Differences

Finally, I saw the cultural differences I was told/warned about before I entered college life in the University of the Philippines.

I forgot who told me – I think it was my mom – who said na baka ma-culture shock ako pagpasok ko ng UP. I brushed it off. I told myself that if there were differences in culture, it would not shock me one bit; that it would not like be shifting from black to white in a snap of a finger, but rather, going from black to white while passing the gray areas. It wouldn’t be imposed on me; it would be eased in.

I’ve been through two years of college and I haven’t felt this “culture shock” I was told about.

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Two weeks ago, my organization, the UP Journalism Club, held its biggest activity to date: the first ever Campus Journalism Workshop Summer Camp, with high school students as participants. The camp itself lasted for five days, but we as organizers of the event worked for a week.

March 28 till April 4. I spent those days with my orgmates. One week, we slept in an apartelle, spending sleepless nights and tiring days together, feasting on Nissin instant noodles and cups upon cups of Kopiko coffee for midnight-slash-early-morning snacks.

I lived with them, got to know them a little bit more, and I had a life which was unlike my life back home – a daily routine of having at least a six-hour sleep; waking up and eating rice and a viand for breakfast, lunch, and dinner; eating real food.

In short, a simpler life.

I adjusted well enough to function properly during the Camp.*

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Service never stops for me.

This past weekend, it was time to serve for God. The Youth Encounter 10 weekend happened and 39 lives were transformed.

During the two nights, I think I averaged about 3-4 hours of sleep a night. But compared to what I experienced two weeks ago, this was much better. Strangely though, it seemed like I had more energy during the Camp, when I had sleepless nights and around 2 hours of sleep on average, than last weekend. Not that I’m complaining.

I spent the weekend with South people, mostly from Zobel, Woodrose, and Southridge students/alumni.

And the culture shock I was told about? It was this past weekend when I felt it.

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This is where I saw the vast difference in cultures. In UP, English-speakers are looked upon with a scornful eye. No, not really scornful, but they cause people to look at them. It won’t be surprising for them to be branded as conyo**, elitist,  burgis, and any other synonym.

Sometimes, it feels like speaking in English conversationally is a sin which is punishable by being stoned with the aforementioned labels to death.

There was one particular incident during the Camp. After the speaker was done with her lecture, the floor was opened for questions from the audience. This girl approached the microphone and identified herself. After she said which school she was from, I heard snickers from the other students. It was annoying. Right after she said her school’s name, a lot of murmurs floated from the rest of the theater.

On the other side of the fence, with the people I spent this past weekend with, the opposite was true, although to a lesser extent. English was the medium used by this crowd. The Tagalog-speakers were the minority. The good thing about this crowd, though, is that the minority is not labeled or put down.

I was part of this minority. It wasn’t that I couldn’t speak English. I can. And I’m above average at it. But I grew up in a Tagalog-speaking household, I hang out with Tagalog-speaking friends in UP, I am naturally a Tagalog-speaker. If I have jokes, they would be in Tagalog. I’m not saying, though, that everyone in the Youth are English-speakers. There are also those who you could speak straight Tagalog with.

Despite these, I am part of both groups. I have good friends in both groups. One best friend of mine belongs to the second group I discussed. And whichever group of friends of mine is present, I have fun, and the differences don’t exist.

And at the end of the day, whatever differences we may all have, we’re all gonna die, anyway. We’re all brothers and sisters in Christ.

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*I even feel like I functioned better during those days than after the Camp ended and I went back to my regular life.

**Little by little, I am starting to hate this word.

Mga Realization sa Sistema at Prinsipyo

Post can also be read in my other blog, Komyut.

Matagal ko nang ninais naisulat ‘to, kaso ngayon lang dumating ‘yung panahon.

Isang gabi noong may pasok pa, mga early to mid-March – ay teka, hapon ata yun. Sa tagal na, hindi ko na maalala yung mismong detalye.

Pero okey lang yan. Beside the point na kung anong oras siya nangyari.

Isang Biyernes yun. Rush hour. Sweldo weekend. Maraming tao. Punuan lahat ng pampasaherong sasakyan: MRT, jip, bus, you name it, puno sila.

Habang nasa MRT ako mula Quezon Ave, iniisip ko na kung saan ako bababa: Buendia o Ayala? Madalas kasi, halos araw-araw, sa Ayala ang baba ko, tapos bus mula doon. Sa mga araw na sumasabay ako sa tatay ko pauwi, bumababa ako sa Buendia tapos lalakarin ko papunta sa opisina niya. Kapag rush hour rin, at nag-iisa lang ako, sa Buendia ako bumababa. So hindi talaga ganoon kadalas ang baba ko doon.

Naisip kong bumaba na lang sa Ayala. Mas mabilis ang biyahe, kahit na sigurado akong nakatayo ako sa biyahe.

Huminto na ang MRT at bumaba ako sa sakayan ng bus. Ang daming tao. Umaapaw ‘yung sakayan ng PACITA at ALABANG. “Shet,” naisip ko, “sana nag-Buendia na lang ako.” Ang dami talagang tao!

Dahil nakatira ako sa Alabang, malamang tumayo ako sa sakayan ng ALABANG. Ang dami talagang tao, grabe. At bawat bus na dumadaan, puno na. As in hanggang sa may pintuan na yung standing room. Wala nang makasakay.

Yung ibang nakapaligid sa ‘kin, nag-aabang lang nang mahinahon ng bus na masasakyan nila. May mga fellow komyuters naman sa paligid ko na nagpupumilit sumiksik sa bus. Meron namang nag-aabang talaga, tapos tatawid sa gitnang island at doon sasakay, kahit ordinary bus na lang. Walang problema sa mga ‘to. Tama naman ang ginagawa nila.

Pero merong iba na talagang kinasusuklaman ko. Mga nagkokomyut na talagang gusto kong tadyakan. Eto yung mga mistulang nag-e-exodus papunta sa direksyon kung saan nanggagaling ang mga bus. Sa lugar kung saan walang sakayan. TAPOS DOON SILA SASAKAY. Mga engot rin naman yung mga drayber ng Alabang bus. Pasasakayin naman sila. At pagdating sa holding area ng PACITA-bound riders, magpapasakay pa rin sila. E di anong mapapala ng mga naghihintay sa holding area ng mga ALABANG-bound? Syempre wala nang mauupuan at wala na ring matatayuan kasi nga sobrang dami ng tao.

Engot yung mga pasaherong lumalabag sa batas, mas engot yung mga drayber na walang pakialam sa batas. Pero ang pinaka-engot sa lahat ng nandoon sa paligid ay hindi yung komyuter o yung drayber; ‘YUNG MGA MMDA ang rurok ng kinaiinisan ko. Alam na nga nila yung batas, dapat pinatutupad nila yung batas, nakikita nilang nilalabag ng mga drayber at komyuter yung batas, pero wala silang pakialam. Nakatanga lang dun, nagmamando sa mga bus na dumerecho. Para namang may iba pa kasing pupuntahan yung mga bus. Alangan namang lumiko sila.

Sa magulo’t nakakinis na kapaligirang kinatayuan ko nang hapong iyan, may realizationg tumama sa ‘kin.

Kahit ano’ng mangyari, mahirap na mahirap talagang hindi malamon ng sistema. Sa sistema ng gobyerno, ng midya, ng kahit ano.  Kahit na gaano ka pa ka-idealistic, hanggang idea lang yan. Sa dulo ng lahat, kailangan mong maglagay ng pagkain sa hapag-kainan para sa pamilya mo, kailangan mo ng pera para mapa-aral ang anak, kailangan mo ng pera pambayad mo ng utang sa inuupahang bahay o apartment.

At sa kaso ko, kailangan kong makauwi. At labag man sa kalooban ko, kailangan talaga minsang kalimutan ang prinsipyo at “makisama” sa ginagalawang kapaligiran, kung saan ang mali ay tama, at kung saan ang pinaniniwalaan mong tama ay hindi gagana.

Naalala ko dati, may isa akong propesor na nagsabing kung gusto mo ng peryodismong malinis, mag-alternative media ka, yung mga tipong underground. ‘Yun nga lang, walang pera dun. Ang pera nasa mainstream na media. ‘Yun nga lang, medyo marumi. So bahala ka nang mamili kung anong mas pinahahalagahan mo.

Bilib ako sa mga taong talagang matatag sa prinsipyo nila, ‘yung kahit ano’ng mangyari ay hindi ito bibitawan. Mahirap gawin ‘to. Sobrang hirap.

At dahil sa realizationg iyan, napatunayan ko ring marami talagang matututunan sa pagkokomyut. Simpleng bagay lang, ang pagiging hirap sa pagsakay, naiugnay ko sa sistema at sa prinsipyo. Parang hindi bagay ang mga salitang komyut, prinsipyo, at sistema sa iisang ideya. Pero pwede na. Nagawa ko nga diba?

Summer Camp Happiness

I am an introvert. People aren’t really my cup of tea. Throw me into a crowd, ask me to lead a group, and, I assure you, awkward moments and silences are sure to arise.

It was three months ago in January when I volunteered to be a part of the Campus Journalism Workshop Summer Camp. I was a facilitator. I wasn’t exactly sure how different a CJWSC faci would be from a Youth For Christ – Zobel faci.

Nevertheless, I took on the challenge. Hey, it’s for the org anyway.

When Day 1 of the Camp arrived, I felt a bit nervous. Seeing all the asters (participants) streaming into the UP Film Institute, I was afraid I might not live up to their expectations of how a facilitator should be. We quasars (facis) were only told to do three things after we meet with our asters: come up with a newsroom name, a newsroom cheer, and a newsroom head. Other than that, it was all up to us.

I held up a big number ‘12’ to call my newsroom members. Ten of them came. “Okay, eto na,” I thought to myself. I gathered the students near the back of the theater. They occupied two rows.

And finally I faced them.

“Hello guys!” I tried enthusiastically to greet them. People who know me know my character: quiet, reserved, especially with new people. This was definitely a challenge for me.

At first, naturally, they were all shy. I was asking them for ideas about the newsroom name. No one was suggesting any. I was asking for a cheer. No one was suggesting any. It was tough squeezing out something from them. As a result, we were the last team to come up with a name and a cheer.

My kids settled for ASTROPEN, saying our name should be related to the Camp’s theme.

Not that I’m complaining. As they say, better late than never.

By Day 1’s end, they were already getting the feel for each other. They were already conversing. And they were looking forward to Day 2.

Day 2 arrived. Unknowingly, new students would be arriving and added to Astropen. I didn’t know how to integrate them. As I’ve stressed earlier, I’m not good with this kind of thing. Fortunately – for me and for the asters – one of the activities of the day was Workshop 1. The students had to work together, and they would be forced to mingle with each other. The workshop ended with the new asters already assimilated with the old-timers.

Day 3. The old-timers already have adjusted to each other. But soon more adjustments were to be made, as three more students were added to Astropen. Like Day 2, the activities made my job easier. The documentary-making workshop made them interact more.

After this, handling my asters became a heck of a lot easier.

They were all chatting; they were enjoying each other’s company the last two days that they didn’t want to leave. They didn’t want the Camp to end (I know it sounds cheesy but, yes, that is the truth).

I may not have been the best quasar. But seeing the kids all happy after the five-day Camp? Wow, it felt so good. And after the closing program ended, when everyone was going everywhere, the asters were approaching me, wanting to have a picture taken with me.

Talking to new people has always been tough for me. Thankfully, Astropen made it easier. Thankfully, they weren’t hard-headed kids who would defy my authority. Thankfully, they were a fun a bunch of kids who appreciated their quasar.

This early on, I’m already looking forward to CJWSC 2013, and seeing my Astropen kids return for another adventure.