Here in the hotel room, charging our body batteries, we’re still trying to digest the rocky road to peace. I’m physically exhausted and my brain has used up its reserves. All I’ll have are short naps in 30 long hours. The most I can give now is a weak, grateful smile (and a few words).
We’re leaving to Zamboanga Sibugay in a few minutes. This is by far the southernmost that I’m experiencing the Philippines. I am not on vacation. And for security reasons, we’re advised not to wander around, especially in Basilan.
Try Googling these places in Mindanao, if you want to know what I’m saying (unless, Google filters our search results differently). At least for metro-Filipinos and the international community who hears news, these places are quickly linked with terrorism, kidnapping, bombing, rebels, massacre, ambush, family feuds… Plus these are Muslim areas so I might/would have to strictly observe a different set of norms.
What am I trying to say?
At this point none, I know nothing about these places (news and travel advisories aside), more so the people and how they live. At some point, I’m thinking of getting a tattoo to the effect of As-Salāmu `Alaykum, dreaming that it would save me especially from naked hostility and forthcoming death. And how staring into the eyes, into the soul, of another would prove that humans are essentially good.
Wish me luck, as I unravel how to bring peace to the consciousness of my people. And how we could see “we-are-all-connected” in a brighter light.
I’m not trying to be a hero, I’m just one of the curious lot.
#1) If you care enough to throw shit at people, please care enough to do something.
I can’t believe I had to add somebody on Facebook just to be able to comment on this photo.
I’m not a big fan of our president. So I’m cool about people criticizing him. But something about this comment sparked my fuse.
And everything else to that effect. All stupid criticisms.
Okay, maybe I’m not seeing some things. That those people are actually working towards something awesome, or at least living a decent happy life (which, I think is all that people really ought to do). Maybe I just can’t take a joke.
But this attitude is exactly what pulls us down: betrayal — making Philippines a laughing stock in front of outsiders just so we’re not one of those stupid Filipinos; and throwing criticisms and not working on a solution. I’m not saying that people should all work in NGO’s or the government, or setting up social enterprises. All I’m saying is, if you care enough to throw shit at people, please care enough to do something.
#2) Mind sharing what you work for?
My experience with government agencies has mostly been contrary to the general public’s impression. People have been helpful, at the very least.
So it’s disheartening to have this photo circulating without at least attesting to the contrary. Yes, this photo holds true especially in old, huge bureaus (that’s according to my friend who worked in one of the biggest agencies). Just like in any company, right? My friends in the private sector could confirm that as well.
But for some people I personally know (many of whom are batchmates in high school), it would do no justice to just shut up.
These people are very well aware of the problems plaguing the country — having different focuses but with the same dream for a healthier country. These are people who are in government not because it’s the only vacancy, but because it is a choice.
How about our critics? Mind sharing what you work for?
It should be a nun’s life, but monk sounds cooler. After 10 days of Vipassana meditation, I’m back to the online world, I’ve almost forgotten how to type. And now Trech is giving me a quick run through what happened while I was away — Infernez Veneracion, Meganon Fox, Afraidy Aguilar, and she got accepted in HPI School of Design Thinking!
10 days without chatting, reading, writing, electronic devices, connection to the outside, physical contact, stealing, munching outside of designated hours, perfumes, intoxicants, shorts, legs, skin, sexual activity, distracting exercise, and without killing any being (even ants crawling on my bed, insects on my plates nor mosquitoes that bite through pajamas – I’m just not sure whether I stepped on any plant and killed it).
The wake up bell rings at 4 am and we would start meditating at 4:30 up until 9 pm. We have one and a half hour break in the morning to freshen up and have breakfast, 2-hour lunch break, and from 5-6 pm. Other than that, we were meditating. 3 times a day we would have “sitting of determination” where for one hour, we sit in one position, without moving a finger. In the afternoon, we meditate for 4 straight hours with two 5-minute breaks. I became really flexible. I stretched everything possible whenever there’s opportunity.
10 days without dinner, just fruits and tea at the 5 pm break. For the first two days, we were given just 1 banana plus some ginger or moringa tea, and that’s all. I would extend my neck hoping for one extra banana. When the 5 pm bell rang on the 3rd day, I noticed that nobody was interested to get up of bed expecting bananas again. Fortunately, my meditations on avocado came to reality. Once it was just a slice of watermelon, or pineapple. Tougher than that, old students were given only tea and calamansi. I had never intentionally overeaten before. But here, every meal was my last. Worse, I was sharing the table with a pregnant woman, Margaux, who needed special treatment for the baby. While I was savoring every bite of my banana, she was eating pasta, salad, etc… so I never glanced at her.
At home I normally fall asleep at 4 am or after the sun comes up (unwillingly) and I never thought it was possible to sleep before 10 at all. I always had a problem with my posture; I never thought I could ever straighten up my back. I always had to stuff my mouth every 15 minutes and I thought this was my eating style, there was no way I could change it and it actually helped me “focus.” This meditation helped me more than I ever expected. Sustaining it is another issue, but I’ll be working on it. What’s it about? I’ll tell you later, bit by bit.
And the nice thing, everything’s FREE. It’s voluntarily funded by old students; they don’t accept donations from people who haven’t finished a course. All servers are strictly volunteer old students. This preserves the pureness of the teaching.
After suffering several trips in the past with heavy luggage full of stuff not used even once, I pledged that I will always be the lightest packer!
So for some 3 days straight, I didn’t change clothes. Nobody complained, thankfully. I always felt fresh anyway. I also didn’t do any laundry. Like the men’s learning, in noble silence nobody complains when someone farts. But actually, I still over packed. I brought 3 bras and didn’t use a single one during the course. Free from bondage, oh wonderful!
Actually they’re not-so-old men (biologically). A guy named Diego snuck in an audio recorder and recorded the bell. He plays it in the morning that makes some people get up of bed, go back to sleep, get up, go back and get awfully paranoid. He would set the clock an hour advanced. He flew all the way from Boston and back, thinking this was gonna be an amazing vacation at the beach, and was surprised to find mosquitoes, back pain and having to sleep in tin can. Btw, this story came up on the last day after the complete segregation of males and females. Actually, this guy reminded of a past lover. The whole time I had to deal with it (a central part of the meditation).
And I was sleep talking yet again, which broke the “noble silence.” And on the last day, everybody was talking about whom that was. Oh by the way, I broke a few more rules.