Monday, September 2, 2013

being where i'm from

     I gave a lot of thought about how I feel about my country today. Before I go into it any further, let these points be laid out for context:

I've always said that I don't see the point in nationalism. I think I still don't. At least the kind that is superficial. I believe in wanting change, real change. Not change in the form of people wearing shirts or expensive jackets that have the Philippine flag embroidered on them, or songs about how being Filipino is awesome. I believe in having a richer music and art culture in the country, without it deliberately being about the country. I believe in being able to feed the Filipino poor, I believe in the common working Filipino getting adequate compensation for day-to-day living. I believe in community development, in progressive morals, separation of church and state, in equality, and things like that. 

That being said, I never felt the need to stay here for the rest of my life, and I never believed in feeling like a person owes his country anything. I was more than ready to, if life lead me to need to, go away and never look back.

...But lately I'm starting to change my mind on the "looking back" part.

I've always been observing and noting what makes other countries able to run themselves better. This used to be a cause of head-shaking desperation, and sometimes even embarrassment, whenever I looked around me, at my own country. But lately the feeling caused by this activity is more hopeful. Instead of looking like glaring evidence of how fucked up this place is, the comparisons I make are starting to look like spaces for improvement. I guess, the clearer the details become, the easier it is to see patterns in the causes, and you're not completely lost as to how to make the results different. The way is still long and hard (*chortle*), and I'm prepared to float around thinking of what to do for a bit of time more.

I always thought I'd like a boring but comfortable, happy life instead of a challenging and tumultuous one, where you grow a lot as a person, but end up leaving all the relishing of your life's work to the people who are to revere you when you're dead. This is still true for the most part. But today I was reminded by a conversation I had with my best friends. An observation had been made about serial killers and how they usually come from well-developed countries where they don't really worry about not being able to eat everyday. The implication was that people have the tendency to create their own danger when they don't need to exercise their survival instincts, or something like that. When people aren't physically ill or in danger, they get mental booboos or disorders or whatever things. Of course this correlation is speculative at best, and in no way am I trying to state it as fact, hence the decidedly silly language I just used to describe it (it's my blogpost version way of pushing a crowd of people with questions away while screaming "I'M NOT A DOCTOR!"). But it made me change my feelings about being where I'm from. Specifically, in contributing to making the country better. 

I will probably never do anything that will merit having a street named after me, my plans for myself aren't that big. But I also want to live for more than just myself and my future family. I want to be part of the little steps that are already changing the face of how my country does things, and I mean right now! I know they are already happening, there is more awareness about ethical business, and a creative scene that is blooming and growing, and it's wonderful, and I want to take it all in. At the very least I want to witness it, to talk about it, to share it, even if I can't create things of my own yet (but I promise I'll always be working on that)... I'm the least noble person to be honest, but I realise that it doesn't have to be about choosing to be where the challenge is. It can be about actively trying to help make bad things good, and to make good things better. I want to help lift the mainstream cultural attitude of the common filipino from wounded, defensive and superficial to rich, substantial, ethical and distinctive.

Big words for a little potato, but we do what we can to make life fun.

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