Saturday, August 11, 2007



I was away from site for a while and it feels good to be back in Siniloan, where life that still means peace, friendship and kindness. I saw my home town with fresh eyes.

Walking down the street where little kids bathe under pumps or water pipes, women swatting on low stools before wide silver bowls filled with laundry, their hands gloved in bubbles, their hands never still, always scrubbing, scrubbing the bacteria and sweat away.
Yet, their faces quietly alert to every passerby, never missing a chance to nod or smile at people with familiarity or curiosity.

The kids weaving around me on their bikes or running up to me to slap me five, screaming, “Moria, Moria! Kehmoosta Keh!” (They loved making fun of my nasally accent.) The kids hanging over the bridge with plastic, diamond-shaped kites with long white tails, the name of a local grocery store stretched out but still visible on one corner of the plastic tail.

I immediately received text messages from co-workers. “R u back na?” and “Don't run alone, ok?” They always worry about me. It's really sweet.

Siniloan is becoming comfortable to me. I enjoy spending time with my neighbors who are around my age. Their kids come over and run around my kitchen or sprawl on my floor and draw on loose leaf pages in blue and black ink. I just taught my neighbor's 6 year old how to play hangman. She is addict already. We usually only use 3 or 4 letter words, sometimes in English and sometimes Tagalog, but she usually figures out the word in time. Matallino siya talaga. (She's really smart.)

I'm reading a lot. Read “Notes from the Underground” finally. I'd been holding onto that tattered used book forever. Fascinating ideas. I read it twice, introduction and foreword by author and all. Uncannily true. That we thwart our own goodness and evil nature by will and inability to be completely committed to one lifestyle or the other. Doestoyevsky says that its the nature of man to be unable to commit to being completely bad or good due to too much self-consciousness and self-awareness. He acts as if self-awareness is bascially a pre-occupation with your own thoughts, selfishness. It can be. I can't figure out how he came to that theory exactly, when he found religion in jail or due to an interest in socialism.

Regardless, I totally agree that many people do exactly what he says. Their awareness of themselves ruins their chances at perfection. Or is their awareness an uncessary state of being and should they be more concerned with themselves in relation to others? Maybe what he's saying is that no matter how hard you try you can't reach perfection. Actually, I think that he wants us to not come to any conclusion but just observe this anti-hero without pity. What I wonder sometimes is this, do people think they can be better people by not being in contact with other human beings like monks and just sitting in silence all the time?

How do monks know they've succeeded if they've only mastered enlightenment within the monastery? How does a person know they are truly corrupt unless they've encountered the silence of a monastery? We don't live on individual islands for a reason and each person we meet is an opportunity for an exchange of ideas, thoughts, and a challenge. Maybe one that will break the very core of our constitution. And should. We can't be whole until we are broken. Removed of any precipis that is plastic only and does not represent or with stand challege and isn't true to what we truly believe.

Do I feel challenged here? Absolutely. But there will come a time when I will feel ready to leave. It's hard for me believe one more year will be enough. I feel like I have so much more to learn from my Filipino friends and work associates, yet.


Post a Comment

<< Home