Written by Syra Petalio
Northern Samar became home for a while. Each other became home for a while and we would be going back to the places we came from. We’d go back to having things we got used to not having. We would go back to our reality, another one that we left behind. But do we let go of the new one we lived through? I think not. Once we go through things, we are forever changed. Our contexts would not stay the same because once we reevaluate, we see how much we have changed over some time and we incorporate that. We integrate that. We do not set it aside in favor of another because we are that new context now and we will always be changing as well. Here was a community that had its own way before we came and would continue to have its way once we have left but they accepted us in that short while. We have become a part of them, and they of us. The hope was that we would both take something from that shared time. The laughter, the stories, the experiences. All of those will contribute to who we will be and all the lessons from it? Worth it. Quoting someone, yes it gets tiresome, but along that weariness comes a certain valuing. We go through hardships because of those we value – people, things, experiences, lessons, and what not. We suffer for what we hold dear. We will continue to choose to suffer if we get to do so for what we believe in. But along with that we continue to change. We become embodiments of those values and we act in accordance to them. As we journey, we hear and meet people and stories. Then we remember them behind the figures and numbers. We become mindful of whatever suggestions or ideas we have because we know it will affect real people. We become responsible.
An early morning view of some houses
Northern Samar was beautiful and will continue to be. We do indeed see from where we stand and that informs our actions. But this beautiful place filled with amazingly strong people reminded me that they do not want to be a charity case. Nor should they be. They are equally capable if the opportunity presents itself, but even and especially when it doesn’t, they are as deserving of us of the good things in life. They are willing to put in the work and exert effort. They make do of what they have. They will thrive and survive because they are strong, determined, and passionate people. If they can come together with this and put the people’s care and satisfaction at the forefront, they can go places. They already have. The work does not stop and it should continue no matter who is on top.
With all this, Northern Samar concludes but the love remains, and the work begins. For us and them, we need to start or continue for the better. The experience will stay and so will the lessons. Samar was a beautiful chapter, but this story never ends. Different measures, different seasons, that love will be expressed in varying ways. We have been given so much love and care and it is time we share that as we go along. How do you measure love really? You don’t. You love God as you love other people. And other people will always be there in their otherness. Your love shouldn’t look to make them your own but to support them in being their own. To happily allow them to be themselves and to remain present regardless of what happens. This need not be physically but in whatever way we can manage. It was painful saying goodbye, it was painful flying away. But why is there pain? Because there was a connection. We fear it being severed but perhaps it won’t be. These connections are those we actively work on and those are experiences we do not just let go. Those are people we do not just forget. They were not just story points, they were not just information sources. They were real people feeling real things, as real as you and the challenge is to honor that journey with them as we go on with our lives. We have learned so much, now, what are we going to do about it?
Children playing Chinese Garter, a common Filipino game
How are we going to act moving forward? We act with all that we have learned. With an appreciation for the little things, with love informing the way we carry our ourselves and react to other people. It is daunting, it sounds impossible, but we work at it consistently, we work at it with baby steps. But we work consistently. Yes, it can get tiring, but we rest, not give up. And eventually, we soldier on because of the experience we’ve had, the love we’ve been given, the service we have seen, the people we have met. We honor all of these and carry them with us as we go, we act because we have been acted upon, we love because we have been loved. We have been blessed and in turn, so do we bless (or attempt to). It will not be easy, but when did something ever happen become easy? We will keep on trying, we will keep on striving, because this repayment, this sharing is a process, a choice we must keep on choosing. Whatever happens, whatever we go through, always, in all ways, would these little wonders remain.