Light: civilization and hope

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–By Metis

How long can you expect to live without touching at any mobile devices in darkness?

This week we tried to decide what we could do to help Rosy for her organic farm. IMG_0351After our thorough talks with Rosy, several farm tours guided by her and her employees, and mango harvesting on our own (it is indeed extremely fun and impressive), we completed an interim report, in which we decided to make a promotion video for her on YouTube, an internship package targeted at her shortage of affordable labor, and a postcard design which can serve as both advertisement and souvenirs to her weekly tourists.

Some times things look easy until you start to do for yourself, while some other times it is the other way around. When it comes to video making in Guimaras, we are lucky to feel both. In fact, none of us three had any experience making videos before. As our goal has been set as ambitious as “standard YouTube promo video style”, this undoubtedly made us feel on thorns. We shot several clips of Rosy introducing her business in her farm at a fancy chosen angel, and recorded her voice later. It thus became an annoying problem for us to tackle: how to match the voice recording perfectly with the video.

As I was struggling with it, the fast power consumption of the computer added more to my concerns. I found myself working here easy to get irritated and then easy to give up. I tried to control myself not to blame on the external factors: the weather is horribly annoying, the mosquitoes are crazy, and the internet condition and electricity here are just troublesome. But what else can you do? Sit in the burning hot sun with numerous bugs flying around you, and probably you can concentrate on your work but meanwhile fearing that there might be immediate heavy rainfalls and a sudden shutdown!

IMG_0495Yes, now I am writing on the paper because a sudden shortage of electricity occurred. It’s a day without fans, phones, computers, iPad, and WiFi. As I have to be willing to accept domestication so as to survive better here, one remarkable change I am most happy to find in myself is that my bed time eventually tunes with the local people: 8:00pm to 5:00 am. Why is that possible here? I started to ask myself how hard it is if I try to do that in Hong Kong. And I found out all of these barriers that stopped me living in this way might be attributed to the prominent invention of the electric light, which contributes to human civilisation and progress. As people here face a severe lack of affordable electricity, sleeping at 8:00 pm and getting up at 5:00am are natural and reasonable, in which way Philippine people could follow the timetable of the sun.

So in what way do civilization and technology change us, and this place, and lead us to different future? We seem to have much longer working hours per day with the help of manmade light, while they can live a much healthier life style and expect to have better longevity. However, we are provided with more comfortable condition and thus can present better working efficiency, but this place, exhibits a day-to-night view of constancy and is easy to get bored with, even though bestowing its people with longevity.

I can’t say which one is better to live: to live like a citizen who can enjoy the diversity of life under high pressures and with unhealthy life styles; or to live like a common guy here who could enjoyo the dull views day by day and limit his life in a longevity time — 80 years old or 90 or more. IMG_0566Nevertheless there is fun you can find in this place, and there is prestige and enrichment you may enjoy in modern cities. Sometimes I think living here is an ideal way after retirement, where I can enjoy and follow the purified nature, to bring life back to the origin. But these days’ experiences, especially this day with sudden shortage of electricity (though I could finally sit down calmly, read a classic book patiently, and write on the paper word by word) forced me to think how backward this kind of life can be.

Rather than admire that their lives follow the nature, it would be better to say that their lives here are controlled and limited by nature. And how to decouple this hopeless dependency to nature, i.e. either escape from this place or change it, has long been an unsolved question.

As Tony Samson, the hero from novel The Pretenders, describes his home village Rosales a poverty-stricken village, where “poverty becomes its asset”, the lack of hope and inability to control his life and get independent from unpredictable nature push him to escape from this place. Through hard work and intelligence, he rises up in society with a decent Harvard degree and a beautiful wife Carmen, the daughter from rich industrialist Villa family. He chooses to end his life, however, after his values have been shattered by the reality. He has been shown by Don Manuel, the father of his wife, that how easy it is to buy people, no matter how he regards a man of integrity before. He also feels betrayed by love when he finds out that his wife is having an affair. Tony’s world collapses, and even if he is still alive after all of these, this living creature is no longer Tony.

This is the failure of escaping. What about living and changing here? The other book The Mass talks about Tony’s illegitimate son Pepe. Pepe is unlike his ambitious and righteous father. He shows willingness to accept his current life, as long as he can have beers and women. He is well satisfied with that simple life. He doesn’t want to learn, and he finds no point learning. But never mind, he will always find a way to earn money, at last he can steal. He shows indifference to all things and he doesn’t even care his own life. When he comes to Manila to attend college, and through his friend Toto, he becomes involved with a revolutionary group and finally commits a truly revolutionary act. As he talks about what he lives for, he says that he just wants to be happy, and seeks the life essence.

Who don’t want to be happy, and who can find the ultimate life essence?

Personally I prefer Pepe’s carefree attitude and Tony’s righteous behaviors. But later I realize (after talking with professor) no matter what attitudes you take to life, and what kind of life you choose to live, it’s more important to evaluate your life by the good things you have done to others. As long as you can bring happiness to this world and do things good to others, your life is valuable and influential in a way, and this will never change with the change of time and eras. And this is enough, is not it?

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What will those smiling faces be like in ten years?

Best wishes to the kids here, and to people including me as well.

Let me end this gratuitous blog with the ending of When I Have Fears by John Keats, hoping that we all could achieve the days when we look around this world, stand and think, and love and fame sink to nothingness :

That I shall never look upon thee more

Never have relish in the faery power

Of unreflecting love! – then on the shore

Of the wide world I stand alone, and think

Till Love and Fame to nothingness do sink

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