Because the Asia Adventure trip really affected my mindset, I want to share some of it with you.
During the trip to South-Eastern Asia, I learned a lot. I got to see many things that made strong impressions and that I still think a lot about. When I came home I felt like a spoiled brat, I honestly became sick of the thought that I have this huge house and two laptops, a camera, a great school and magnificent chances to get a great education. My future is so bright, if you educate here, you’re bound to be great. My dreams are big, I want to travel the world, and become a known journalist or photographer. The food I eat I take for granted, I mean OF COURSE I will eat tonight, OF COURSE I can choose from anything I want to eat, and financially, we have no worries. My parents have stable incomes and we live in big houses (houses in plural because my parents are divorced). When I look around me I see a big room that is all mine, with a lot of expensive stuff in it. An iPhone, a huge flat screen TV, books, cameras, a huge closet, with a lot of clothes. I mean I have everything, and I take it for granted. However, this is just stuff, these are not the things that make me happy.
During our stay in the Philippines we visited my stepmom’s family. Because we have a lot of money compared to them, we have built a house, where our family lives. While we were there, we were living in the house, and our family were living in their old house. One day we decided to go check out their old house, and frankly I was shocked. They lived in a small house made of bamboo. The walls were not even close to airtight so the wind and rain blew straight through the house. It was practically sitting on the beach, and it had no kind of protection against typhoons or storms from the ocean. Next to the house of our family, was another house where another family lived. The bamboo-houses are small and consist of maybe two or three rooms. In these houses several generations from the same family live. They probably have no privacy, and the animals live with them. Seeing this made me realize how close-up and personal it was to me. My stepmom grew up in such a house, and she has four siblings, who also grew up there. It really made me admire both my stepmom for making it out in the world and get a good education. She now has a stable job, she is married, she has really travelled a lot and seen the world. She is a story of success. Apart from admiring her, I also realized how much stronger Nanay is (my stepmom’s mother). She has raised five kids in that house, next to animals, typhoons and hard work. They didn’t have much money, but they had enough. She ran a little kiosk, and that gave them enough money to manage. Also Tatay (my stepmom’s father) has been a fisherman, and that gave them food on the table. It sure couldn’t have been easy with seven mouths to feed, that is why I am proud of them managing.
However my family never was poor. There are many people in a lot worse situations, and we sure saw them during the trip as well. When we arrived in Manila we had to drive for several hours, and then take the ferry over to Marinduque. Driving out of Manila and through Lucena (a town) we saw the really poor people. The ones that really have sheds, made of cardboards and tin plates. The ones that have roofs patched up consisting of tarpaulins and car tires. The scenery was in one way shocking, but in another way, not really something new. I mean I’ve learned about slum areas in school, I’ve seen pictures and documentaries. But the photos always have edges, the photo stops after a few sheds. The documentaries stop where the whiteboard stops, and then you can see the walls of a big and beautiful school, or a big and beautiful house. It has always been just a sad, but far away truth. Something I can live with, cause it doesn’t affect me, my future or my family & friends. Seeing the slum areas in real life, was completely different. It just wouldn’t stop. There would be miles and miles of these sheds, and I guess miles and miles of hopelessness, shattered dreams and people with not so bright futures.
I’m not saying everyone in there are hopeless, and probably they have dreams and hopes for the future, just like everyone else. Maybe they even have stronger dreams, bigger ambitions and more will to get there than the ones that get it all served on silver plates. Yet I couldn’t help but pity the people there, and it really hurt inside me when I saw children walking alone in such a dangerous area, because let’s be realistic. These areas usually contain more crime than elsewhere. When we arrived the Philippines we didn’t really see much of them. We were so excited after travelling for 48 hours, and it was dark outside, so we couldn’t really see anything out the windows. When we left however, we had got to know people that were happy yet a lot less fortunate than us. We had seen the faces of the people living in similar conditions and got to know their stories. Apart from that, it was daylight so we could see further than two meters out of the carwindow.
When we were going from Marinduque to Boracay we had to spend one night in Manila, and the view from our window was so full of contrast it was almost funny. We were inside a secured area, and our adress was 12th floor, which is high when five floors are considered a lot at home. I’ll just show you a picture of our view and you can see for yourselves. Keep in mind that we had an apartment with three bathrooms, a flat screen TV, two bedrooms and fancy furniture.
So in the end of this really long post I want to bring out the moral of the story, or the message: These people have a lot less than we (or at least I) have, yet we are the ones complaining! The logic is just… completely absent. If these people are happy with a lot less than us, then we should try to be happy with all the stuff that we have, and appreciate our lives. Those people have a lot less money, things, smaller houses, some have dangerous conditions and neighbourhoods. I’m not saying it to make fun of them, or point fingers at how rich we are, but to point a finger at how spoiled we are. So it is extremely important not to take it for granted!
I hope you reading this now, wherever you are, take it in and start appreciating more and craving less.