why do i travel? why do i always find this need to get away, to escape from my reality and enter into one that exists in an imagination buoyed by fantastic stories of kindness and hospitality, and colored by images that celebrate life? is it because i have this need to run away from the mundane things that haunt my existence?
why is it that whenever i am reduced to a stranger in a strange land, i can last for hours listening to the song of the sunset, counting the birds that fill the air with the music of their wings and their voices? why is it that when the sea retreats with the pull of the moon, i am left still with the energy to observe the silence of the evening, and look up at a provincial night sky, where there are always more stars? do i draw the strength from the knowledge that the journey through this rich experience is temporary; that i am merely passing through a dream, or catching a glimpse of someone else's paradise, that i seize each moment, only to let go in the next instant?
why do i leave the familiar, and try to discover the unfamiliar, and revel in the realization that this, my country, is more beautiful than all the metaphors i could conjure? why do i even have to remind myself that there is so much beauty around me, that all the ugliness created by political noise and the failures of culture are thin layers of dust that a little cleaning cannot resolve?
why does it take a foreigner to tell me that filipinos are some of the world's most amazing people: intelligent, warm, welcoming, that we in ourselves are probably the attraction? do foreigners see this country with a different set of eyes? or are does my race suffer from myopia? how would it be possible to look at myself from the outside? can anyone teach me, because i'd like to discover what others see? i know i have seen it, albeit briefly, but is it possible to see so much more? why do i speak fondly of my country, while others cannot? why do other filipinos, who have not traveled their own country, conclude in all honesty, that in the philippines, there is nothing to see?
why has God blessed us with all these wonderful islands, where there is so much to be seen and enjoyed? and why is it that i find myself marveling, endlessly marveling, that there are as many wonders in this country as there are islands, as there are people?
these are my islands and this is my country. i am a filipino, and i travel the philippines. i brave long journeys through roads filled with the potholes of corruption; i walk through streets and neighborhoods that speak much about the lack of urban planning as much as it does about the poverty of my people. and i do not complain. i collect images of this nation of diverse peoples, and i see that there is a wonderful future ahead. i see it everyday in the toothless smiles of the old and the young, in the happy innocence of the child playing in the sun, in the devotion of the veiled women, and even in the lost gazes of men watching the demise of a lazy afternoon. i am filipino, and i do my part for a new philippines.