The Strange Me

Oftentimes I feel I’m strange.

This might be because I’m a 23-year-old college student and can’t say I’m thrilled to still be in school with very young people from an almost totally different culture from where I grew up in. 

You see, I lived in Hong Kong for almost 10 years and I spent almost the entirety of my teen years there. Life in a foreign land may sound exotic to some, but let me tell you that it isn’t all that fun. I lived in a place where I don’t speak the language and most of the time, I felt that I was just an observer to things that were happening. I was a two-fold stranger, first was because I was a foreigner, and second, because I couldn’t communicate very well at all. I felt out of place, no matter how hard I tried to “fit-in”. 

And in the first place, I’m not all that “social”. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying I’m antisocial, but you could probably call me “a very strong-willed person”. I don’t mind being alone. I don’t like “conforming” or “changing” who I was just so that I’d have “friends”. I am of the opinion that a real friend accepts you for who you are and doesn’t force you to be a certain way. But, having said that, I also don’t mind being with other people. It’s way more fun if you can celebrate success with others you deem as friends. I’m all about quality. 

Now my early high school years were very fun indeed. I didn’t have a care in the world! I was smart enough to not need to study for tests and still be among the top 5 of the class and I was very active in extracurricular activities such as track-and-field (100m, 200m, long jump, triple jump) and I always placed. If you didn’t know already, I was very competitive–and still am. I was also very involved with volunteer work like volunteering for the Hong Kong Community Chest, Hong Kong Red Cross, and other non-profit organizations. Other less strenuous competitive activities I participated in were Chess competitions, where I had the opportunity to play a real live Grand Master (and loss in 28 moves) , or the participating in the Hong Kong Music and Speech Festival, where I would compete in the Solo-verse Speaking category (usually, we’re given a poem or a verse to memorize, and we were to DRAMATIZE it in front of judges) which I usually won. Maybe that’s why I seem to have a “bubbly” personality even though I more of an introvert. In any case, my high school life was a blast, all seven years of them.

I also started working at the bright ripe age of 14. Coming from a family whose income isn’t all that fixed (the reality of being a missionary pastor’s kid), I wanted to help out. So I started working jobs I could do like tutorials for English, Math, and Science. Also, I “volunteered” for university experiments which paid quite a bit. I also did some thesis proofreading jobs, tried my hand at handing out flyers, clerical office work like data-entry and data-verification which were the most boring and tedious thing anyone could ever do for a living. But it paid. My parents didn’t need to give me allowance and I also chipped in a bit for my studies, which are quite costly in Hong Kong. 

But, here I am in the Philippines for college, a decision I ultimately made as it was not financially feasible for me to go pursue tertiary education in Hong Kong without burdening myself with ENORMOUS debt, but more importantly I wanted a chance to live away from my parents. I wanted to be truly independent.

So here I am, in the Philippines, going through college alone. It was a big leap from first-world Hong Kong, to third-world Philippines. I wasn’t used to so much pollution, flooding, and danger. Having lived in such an affluent place as Hong Kong, the stark contrast of much of the Philippines opened my eyes to the plight of my fellow countrymen. Oddly enough, I grew to love it here.

I love it enough to want to make a difference. 

So, that’s why I feel strange. Strange that I, unlike many of my friends who also came here to study but scooted back to Hong Kong right after, would choose to stay. I feel in my heart that it was divine providence that lead me to come here and study at the University of the Philippines Diliman. I used to see the Philippines as a backwater country, full of corrupt officials and gullible people who keep on making the same mistake voting for these crooks and was doomed to be that way for all eternity. Honestly, I still do think it’s that way. The difference is, I’m no longer hopeless. 

Because I’ve realized that I wasn’t about to conform to the norm of apathy towards the Philippines, nor was I afraid to go on it alone if I had to. I am part of the hope of our nation, and I will not surrender it easily.

Thank God I am strange. 

[This is NOT an endorsement for any political party, nor a confession of an affiliation or affinity towards any one political belief. TL;DR: Not a communist. NOT an activist. I’LL DO IT MY WAY.]

 

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The aftermath of August 23

On August 23, a tragedy struck.

A bus full of Hong Kong tourists, on their last day in the Philippines and on their way to Ocean Park, was taken hostage by an armed former police officer who was recently dismissed due to the actions of his subordinates and thus ending his 30+ years in the force and more importantly also his pension–his deserved, hard-earned retirement fund.

Faced with such circumstances, I honestly would not know if I too would snap. As I run these scenarios in my head, most of them involves me getting violent. I mean, seriously, the guy REALLY had it BAD.

But all that seems to be of no importance due to the fact that that same depressed and distressed old man, who just lost his job and does not have anything to lie back on, and had a wife and family to take care of supposedly killed  9 Hong Kong tourists and, oh, that he was a Filipino.

I am downright outraged at how some of my fellow Hong Kong people have reacted to this event. It is one thing to be indignant and angry at the INCOMPETENCE and STUPIDITY of the operations of the police, but it is another to label an ENTIRE GROUP NATION as such. It is plain BIGOTRY and HYPOCRISY and people who’ve done so ought to be ashamed.

But, I am equally if not more infuriated at how everything transpired that day. The policemen obviously didn’t know what they were doing. Aren’t SWAT supposed to be SPECIAL WEAPONS AND TACTICS UNIT? Lulz!!!

Special Weapon: Sledgehammer

Special Tactic: Throw tear-gas without gas masks themselves.

Very impressive… [Reverse this statement]

The media didn’t help at all and even, very thoughtlessly added oil to the fire by broadcasting LIVE everything that transpired OUTSIDE THE BUS FOR EVERYONE TO SEE, EVEN THE HOSTAGE TAKER! WOW! Great job~!

The politicians really showed how “able” they are at their jobs: they’re NOT. They also showed who they really care about: themselves. I mean, please STOP making me RETHINK my notion of “stupid”. The previous sentence also applies to people who get swayed by the lies and stupidity of these snakes. Just stop.

Our PRESIDENT was… well… a big failure. I recommend him being the picture of “FAILblog.org” for being the most unleaderly leader I’ve ever seen! The whole debacle started around 10 a.m. but P-noy only issued directives at about 1:30 p.m. which begs the question, what the HELL was he doing for 3 HOURS AND 30 MINUTES. Well, it’s not surprising that a person who had been in congress for more than 20 years, did not pass any BILLS that he’s proposed himself, to amount to ANYTHING. Well, that’s the leader the Philippines (well, 13 million of us at least, excluding me) wanted. We reap what we sow? How true…

There were so many FAILS that day that I really was ashamed that THESE are the PEOPLE that will LEAD us, will PROTECT us, will INFORM us, and will GUIDE us? HUWWWWWWWWWWWWWWAAAAAAAATTTTTTTTTTT??!!

As a journalism student, I really was disappointed about the media. Is ethics dead in the Philippines? Did NO ONE ask the question: ARE WE DOING THE RIGHT THING? Are RATINGS… is THE MONEY the reason why we do journalism? Is Public Concern & Public Interest applicable? Well, during that time, of course people were INTERESTED AND CONCERNED about WHAT WOULD TRANSPIRE, but heck, did  NO ONE THINK that the FLEETING CONCERN and INTEREST of the PUBLIC on THOSE FEW HOURS would be OUT-WEIGHED BY THE REPERCUSSIONS OF SUCH AN INCIDENT IF IT GOES BADLY FOR THE SAID PUBLIC??? Huh… So disappointed…

And what’s with the media, who’s supposedly be a WATCHDOG for the people on the actions of the government to COPY the ones THEY’RE SUPPOSED TO GUARD AGAINST? Maybe birds of the same feather fly together does ring true… They should not have broadcast LIVE. Being a watchdog does not equal a MANDATE to SENSATIONALIZE things. Besides, there are WELL ESTABLISHED PROTOCOLS that ALL MEDIA NETWORKS ARE PRIVY TO taken from the HISTORY and EXPERIENCE of HUNDREDS OF YEARS OF JOURNALISM… THERE WAS NO EXCUSE FOR NOT KNOWING WHAT TO DO.

And everyone knows that the police is being made the scapegoat… well, at least I hope everyone knows. I hope against hope. I dream the IMPOSSIBLE DREAM. Anyways, you get picture.

On the social network side of things, it’s to be expected that the users (especially those in the BBS [forums], who are more anonymous than their Facebook-counterparts) are more likely to say something they wouldn’t normally say in public as the Internet provides us with a venue to say whatever we want with wanton disregard for our safety or repercussions of the said statements, defamatory or otherwise.

Well, anyways, I do not take what transpires in the social medias as seriously as those I see first hand. It’s one thing to type a message (with cussing or none), it’s another thing to really act on what you think. The DAB party of Hong Kong is just playing their usual game of being loud and rowdy to seem that they’re really for the people. HK politicians and Philippine ones are the same in that respect. China on the other hand is really the biggest hypocrite here because they’re pointing the finger of blame on us for, what…? Being incompetent… being ill-equipped… being-unprepared… The first two are true, but that’s just because we’re poor. We’re a freaking 3rd world country! Being unprepared, yes we also were. But, that’s because these kind of things don’t often happen… only once in a blue moon do we see someone take a bus full of tourists hostage on live television and I think that’s a good thing because, SOMETHING THAT HAS BEEN SAID OVER AND OVER AGAIN IS THAT THIS INCIDENT IS ISO-LATE-D. Again? Again! ISOLATED!

Well, I should go to bed.

This was a rant. I wrote this as a Filipino and also as a person that also calls Hong Kong home.

It broke my heart that these things would happen, but no one can do anything about it anymore. What can be done is to NEVER LET IT HAPPEN AGAIN.

I think that would serve as the BEST APOLOGY possible. An apology to those who lost their loved ones, those who felt attacked, those who felt betrayed, those who felt embarrassed, and anyone else who got involved.

ACTIONS SPEAK LOUDER THAN WORDS.

Dear President Noynoy

[This blogpost was inspired by this article by Yahoo News Philippines.]

Dear President,

Please do not take yourself too seriously. When you have to choose between your pride and your security as the “head of state” and the “hope of the people”, there is no contest. Your security comes first.

Please conduct yourself in a manner that befits your rank. You are much more valuable alive than dead. Do not tease fate.

Yes, your detractors will criticize you if you reverse your own position on wang-wang, but who cares! They’ll criticize whatever you do, so just do what I do with my own critics: ignore them—that’s what they’re good for.

Worry about the important things, not about some traffic “nuisance”.

In the first place, you should have just zero-ed in on the abusers of the wang-wang, our much beloved congressmen and people of self-import (yung mga FEELING lang). The law provides the Executive, the vice Executive, the two heads of of both Houses of Congress and the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court and those who work in law-enforcement and emergency services the right to use a siren while on route during official business.

Please don’t be stubborn, be smart. You are more important than you think (Aww, sweet ┐( ¯3¯)┌).

Yours truly,

Isang Pilipino