the empowerment of other Philippine languages aside from Tagalog in mass media. For months now, I’ve been trying to learn Cebuano, along with Spanish, as an added weapon to my language arsenal. Needless to say, I was also pleasantly surprised that Cebuano songs have found their way to mainstream media, especially in a Star Cinema movie. Hopefully, this is just the start.
Since I’m learning the language, I’ve been drawn to Visayan songs on YouTube and Spotify. I learned that Cebuanos have really good voice, their songs are catchy and their music is reflective of their warm and loving culture (If you can’t understand the lyrics, you will enjoy the beat)
I recently discovered a rock band called Missing Filemon (which falls under the genre of Bisrock) I would love to hear them live one of these days! Check out their songs here:
And the band ‘Phylum’ is also worth knowing about.
Bisrock or Bisaya Pop is such an interesting phenomena to study, especially with the prevailing music scene in the country. Since Tagalog is the predominant language (in mass media), it’s quite difficult to ‘sell’ music to the larger audience and be a break-out artist. To learn that these folks in the South have a thriving music scene of their own is truly admirable. I believe that producing songs in a regional language is also for the enrichment of OPM (Original Pinoy Music) and we, as Filipinos, should be proud of it.
I would like to commend the organizers and sponsors of VISPOP 2.0 for their efforts in promoting Vis Pop. I hope other regions would follow. I look forward on hearing songs from other Philippine languages as well.
In a more serious note, it is sad to see that most of the Youtube comments in the video above is an internet flame war between Tagalog and Bisaya. Moreover, I’m interested how the ‘rivalry’ between these two languages (or people) seemed to manifest every now and then as far as the issue of a national language is concerned. Any thoughts why? :)
As a lover of words and a student of writing, I’ve always had this innate fear that I would no longer have anything to write about.
What I mean by that is, I would simply lose the desire to write. That anything I would ever experience, no matter how monumental or simple it is to my life, would lose its appeal to be immortalized into words. I fear I might lose my ‘second sight’ – an acquired sense which lets you perceive any object, person or a happening beyond than just the literal and the physical.
I was shaped into thinking that writers don’t just ‘live on the moment’ – they need to ‘feel’. In order to capture the moment, they need to encapsulate the wonder, disgust, awe, anger, loathing, hilarity, and other ranges of emotion into words. In short, it is usually the emotion that drives the writing. We are literally bursting with feelings, being sensitive souls that we are. Writing allows us to release that inward pressure and although it may disappear overtime, we would soon feel an unmistakable pang of regret of not ‘writing about it.’
But what happens when we stop to feel?
That was my case for the last three months. I call it writing hibernation. While writer’s block prevents you to write in the technical sense of the word, a writer’s hibernation prevents you to ‘think and feel like a writer.’ It replaces your love for learning and weaving words with indifference. A period of just living by, not living on. I felt like a passenger on a bus who is gazing through the window when something strange happens. I will just watch it with interest for a moment, think of other things and eventually forget the whole thing.
My rational side tells me that it’s all biological. Our brains like to prioritize things and activities in a day-to-day basis. It gets rid of clutter – those random thoughts, curious sights that don’t matter to our practical lives, daydreams and what-ifs – for a more pressing issues like agendas for Monday’s meetings, convincing a potential client or what to give to your significant other on your anniversary. We thought these are all too normal to write about. There’s nothing new in them anyway. And so the brain simply gets rid the thought of writing it and move on to something else.
When I logged into my blog this past week, I cringed at the number of weeks I wasn’t able to post. I looked back and thought, hey there’s nothing to write about for the past few months (no life-changing encounter, no travels, no milestones, no moments of hitting rock-bottom) so I have a perfect excuse for not writing. But this reasoning calls upon a more important question: Do I need to experience these moments just to have something to write about?
Did I lose the ability to ‘feel’?
And I know that my worst fear is starting to unfold itself before me. This is what drove me to write this post – fear, anxiety, disappointment over myself. I feel bad. I welcome and embrace this emotion warmly. After all, writing is unbiased to any emotion that propels it.
It’s fairly obvious by now but the best way to break through your writer’s hibernation is to write your way through it, just like if you have writer’s block. There is no other way.
Today, I was supposed to meet one of my favorite writers for the first time. I was fortunate to be invited in an academic round-table at a big university in Taft, Manila for his intimate discussion of Politics in Literature.
But thanks to my poor time management and awful lack of hindsight in navigating through the chaotic traffic of Manila, I have no choice but to take a rain check and go home disappointed as crap (for the lack of better word to express my current state.)
The day started out fine. I woke up early. I didn’t have to report to work because I already told my boss I’m going to meet my idol and this is going to be one of the big moments to cap off my 2015 and I wouldn’t be able to perform my best at work if I let this one go by. He excused me with a slight nod. The urge to leap and hug him was tempting that time.
I decided to drop by my university to get my transcript and other important records for my application to Law School. Yes, law school. It’s such a shame because this day is supposed to be one of the days I shall look back fondly while I’m in hell the next year.
The processing of papers went fine and smooth. I was ordered to go back by January for my Certificate of Good Moral Character (yes, the law school requires it.
hahahaha) and I still have plenty of time to commute to Taft for the seminar.
What happened was…I didn’t left right away. I stayed longer at my university than necessary. I dallied. I was on a nostalgic feels trip. I was confident I can get there on time because of the train system. Oh what on earth possessed me to think like that? This is Manila we’re talking about. A 30-minute ride on the streets to a 3-5 km destination is considered a miracle.
So what happened was, I left my common sense in Pureza and took a jeepney to go to Avenida where I’m supposed to ride the LRT-1 going to Taft. I have one hour to spare. 30 minutes to Avenida, a 30-minute-ride in LRT going to Taft. Plenty of time, I said to myself. (By this time, most of you who are reading this and are familiar of the commuting time from Pureza to Avenida are shaking your heads in despair)
Guess what? The ride going to Nagtahan bridge alone costed me 30 gob-smacking minutes. It didn’t help that the air was dreary and the whole city feels like it’s inside a colossal oven. Everywhere the jeepney driver turns, the roads are blocked and we’re always stuck in some intersection. The worse part is, I think I was the only one who’s making a big deal out of this. The other passengers just act like it’s just another good day to live in this city. Somebody should conduct a study to measure a typical Manileno’s ability to estimate the duration of his/her travel compared to the actual time he/she got there. I bet the results will be fascinating.
Legarda isn’t a better place either. We barely moved. I already chunked in 45 minutes of my time. In Kubler-Ross model of Five Stages of Grief, I was already bargaining with God. “Okay fine, I get it. I learned my lesson. Can you please speed this up? Please all I want is to see him with my own eyes and maybe touch his shirt. Just that then I’ll go home happy”
But we remained stationary in Legarda until all my time is used. At this rate, I’ll be one hour late in the seminar which only lasts for 2 hours! And I hate being late. I don’t want the attention and I certainly don’t want my favorite author to think how much of a time leech I am. (geddit? because I suck at time management) Most especially, I can’t just walk in there smelling like exhaust fume and dust, my face salted with grime and my hair dry like straws. Eh screw it, I might as well go home and hope for another time. The acceptance sits like a cold slab of meat in my tummy. It’s so queer to think that sitting there and doing nothing while time flies by is so exhausting, as if the lost time happens to drain your energy at their wake.
And so, this experience got me in a Mr. Rochester-esque brooding mood. I swear I must be giving off some dark aura on the LRT ride home. Everyone stayed away from me.
I don’t want to rant about how awful the traffic in Manila is and how the driver waits irritatingly long to get some passengers as the other vehicles around us surge forward. No, this one’s on me. Blame my poor judgment. My time management sucks. I was overconfident.
I certainly cannot bring these traits to law school wherein you are expected to work your ass off everyday, plan carefully your study habits and make the best use of your time. It will be better for me to take this awful experience into heart and learn from it than going on thinking how bad this day ended up. Most people find it hard to enjoy each day of their lives because we cannot have the good stuff all the time. It ultimately depends on ourselves on how can we end a negative experience in a positive note.
And I promise, one of these days, I will post a picture of me and that writer’s eventual encounter and how much I’ve waited for this day. What life taught me today is patience after all. (As if sitting on your ass for one whole hour fuming mad isn’t enough.)
When that day comes, I will look back at this ‘bad experience’ with affection.
I want this blog post to be an open letter for those people I’ve traveled with and for my future travel buddies.
“Kahit ano” (Whatever is fine)
Please excuse me if I’m not always involved in organizing or planning an excursion or a hike or an out-of-town trip. Chances are, I tend to go with the flow than navigate through the currents of where to go and what to visit. Although I myself have preferences, the chances of me fighting to include it in the itinerary is extremely low (depending if I get to visit the site again or if the site, in question, is in my bucket-lists) Please don’t take my ‘Whatever is fine’ or shrugs or a simple nod as hints of indifference or boredom. We’re not moody, sometimes we are just caught off guard and our minds are in somewhere else. If I don’t want to go in a place at a certain moment, I would tell you the reason why.
I don’t know if I can speak for fellow Introverts but I tend to lazy around before the big trip. By this I mean you cannot expect me to reply on your texts about travel itineraries or hotel updates and basically not attending other social activities there is. My friends would often complain about this and many times they thought I wouldn’t be coming but eventually, they got used to it. (That’s what friends are for) But on the other end, I find it understandably annoying if a friend like me would seem like ‘disappear in the face of the earth’ before the big trip. So I managed to get fight off this habit by replying a short message of confirmation and by simply reiterating: ‘Hey whatever the plan is, I’m going. Just get me out of this urban jungle.’
“I can handle extreme activities too!”
When it comes to fun and thrill, people need not consider the person’s attitude. Some introverts find extremely thrilling activities as fun and some extroverts don’t, vice-versa. When you plan a trip with a group of friends, don’t leave out the extreme thrills the place has to offer. If you have the budget and the means to go there, just do it, regardless of who you are with. Real companions are people who enjoy watching you having fun.
“There will be silence…long ones actually”
I don’t know about you but I dread the long ride going to a certain place. When it’s a group thing, I don’t have any problem, but I’ve traveled so many times now with one person or two. My mode of travel is this: companion talks for a long time — listen — insert a quip or a witty comment every now and then — companion talks for a long time — and so on. We don’t mind if you do the talking all the time. I don’t always engage in a long conversation unless it’s serious. I have trouble starting small talks and idle chatter, especially with people I’ve just met (oh how I detest the act!) My best friend happens to be an introvert like me and we traveled quite often, just her and I. We don’talk but we don’t have uncomfortable silence either. It’s the kind of atmosphere wherein you don’t need words to bond, but just the simple knowledge that wherever you’re heading, someone’s going with you and it’s gonna be lots of fun!
“Please don’t mind us if we stare blankly into space for too long”
Chances are, we are savoring the sight and view in ways we cannot express through words (sometimes) But if we do speak, please don’t mind how we repeatedly gush how beautiful or romantic the place is.
“If it’s a beach party or bar-hopping, expect us to be late…or don’t expect us to arrive at all”
It’s not like we don’t enjoy drinking or all kinds of party stuff. It’s just that we need our daily social tolerance to re-charge itself after a long hard day under the sun. It could be in the form of naps, some alone-time musings in the beach or at the view deck of the hotel, or logging in our social accounts at the end of the day. You can’t expect us to jump from one recreation after another. Sometimes, we just need a little bit of alone-time, and then we’ll be your partner in whatever ‘trouble’ you may want to put yourself into ;)
“If we can have it our way, we prefer the off-beaten path”
Sometimes, we just simply want to avoid large crowds and congested roads. Better yet, virgin beaches and underrated sites. We are also a fan of traveling off-season. Come on, it’s economical. Hotel and inn rates are much cheaper this way!
“We will enjoy a week-long or even a month-long travel!”
Just allow us to spend night times in our own please :)
I can’t speak for all the introverts out there since people do not necessarily to be classified solely in both extremes, but some (like me) tend to manifest introvert traits when I’m with people all the time. We’re not difficult to please but you have to understand that we enjoy experiences, such as traveling, in our own way. Our idea of making the best out of the place is simply basking in the knowledge that we’re here and nothing in this world can ever replace the wonderful experience of being here. It is during these moments our hearts and minds sing the loudest but we don’t always feel the speak out loud the words just to capture the feeling.
When Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte, also known as ‘The Punisher’ of Davao City, finally announced that he has closed his doors to presidency, a lot of netizens had their hearts broken. Some even go as far as calling him ‘the best president we never had’.
Let’s start with the basis of the notion first. Most Filipinos, especially the middle-class and our hardworking kababayans abroad, are fed up with the government. They are fed up with transportation inefficiency, astonishingly high tax rates, corruption and graft cases allegedly committed in top-to-bottom rungs of the government, flood projects and traffic schemes that are seem to be going nowhere (ironically), nepotism, high rates of crime, uncontrolled boom of population, poor urban planning schemes, strife in underdeveloped parts of Mindanao, and most importantly, the slowest internet connection in Southeast Asia.
I can understand the public clamor of Duterte running. Unlike most public officials, his experience and political will has concrete evidence. Like how the late DILG Secretary Jessie Robredo changed Naga City and how the former MMDA Chief Bayani Fernado transformed Marikina City, Davao City has Duterte. Let’s take a look at Davao City and its humble yet tumultuous beginning.
Davao town in 1930s
Like the major cities Manila and Cebu, Davao was heavily affected by World War II but recovered eventually. In 1967, it was recognized as the second largest city in the Philippines and many people from the neighboring regions settled there, making it an ethnic melting pot. By 1970, it became the regional capital of Southern Mindanao and eventually the regional capital of Davao Region. The highly-urbanized city became a home for people of various faith: Christians, Muslims and the Lumad tribes (natives of Mindanao)
But in 1980s, the city plunged into a crisis. It is caught in the middle in the conflict between criminals, communist rebels and leftists. Murders in the street became a norm. A story my aunt shared is that, as a little girl in Davao, people carrying guns and arms while buying bread or walking down the streets are a common sight. She remembered that her family used to bring food outside the house and if they did not, some men with guns would knock on their doors to demand why they didn’t give their share for the ‘revolution.’ As Luzon and Metro Manila is busy struggling to restore democracy during the Martial Law, Davao has its own war within.
Because the capital has its own conflict, locals of Davao decided to take the matter into their hands. Civilians form vigilante groups such as ‘Alsa Masa’ (People’s Rise) to drive out criminals and rebels. There was no day without someone killed. It earned the nickname, the country’s murder capital.
When Rodrigo Duterte assumed office on 1988, it took a tremendous effort and drastic measures in his part to make the city livable again. In his tenure, strict laws are implemented. A curfew on minors is enforced. Bars and Disco are ordered not to sell alcohols by 1AM. Smoking policies are enforced in public areas. Motorcyclists without helmets and defective lights are not allowed to go to the city. Once when I came to Davao, the shuttle van we are riding stopped at a checkpoint before entering the city. I thought the officer would just poke his head inside, check the bottom of the car, and signal us to move, just like in shopping malls or subdivisions in Manila. No, he made ALL the passengers alight the vehicle so he can conduct a thorough search inside. Before we climbed again, he checked our bags. Guns are definitely not allowed in the city.
And if you’re a drug addict, drug pusher or a drug lord in Davao City, you might as well leave a will or a suicide note behind because the Davao Death Squad will be knocking on your doors anyday. No due process of law. No time to say goodbye to your friends and family. It remains inconclusive whether Duterte is connected the DDS or he has nothing to do with it but the vigilante group acts as the present-form of Alsa Masa, this time battling crimes and drugs in the city.
(To be fair, Duterte ordered the establishment of Drugs Rehabilitation Center for the Youth in Davao City.)
Take note, social stability in Davao wasn’t restored in a single day, technically, in a single term. Of course, many initially refused to live with it. Many defied the city’s laws. Many accused Duterte for nonchalantly dismissing human rights just like that. He had to stay in power for more than a decade to give birth to the Davao now. Anyone who can’t stomach his leadership are either forced to flee out of the city or laid buried somewhere.
Are you prepared to live with this? No smoking in public areas. Liquor ban after midnight.
How about this in major roads and highways?
Many Duterte supporters like to apply his leadership in a national level. As I said before, we are fed up with government not doing anything. But did many of you ever stop and think this: It took more than two decades, more or less, for a no-nonsense, mercenary-like Duterte to change Davao and its image. For a country of 7,107 islands and more than 100 million people, can you imagine how long it will take for the whole Philippines to follow Davao’s stead?
And given how the Filipinos often complain about anything, how they insist and push the candidates they like to run and then after a short while (maximum of two years), they felt that this person is not doing enough and they would now raise the cry for this person to resign. If Duterte does run, Filipinos have big expectations around him. If he gets elected, he will overthrow the present system and build a revolutionary government. He will change the Constitution. Goodbye, Centralism. Hello, Federalism. It will take an awful lot of work and time for the people to accept and adapt by it. And I’m not even talking about the laws and regulations we all have to live with yet.
SIDENOTE: In Marikina City, when Bayan Fernando was the mayor, people were fined and had to be part of community service when they are caught throwing candy litters on the street. Many were outraged and thought it as OA. But BF has to do it and grudgingly, Marikenos accpted it and lived with this. Now, we are known for being one of the most disciplined cities in Metro Manila. This didn’t happen overnight.
I understand his reason for not running. He’s too old. All he wants is to enjoy the results of his work in the city. Let him. For those people stamping him as selfish, using Heneral Luna’s ‘Bayan o Sarili’ lines to taunt him, you’re not doing any much good. Please, just please, respect this man’s decision. If you want to make this bayan good, start with your sarili.
If Duterte intends to change the system fast, to be compressed within the six years of his time or before he dies, and given the ‘Let the government do all the work’ mindset that we have, it will be like Martial Law once again. And admittedly, I would oppose that. Due process of law is a basic human right. It raises a disturbing and sad rhetoric that in order for all the Filipinos to get their, pardon the expletive, shit together, the authority must strike fear on their hearts. No, we, as a people, are capable of more than that.
We have to develop a critical mindset of what we need as a country. If presidents are assessed and are subject of critiques, why not ourselves too? If someone like Duterte is elected in national office, do we have the capacity to accept and cooperate with his style of leadership?
And in my opinion, given the present maturity that we have, most of us will not be able to. It will be messy, it will be bloody. We still have a long way to go. Before then, we have to evolve as a people. Understand that governance is a collaborative act and it needs your participation, cooperation and constructive feedback. It’s not a play that should satisfy you while you’re just there watching and doing nothing.
Hopefully, by then, we can finally choose the leader that we don’t only want, but the leader we need.
Are you sure you’re ready for this?