I’ve come a long way in the 1.5+ years that I’ve been an organizer with Anakbayan LA. Prior to joining, I was on the fence for a really long time (maybe two years?), so now I can’t help but laugh at that indecisive period because it’s almost impossible to envision my life without organizing.
However, since I just started a new job, my amount of free time has decreased due to a longer commute and longer work hours (I’m out the door at 7am and don’t get back home until 7pm), but I’d be lying if I said there’s not enough time in the day to complete my organizing tasks. I can still do the work, I just need to learn how to be more efficient with what little “free” time I do have. It can definitely be done though!
These next few weeks are going to be crazy busy though (more than normal), and I can’t help but feel a little overwhelmed right now. Luckily, some kasamas and I recently had an E.D. (Educational Discussion) about the qualities of a revolutionary, which I revisited tonight to keep myself grounded and have the right approach to what needs to be done.
Here are some bullet points on the article we studied:
- A revolutionary is lively and enthusiastic. We must keep a positive mental attitude and eagerness in the work and be conscious that every step brings us closer to the bright future.
- Don’t allow ourselves to lose spirit or be discouraged in the face of problems and difficulties. With militance and a fighting sprit, we must seize every moment and opportunity in the struggle.
- Initiative is a mark of the revolutionary. Our initiative applies not only to our own responsibilities, but also to other areas where we see the need for immediate attention.
- Always willing to take on tasks and responsibilities and accepts assignments with little concern for the hard work or sacrifices they entail. We shouldn’t be choosy with the work because we do not seek fame or comfort for ourselves.
Like I said in the beginning, I’ve come a long way as an organizer but I’m also aware of what shortcomings I have and what areas I need to improve on. It’s a never ending growth process, but I’m in it for the long haul and ready to step it up even more than what I’ve done in the past. Let’s keep marching forward…
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…
In exactly two months…
…I’ll be in the Motherland for the very first time. Philippines, here I come.
My first exposure to the Festival of Philippine Arts & Culture (FPAC) was in 2005, and I’ve attended ever since. As an artist, this is always one of my favorite venues/events to perform at because it’s such a great community vibe. Back in our formative years, my hip hop group The Committee has been able to network with people that we’re still friends with to this day. But even when you take away the music element, I’ve still met some really cool people throughout the years. It’s a great feeling to walk through a sea of faces and bump into someone around every corner. I’m not saying it’s a popularity contest, but it’s more like, “Wow…I’m really a part of this Community. These are my folks.”
And speaking of folks, I have to give a shout out to all my peeps who rocked the stage this weekend: Shining Sons, Krystle Tugadi, and Rhythm Natives. On top of that, I finally got a chance to see Ruby Ibarra perform live. Damn, yo…that is one vicious MC!!! And of course, there was the Native Guns reunion. I’ll admit that my initial reaction wasn’t what I expected. I thought “ah…they always make the cameo appearances throughout each other’s sets, it’s nothing new.” But all of that went out the window once they started performing. It brought me back to ‘05 and ‘06 when I first got exposed to their music and showed me that you can be proud of being Filipino and still be dope behind the mic. It’s really hard to express how much of an influence they’ve had on my music, but Bambu probably said it best in his song Old Man Raps, “I’m a pioneer to all these Filipinos you hear / got a boost when the Native Guns’ music appeared.”
Ultimately though, the highlight of this weekend was being able to perform with the original members of The Committee again. I think since our band parted ways a couple years ago, I’ve always kind of held on to the hope that maybe we can get a new band going but after these last few weeks of practicing with the original members and sticking with a DJ, I’m truly ready to move on. Not to be too big headed about it, but we can confidently say that we killed it on Saturday!! It was a huge difference between that and the Tuesday Night Cafe set we did earlier in the week. Thanks to video footage and the raw, honest feedback from our friends, we were able to work out a lot of the kinks and had a much stronger set by the time we took the stage on Saturday.
Aside from the personal feelings we had about our performance, we had a lot of friends/fans who’ve seen us from the very beginning and said that it was one of our best shows. That really meant a lot coming from them, especially when you consider that we haven’t performed together in such a long time. But what got me most excited was the crowd reaction after we made a certain announcement (I’ll post the video soon). I can’t even front, it made me feel all giddy inside. haha!! To quote one James Todd Smith, “Don’t call it a comeback, [we’ve] been here for years…”
Oh and one last thing, I really need to give an extra special shout out to the event organizers and volunteers!! They were always available to answer any questions we had leading up to the event and even accommodated a last minute schedule change for us because one member had some unexpected plans that came up. Even though the performance schedule was already distributed to the artists and pretty much set for both days, they still asked around and got us switched from Sunday to Saturday. Our set wouldn’t have been the same if we were missing a member, so THANK YOU FilAm Arts!!