Willing to be Illuminated and Pierced

Posts tagged ‘Filipino’

Breathing Adventure: Lost In Hong Kong (The Lessons and Insights Gained)

One invaluable treasure I would always take home from my travels (aside from all the ref magnets I’ve accumulated) would be the insights about the culture the locals are living in. Just as I’ve expected in any first-world country, Hong Kong exemplifies discipline and innovation. These traits are just some of the things I would like to bring home and share to my own people and country.

The transportation system and the MTR Hong Kong’s transportation system is impressively neat. From the airport to the very edges of this country, the trains, buses and trams all depart and arrive on time. I just could not associate the reality that drivers here drive on the left-hand side of the road since vehicles in the Philippines are driven on the right-hand side.

The most efficient mode of transportation for me here would be the MTR (Mass Transit Railway). It’s fast, reliable and safe compared to Manila’s MRT (Mass Rail Transit), where endless, monster queues and horror stories abound in a daily basis. MTR has ten rail lines and transferring to another line is easy because all connecting lines are literally adjacent to one another. The glass railings themselves are a plus for me because they ensure that no one would fall into the rails.

All transportation system in Hong Kong are also tourist-friendly because they are all clear and are all written in both Chinese and English texts.

I’m sure it would be very unlikely for foreign tourists to get lost because all road signs are clearly written in the same manner.

The High Level of Trust

I have already mentioned about the unusual level of trust in my last blog about Hong Kong’s night life. Imagine leaving your valuables under a bag rack beneath the table without getting paranoid with the other customers in the restaurant. I guess having an immense diet of news about scheming thieves in Manila made me suspicious about the people around me most of the time. That’s why it amazes me that people in Hong Kong have this high level of trust towards others.

The MTR itself is proof of this kind of trust. There are no guards around to check everybody’s bags and luggages. Even their malls and their airport do not need one. I think tourists, especially the sensible ones, would not dare to horse around despite having these measures in public places.

People also don’t need anyone to remind them that they should only walk on the left-hand lane towards their destination, especially in the MTR. I’ve noticed that the locals are just being mindful of themselves while ensuring they do not bother anyone.

Strict Work Ethic Most people are aware that East Asians have a strict sense of discipline, especially at work. My friend working in a call center has told me that their Hong Kong bosses think that Filipino workers are just playing around during the work shift because they would take a breather by talking to other workmates, at least once in a while.

Observing a few humble workers in Hong Kong, I got to understand why they think Filipinos seem to be more lax compared to them. Staff at food stores served food speedily without making any small talk with fellow cashiers or servers. That’s what I call fast food. Some cashiers in most Pinoy restaurants and fast food chains cannot help but gossip in front of their customers. I believe having this kind of talk in front of customers is very unethical, even though customers don’t know what or who the staff is talking about. I have observed that Hong Kong restaurant staff are just focused on delivering to their customers, the reason I have enjoyed and appreciated simple dishes like this one.

Despite preserving their own culture and traditions, I appreciate Hong Kong for its continuous improvement. I believe their discipline is a factor for innovation as they strive to reach their long-term goals, particularly in infrastructure and business. I just hope and pray my own countrymen would have the same level of discipline to themselves and not satisfy their egos with short-term assignments. A first-world country could only become as such if the people would shake off the poverty mindset and move forward in breaking forth wider horizons for the next generation.

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The Measurement of Being Pinoy

Here’s another article I wrote for a newsletter way back in 2010. Too bad I couldn’t remember where this was published or if it was published at all! Proud of being Pinoy, though. Forgive the picture though, couldn’t find a better one from my archive 🙂 Enjoy reading! 🙂

Nowadays, a lot of us express our patriotic spirit even more. I’ve seen more and more people wear “Tatak Pinoy” t-shirts on the streets (even foreigners are delighted to have one), more shoutouts in social sites expressing “Pinoyness”, and an articulate appreciation of who we are in the broadcast media. We seem to love our nation more than ever before. But is this really enough to prove our love for our Inang Bayan?

Maybe. It has always been said that it’s the thought that counts. But it’s also true that action speaks louder than words. Even though many like web pages such as “I love Pilipinas” or “Proud to be Pinoy”, many still cling on to the “ningas kugon” stigma. Here it comes…and there it goes…

We love to express ourselves. In our willingness to voice out our feelings, sometimes we easily criticize anything we don’t see right. One time, I was on the jeep accidentally overhearing a conversation between an opinionated passenger and the jeepney driver. When the jeep passed by a huge, smelly mountain of trash on the sidewalk, the passenger clicked on his tongue, shook his head, and said, “Wala talagang disiplina ang mga Pilipino.” Take a look of himself…is he not totally Filipino?

We blurt out our disagreement with the wrong things we see…which I also do. But sometimes we tend to go sideways with our thoughts. We agree to what’s right and to those things we disagree with we shift the blame to others. Just like the guy in the jeep, most of us like saying that our own brothers are no good than us in an indirect way. But we do not realize these people are completely like you and me – totally Filipino.

I wonder if we make an effort to keep the value of our cultural pride. I was very surprised one time when groups of young boys who claim to be Badjaos sat on the doorway of our jeep and sang for a penny. Looking at their historical heritage, I wondered how they can be willing to sell the pride of their race – while we ourselves exploit by looking down at them. Though I am not sure if they are really Badjaos, I couldn’t help think that this made us label them negatively.

To think, the variety in our culture made us unique as a nation. The Philippines does not only have 7,107 islands but also has hundreds of dialects and ethnic groups. Each one is unique, if not mixed, to one after another. Though we have picked a pieces of Asian Eastern and European cultures, the results of this is unique in its own sense.

It’s so sad that most people do not take notice of other cultures and tribes that thrive in the other parts of the country. We had made a wrong sense that these kinds of people only live in the past and just stay in our textbooks as the facts to be unlearned after graduation (which I also admit I did). When they come and invade our cities, we are irked. But we do not realize this destroys the pride of their heritage. Most of us think they are just nuisance and wish that the government sends them away to somewhere we don’t care about. When I think of these things I feel guilty I had the same thought – these people are our fellow brothers and sisters – totally Filipino.

In fact, we need to learn from them. It’s not bad to enjoy going to tourist spots to enjoy scuba diving and city tours. We do learn from them, don’t we? But I believe one will learn more when one stays to learn the people’s lifestyle. When I had gone to Bicol for a vacation, I got a hold of more than sweet pili and a peek of the Mayon. I appreciated the place even more because of the people whom I ate and lived with. I got a hold of their simple, quiet lifestyle that was totally apart from my fast-paced environment. I never thought that there are so many differences between my culture and their culture – the language itself, to start with.

The culture of the other ethnic groups is also very important to be preserved. However, we just let them rot away by degrading their sense of existence.

That’s why it’s disparaging to hear of ourselves just mumble away against things we do not understand. Sometimes, we do not realize we ourselves are the part of both problem and solution. We can be indirectly part of the problem like environmental crisis and degradation of culture but we can counter them back. It’s good that no superheroes were created. Whatever we have ruined must also be fixed by ourselves. Of course, we cannot do this alone. That’s why we have bayanihan, right?

Why not focus on the good qualities we have as a Filipino? Think again on the words we have said, begin by doing small good things that will help us grow as a nation. Whether that would be picking trash, cease to be self-righteous, and help by giving a piece of what we have, I’m sure that could go a long way.

So, what’s really the true measure of being Filipino? Yeah, it’s great to see the Pinoy map hanging on your shirt and the Philippine flag as your keychain bag. But I guess it takes more than artifacts and social sites to show that you are proud to be Pinoy. It takes sincerity to be one. Our character in real life situations should reflect that we are truly Filipino in mind, in words, and in action.

Tindog Tacloban!

Me and my cameraman arriving at the Daniel Romualdez Airport at Tacloban City. Photo by Sherwin Castillo

Me and my cameraman arriving at the Daniel Romualdez Airport at Tacloban City. Photo by Sherwin Castillo

“Tindog Tacloban!”

This is the message that was written almost everywhere in the city where much attention and focus has been given after Typhoon Yolanda’s wrath. From the native tongue of Taclobanon, this phrase means, “Rise up, Tacloban!”

It is already past three weeks ago since I came to Tacloban, Leyte for a one day coverage of Yolanda’s aftermath. But the memory of a recovering city never fades away. A day is not enough for me take up every truth behind the lens.

For the first time, I’ve landed in Visayas. From the airport itself, I can’t help but be appalled, as the workers struggled back to normalcy. The city was being cleaned, and it’s good to see that no more bodies were scattered when we came. Still, there are much to recover and many are still homeless.

I was anticipating for this visit, but catching up with a day’s coverage left me dissatisfied much. I wanted to know much more, to talk to every people in Tacloban and if given the chance, the whole Leyte. I’d wish to capture everything — as in everything — the emotions and the reality behind the camera.

I felt like a wolf ravaging for a good story in a limited time. As a journalist, I wanted to feel the very heart and soul of

My interview with a Yolanda survivor, Kristine. She is a delightful soul, as she kept a light spirit despite of tears as she recalled the horrors of the storm surge rushing into the evacuation center where she and her children stayed. Photo by Sherwin Castillo

My interview with a Yolanda survivor, Kristine. She is a delightful soul, as she kept a light spirit despite of tears as she recalled the horrors of the storm surge rushing into the evacuation center where she and her children stayed. Photo by Sherwin Castillo

these people and digest every stories they wanted to share. I wanted to take time and leave them with great love, too. But the constraint at work limited my soul into a corner. In order to fulfill my mission, I had to complete it emotionlessly.

Despite of these limits, I caught a glimpse of the hope that glimmers after the storm. From the glint in the eyes of the survivors I interviewed, the smiles that welcomed us from the broken houses and ruins, and messages of hope sprawled in the broken walls, hope overcomes the trodden structures around us. I may not have seen the storm itself, and yet I am — until now — fascinated with the resilience that my fellowmen kept in their spirits all these times.

I tried to dismiss the heartbreak as I saw the ravaged cities in my one day stay. But what I would never like to forget is the strength these people kept, that caused them to stand admist the ruins. Before the day ended, I swore deep inside my heart that I will return. Perhaps, by then, it is not the devastated city struggling to rise, but it is a new city teeming with much life that sprouted from this glint of hope I’ve seen.

Now is the time. Tindog Tacloban!

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