One year…

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.

Although I don’t write about it as much as I used to, I still think about my trip to the Philippines this past December and the lasting impact that it’s had on me.  One of my biggest fears after coming back from my exposure trip (just like the one in this video) was completely losing myself and forgetting about everyone I met and everything I experienced in the Motherland.

Living in the belly of the beast and enjoying the 1st World privileges it bestows upon us, whether willingly or unwillingly, it’s a constant battle to maintain that vision (for me at least). A couple weeks ago I bought some kicks online, but caught myself justifying my actions because it was a 2 for 1 sale.  I’ve got a closet full of shoes, with a couple I haven’t even worn yet (wtf?!), but yet I still felt it was necessary to buy more. I guess I didn’t do a good job of resisting the temptation after all.

Whenever I catch myself falling deeper into that capitalist trap, I go through the photos and video footage I took while I was in the Philippines to remind myself of what’s really important.  When I came across the picture posted above, it helped me regain my footing and become grounded once again in the principles of the movement and provided some much needed perspective as I navigate through the contradictions and distractions.

Although I don’t write about it as much as I used to, I still think about my trip to the Philippines this past December and the lasting impact that it’s had on me. One of my biggest fears after coming back from my exposure trip (just like the one in this video) was completely losing myself and forgetting about everyone I met and everything I experienced in the Motherland.

Living in the belly of the beast and enjoying the 1st World privileges it bestows upon us, whether willingly or unwillingly, it’s a constant battle to maintain that vision (for me at least). A couple weeks ago I bought some kicks online, but caught myself justifying my actions because it was a 2 for 1 sale. I’ve got a closet full of shoes, with a couple I haven’t even worn yet (wtf?!), but yet I still felt it was necessary to buy more. I guess I didn’t do a good job of resisting the temptation after all.

Whenever I catch myself falling deeper into that capitalist trap, I go through the photos and video footage I took while I was in the Philippines to remind myself of what’s really important. When I came across the picture posted above, it helped me regain my footing and become grounded once again in the principles of the movement and provided some much needed perspective as I navigate through the contradictions and distractions.

revisionphotos:

12.30.11 - Cabuyao, Laguna, Philippines



I miss the Philippines.

revisionphotos:

12.30.11 - Cabuyao, Laguna, Philippines

I miss the Philippines.

Never forget…

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.

etmm:

anakbayanla:

Anakbayan LA Serve The People NewsletterIssue No. 2, February 2012

View hereDownload here



Find out more about the organization I’m a part of :)

etmm:

anakbayanla:

Anakbayan LA Serve The People Newsletter
Issue No. 2, February 2012

View here
Download here

Find out more about the organization I’m a part of :)

Youth and Student Movement in the Philippines from Janelle Quibuyen on Vimeo.

anakbayanla:

YOUTH AND STUDENT MOVEMENT IN THE PHILIPPINES

This video was filmed during an exposure trip of July 2011 in the Philippines and featured at the Anakbayan Seattle report back multi-media show “Halong” in November 2011. 

An exposure trip is a program designed to expose people to the harsh realities and true living conditions experienced by the people of the Philippines through educational discussions, integrations, mass actions and community organizing.

Anakbayan members from the Los Angeles, Seattle, New York, and New Jersey chapters had the opportunity to learn about the youth and student conditions in the Philippines and the movement of young people demanding basic human rights for their future.

We were able to integrate with various youth and student organizations including Anakbayan chapters at the University of the Philippines Diliman and the Polytechnic University of the Philippines, as well as other youth groups, alliances and fraternities, including out-of-school youth, working youth, and youth organizing in the women’s movement, workers movement, cultural movement, and other sectors of Philippine society.

Filmed by: Nicole Ramirez
Edited by: Janelle Quibuyen
Music: From Monument To Masses - Comrades and Friends

To learn more about the National Democratic Movement in the Philippines and get involved in Anakbayan Los Angeles, visit anakbayanla.org or email anakbayanla@gmail.com

Just over a week ago, I was on an exposure trip like the one seen in this video. Even though mine was only for 3-4 days, it was an eye opening, life changing experience — now I’m back in the States and more inspired than I’ve ever been. It’s almost impossible to not be fired up after integrating with various communities and seeing the strength of the organizing that takes place, whether it’s the peasants in rural areas or the workers in urban poor neighborhoods.

Not only did I find inspiration from the people who lived in those communities, but also from the organizers that I met along the way (coincidentally, my expo guide, Rjei, was featured in the video as well). It’s never about individual recognition or who holds what position — it’s about being dedicated to the work and the movement out of a genuine Love for the People. With all the different people I met, the common trait that ties them together is their selfless approach to everything in life.

I’ll be posting lots of pictures and videos throughout the upcoming months. Stay tuned…

Post-Expo Reflections…

A few hours ago I finished my 3 day Exposure [expo] Program in the Southern Tagalog region of the Philippines. I’m still trying to process everything I’ve experienced, so my mind is all over the place right now.

I’ve seen how going on expo has affected my friends and always wondered if it would be the same way with me. In just a few short days of integrating with different communities and talking to the masses, I’ve never been more proud of the Filipino people as I am right now. Despite all the hardships they face, they maintain such a resilient spirit and never seem to complain about the petty things that we often complain about in our more comfortable 1st World living conditions. After I parted ways with my expo guide today and was riding back to my grandpa’s house in Rizal, I really had to compose myself from completely breaking down. The tears that did come out weren’t from a source of pity for the people and their living conditions or guilt from my own privilege, instead, it was because of how touched I was by their hospitality.

These are people with relatively nothing in material possessions, yet they welcomed me into their homes and accepted a complete stranger as one of their own. There’s a good chance that I’ll never see a lot of those faces again, but I truly feel like I’m a part of their family. I didn’t find out until much later that one of the families who took us in literally fed us all the food they had, but not once did they even hint at the fact. Due to recent heavy rains, the crops that they worked on were completely destroyed. They couldn’t even offer their services and get paid in nearby areas because those fields were completely flooded as well. In what is truly a day to day struggle, no work means no food. Despite all this, they still went out of their way to ensure that their guests were ok.

One of the recurring questions I asked at the end of every conversation was, “As a Fil-Am, what would you want me to tell people when I go back to the U.S.? What do you want them to know about the Philippines?” Even though a lot of them were from different areas and didn’t know each other, the overwhelming answer was “Tell them our story.” Whether it’s through blogging, through music or just in everyday conversation, I know deep in my heart that I can help give voice to the voiceless — the ones who aren’t able to reach a wide audience and let their stories be known. But I also know that talking about it won’t be enough and that my actions will go a much longer way.

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?

I only have two more nights left in the Philippines before I have to leave. I don’t know when I’ll be coming back here, but these three weeks here have been fun, humbling and memorable. There were a couple times throughout the trip where I did miss some of the little luxuries I have in the U.S. and couldn’t wait to get back, but now that my time is almost up I realize that I’m really not ready to leave yet. I don’t know any other way to describe than to say that I have a heavy heart right now (but not in a sad or depressing way).

I’ll definitely be writing a lot more about my experiences in the upcoming weeks…

The countdown begins…

I don’t know what time it is back in the U.S., but I’m in the Philippines right now and eagerly awaiting the start of my Exposure/Immersion Program tomorrow morning (12/27). Honestly, I think I’m more nervous/excited about this than I was before boarding the plane to come here.

Although I’m still not sure exactly where I’m going tomorrow, I know that it’ll be somewhere in the countryside with the peasant communities for 3 nights and 4 days. I don’t know what I’ll see or how this expo trip will affect me, but I’m sure it’ll be an experience I remember for the rest of my life.

My expo will end on 12/30, then I’ll be spending New Year’s Eve with my family and heading back to the States on New Year’s Day. I would say that I’ll “return to reality” a few days after when I have to go back to work (after being off for three glorious weeks), but what I’ve seen here in the Philippine is a reality that I just haven’t seen yet.

Again, I don’t know what kind of impact this upcoming expo will have on me, but the one thing I hope to gain from this experience is a deeper dedication to Serving the People.

I’m getting excited for my Philippines trip in general, but I’m really looking forward to participating in an Exposure Program, which is pretty similar to this video. My expo will start the day after Christmas, then I’ll rejoin my family in time to celebrate New Year’s Eve before flying back to the U.S. on New Year’s Day. Then a few days after returning, it’ll be my 30th birthday.

I’ve always been a reflective/sentimental kind of person, so I can only imagine what’ll take place with so many life changing experiences and milestones occurring within such a short timeframe. I’ll probably be blogging a lot when I come back, but I’ll also be writing in my personal journal as well (which I plan on taking with me when I go overseas).

Just thinking about the possible outcomes right now has made me forget all the work-related b.s. that I’ve been dealing with lately. There are far more important things to be concerned with in life and I need to constantly remind myself that I’m part of a much greater cause.

Serve the People…