Theme: world view
By: Zhang Siyang (Rachel)
“There’s totally nothing in the sky. But why does it bring me comfort?”
This is a saying by a contemporary Chinese poet, Hanzi. The beauty of sky kept reminding me of these words at every nightfall in the Philippines.
We live next to the wharf to Iloilo, where there’s a broad view of the ocean and sky. Everyday around 5:30 pm, accompanied by the girls of our host family, I would wander to the seaside around the wharf to appreciate the sunset. The sky never fails to amaze me: everyday I think it must be the most brilliant view I’ve ever seen, but the day following that is even more brilliant. The sky looks very different each day with different color and cloud shape. Every sunset is a special gift from nature.
I lived in big cities like Beijing and Hong Kong for all the 20 years of my life. They are both developed places with guaranteed good living standard, skyscrapers and neat streets. Beijing is always polluted. There’re 25 days with haze in one month. The sun is usually submerged into the gloomy sky. Hong Kong performs better in air condition, but it is much more crowded with people and buildings. In Hong Kong, even at the seaside of Kennedy Town, I can only see 180 degrees of the sky, with a jungle of thick and tall buildings blocking my horizon. I never had a direct access to a broader view of sky and the natural environment in a place where I lived.
Sometimes people living in developed places are too ignorant to appreciate the miracles of nature and lives. People are busy chasing material conditions and better evaluation criterion of a person to achieve self-content. In big cities, young people are ambitious and very eager to prove their value. Some of my friends are those typical ones who are desperate to success: they would rather sacrifice their rest time and health in exchange for a high-paid job in the finance field after graduation, taking the lead of all the competitors and enjoying their pride.
The sky has nothing, and it can give a man nothing, physically. But a man can still be content and healed under the sky. That’s when he forgets about the materials and follows his mental emotions. That’s when he realizes he is born to be a human without any added value, in face of the spectacular nature.
I found the country of Philippines is very different from what I thought.
As one of a south-eastern Asian country, the Philippines seems do not have a local culture, unlike Thailand or Vietnam. A Philippine local kingdom was established in the 15th century, but unfortunately it was soon taken over by the western people. After being colonized by Spanish, American and Japanese for hundreds of years, nearly its entire history, it was affected greatly by the western culture. The whole national is devoted believer in Jesus, and there’s plenty of churches. I am also impressed by the frequency of use in English. They can watch no-subtitle original English movie without difficulty. But the loss of dominant native culture makes me feel a little bit sad.
Guimaras is one of the 73 provinces in the Philippines, and one of the very ordinary islands. It is small, natural and lack of modernization. You can tell the gap between the rich and the poor on the street of Guimaras when passing by a well-built colorful concrete cottage and a dark one-floored wooden cabin. Animals here are very thin and food is always limited.
There’re a lot of primary schools and secondary schools in Guimaras. Because of their religion belief and their attitude towards induced abortion, Philippine families usually have a lot of children. Like for Lala, she is 46 but has 6 girls. The young population booming problem is serious for the employment market in the Philippines. Besides, many adults in the countryside leave for the big cities or abroad instead of staying on their motherland.
Iloilo is the forth largest city in the country, but its urban planning is backward. The workers are constructing everywhere on the street and the traffic is a mass because there’s almost no traffic lights. Sitting in the low-ceilinged jeepney and smelling the motorbike smoke always make me feel anxious.
The Philippines is a place I want to visit and get to know, but not a place I want to blend in or live in for the rest of my life. With all these problems, at first I felt a little bit sorry for the people living here.
But I soon realized that, they are no less happy than we do. People in developing countries have different expectations of life, which determines people’s happiness. Although the environment is not as civilized as Hong Kong, people still have a content life. Like the business owners we are consulting, people here are working hard to maintain their life. Like the sailers who stand on the out-stretching timber of the pump boats, people here have the beauty of nature and freedom to enjoy themselves.
We should not feel sorry for the less developed countries, just like we don’t need to feel sorry for ourselves when comparing to more developed places in the world. We just accept and appreciate.