"Sailed not as a seaman, but as a traveler..."

"Sailed not as a seaman, but as a traveler..."- Sir Thomas More's Utopia

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Happy New Year from the Philippines

Image: Lighting up the sky with colored fires for a prosperous new year.

Due to time zones I was fortunate enough to be one of the first in the world to kick off the new year. Really, I just find the whole concept of time zones mind-bogglingly awesome. Sometimes a little scary.

Anywho, as the previous year comes to an end and a new one begins, we are forced into a little introspection on the lives that we lead. Traveling and writing full-time, all I do is introspectize (adding wordsmithery to my long list of skills), so I don't think this post will be about self-reflection because frankly, this whole soul-searching thing is starting to get old. Nor will I be sharing my New Year's Resolutions, because well, most of them are just inappropriate. Rather, I think I will finally answer a very common question that I always try to avoid but ceaselessly gets thrown at me. Or, at least I will attempt to shed some light on aforementioned question.

I am going into my fourth month of living here in the Philippines and since my very first day here, everyone has been asking me how it is. How everything is. I never know where to begin. The Philippines is such a complicated country filled with complicated people doing complicated things. How do I distill a description of a place that makes me laugh and cry and love and hate all within one breath? How do I show you the moments that turn my outstretched arms into fists and back again? It's like asking me to fit forever in brevity. It's really fucking hard.

I have been reading a lot of Philippine literature and I have come across a writer who has so eloquently put into words the way in which my heart beats for this country and its people. I would like to share his words with you in an attempt to help you understand how everything is.

From Bienvenido Santos' The Miracle:

Disillusion has become our daily fare; betrayal a commonplace. A drought is come upon the land, the rivers of our beings are dry, the wells of our hearts are empty, and there is no sign of rain, only a dry wind in the cruel months. So we seek the flimsiest excuse to proclaim a miracle, a temporary distraction from the weariness and the dust; and a hope above the shame and the agony that lie all around us. We hold on to that hope that this, indeed, is the miracle at last, the promised glory and the surcease, the balm to wounds, the cure to festering flesh. We keep on holding to that faith and clinging to it, desperately, until the petals are proven to be just ordinary petals and the visions, mere hallucinations of a wandering mind. We turn away, but not too defeated to proclaim another miracle and still another.


  1. I never thought you actually lived here. So I assume you've had a firsthand experience of how it is here. To describe in one word how it is living here, you got it spot on - complicated. It seems really hopeless, but somehow we Filipinos, in our own little ways, find ways to enjoy ourselves. I think our culture is the only thing that's keeping this country together. Anyway, I prefer to lean on the positive side of things so, I know how to enjoy my life.

  2. I am full-blooded Kapampangan!

    Being an Amboy here in the Philippines definitely has its ups and downs but hey, that's life.

    This is the first time that I've stayed for a period longer than three weeks and I won't say that my life here was either collectively negative or collectively positive. However, it's definitely been an adventure.