Simplicity

After picking up my cousin from school yesterday, we headed to Robinson’s mall where I picked up some things I’d be needing for my stay here– more tissues and wipes, shampoo/conditioner, paper for the GK youth, etc. Filipino department store workers will never cease to impress me– with their genuine willingness to help you and such uniform-uniform (and neatly done hair for the ladies). Why can’t American workers be like that? On our way home we took the tricycle– woohoo! I hit my head going in of course (not woohoo), but our driver was wearing a rasta hat so I was glad to know we were riding in style. During our ride I badly wanted to take pictures, but realized the photos would either come out blurry or in an awkward frame. Throughout our ride, I could not help but observe the people and places we were passing through– meeting the gazes of onlookers quite often. There was a chinky siopao-looking schoolboy holding the hand of a miss and poking through at tricycles that of course warmed me heart. So many children and so many people just people-watching. So many kids walking home from school or sharing a tricycle. So many men and women watching their young kids or looking to see who might be in the tricycles passing their homes. I wondered, if I were to ask these people what they did on a daily basis– would this be all they had to share? But also, would this even pose as a problem to them as it does to me? When I look out from my uncle’s car window or stare through the tricycle’s opening (serving as a door and window)– I see Filipinos looking right back at me. I see children merrily playing in the street. I see three boys– that can’t be more than 6 years old each– happily walking home side by side with the middle one having his arms along his friends’ shoulders. I see men of all ages waiting for someone to need a ride on their tricycle. I see people simply living the “simple” life. But how simple can life be if you have to walk miles and miles just to get home from school? How simple can life be when you can’t even breathe the air outside of your home because the emissions from tricycles can hurt your lungs over time? What is simplicity and who gets to decide it? When I look out from my uncle’s car window or stare through the tricycle’s opening (serving as a door and a window)– I see smiles and laughter. I see Filipinos living in what we may see as poverty but in what they may see as family– as home. For many, it’s probably all they’ve ever known; but to know a life outside of these conditions, doesn’t that in itself complicate it all?

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