Friday, November 30, 2007

I fell through a flight of stairs….

I went to my dad’s hood in Taywanak where I’m related to everyone on one solid block. It is either you’re my cousin, my uncle, aunt, or my dad’s first cousin, a niece or nephrew- some kind of relation. It my cousin Daniel’s 7th birthday, and here in the Philippines, when someone turns 7 or 18 it turns out to be a huge fiesta where everyone is invited. Everyone knew who I was but I had to be reintroduced to everyone. It was cool taking shots with the drunk uncles…haha… their pretty funny. But I think the most memorable thing of yesterday’s celebration was falling through some stairs…. Such a Diana thing to do!

It was raining the whole day, and there’s a “bahay kubo”- a kind of outdoor tree house made of wood and bamboo. There was loud music playing from the bahay kubo, Avril Levine, Fergie, and other music considered popular out here. So in pursuit of trying to play something more pleasing, I climbed up the stairs as my cousin’s friend was about to go down the stairs, which caused the whole staircase to collapse! Haha… I was more in shock then in pain…and everyone was laughing at both of us. My ankle was bleeding, got a few bruises, but nothing major. Just a little sore today….haha…

So it’s been a little bit over then a week….what have I been up to? Where do I begin?!?! Ummm… the first couple of days were settling in with the fam. Then one day met up with Paolo, another photojournalist out here. We went to a video launch called the “State of the Philippine Penal System.” Apparently, it was this big event where the Chief Justice Renato S. Puno was present, and I had no idea. But it was definitely inspiring. There were 5 short film viewings about the penal system in the P.I. I’m pretty sure that some of you are probably familiar with one of them from youtube, “Dancing for Discipline.” I think the documentary was produced and edited really well… it was quite funny and entertaining. The documentary we watched wasn't from the clip on youtube, but rather the doc was inspired from it.

I’ve also attended some classes at UP Manila. One of them is Filipino History, we’re covering WWII and reading the text, “The Philippines:The Continuing Past,” by Renato and Letizia Constantino. I also attending Developmental Studies in Third World Development- seems like a really interesting class. We watched Mail-Order Wife, a mock-documentary by the same producers of Swingers and Go. Although I didn’t get to finish the whole movie, I highly recommend it. It got me infuriated just thinking about how women are bought and treated…and the stereotypes of women… something to think about.

I’ve also just been connecting with people out here. Fishing for story ideas and organizations I may be interested in working with. I’ve been COMMUTING a lot! The traffic out here is insane! Although, Cavite is only the next city over from Manila, it takes 2 to 2 ½ hours just to get home! The buses are ALWAYS crowded… I don’t mind it too much, cause I’m seeing a lot of the city on foot, but it gets tiring.
Although I’m supposed to be out here for work an all that jazz, I’m kinda just enjoying living… eeee….. I’ll get to work soon….

But I must admit, one of my greatest accomplishments so far is introducing Alicia Keys and art to my cousin… She’s 16, and a first year nursing student. When I first met her in the beginning of the week she said her favorite musical artist was Avril Levine. Her room is full of Avril, her backgroud on her friendster is Avril, and she loved the “girlfriend” song. But after introducing her to Ms. Alicia, she loves her…. And we just bought some paint, and she totally loves it. Got her a sketchbook and everything…But I swear, I’ll get to work soon…

Texting is a part of daily life here...its their first means of communication rather then a telephone call:

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Barely settling in...

“Oh shit, I’m in the Philippines,” those are the words I whispered to myself while looking out the window as my plane descended bringing Manila’s landscape into view. This is my second day here, and it still is settling in. I got all my things unpacked and woke up to a brand new room this morning, but I still can’t fully grasp that I will be living here. Sure, I’ve been here a couple of times before, sure I’ve traveled before, but this time it’s different. It’s a whole new discovery and mentality…. I am used to traveling with a group, other students, or friends, but this time it’s just me for an extended about of time. The first of many lone adventures…Granted I am staying with family, it’s an environment that is different, and FAR AWAY from home. Although, I have to come to think of the Philippines as a second home. A home I’m still discovering…

Before I left my dad told me that in one of the drawers in his room I will find old letters from mom to him. Low and behold, I found birthday, valentine, anniversary, and Christmas cards addressed to dad. Some letters had my foraged signature- as I was only one or two- and Elmer’s scribbles… one of the cards was written when I was in my mom’s tummy kicking and making it hard for her to sleep. Restless since before i was born. Reading those cards definitely gave be insight on the love between my mom and dad, and the struggles my mom must have went through being a single mom in America while my Dad was overseas working for years- not able to see my mom or his kids for a year at a time.

Those cards are just a snippet of what I expect to learn about the lives of my parents, my family, and all that comes with living in the “motherland” for the next six months. Six months?!? Still can’t believe it.


I’m in between books right now. Still reading “All About Love,” by Bell Hooks, just started “Screaming Monkeys,” and in the middle of reading again, my own traveler’s manual, “The Alchemist.”

I usually underline really good quotes that stick out to me, and it seems that I’m underlining everything in Bell Hooks’ book. She quotes Parker Palmer in The Active Life: Wisdom for Work, Creativity, and Caring:
“To be fully alive is to act… I understand action to be any way that we can co-create reality with other beings and the Spirit…Action, like a sacrament, is the visible form of an invisible spirit, an outward manifestation of an inward power. But as we act, we no only express what is in us and help give shape to the world; we also receive what is outside us, and reshape our inner selves.”

Then there’s Screaming Monkeys: Critiques of Asian American Images. In referring to an article that decribed a young Filipino-African child as a “monkey,” Evelina Galang writes, “In the end, we concluded that the reason things like this happen is because our history books- and I mean our American history books-do not cover this, our Asian American history- the atrocities, the accomplishments, the contributions, the acknowledgment that we are a part of this America, not visitors, not ghosts, not foreigners, not monkeys.”

I also like how she describes the artwork in this book as “ the most abstract, the voice that is deepest inside us that has the longest route to travel before it could be heard.”

And finally, there’s Paulo Coelho’s The Alchemist. I finally got my original copy back- the copy that has all my marks, sidenotes, and highlighted quotes. “It’s the possibility of having a dream come true that makes life interesting.”