Archive of ‘Reflection’ category

On Community

 

Community

Oh my, hello.  I can’t believe I’m writing again.  I’m finally back from my blogging hiatus or, as I would like to call it, my “blog sabbatical”.  Thank you to those who have prayed for me and have sent their well-wishes — they are very much appreciated.  I’m happy to say that right now, things are somehow better than they were months ago — but more of that in another entry.  Today I feel like writing about COMMUNITY, a term that is being used rather loosely in the digital world.  The sign on the image above is somewhat related to the topic.

As a blogger and as a hardcore social media consumer, I encounter the term community everyday.  I’m not sure if you’ve noticed this but online communities have been popping up here and there, now more than ever.  But what is community, really?

Many online community leaders all over the world pride themselves in having the expertise in bringing like-minded people together, encouraging support and collaboration among their members, and coaching/mentoring these members in achieving their dreams.  I’ve come across a number of them who have the best and purest of intentions — these people have both the skill and sincerity to actually make a difference in the lives of their community members.  Sadly, there are others who bravely (or shamelessly) market themselves — despite their lack of expertise, credentials or at the very least, a solid work ethic — for money-making and image-building purposes.  It took quite some time for me to realize this but yes, such “communities” do exist.  I am not, in any way, discouraging any of you from joining online communities as I myself am a member of a few, but I do want to remind everyone of the real meaning of community.

I took a break from blogging because I needed some time off to face some changes happening in my life.  One of the lessons I’ve learned during this period is the value of real community, i.e., the real and meaningful relationships that God has blessed us with.

This, I’ve recently learned, is what real community looks like (at least to me; it can be different for you):

The solid support system that we get from our families

The solid support system that we get from our families

17 years of friendship, and having girlfriends whom you can fight with like you fight with your own sisters, haha.

17 years of friendship, and having girlfriends whom you can fight with like you fight with your own sisters, haha.

Having friends who have stood by you through the gravest mistakes that you’ve made and who haven’t left you since

Having friends who have stood by you through the gravest mistakes that you’ve made and who haven’t left you since

Friends from work who help you grow and mature professionally and personally (and who have also become your “other sisters”)

Friends from work who help you grow and mature professionally and personally (and who have also become your “other sisters”)

Online friendships that develop into IRL (in-real-life, haha) ones :)

Online friendships that develop into IRL (in-real-life, haha) ones :)

These are some of my communities and these, to me, are the things that last. I don’t see these people everyday, but I know that our relationships go beyond Facebook messages, emojis, I-miss-you’s, see-you-soon’s, pretty Instagram photos, #feedgoals, #instameets, and occasional events/gatherings/meet-ups.  I thank God for them everyday and have made it a point to put them on the top of my priority list.

If you’re looking for a community to belong in, look around you first before you go searching online.  Just look around you and you’ll realize that you’re already part of several of them.  I am pretty sure that these people would gladly help you, support you, and collaborate with you if you ask them.  More importantly, they will always be there for you through your highs and lows, your joys and sorrows.  These are the relationships that God has blessed us with, and these relationships have already withstood the test of time, busyness, personality clashes, political and religious differences, petty quarrels and big fights, and many other things.  Nurture them, lean on them, make time for them.

If, however, you feel that you need the support of an online community to help you in your personal or creative pursuits, that is perfectly fine too, as long as you can decipher which of them really recognize and actually carry out the true meaning of community.

That’s it.  I can’t believe I’m writing again but I hope I gave you something to reflect on, haha.  I’ll try to publish more articles this week before I start planning my blog revamp (because this blog has run its course and has to evolve along with me, haha).

What is your definition of “real community”?  I’d like to know if I’m alone in this or if others share the same sentiments, too.  Haha.  Enjoy the rest of the week. :)

I’m voting for them.

 

Elections

With less than a week to go before the elections and with social media becoming more toxic as the day approaches, I know that this article is a bit late.  However I’d like to share something that’s been in my heart since the election hullabaloo started.

I’m not telling you which candidates I’m voting for, but I’d like to share with you who I kept in mind as I went through the process of selecting my candidates: the poor and the marginalized members of Philippine society who I’ve personally encountered over the years.  These are the people who are most affected by whoever we put in power every election, and they’re the ones for whom I’m voting:

  • For the past decade, my line of work has been giving me the opportunity to go on immersions in the homes of the poor and underprivileged and catch a glimpse of the realities that they face each day. It both touches and devastates me how they choose to be happy despite their living conditions. They struggle to put food on the table and get medicines when they’re sick, and some of their kids had to give up schooling to earn money for the family. Still, they say: “Kahit mahirap at maraming problema ok lang basta magkakasama kami.”
  • At the same time, I’ve met OFWs in Europe, Hong Kong, Singapore, and the US who have opted for lonely Christmas nights in exchange for decent lives of their loved ones back home. “Tiis tiis lang. Ang importante makapagpadala ako ng pera kay Mama at makaipon para makasunod na rin siya dito.”
  • Two years ago I went to Cebu for a vacation with friends.  It was all fun, adventure, food tripping and Instagramming — until we met a tricycle driver whose home was destroyed by Typhoon Yolanda and was still at the time waiting for financial aid that was promised to him.  I suddenly felt guilty enjoying myself in the lovely islands of his hometown while he painstakingly awaits a permanent place to reside in. Similarly, a company outreach activity in one of the public schools in Bohol has made me aware of how a single classroom damaged by an earthquake, if not attended to right away, can cause the deterioration of a child’s overall academic performance.
  • Just six months ago in the beautiful town of Sagada, I encountered mothers of special children who, in spite of their efforts to set up a SPED school, still can’t send their kids to school because of lack of transportation money. Double whammy — they are poor and physically-challenged.
  • For an institution that employs the best doctors in the country, the Philippine General Hospital (PGH) has the WORST charity ward ever. Whenever I visit my friend who’s confined there, it baffles me to see patients trying to recuperate in that hot, cramped, and grossly uncomfortable place. Unfortunately, those who cannot afford the luxury of private rooms have no choice but to convalesce in those wards.
  • Actually, I needn’t look too far: Back in college I had a classmate (a financial aid scholar) who missed a couple of group meetings “kasi walang pamasahe papuntang school”. Kids like him are brave, having to go through all that while trying to survive and fit in the world of their schoolmates who are either well-off or filthy rich. Our own household helper’s family of 10 is squeezed into a tiny house that’s practically just the size of my own bedroom.

Of course, we all try to help and empower these people however we can. I wish I could do more — hopefully someday I will, when I have enough resources to really make a difference.  So for now, the least that I can do for them, with my own imperfect yet sincere judgment, is to elect leaders who truly understand them, who genuinely care about their future, and who can actually champion them and not just use them to feed their own political ambitions.

Yes, I am aware of the figures, statistics, and economic reports, but the realities I’ve seen, albeit limited, are just too difficult to ignore.

I am voting for them — the poor, the marginalized, the common Filipino — because to me, nothing is more indecent and more immoral than our countrymen having such quality of living while the rich and only the rich get to experience the fruits of this economic progress.

Let’s continue to pray for our country even after May 9.

Image source: inquirer.net

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