By Ho Chung Lam,Willie
Being recognized as one of the Filipinos (my skin turns quite black after the sun-burnt) in the last week of the trip, I have been asking myself one question“If I have already had the appearance of a Filipino, what characteristic could I distinguish myself from Hong Kong instead of being one of the Philippines? Is it the language? Maybe. Is it the eating habit? Possibly. Is it the education? Maybe as well. However, I think the most fundamental thing would be the personal character that I acquired under the cultural influence in Hong Kong.
Since young, many Hong Kong-ers have been incepted with the concept of the “ideal life-cycle”. Participate in many extra-curricular activities in childhood to meet the requisite of the top school. Get good grades in the top school. Obtain a good and well-paid job with high social status. Earn a lot. The Hong Kong-ers’ schedule is just too tightly packed that the each Hong Kong citizen could sleep for less than 6 hours per day. With such a busy life, it seems to be too luxurious to spend any single glance to explore the world but more “efficient” to follow suit and delve into the world through reading books only.Born and bred in Hong Kong, I am inevitably influenced (or sometimes bounded) by the ideology. I habituated with the risk-adverse and efficient city life, hustle and bustle, striving for excellent performance in basically everything no matter you like doing it or not, being aggressive with strong eagerness to achieve missions, emphasis on the materialistic enjoyment (under the heavy influence of the media as well as advertisement in the business-obsessed town) while presuming happiness and satisfaction could be purchased like stock with money… .
One of our business partners did say that “Life is a trip to the top of a mountain. You would exhaust before reaching the top with the scurry of footsteps.” Sometimes refreshing your brain and let your mind subsidence is important as resting and planning your track could ensure that you would unswervingly and arbitrarily cling to your own dream, vision even if you need to go against the mainstream torrent and experience any anticipated disruption.The weeks of staying here are mentally fruitful. Despite the busy work here, I still got time to envisage and digest my experience.”When in Rome, do as the Romans” In these few weeks, I just keep breaching my comfort zone and exploring. I just do whatever other Filipinos do, including swimming with clothes (not swimming suit!), jumping from the waterfall, holding the snake with my bare hand, fishing in the middle of sea with the little unstable boat, playing hide and seek (in a mountain scale!), enjoying the shiny micro-organism in the coast together with the beautiful scene of galaxy on top of me in the night. I didn’t buy many things but only bare necessity. However, I am much happier than any time before as the joy of improvement and knowledge acquired has already been engraved on my bones.
Another thing which amazed me would be the Philippines responsiveness to the environmental protection. Hong Kong is one of the biggest financial hubs in the world which is widely regarded as utopia with economic prosperity and the best education system., Although the message of protecting the environment is widely publicized by the media in Hong Kong, the environmental awareness is still low and one are reluctant te behave in a environmental-friendly way. Beaches in Hong Kong are always full of garbage. However, here in the Philippine, citizens would not rebuff to stand out and shoulder the responsibility to preserve the natural environment. Many self-motivated residents would remind even the pass-by the importance of environmental protection by erecting notices in front of their houses).
I did go hiking with my host family to different rural area for quite some time. Unlike Hong Kong (mostly lit on the beach), after consuming their meal, the Filipinos would carry the garbage away with them instead of simply conserve the natural environment. “Actions speak louder than words”. They have been acting to protect the environment instead of only verbal promoting eco-tour. Regarding on the general education level, Hong Kong-ers should be more capable of doing it. However, the truth seems to be against this theory.
“Filipinos treat everyone well, no matter you religion, if you treat them well” said Anna, the government officer of Jagna. Staying in the Philippine for quite a while, I have got in touch with many Filipinos, including the residents in Topud Mar (My home-stay location), several business owners, the members of “Jagna women”, officers in the municipal house and etc. In the interaction with the variety of people here, I hardly see any kind of discrimination. What they do care is not about your color, but instead how you treat them. For example, I have been chatting with many tricycle drivers. There are open to share their own story with you. However, there are one and only one requisite before they open their heart. You need to show your respect before they open their heart. He also told me that he did reject to take the customers for a ride if they behave rudely (And he did give me a free ride before ^o^). Drivers here definitely sacrifice much to support their families’ living. Despite of their low income, they still treasure their honor and privilege to be respected.
It’s sad but true that beggars are everywhere, even the most developed countries would not be an exception. In Hong Kong, most of the beggars are physically handicapped. However, the beggars in the Jagna market here is mainly kids and pregnant women. Every time I got to market, I could see the same little boy begging. He just kept clutching my clothes tightly and show his hand out.
At the moment, I was sympathetic to him and just presumed him as an orphan. Although I understood that I couldn’t help him a lot with the few coins, I hope at least he can buy some food and that’s why I finally make the decision to give him the coins. After receiving the few coins, he immediately ran away and I just continued roaming around in the street. When I walk to the tip of the road, I see the kids again. I was just shocked that he was sitting in the bar to drink beers. I am quite disappointed and also angry when I recognize that my money has already been used to subsidize his unhealthy drinking habit!
Later in the day I just have a little chat with my Indian fellow, Suhail. He told me that there is the flood of beggars in the India,especially urban city. Someone might even purposely disable themselves. Even with the good intention, I can do nothing to make sure my monetary help is used in an appropriate way. Road to hell sometimes is paved with good intention. It’s just a double-edged sword, either turn to means of killing them or imposing negative impact on their health or being passed to one who really need the assistance.This already bewilders my faith to help other. Next time, to help or not to help then? I still yet have the answer up to now. But thanks for the experience, at least I know more about the painful truth and I am confident I will figure it out in the n future.