By Joyee Zhou
Our trip started in a sunny morning and ended in a rainy afternoon. By the time we left, the weather had turned cooler and the rice had grown higher. When we were on the way back to Iloilo, the coming storm stirred the seawater and the wave shook the pumpboat heavily, as if Guimaras was seeing us off. The peace of the first day was gone, but the beauty of strength still thrilled my soul.
I don’t want to leave.
When I told my friends about my feeling, one laughed and said: “But Hong Kong is more comfortable.” Undeniably, we would be back to a place with better condition. I don’t need to worry about the bugs inside my bed net, the heat can no longer drive me dizzy, and the Internet is accessible everywhere. I was leaving for a place I call home, but I was feeling like leaving home at that moment.
I could still recall the first time I arrived at Salvacion’s home, a cement-colour house with green fences and a spacious courtyard; and the first night I spent there with a little unfamiliarity and homesickness, being awakened by the midnight rainstorm. The initial distance was quickly shortened as time went by. I’m thankful to have Kanika as my roommate who is gifted to talk with people and make new friends. With her accompany, I adjusted myself and familiarized with other family members in a short time. I remember one evening when it was already dark and about to rain, Kanika and I took a motorbike back home from Tumanda. On our way the driver decelerated and stopped beside another man’s motorbike. It turns out that “Tatay” (our host dad) came the whole way here to pick us up! It was surprise. At that moment, I felt the ineffable security and warmness of family: I realized our dependence on Savalcion’s family and the closeness of residents here — everyone knows each other, just like a big family.
I cherish the time that we spent swimming in the sea. The smell of bleach in the Kennedy town swimming pool makes me miss the calm and refreshing seawater which was covered with the stunning afterglow. I like the comment one of my friends made on the trip: “primitive nature is the best thing a human being can ask for.” My skin is tanned, and there are scars of mosquito bites on my legs. But I’m quite proud of my changes. These are part of Guimaras, part of Philippines, and they are now incorporated into my body, my mind and my spirit. Indeed, the urban life is comfortable and convenient, but sometimes people get lost. We are hiding in the shadow of skyscrapers, chasing after material desire and drowning in the bustling concrete jungle. Our body is spoiled, and our mind as well. When I say “spoiled”, I mean confining, short-sighted and complacent. When we dare not challenge ourselves either physically or mentally, we will restrict ourselves to the comfort zone built up by economic achievement and miss the most essential part of our nature which relies on a vibrant spirit. I love my tan line, because it tells how much I enjoy myself here and how I find the missing spirit of life.
Mr. G told us about the hospitality and optimism of Filipino, which we truly perceived during our stay. They are shy to talk but always helpful, and big smile is the most commonly seen expression in their face. Such happiness cheers me up every day, infusing me with positive energy. I guess this is the heart of Philippines and the beauty of Filipino.
Keep the spirit up. I will definitely be back.
P.S. Thanks to Haider’s extraordinary filming techniques, we are able to deliver a special reflection video. Please check it out by the link and hope you enjoy it like we enjoy our trip.