Exactly one year ago, right around this time of night, my flight was just taking off from LAX and headed to the Philippines as I prepared myself to experience the land where my family and ancestors came from. A few short weeks after that, it was time to reflect on everything I experienced in the Motherland. Looking back on what I wrote, there was one part that stood out for me:
I’d like to say that this was a life changing experience (which it does feel like right now), but I think that can only be assessed on a more long term basis. What will happen months from now after I’ve gone back to my comfortable life in the States? Will I get caught up in all the distractions? Or will I be more grounded and inspired to keep organizing and keep fighting for the people?
Living in a capitalist country with a culture based on consumerism, I’m in a never-ending remolding process, but for the most part, I feel like my experience last year really was a life changing experience. There’s so much more I can write, but I’ll just leave it on that note.
On my first full day back from the Philippines, I asked a couple of friends to interview me so I can talk about my experiences while they were still fresh on my mind. A part of me wanted to do it so I could share with others, but another part was for personal reasons — so I can revisit that interview whenever I feel myself falling off course and hopefully get back on track.
It’s been over three months since my exposure trip, where I integrated with farmers in the countryside as well as folks in the urban poor areas. I feel like the fire that I came back with in January is slowly starting to die out, so today I decided to watch some of that interview, which is over 2 hours long. In the beginning of the interview, I talked about my fear of getting caught up in all the 1st World distractions and how we have to consciously work to not lose ourselves and our vision. I knew that eventually this day would come so it was kind of like I was talking to my future self (which is now my present self).
These last few weeks have been filled with lots of ups and downs, which has made it extremely difficult to focus on whatever it is I’m doing at the time. While I do acknowledge that I need to find a better work/life balance (which is currently leaning heavily towards the “work” side), I also need to take a step back, breathe, reassess, and remind myself of the importance of community organizing.
Although I may not think of them as often as I used to, I’ll never forget the people that I connected with in the Philippines. They opened up their homes and shared their stories with me, which is something I’ll always be appreciative of.