I love the third world. Maybe it’s because I’m half Filipino, but every time I am here, there’s something about it that makes me not want to leave. I say this now, buy my heart has actually been through a journey of emotion with this part of the world, and my trip here to Indonesia has really been reconciling things for me.
CULTURAL CONSTRAINT & PERSPECTIVAL STRUCTURE (orange)
This heart journey started when I first traveled to the Philippines three years ago. It was my first time to my mother’s homeland. (I’ve done extensive writing about my experiences and trips there: insert titles of blog posts.) I wanted to get to know my family and experience the culture my mother grew up in, but I found myself suddenly and completely trapped by the way my cousins saw me.
I was seeking relationship, but the lack of clear expectation in these relationships was rather overwhelming. I was definitely making connections, but sometimes it felt like right after every connection or intertwined into every conversation was a subtle financial request. Or a statement about not having money. Or something about a bill that needed to be paid. I found it hard to move without being the financial provider. So I provided, but the other side of the equation offered no new conclusion. As a result, I wasn’t free.
I experienced some breakthrough and began to develop amazing friendships. But there was only so much I could maintain when these people were no longer immediately present in my life.
I fought the constraints and disassembled the structures in my own mind, because I valued relationships too much. But I wasn’t sure where this put me in the whole scheme of things, so I started ignoring it.
I decided to plant myself on the podium of indifference when it came to poverty and giving money to the poor and helping people with more needs. If I helped somebody who i wasn’t related to in Cebu, I felt bad; but not helping at all made me feel guilty. I didn’t know what I was supposed to do. My season of financial sacrifice came to a halt.
And now I’m here, waving good bye at an Indonesian family I’ve only known for seven hours. Embracing a friend who accompanied me in sight seeing and conversation and telling her we will keep in touch. Riding every mode of public transportation around an extremely congested city. Eating local food and snacks off the street and learning anything of the Indonesian language I can. Shamelessly smiling back at the locals and taking pictures and shooting video of everything around me. Here I am, connecting with the culture of the third world and feeling free to move.
This has been a challenging philosophical journey for me, a Christian, feminist, single, female, individualistic, half-Filipino American. I’m a thinker, so I refuse to let these kinds of things slide, because failing to genuinely connect with the world around is no way to live. And now I’m here, profoundly moved by the beauty of people and the universality of life once again. In Jakarta, Indonesia.