Day 149: December 21, 5 days after returning to the States
After spending a total of approximately 144 days in the Philippines studying abroad, my experience was truly life changing. Within the 5 days after coming back, it definitely felt weird going back to my “normal” life in the Bay Area with a changed mindset.
Since it have been a while since my late thorough update (6 Things), let me give a quick run down of what happened until I boarded my plane back to the States. Here we go:
- November was dedicated for preparing for my finals that were on the first week of December. My finals consisted of a class group projects, essays, 2 presentations, and oral exam.
- On November 12, I traveled to Intramuros for a concert that aims to spread awareness of the Stop Lumad Killing movement. It was an amazing night were I met so many inspiring activist. Plus, I got to chill with a Fil-Am from Seattle in Binodo (aka Lucky Chinatown). Unfortunately, the night ended on a sad note where I had to be stuck in a taxi cab with a misognynist, heterosexist driver who tried to rip me off.
- November 13 was the Paris Attack
- Between Nov 16-20, it was the 2015 Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) in which was a big long week summit for government officials around the Pacific Ocean discussing over free trade and what not. There was a lot going on during that week with protestors trying to bring awareness about the Lumad Killing and ending US imperialist globalization (Junk APEC) and locals complaining about the atrocious traffic that kept on building due to closed streets reserved for the government officials. It was overwhelming to be part of that mess.
- But aside from APEC, from Nov 17-20, I had the opportunity to travel to Baler, Aurora as a class field trip. It was a beautiful place where I learned a lot about the impacts of tourism. My precious post (Photo Essay about “Home”) talked about a glimpse of how I internalized my experience there.
- On November 28, I went to see one of my Lola’s service. She was a cousin of my grandpa on my mother side. It was my first time meeting relatives from my grandpa’s side. Though it was a bit sad attending a service, I was welcomed with hugs, smiles, and kisses from my relatives.
- On Dec 7, a friend introduced to me to Kadamay, an organization that addressed issues related to Filipino urban poor communities. Part of my day was going to sites of the urban poor to be expose of the institutional oppression they have to endure.
- After long nights of typing essays and preparing for presentations, I spend most of my time seeing friends, family members, and colleagues before I traveled back to the States.
- On the second to last day I left, I was able to see UP’s Lantern Parade on Dec 14. It was a magical, empowering experience with so many lively people. I thought it was a good end to a life-changing experience.
- Before heading on my plane, there was an “immigration” issue which made me have to rebook my flight. After spending approximately 15,000 pesos (~$317), I was able to board on my plane.
So a lot has happened within the November and beginning of December. If I would to use three adjectives to describe the last month in the Philippines, they would be:
Each moment offered a whole new perspective for me to learn, reflect, and grow. It did sadden me having to face the reality that I have to go back to the States after meeting so many wonderful people and build strong connections with them. Yet after reflecting on the numerous memories made throughout my adventure, it was enlightening to think about my progress from being lonely to being part of an international community. I have been bless to encounter the people I have met as they all offered various insights and ideologies about anything related to politics, drama, hobbies, etc. It was through long nights of endless, deep conversations or over a table of delicious food that strengthened the bonds I made. Despite my love to connect and learn from others, it was exhausting to keep on socializing and running on very little energy. Knowing that I had a long bucket list to do before I leave, I had to learn to be content with what I have experience and not to over extend myself. Though I could have been to Palawan or Boracay, I know in the future that I will come back and finish off my bucket list.
As much as I love to glance over the comforting aspect of my trip, I don’t want to sugarcoat the discomforts I experienced. Aside from culture shock, there were a lot systemic and institutional issues that hindered my experience. In short, issues stemmed from colonization, imperialism, feudalism, globalization, etc. This constructs a web of complex problems that have been embedded and shaped the structures in the Philippines.
Despite the harsh, sad reality of what is going on in the Philippines, I channeled a lot of that negative energy into inspiring myself to fight against those oppressions. There is still a lot for me to learn and unlearn about the Filipino’s history and culture. But now back home, I promise myself to continue to stay connected and work with other Filipinos and Filipino-Americans, locally and internationally, to make the Philippines a better place for all.
Technically, this is the end of my Philippines’ trip. But I feel like this is only just the beginning of something much greater.
… And somethings did not change. 🙂