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.
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…
Chicago: Part One…
I don’t know if it’s because I’m still trying to catch up on all the sleep I missed out on or if I’m slightly overwhelmed by everything that happened in Chicago this weekend, but I’m having a difficult time putting the whole experience into words — there’s just so much to talk about!!
The way I feel right now is exactly how I felt when I came back from my exposure trip in the Philippines. Meeting kasamas (comrades) from across the country and seeing the strength and resiliency of our people was an amazing, inspiring, and empowering thing to experience.
This is going to be a multi-part series of blogs because there’s way too much to cover in one post, but a few things come to mind for now:
1.) I love seeing all the new Facebook friendships/connections being formed over the last couple of days. Although social networking can sometimes hinder actual human interaction, I see these new friendships going far beyond the “Add you as a friend but never talk to you again” formula that we often see on Facebook.
2.) It was an honor to be part of the documentation team for the weekend. I still need to learn a lot about photography and filming (especially editing video), but I’m glad that I was able to help out in any way possible. Seeing all the photos and videos that people are posting does have me feeling really anxious to check out the stuff that I shot though. As part of the documentation team, I had to leave my memory cards with the point person so we can consolidate everything in one location, so I’m eagerly awaiting that package in the mail!! lol.
3.) At one point throughout the weekend, there was a photo backdrop setup in one room where people were able to pose with different props and signs. When it was Anakbayan LA’s turn to go up, there was one sign that just spoke to me, “I’m proud to be in the National Democratic Movement”. It’s a beautiful thing to be a part of.
I just found out that one of my former veteran clients will be featured on a Weather Channel show called Turbine Cowboys, which is premiering later this month. Words can’t even begin to express how proud I am of this guy and everything he’s done to get his life back on track!!
I can’t be too detailed for confidentiality purposes (though he has repeatedly said I can share his story with the world), but this guy ended up losing his job at the peak of the recession and eventually became separated from his family as a result of it. He moved across the country to the Los Angeles area in search of work, but when that fell through he ended up in a homeless shelter. When he came to my agency, we ended up paying for his one month training in a renewable energy/wind turbine course. I heard that he had trouble in the beginning, but he stuck it out and even had a job lined up for him before he graduated. It’s only been a year since I met him, but he’s back on his feet and being featured on a TV show. He and I still touch base every few months and he always thanks me for helping him out and giving him a second chance, but I tell him that he was the one in the driver seat the whole time. He could’ve given up, but he persisted and proved what can happen with a strong work ethic and unbreakable spirit.
Having worked in Employment Services for the last 3-4 years, I sometimes lose focus on what it is I’m doing, which I think can happen with any job. But when I think of client success stories like the one I just described, it reminds me why I chose to be in this line of work — it’s extremely rewarding to know that you can make a difference in someone’s life. Although my job isn’t directly related to my community organizing work, it’s still Serving the People, just in a different sense.