August 5, 2013 | 1:13 P.M. | Imus, Cavite, Philippines
I’ve been meaning to write this post for awhile now but couldn’t exactly word it in a way that could surely resound to the varying audiences I want to reach. This past weekend, however, something happened that helped me to realize what I had been trying to say all along…
In the beginning of this Practice Experience, I asked myself: why are you doing what you’re doing? Why in the world are you spending the rest of your summer in the Philippines– a place you have very minimal familiarity with? Land of the mosquitoes that inflame your skin and streets that are filled with traffic, smog, and young people wiping your windows without your consent– just to pressure you into paying them a few pesos for their unwanted service? Just a few months ago, I was struggling with the fact that I would be leaving my dance team– that I would be leaving my newly appointed board members– that my world had revolved around for so long. I was hesitant to leave my family and friends and all that I knew to experience a whole different way of living. I was unsure whether I really wanted to leave the familiar for the unknown and started to question what I was doing and why I was about to embark on a completely out-of-the-blue journey on my own.
During the homily at mass yesterday in Las Piñas, the priest was talking about the new list that had come out from Forbes of the richest people in the world– emphasizing that four of those billionaires actually lived in the Philippines. “Ang mayaman pa la ang Pilipinas,” he said with a hint of irony. How rich we are yet how much our people struggle to get by from each day to the next. We have forgotten how to use our stuff for the love of people… we now focus on the use of people for the love of stuff. The more the priest said, the more I couldn’t believe how perfect this homily was to my personal situation. To tie everything together, the priest wanted to introduce a motto that had been popularized by young Americans… “YOLO” (which he pronounced as “yoo-lo”). All of my friends in the states are very familiar with this and many of my generation use it on a daily basis: You Only Live Once… but the priest was saying how these young people in America use it as a reason to do the most ridiculous things, which is definitely the truth– a truth I am guilty of knowing first hand. But then he started to take “YOLO” and put it in a different context– giving it a whole new meaning that was everything I believed and had been contemplating on these past some months.
You only live once. Indeed, you only live once. So instead of solely living for yourself, why not live a meaningful life that has meaning to others? What story will you have to share? What legacy will you leave? You can’t choose what life you’re born into, but you can choose how you live that life. I am just one Filipino in this country of the Philippines, and I could have been easily born into the majority of families who struggle to earn enough money to put their children through school or even feed their youngest. I am thankful every day for having two determined and hardworking parents who made the decision to rise out of their struggle– who never fail to provide for their family and have ensured a bright future ahead of us. Not all can expect a bright future and some can’t even expect a tomorrow. So for now, I hope. I hope for hope– hope that everyone realizes that we only have one life to live and hope that lives are not full of watching TV or begging on the street. Hope that lives be full of purpose and light… that we forget vain and greed and remember to use our stuff for the love people. YOLO.