basangsisiw

Trails of a wandering soul

Photographers, you say?

Can’t agree more. Happy Saturday, buddies!:)

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The Rise of Hypocrisy


“Be the change you want to see in the world.”

~Mahatma Gandhi

 

I don’t usually discuss or write about politics or politicians or their platforms and what they’ve promise to a nation who is in dire need of change. I don’t, because I see myself unfit to tackle these issues or not knowledgeable enough on the matter. But what I know is, my country has long been a victim of personal and political interest of so many people—the same breed of trapos whose rise to fame skyrockets in the same degree when it loses its political luster and plunges down in mud.

I myself deem it necessary for the nation to go on a complete overhaul—yes, and the people being the catalyst for change.

Everyone wants change. And everyone knew, there is no better time to do it but now. But the sad truth is, in reality, we still do not know what exactly we want to change. Or what we want to achieve for this nation, for ourselves.

With all this hullabaloo about the coming Presidential elections, may we all take to heart what a priest friend once said.

“One of the probable and possible reasons why our country cannot progress steadily is that we tend to defend and love our political bets more than we love our country.”

Love of country—the denominator… too complex to fathom by those whose eyes are blinded by the lust for power, of the opportune moment laid before them to advance personal interest and gain, those whose hearts have become numb to the roaring cries of our people begging for help, continuously silenced by the deafening accolades by supporters who have become apathetic and indifferent to the plight of the suffering Filipino, as the elected officials themselves.

No one wants to listen, so the problem went on… Until someone came out of the open and expose the corrupt practices of government officials— in the military, in the Senate, in the Congress, in the Executive and the Judiciary levels.

People go on frenzy defending their elected officials, others accusing, bad-mouthing, even mocking officials on a personal level. The same people who catapulted them to the pedestal will wish for their downfall, if things will not turn out well for him while in the office. People will ask several questions thereafter—some will have answers, most will be left to forgetfulness. We take our sentiments and disappointments to the streets, in social and mass media in the hope that our unified cry will awaken the remaining blinded Filipinos to join our fight. The process is unarguably a pain in the neck, trials after trials of officials being accused of something that didn’t seem to make any headway. Justice delayed is justice denied. And dear Philippines became an arena for politicians to showcase their shameful incompetency over and again not just to the Filipino citizenry but to the prying eyes of the international community. Trial and error governance, they say.

So the typical Juan with his diminishing hope and a broken spirit continue to live on. However at the back of his mind, he prays for something—a drastic change, so to speak. Perhaps a change in the political system, in the culture, in the quality of life—a change that will enforce better security, peace and order, a change that will uphold the value and worth of the Filipino people.

Now, here’s the gist for why I share with you my personal thoughts on the matter, however unsolicited.

Everyone wants change to happen. That’s one truth, and the other? Only a small fraction of the one hundred million population would commit themselves to adhere onto what’s needed to be changed. Not in a societal but on a personal level— a change of inefficient ways, a change of mindset to advance what we aspire to attain for dear Philippines. The fight for the kind of change that we want is not just political; it is personal, rooted within ourselves.

The problem with the Philippines is not that we can’t find a good leader to address our issues… and subsequently curb our nation’s current problems. I believe, we still have decent people in this country whose ideals are worth defending and fighting for. That is certain.

As we are faced with varying issues daily which resulted either from poor governance and law enforcement or poor self- intuition to know which is right, we clamor for a radical change to effect. Yes, drugs and corruption among others, is a very serious problem of this nation plaguing us since time immemorial. We have been so long waging war with foes whose network of alliances and finances do not seem to go down the drain anytime soon. We often wonder if it is indeed too complex of a problem for the government to still fail in its attempt after so many years. We have jailed thousands, maybe even millions of drug users permanently or otherwise. But where do the multi-million financiers go? Where are the drug lords hiding and why do they seem to be so mystical creatures to not be tracked and pinned down for these crimes? Should we now summon the aswangs and tikbalangs? As the government fails, the people lose hope. We point fingers. We blame, and always we take it against the government. Always the government. We let those we had placed our trust knew our utter disappointment, those who made us dream of a drug and corruption-free Philippines… but ended up doing less than we expected. However, did it occur to you how much you contributed to this country’s illness? Did you mind asking yourselves?

When people lose hope, desperation sets in. Desperation becomes too rampant and sadly it becomes contagious. “Nothing seems to happen”, we say. Every effort is not enough. Policies become futile. Laws are nothing less than a myriad of technical terms found in books, drafted for a cause that eventually did so little to ease our troubled minds amidst increasing crime rates—a set of texts that do not already excite the common tao.

When people are desperate and the nation is broken, we beg to the heavens to grant us what we’ve all been waiting—a strong man with a titanium fist. Someone who would enforce laws like no president has ever done before(?), someone who will make drug syndicates held accountable for the damages and loss of precious lives and dreams that never got to materialize, someone that could make the culprit’s knees shake and quiver as tried and held at gunpoint. We celebrated the rise of the strong man. “At long last, heaven did hear our pleas”, we say.

We laugh at the remaining candidates as they seem too unfit or inexperienced to run a broken nation: the brown and proud rags-to-riches incumbent Vice President who still cannot exactly provide solid evidence for the source of his current fortunes, a comic superhero economist mocked for failing short of his superhero duties especially during natural disasters, a newbie Senator who has only just reacquired its Filipino citizenship and a cancer-stricken feisty ex-UN lawyer known for her wild temper and hilarious memes.

But what do we know, really?

As I said, change is personal. We decide whether to embrace or repel it. Everyone, every single Filipino is responsible for why we are what we are today. We make Philippines what she is in the eyes of the world. She is not just a landmass inhabited by millions of dependent people, folks. She is a culmination of millions of ideas and ideals, of efforts that are turned into actions, dreams that became truths. A result of millions of students making decision daily if they are to throw garbage in the sidewalk or in the designated trash bin, the same students who are torn between accepting a failing grade or devise a way to cheat; a result of CEOs deciding whether to employ a newly-graduate engineer but who has so much promise in the field or take the son of the Kumpadre; analysts developing ideas how to lure foreign investors to invest in the country or legislators aiming at how to increase tax from farmers, from the typical back-breaking Filipino labourers while granting millions of pesos on bonuses and incentives to high-ranking government officials; of yuppies committing to change their morning habit of smiling at a random stranger in the street; of traffic officers, drivers, commuters who decide to obey and never to bend traffic rules. Of millions of people civilly discussing abut politics without spreading hate.

Most often, we point fingers at officials for failing to do their job without realizing, we’ve been doing and practicing corruption ourselves for a long time. When we are tasked to do a project and even under normal circumstances, we intentionally waste our time and prolong the timeline, we are doing corruption. That instead of working on to finish the task, we update Facebook and YouTube endlessly because, the heck, I have work-can-wait-and-besides-I-am-not-appropriately-compensated-so-I-better-not-function-as-expected mentality. This and all other ordinary practices we are so fond of doing are what would slowly kill the nation.  When we are used to doing simple corrupt practices, at home or at work, we wire our minds that such practices are normal and acceptable since this does not entail a major consequence, that it would pale in comparison to the multi-million peso fertilizer scam. You think, “no one gets killed because I intentionally did not mean to hit the deadline”. You are wrong. You are killing the organization employing you. You are killing resources. You are killing opportunities. And you murder your own virtues and principles.

Remember, you are the catalyst we need for this country’s overhaul. Without your dedication, without your love for our country, we will not win. And your littlest effort means as much as everyone else’s.

As the rise of the strong man continues, I can’t help but wonder. I wonder if the people who call for the installation of an iron-fisted federal government are not the same people who bypass procedures when applying for a driver’s license, getting an NBI clearance or skip the end of the line in the bus terminal. I do hope not. I hope the people I ushered towards the end of the line one scorching March afternoon in the bus terminal after they seem to not recognize that obviously everyone was already falling in line, are not those who pound fist in the air during conversations because they are too (overwhelmed) eager to demand “the change” to come so soon. I wonder if people do walk their talk… or if they are honest about the kind of change they want for this generation to embrace.

Surely, we still have a long way… quite a long way to go and put our hypocrisy to rest.

To tell you frankly, I still have not made up my mind who to vote for in the presidential election. I have trust issues, you see. It’s evident that I don’t celebrate political bets as most people—friends and acquaintances do. I don’t, because I only admire people. What I celebrate and uphold of are ideals and visions, so even when a candidate loses its luster to any reason, never would I lose my identity as a Filipino. Nonetheless, whoever gets to the presidential office this time, a truth will always remain—I love my dear Philippines and I still have so much hope for her.

And you know, I take delight in casting stones across still waters, even if nothing really seems to happen.

***

“I alone cannot change the world, but I can cast a stone across the waters to create many ripples.”~Bl. Teresa of Calcutta

For the Love of Getting Lost

 

“Let’s find some beautiful place to get lost.”

 

So now that it is official, I do not exactly know whether to feel disappointed or be excited for the coming trip. Although I knew, I have to be thankful.

As with our Palawan trip last summer, this year’s team building effort will bring the team to Hongkong in a 4-day expense paid trip come August of this year. Some of the choices during the deliberation were Myanmar (our Norwegian boss’ country of residence), Japan, South Korea… and a chance to go back to Palawan. When we were asked where we want to go, without batting an eyelash, I said Palawan. Sadly, everyone voted some place else.

Well, what one voice can do against nine? Not that much I must say. But if given the chance, I would vie for another ticket to explore the remaining gems of Palawan instead of going somewhere else. There are just places in the universe where you feel a sense of strange belongingness. And I felt that when I step my feet in El Nido.

Hongkong is nice and grand but unfortunately, too crowded for my burnout self. What I need is to get lost in the mystical earth, not among throngs of people and towering skyscrapers or bustling city lights.

You see I am a person who rather spend time watching sunrise and sunsets in a quiet place. I am moved by nature than I am with tall superficial structures. I have very low tolerance for noise and I have no sense of direction. I struggle everytime I have to find a place and have to wrestle my way out of hundreds of people. I needed a break and I know I need to do it some place.

I don’t know much about Hongkong except that I’d be expecting to see many friendly Hebes, confused Peggys, kind Matts and possibly some short-tempered Ryans. These people are my allies when it comes to our import requirements. And they are all Chinese. Despite the growing strife between the Philippines and China because of territorial claims, I have always thought of them as my virtual friends—though we are not personally acquainted, and no matter the times we had argued and refuted about something, I feel a pull of strange connectivity to these people that I cannot fully understand.

Then again, since the trip is free, I relented to my colleague’s call to go with them. It would be fun I believe since I am with a good mix of people. It should be fun because if the initial schedule will be pushed, I’ll probably have to do whatever I can to enjoy my birthday there.

Hongkong, being the land of too much opportunity will certainly not be bad to explore. I’d possibly would have enough opportunity to get lost. Perhaps, there are mountains or oceans in Hongkong where I could spend my much needed meh time, right? Lol. What am I thinking?

Anyway, let me end this post with this inspirational video. Please check it out.

 

Brown and Proud

I am a brownie. In the Philippines, when being white is now the new black, I choose to embrace my identity and start loving my burnt skin.

While growing up, I’ve had enough moments denying myself the right to be comfortable with my color; the right to be happy despite being labeled a negrita. Even children at young age knew the preference over white and fair complexioned kids. Somehow, they are regarded as neater than their brown-skinned contemporaries, even if in reality, this isn’t always the case—a belief internalized by society that is discriminating to us who weren’t fortunate enough to be born in a mestiza lineage.

When I reached adult years, I’ve had several instances when I was swayed into believing that being brown equates to being ugly. Yes, at some point, I hated my color. I hated seeing myself in the mirror knowing I am darker than most of my friends. I grimaced in the fact that when I stand side by side with someone who has a lighter shade, the truth becomes too apparent for people to ignore. This, and all the other flaws some people have pointed out to me, destroyed what little confidence I built for myself. Yes, I’ve had enough experience with bullies. During these unfortunate encounters, instead of facing the problem head on, I shied away from any occasion where I have to delve and ponder on the issue. I knew somehow the bullies would eventually stop reminding me what’s not acceptable about me… I get on. But once in a while, I would ask myself perennial questions.

I wondered why people have to had different shades or different body structures… or facial features. Now, this is funny. Imagine what the world will be like if we all look perfectly the same? And during those times that I was blinded by my insecurities, I drowned myself in the thought that indeed, I was ugly. I knew nothing but make a gross comparison of my physical with what I was wired to think of as normal or beautiful. It took years to finally shed light onto my dark perception of my physical flaws—to embrace what and who I am—to be comfortable in my own skin and to fully contain my shame. It took me 3 decades and now, I have passed that grueling phase.

I am doing it by choice. Somehow, you have to choose to accept yourself, embrace your imperfections and be happy with it.

Those who have gone through the same road I’d been to would know that it wasn’t an easy road to take. The damp bed covers and pillows, if only they could talk would stand to attest as witness of those hard times. However, you need to stop hurting eventually, not for anyone else. Self-acceptance is key and this could be attained by embarking on a deep self-examination and contemplation to fully realize that your worth is not defined by your color or any physical attribute worthy of society’s reverence. What you do with what you were endowed with—physically, emotionally, mentally, with all the flaws and all, is what will define your worth.

Not long ago, I’d hide myself in the shade because I don’t want to get browner than I already was. During my trips where I got sun-kissed, I tried protecting myself with sun blocking creams in the hope that I could get away with getting a tan, however after the allergies I have now, I decided I won’t use anything on my skin again when intense exposure to sun is certain.

Today, I would stay in the sun for as long as I can take and I am not afraid of the zebra stripes I would get after. Or being completely burnt. Because no matter the amount of whitening creams I get my skin covered, or gluta products I consume, in the end, I would still go back to my original color. An hour of exposure in the sun is enough to turn me from my light brown complexion into dark chocolate. And now that I am loving the sun even more this summer, I no longer cringe in disgust for the possible off-shading I would get. Those thoughts are what would kill the fun. Brown or browner, I don’t mind. And I am no longer bothered whether you find me beautiful or disgusting.

I am a woman who equally enjoys the company of the sun as much as I do with rain. I am a brownie (as my nephew would call me and my other nephew, Jorge). I am darker than many women I know but no less than any one of them. I know my worth—my color doesn’t define me.

Be white and beautiful. Be brown and beautiful. Be a person of any color and choose to be happy with it. Enjoy your uniqueness.

As for me, I’ll bask in the sun any chance I get because the heck, summer only comes once a year!

Be brown and proud!😀

Overbearing Melancholia

I am writing not because it’s mother’s day today or because it’s All Souls day or because it is both. I am not particularly picky about what to write about today. I guess I have written enough of what has gone since more than a month ago to start digging up the grave again where I had left off. It’s exhausting to even think I would have the heart to even consider that. But on second thought, why not? This is exactly why this has been here in the first place, right?

It’s been pretty much the same. Nothing new has come up. I still rant about my exhaustion with work. Sometimes when I think about how the career has gone since I joined in, at some point, I wished of having the nerve to tell the boss that the multi-tasking I do is already beyond what I am capable to handle. I had been juggling with more than the usual stuffs I used to take care of before that promotion and this has gotten a bit crazy. I don’t have a life beyond work. When I should be spending some time with friends or families on some days because I deserve to give myself times to recharge, I am instead spending time at home doing homeworks. I understand, I am getting less efficient than I used to. I can’t even look people in the eye for fear that they might see how broken I truly feel inside. I lost a part of me there where I found what I once hoped for in life. And just how ironic life can get.

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I am not going to wish about things that would never come. I will work for it to become real instead because only then will I begin to start living again.  I felt so alienated with my old self that I find it hard to accept the person I have become now. Not that I have turned to be a terrible person. I have become tougher than I used to, more opinionated and straightforward, even blunt with my choice of words especially when dealing with corporate politics involving alpha males in the organization. I think people have already began to notice that, although some still see the old self in me— unabashedly kind, considerate and diplomatic. All of these changes I had to put up because my responsibility calls for it and I am held captive without a choice.

As I walked on my way home last Thursday night after yet another exhausting day at the office, I realized just how I miss being alive. The moonlight awakens a deep longing to keep my life at still and just appreciates the world around me. I stopped and looked up above half smiling. It was past ten in the evening and it was unbelievably bright and quiet. Where I live, it is surprising that people had already surrendered to the call of the night at that time. If anyone ever saw me being too emotional, well, it was the least of my worry. I was thinking about a lot of things and I knew right then and there how lonely I had become over these years. I just miss being alive. It is like those overwhelming moments when you saw someone laughing over something trivial and you know it was a genuine laugh and you start to think of the last time you did the same. As I head home, I smiled for the sudden euphoria of having the chance to witness such a beautiful night. But I was crying at the same time which was probably more obvious if you saw me than I was about being happy. I used to see the grandest nights of my life when I was younger. However, these moments seem to drift and disappear as I grow up. Despite how difficult life has been when I was young, it is during these occasions where I am mysteriously transported to the past that I realize how I loved my simple life before.

This made me wonder how mother must have felt about hers.

Almost every year during her birthday, she would travel all the way to her birthplace in San Remegio which is a bloody 131 km by bus from our place. We let her because we know she misses being there. She misses her parents who were both buried in a remote cemetery in Busogon and her siblings who live nearby. I’ve only been there a number of times and I definitely understand why she braves the agonizing crowd every year just to be there. Does she also look at the moon every night and cried in silence for the times she could not recover? Did it occur to her to wish that life was something different?

Most of the times, I would miss seeing mother before she leaves home. During All Souls Day when we should be spending time together because it’s her birthday, we go on our lives separately. Father would leave home early to go to the cemetery and offer mass, my brothers who are both married will go with their families. I would go there late in the afternoon. As I woke up moments ago, the silence in the house beacons that indeed, mother has already left home. And she’s not coming back til I guess, tomorrow morning. I am not sure.

I would have wanted to buy her a cake but it seems nothing will change this year.

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