Sunday, May 27, 2007

Slideshow time

So for those of you that have been asking (and those of you who haven't), here's the link to photos from my trip to the Philippines, complete with caption-'narration' so you can make sense of what you're seeing.

I had a little reportback brunch today (thanks to Germz, Efren and Howard, among others, for coming) with friends who supported my trip (I fundraised for a good portion of my expenses, which really helped a lot with both my trip to meet my father in Philadelphia and my trip to the Philippines) and one friend asked me to sum up my trip to the PI in one word. I thought for a moment, then said, 'Intense.' If it's not anything else, the Philippines can be a very intense place.

From the nearly daily 100 degree heat and ridiculously oppressive humidity that made my ankles swell up to the culture shock of a nation where Catholicism and Christianity and colonialism are so deeply embedded in the culture but still strangely unrecognizable at times, from the intensity of being around so many family members at once and for an extended time period to the emotional overwhelm of meeting all my relatives for the first time, this trip was quite an experience. But I'm glad I went, and glad that I survived, and I can safely and confidently say that I am a better person for it.

It's strange how connecting with family--long-lost and otherwise--can somehow ground you in a stronger sense of yourself. It's about touching your roots and knowing your history, yes, but it's also about knowing that you are not just a product of your family and upbringing either, that you have choices and privileges and outside experiences that shape you and make you the person you are. I've realized how rich my life is, and how much I have done to build myself up after having some traumatic experiences with family in the past, and now that I know that I have blood-family that I never knew existed before, now that I've made those face-to-face connections and lived amongst my kin, I know that everything leading up this springtime of journeys had a purpose and was part of my preparation for these realizations.

Okay, enough philosophizing and self-analysis. I hope you enjoy the slideshow.


Thursday, May 24, 2007

The problem with me... that when i get into things, like really into things, i can get a bit obsessive. Take, for example, Flickr, which i used to post my pictures from my recent trip to the Philippines (as well as my photos from my trip to Europe over a year ago!). I have hardly used it in the year or two that I've had a Flickr account, but after uploading almost 100 photos from this last journey--a process which took me at least an hour a day for three days--I'm starting to feel like I can't live without it. So at least twice a day, I've been visiting Flickr to check out mine and other people's photos. And I've finally put one of those super-narcisstic Flickr zeitgist thingies on my blog (see right). But then again, that's what a blog is all about, right? Narcissism? (Did i spell that right?)

I'm hoping that the fact that I don't blog much anymore shows that I'm not a narcissist. Or maybe that I just have my dysfunctional needs for self-aggrandizement fulfilled elsewhere? Hmm...

Friday, May 11, 2007

I Shall Return (to the Philippines), But For Now...

I am fine with staying in the US for a little while, maybe another year before I venture overseas or across borders again. Yes, I've returned from the Philippines, where I spent two weeks drenched in sweat in the sauna-like heat of Lingayen, Pangasinan, the provincial capital about five hours northwest of Manila. I'll write more later, but here's a few quick pictures of the trip. In short, although my trip was brief and only gave me a glimpse at life in Las Islas Filipinas, it opened my eyes to many new insights about my family, my culture, my people and myself. And I got to be a tourist and see some cool sites too. I was in Manila, Lingayen, Dagupan (my father's hometown), Calasiao (my mother's hometown), Baguio City, Manaoag and Aringay (La Union province).

Local and national elections were set to take place just a week after I returned, so there were lots of political campaign posters and other advertisements (like roving trucks playing candidates' individual jingles) in the streets of every town and city we visited.

This was my first breakfast in the Philippines--a veritable feast of fried Spam, Puto Calasiao, fried eggs, white bread, coffee, steamed rice and fresh papaya.

This is the view from Mines View Park observation deck in Baguio. Baguio was cool and pleasant, and reminded me a lot of my home here in the Bay Area. We came to Baguio twice to escape the stifling heat and humidity of the province, sightsee and do some shopping.