The other day a friend was telling me how I’m the only one she knows who has to check a calendar before making plans to hang out (she hasn’t met my other friends yet. lol). “Don’t you ever have any free time? It seems like you always have something to do or somewhere to be.” While I do sometimes wish that I had more time on my hands, I’d rather be busy than not (it’s kind of tough to remember what life was like when all I did was kick it. lol). Since I’ve become a lot more involved in the organizing work with Anakbayan LA over the last 6 months or so, I’ve had less and less time for myself. However, what I’m actively trying to work on is that it’s not about me anymore, it’s about Serving the People and internalizing that concept so it goes beyond just a cool phrase that’s printed on a shirt or a sticker.
We’re constantly in the process of remolding ourselves, and for me specifically, I’m working on maintaining a truly selfless attitude through my actions. Generally speaking, I feel that I’m more of a giver than a taker in my different relationships w/folks, but I still have selfish tendencies at times (anyone who says they don’t isn’t being honest enough with him/herself). I’m still trying to shake that bourgeois mentality of consumerism, but it’s a tough thing to do. Right now I’m on this whole tip of getting a better paying job so I can eventually get my own place (w/out a roommate) and have nice things, but is that really in the spirit of collectivity? I mean, I still like shopping for camera gear and a fresh pair of kicks (which I went overboard with last year), but are those things really necessary?
Over the weekend I had a really good discussion with some of the Anakbayan LA kasamas about self-interests and also our general approach to organizing. Lately I’ve been guilty of complaining about the organizing work and having a negative attitude towards it, but when I’m actually in that moment I’m reminded of just how inspiring and empowering it is to be in that kind of space. It’s not even about the feeling of self-fulfillment that I get — it’s about knowing that the work we’re doing with and for the people/community does make a difference. It might seem small and insignificant from an outsider perspective, but all these little things do add up into something meaningful.
On March 8th, International Women’s Day, Angie Ipong (who at one point was the oldest political prisoner in the Philippines) came to L.A. to kick off her international speaking tour. Even at the age of 67, I was amazed at how much energy and passion she had for organizing. It was really inspiring to hear how she never allowed anyone to kill her spirit during her 6+ years of imprisonment. There’s so much more to be said about the lessons I learned from her speaking engagement, but I’ll save that for another blog.
The work continues, but this time around I’ll have a much more grounded, principled approach. Our growth will continue as long as we allow it to…
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.