when people ask how our trip to the philippines was, it’s hard to know where to begin! we flew out the last week in january, missed two nights of sleep and traveled for thirty-six hours on four separate flights. we were there for one week total between two different cities & with crazy jet lag. we were there with a friend’s company, doing something both we & they had never really done before. you could say it was a bit of a whirlwind trip.
when i was nineteen i went on a trip to mexico to build an orphanage with an organization linked with my university. i stayed with a mexican family during part of my time there, and they had a daughter around my age. that was my first encounter with the idea of ‘escaping to america’, this attitude that i would come to see lives inside a lot of young people the world over. travel anywhere & i’m sure you’ve encountered it too. the hope that, if i’m lucky enough or if i can get into a school in the states, or canada, or england, then i can get out of where i come from. there’s nothing for me here — to make a better life for myself, i must go somewhere else.
the story we hear about the developing world is always the same, and it’s come to be expected. it’s poor. the conditions can be awful. there is splendor living right next door to poverty, and there is corruption. it’s not a good story.
i met a guy named ossie while we were in cebu city. he works for the company my friend chris is a part of. he likes surfing, zen & the art of motorcycle maintenance, and his rescue dog blanco. he’s twenty-five and told me one day about what he calls ‘the leftovers’. it’s the story of passionate, intelligent young people who are stuck in a hard place. with the opportunities for skilled & fulfilling work close to home so sparse, so many are leaving their communities and go abroad. and so the cycle continues.
i have another friend named liz. she runs a sandal company in uganda that enables young women to afford university. the story we hear about uganda is usually not a great story. again, it’s a story of corruption, poverty, disease… she tells the women she works with that they have the chance to tell another story about their country to the world. a story they’ve probably never heard before. a good story.
so this is a good story about the philippines. this is a story about people who are working to create meaningful employment opportunities for the young people there, so that maybe not so many of them have to leave or work in low wage or exploitative situations. and about people like ossie who can help build up the communities right where he lives, maybe help start more meaningful small businesses & keep bright leaders in the communities, and do this alongside the others he works with.
phew, long blog post, but all that to say : this is a good story about the philippines.
cebu city & manila, the philippines / january 2014