Archive for ‘everyday life’

October 31, 2012

loving what we do

by Melissa

I went to the beach this weekend.

We followed the blogs-  and took a jeep to the MRT to a bus to Calatagan.  3 hours on an overwhelmingly air conditioned bus.  We made it afterdark and ended up in a lover’s hotel for the night.  the kind of place for first timers, or the scandalous, or maybe for valentine’s day. There are mirrors everywhere, and mood lighting, and a holographic image of a sexy lady.  We could have paid and stayed for 3 hours but we took 12.

The next morning at 8am we were beach-bound.  The tricycle ride gave us a window into the everyday lives of the locals: fishing.

A year ago or so this beach was bought by somebody who will develop it (destroy it?)  This blog suggests the buyer is no other than SM (the megamall virus and other more libelous descriptors) although we were not able to confirm this info from local folks we talked to…

There was one other group camping on the beach.   We didn’t bring enough food or gear to stay overnight, and we were not really planning on it.  But we were open.  And then we saw the beauty of the place, its simplicity, and a blue sky; we wanted to stay.  And sure enough a tent is for rent.  The family that seems to manage the place has a small house that also doubles as a sari sari store and information center.  They were even kind enough to cook rice and fish for us for a small fee.

I used to be really into risk-taking and travel.  And while I no longer seem to travel like a punk, I loved the reminder that life provides.

The beach family it turns out has migrant aspirations.  Kuya Ramon told me about three of his children- a dentist, a nurse and a manager at a local fast food chain each bound for an overseas job in either toronto, british columbia or brisbane.  Yup.  Professionals taking what’s available elsewhere.  Even the manager will take a counter job in Canadian fast food.  Since when has Canada been importing its fast food workers?

But weirder still, for Kuya Ramon, was the enigma of a Canadian citizen working in the Philippines. “so many jobs there but you’re working here!” he says incredulously, shaking his head.  It doesn’t seem to add up in the logic of economics-  where jobs are ever only about meeting basic needs.

I dream of a future where work is about fulfilling purpose, cultivating passions, engaging beauty…

But today, I am one of the privileged.

I can attempt a holistic approach to work.  I can be in the Philippines as a traveller/worker/ lover/ cousin/friend/investor…  I can love what I do for work!

Last night in a very productive conversation with a friend and fellow social entrepreneur, we talked about our projects in the Philippines.  “You can do anything here”, she says with conviction.  It’s a paradox of the Filipino experience.  That while there are not opportunities to meet even basic needs for many people here (thus persistent poverty; the migration phenomenon), for those with capital-  money, resources, social networks- the Philippines is just ripe with opportunity.

October 24, 2012

Back in the Philippines

by Melissa

Cultivating freedom in the world means experiencing the pain of choice, the limits of actually knowing what makes us free.

This is my newest mantra.  A clear thought towards letting good things go-  despite love, despite a shared future dreamed over many years and many beautiful moments…

It’s posted now on the wall on a square of green paper beside the last one:

What you are loving together is truth: everything real has to be shared; everything else has to be dismantled (this is William Pennell Rock care of Eric Francis, astrologer extraordinaire)

Long distance love relationships, anyone??


The last couple of weeks have been about readjusting to the pace of life here in the Philippines.  The traffic and the sexual tension (gendered curiousity?) (ok, I know that’s pretty presumptuous but still…)

So much happening.  My thesis defense! Going to Saskatoon! My sister is pregnant! And coming back to the Philippines, on a more indefinite timeframe, ‘for work’.  And I live here too! Of course so much is happening politically too.  The cybercrime bill, the US election, the beginnings of electoral politics in the Philippines (oh I have a lot to learn), the plastic bag ban in QC, the amazing street demos in Europe….       How does it all fit together?  How does it make a common sense?

I don’t have all the answers or even all the questions.  Focus, Melissa!  A friend at UP has invited me to participate in a reading group on Graeber’s Debt.  Yes! I hope we can manifest theory and make at least some connections between current crises affecting the Global North and the state of the Philippine nation- call centers, unemployment, massive migration…    And what to do?!

I struggle with patience and endurance.  This blog, for example.  But I suppose fits and starts is better than silence.  A friend told me I should write about the everyday too, not just the politics.  I should, I’ll try.  I guess it’s about trying to be honest about my everyday too-  my embodied living (rather than being an abstract theorist commenting on ‘life’ as an object).

Today I feel… vulnerable.  I have to steady myself to go into the world.  I ride my bike along the same roads most days.  It’s hot and I’m sweating all the time.  Its somehow important to me though.  Carving out the space to bike here, even though its not necessary or normal.  I do it because I love to bike.  Because I believe in biking.

I think the endurance question also applies to the theme of this blog. risklove.  Risk is something of a commitment.  Its not just invoked in the moment.  Its something we cultivate for a possible future.  Being here in the Philippines is a kind of risk for me, based on a shared future.  I want her development like I want my own.  I know I should write about this.  About why I want to be in the Philippines.

Next time…   😉

Picture care of Rexy (my second cousin)