August 22, 2013 | 11:10 A.M. (PHIL) | Somewhere Across the Pacific Ocean
Wah! I can’t believe we are shy of one hour from landing at LAX. I’ve been putting off journaling… because I think subconsciously I realized that with every entry, another day passes by. And as the days began to pass by quicker and quicker, the slower I wanted time to go by. I remember leaving the arms of the my family to enter the gate that would lead me to my journey in the Philippines. I had a sudden rush of excitement and burst of anticipation of what was to come. It was exhilarating to say the least. I now realize that the many times I had to visit the lavatory on the plane was probably because of this feeling. Now that six weeks have officially gone by and I am finally returning to the states, I can’t help but feel sad or malungkot to have to leave everything and everyone that made these past six weeks so unforgettable.
I never expected to see and experience all of the places I ended up in… and I had no idea that I would get so attached to the people that welcomed me into their lives with such open arms and such warm hearts. I will miss my home away from home/my second family– the Yanzon Family. I will miss my Aunty Sis giving me wake-up calls because my room never could let the sunshine in. I will miss our long talks after eating lunch– learning more about my mom in her younger days, my lolo who I never had the chance to meet, and all of the stories about my mom’s siblings and growing up in Bicol. I will miss the car rides with my Uncle To and our controversial conversations on political figures (and politics in general) in the Philippines. And I will surely miss his wonderful cooking! I will miss my dearest cousins, Lyka & Jelo– their daily battles with one another; my subconscious comparison of their individual traits with that of my sister and me; and just being able to hand out with, rain or shine. I will miss eating the spiciest and yummiest foods with Jay and of course, I will miss Lyka’s curiosity for everything that belonged to me. Because of my pretty girl Lyka, I now know how it feels to have a younger sister 🙂 (or how my sister must have felt towards me whenever I would go into her room and want to look at her things… which I totally still do). I will miss all of my family and friends… buong Pilipinas and most especially GAWAD KALINGA ALAPAN. ❤
To think– just six weeks ago, I had so much uncertainty towards my Practice Experience– Would I be placed in a “nice” community? Would anyone want to join my program? How would I even accomplish what I wanted to accomplish in such a short time? Who would support me?… Would I be alone in this? And now six weeks later, all my questions of uncertainty have been answered… with an unsurmountable amount of hope, kindness, and love that was shared along the way. It’s hard for me to put these past six weeks into actual English words… but the feelings– of happiness, sadness, hopefulness, graciousness, worry, frustration, accomplishment and collective determination– will always stay with along with the imprint of the amazing people who shared this journey with me.
From witnessing children struggling on the streets to earn the smallest piso to getting the most makulit kids to actually focus on the dances I taught them. From the Nanays and Tatays who treated me like their own to the Nanays and Tatays who were forced to remove their belongings from their flooded homes. There are so many sides. There are so many people living in troubling conditions. So many sociopolitical issues that seem nearly impossibly to change or bring to rest.
Yet, they smile.
Yet, they laugh.
Yet, they drink and sing karaoke songs despite “having nothing” or bring labeled as mahirap. Maybe this is what the world is missing… maybe this is the most important lesson to learn not just on my Practice Experience but in life. Yes, the world has a lot of problems– from environmental to communal to the individual. Yes, inequality exists at every corner and the more we analyze and criticize it, the more unfair this world seems. But despite wanting to change the world– despite wanting to touch even one child’s life– it is not my place to say what the world needs. It is not our place to say these people “have nothing” because in truth, those that I encountered during my stay in the Philippines have much more than us “first world” inhabitants. Ang mahal ng pamilya. Ang respeto sa matanda. Ang pangarap para sa butihan ng mga magulang. Ang sayahan at tawanan sa ulan o baha. These are things that even those with the most money or highest rank in class lack. And these are the things that make even the “poorest of the poor”– rich. Not rich in money or material things… but rich in the things that really matter in this life: happiness, hope, and love for one another. We can’t change our sociopolitical environment right away… but maybe with tiwala sa isat-isa and a masipag mindset, we can slowly but surely rise our brothers and sisters out of poverty.