Friday, June 26, 2015

First Impression of Bacolod = Joy!

Masskara Festival
Many Americans carry with them the assumption that lack of material wealth automatically means misery.  Truth be told, we have a lot to learn from the amount of joy and warmth present in the community of Bacolod.  The streets are teeming with life.  Everyone says hello to us (granted, we kind of noticeable). Our welcome meeting began and ended in joyful song.  The graciousness of our hosts has been nothing short of inspiring.  Many of the readings I have encountered before coming here referred to Filipino culture as struggling to form a sense of identity after 333 years of colonial rule by the Spaniards followed immediately by American imperialism.  But I'm starting to believe that this characterization of a confused, and perhaps even inauthentic, culture are misguided.  From my short time here, a sense of joy and "grit" permeates Filipino culture. 

Here are some things that I adore about the Philippines so far.

1.  You have to become one with the chaos.  What appears to be chaos to us really works for them.  It feels like we're playing "Frogger" when  we cross the street.  It feels like there is no good time to cross the street, as cars, jeepneys, busses, and pedicabs appear to never stop and are often quite haphazard in their movements.  But really, anytime is a potential "good time" to cross. You just have to feel it. 

2.  Don't be shy.  Just sing!  Karoake is everywhere and highly valued.  

3.  Smile.  Bacolod is the City of Smiles.  Although it was explained to me that this is because of the history of sugar plantations in the region, and thus, an overindulgence of sugary foods, I think there's more to it than that.  There is a joy of life here that is contagious.

4.  Education and educators are highly respected and valued.  The Philippines invests heavily in education, and the level of respect given to educators by their students and communities is clearly visible.  Students at Colegio San Agustin have a special bow that they give their teachers when passing them in the hallway and when entering a classroom. 

5.  Environmental stewardship education seems to be the norm here.  It is present in the clearly labeled recycling bins all over the school campuses.  It is present in the beautiful school learning gardens in many of the schools.   Teachers are also incredibly interested in the ways we teach environmental sustainability and stewardship in the States.  I've visited schools in Indonesia and Nicaragua, and I did not witness the level of environmental concern that I'm seeing here.

1 comment:

  1. All very interesting, honey, and your inside perspective is helping change the misconceptions I may have had concerning the country and its people. Very nice accompanying photos as they really help to tell the story.