Learning from a Developing country

By Alex Chung

My world view changes a lot when I arrive Guimaras, Philippines. I could not have imagined life without hot water, business without computer or traffic without traffic lights. After all, it is just that some part of this world were born in advanced countries and could not have chance to explore developing countries in real life.

Here are several trivial things that I would not have think about if I have not been to Guimaras.

When I was small, I have been always thinking about the function of lunar calendar in modern days. I thought most of the agriculture nowadays were modernized and need not refer to lunar calendar. However, the moon actually affects us very much even if we do not recognize. For example, fishermen in Laktawan refer to the lunar calendar for checking tidal changes, which very much affect their work on the sea. This reminds me that the ancient intelligence still applies to modern world, especially to the developing countries.

Talking about fishermen, the fishermen Ding Dong and Dexter of Laktawan once took me to the centre of ocean and let me experience the sweet and bitter of being a fishermen. Fishermen’s work is to wake up at 3am in the morning and go into the sea before sun rises, spread the net and wait for harvest. It would be fun to enjoy coffee and toast in the middle of the sea if they did not have to pull the heavy net continuously for 1 hour under the burning sun. More importantly, hard work for fishermen never promises anything. There could be 7 kilos of fish a day, which is nice and abundant, but it could also be 1-2 kilos only however hard they pulled the net. When we enjoy our food, lets don’t forget there are farmers and fishermen in the other side of the world working very hard for uncertain amount of return.

One more short story I would like to share which made me so impressed. One night a kid told me the story of “Aswan” (ghost) of the village. I asked what should we do when we meet an Aswan. The kid replied: we are Filipino, we are strong! We are not afraid of Aswan!” This impressed me a lot that kids here have a strong sense of belonging and trust to their ethnicity and country.

Kids here were more mature than those in developed countries. They wash clothes and do dishes, cook for their family and even talk about the future considering their ages were only from 5-19. They face the society much earlier than we do: University life starts when they are 16-17. They do not hire domestic helper like we do in Hong Kong. These all place them in independent life much earlier than kids in developed countries do. This led to a great contrast and reflection on the phenomenon of “spoiled kids” and “monster parents” we see in Hong Kong. Should there be a universal method of raising kids all around the world, regardless the level of development of the country? Certainly the method varies from place to place, but personally I will adopt the Filipino one when I have a kid.

There are so many things here in Philippines that changed my world view, and I believe the list will go on and on. But one important thing I learned here: there are always opportunity to learn no matter which part of the world I am in, and many of the time developing countries are good classrooms for us to review our world view.

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