16 November 2013
It's been exactly a week since part of the Philippines was hit by Super Typhoon Yolanda (International Name: Haiyan). Here in Marawi City, we had strong winds and rain. And, along with these strong winds and rain came photos and videos of other parts of the country. We watched in horror as photo after photo and video after video made clear to us how strong a Storm Category 5 was and what a storm surge could do to places. Through the news coverage and social media, we watched Yolanda pummel a huge part of Eastern Visayas to the ground! The whole Philippines (or at least the parts that weren't as badly hit by the storm) and the whole world watched whole cities and towns crumble piece by piece in a matter of hours. It was like watching an apocalyptic movie! And, it was heartbreaking!
Sadly though, in the midst of this misfortune, there are those who make the situation worse. People who continually make careless, offensive comments about the calamity. There's the self-righteous, holier-than-thou type. Those people who claim that the Philippines deserves this tragedy because of all the sins committed by the Filipino people. Those people who claim that the Philippines is being punished because of the tolerance and practice of homosexuality, pre-marital sex, prostitution, corruption among other things. Those people who say that God is punishing this particular group of people because these people are following the wrong path. Those people who claim that God, Himself, is punishing these people for a wrong committed to a certain religion or faith. There's the finger-pointing, fault-finding type. Those people saying that Filipinos never learn. Those people claiming that the government, especially the local ones, had not prepared whatsoever for the coming of the typhoon. Those people saying the government and the leaders should be blamed for what happened and later for the slow release and giving of help and assistance. Those people who have not, since Day 1, stopped criticizing and questioning every move that the government and the national leaders take. Those people who keep dissing the celebrities, government officials and even ordinary citizens, who are actually helping, for making their efforts known to the world. Those people who find fault in celebrities, government officials and other people, who go on living their lives and sticking to their usual routines, for not helping and being oblivious and uncaring. It's really "damned if you do, damned if you don't" with these kinds of haters! There's the insensitive, apathetic type. Those people who still have the gall to joke about what happened. Those people who just don't care about what the survivors have gone through and even post or give disrespectful comments on and photos of those who unfortunately died in the tragedy.
I can go on and on about the different kinds of people who really test one's patience and faith in humanity, but I'm not one to dwell on these negative things, lest I become no different from them. It's doubly disheartening, too, knowing that just a few weeks ago, another part of Visayas was struck by a magnitude 7.2 earthquake and destroyed a number of cities and towns and displaced thousands of people. A lot of historical places and tourist spots were not spared by the earthquake. Buildings, big and small, fell to the ground. And, still some weeks earlier, there was that war that broke out in Zamboanga and some parts of Basilan in Mindanao. This war destroyed most parts of Zamboanga City and, you guessed it, displaced so many people. All these things happened in a matter of months and, we, Filipinos thought we'd seen the worst. That was until Yolanda came and, like a scorned woman, threw her wrath around.
I'd like to think however that if there's anything positive that's come out of all these tragic happenings, it's how much heart and soul we've all seen in the human race. From the time news of the Zamboanga siege was known up until this very moment, different people and groups of people from the Philippines, as well as other countries, have not stopped organizing relief efforts and finding ways to help those affected. In the case of Eastern Visayas (Tacloban and other parts of Leyte and Samar), hit by Yolanda, even if reaching the devastated areas has been difficult and help hasn't reached the areas as fast as everyone wanted and hoped, people have not stopped in their efforts. While it breaks one's heart to see all those photos and videos of the devastation from all these disasters, it is also heartwarming to see so many people helping and wanting to help. In the Philippines, we call this the bayanihan spirit. I guess it (to help or at least try to help) is what any human being in his/her right mind would do. This idea of human beings all united to help makes one believe that, truly, despite all the bad things and cruelty in this world, there is, and always will be, goodness. There are still things to smile about and be thankful for. There are still reasons to be hopeful. In spite of the unfortunate events, not only in the Philippines but throughout the whole world, there is something that we should celebrate-- the (inevitable) triumph of the human spirit.
|This is a nice 'letter' to the Filipino people. (I don't own this; I got this from Facebook.)|
02 November 2013
And, I'm back again! :-)
My mom and I just got back from Manila. We were there for a week. As any trip to Manila I've ever had since I came home to MSU for good back in '06, I spent happy and precious time with friends. I made sure I got to meet with some of them. Thing is, except for a few, my closest friends are in Manila. So, it's always been a must that I get to meet with some of them every time I get a chance to.
|Voltext Gurls in Manila|
I got to meet with Papay, Ibtisam, and Leelah (Hadja Khadeejah). We set our date on Monday and we met at the Shangri-La Plaza and had a sumptuous meal at Maple, where the food was great! It was Papay's birthday last Saturday, so our date was a belated celebration of her day as well as welcome home party for Leelah, who just arrived from Hajj a few days earlier. And also, I got to have my first taste of croughnuts as promised by Papay and Dean, though he didn't really make it to our group date! Oh, well. What else is new, Sikat? Haha!
|Good food, boxes of Sri Lankan Tea courtesy of Bok, and us!|
I was also able to have dinner with Bok and Erik, my Monster friends! Bok and I met and had coffee at The Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf in SM Megamall. After which, we went, as in our group date last year, to Cyma, the Greek resto, at the Shang. We had my favorite Lamb Yiouvetsi and Garides Saganaki (Greek gambas). Needless to say, we enjoyed the food as well as the catching up. It's always great reminiscing all those crazy days we had together! Add to that, the laughter over sports talk (Okay, UAAP talk! And, Bok's new found love and interest for baseball!), what's new with whom, and some people's current love stories! Hehe:-) *winks!*
|Tita Pie and me, chicka-chicka after the delicious meal!|
And, of course, I got to catch up with Tita Pie, one of my closest friends/sisters from SSEAYP. There are a lot of things Tita Pie and I both love and one of these is great food! She wanted to make sure that we ate somewhere special so we decided to have dinner at My Kitchen by Chef Chris at The Oasis Paco Park Hotel in Paco. We had the Original Verena, the delicious roll-up pizza, which is this place's specialty, and one of the best seafood pastas I have tasted (I forgot the name, though!)! Good food and SSEAYP stories are what make dates with Tita Pie the best! We talk about so many things, but we always end up talking about SSEAYP again and again, even if they're just the same stories all over again! Hahaha! We're hoping to see more of our batchmates when our beloved Nippon Maru docks in Manila come December. *Excited!* Thank you, Tita Pie, for being that friend! :-)
|My not-so-little sister and me|
And, of course, the highlight of our trip was seeing my younger sister, Maru, and showing her support as she hurdled the last Sunday of the Bar Exams. After not seeing her for almost 8 months, it was great to see her and hang out with her again! And, now that the Bar Exams are over, we patiently wait for the results, which probably will come out in February or March next year. I pray and hope that we receive good news and she becomes my parents' third lawyer! In shaa Allah.
|Mommy, Kaka Aimee and me|
My older sister, Kaka Aimee, who's a lawyer, joined me and Mommy as we waited for Maru to be done with her exam. Kaka Aimee also treated us to a sumptuous meal and coffee. As she is already based in Manila for a number of years, it was great seeing her again. Talking and laughing about our dreams and all sorts of things from the profound to the mundane. That's the thing with Kaka Aimee, you can talk to her about anything and everything in the world! And, we remembered Abi, our dad, in our stories. It's always been the pride that we all share for being our father's children, as well as his unique way of raising us, that made and continues to make us do our best in everything. And, no one understands that better than we, ourselves, do.
Hey, I remember just now something that happened at Laguindingan Airport while Mommy and I were waiting for our flight to Manila. Since our flight was at 1:30 in the afternoon, we had to leave MSU quite early. Laguindingan is about 2.5 hours away from MSU. So, anyway, we were going to grab a quick lunch when we saw that all the tables were taken. And, there was this man, who was probably in his mid-40's or early 50's, sitting alone. It looked like he had just finished eating so Mommy, with me sleepily and groggily following her, approached him and asked, "Sir, tapos ka na?" (Sir, are you done?)
Now, this guy gave my mom such a hateful stare that totally caught me off guard and confused me. And then, he irritably answered, "Hindi pa!" (Not yet!)
If I was confused a few seconds before, at that time, I was trying to wake myself up and trying to remember if I missed anything. Why was this man mad at my mom? He absolutely looked pissed. But, what for? And then, my mom had already moved on to some other table when he said, in the most sarcastic way imaginable, "Ang galang 'nyo naman magtanong!" (How polite, your way of asking!)
So, now, I understood! He got pissed because he thought my mom was being impolite. He's mad because my mom, who is in her mid-60's by the way, did not use po, which is the Tagalog word to show or express politeness and respect. That's the only explanation I could think of for his odd behavior, which to my standard neither showed respect nor politeness at all! My mom didn't really hear him. But, I did and, in all honesty, I wanted to punch him in the face right there! Since I was holding my laptop bag and two other bags, I couldn't really do anything right at that moment but glare at him! And, I was still feeling a little dizzy from the travel and this means my brain was probably not functioning as fast as it normally did. My mom found us a table not very far from this man, and when I was seated, I kept giving him the evil eye! Different scenarios came to my mind. What if I approached the man and gave him a lecture or two about politeness and respect and in the process tell him who my mom was so he could go and apologize to her? What if I go straight to his table and just beat the hell out of him just like that? What if I go out to the waiting area where I saw so many familiar faces and tell some of them what just happened and surely they'd be willing to hurt him physically for treating my mom that way?
I realized, though, that if I allowed my emotions to get the better of me and even involve other people in the trouble I was surely going to cause, that would actually make this man win. Also, my mom would not like that. So, I ended up just glaring at the man the whole time until he stood up to leave. I seriously wanted to go to him and, at least, try to talk to him about why he shouldn't be acting that way, but then I was afraid I was too angry for that. If I ever approached him, I knew that I wouldn't have been able to hold it together and I would have lost it! And, I would be humiliating not only myself and my mom, but our people (the Meranaws) as a whole. These were my thoughts so that I could forgive myself from not doing anything at all.
The thing is, we, Meranaws, or maybe Visayas and Mindanao people as a whole, don't really use po and opo when we speak. Only Tagalogs have that. We don't have any equivalent for these polite words. We express politeness through the tone of our voice or the way we address the person with whom we speak. Take my mom, for example, when he talked to that man, she addressed him as "Sir" despite the fact that he didn't really look gentlemanly! The Tagalogs have to understand this. It's not that we don't want to use po or opo, we are just not used to it. Yes, we do use these words of respect whenever we try to speak Tagalog, but there are times that we forget. We do learn this in elementary school, this use of po and opo and we practice this as much as possible. But, when we are in Mindanao, where generally people speak Bisaya or some other language, we do not use these words. It's not natural to us.
I wish I could have explained this to that man. But, as fate would have it, I wasn't able to do so. I do hope, though, that Tagalogs who will get to read this will understand where we're coming from here. And, maybe, just maybe, this message will reach that man, and he, himself, will learn a thing or two about the politeness that he demands of people around him. And, also, I hope we all learn to take a minute and reflect before we actually do or say anything. As the golden rule says: