There are really very simple things I look forward to when going back to the Philippines – bonding with my big family, eating fresh food (literally just caught from the sea or plucked from the garden) and breathing in the fresh air of my island home.
Europe is a completely different world, especially the big cities. Most people are not connected to the ground anymore. The modern life here is too abundant and everything is shoved to us in huge quantities – from the food that we buy from the supermarkets to the clothes that we wear. We don’t know where they are coming from anymore or what it took for these products to reach us.
At the risk of sounding condescending, I think that when we disconnect ourselves from the ground, we care less, in all aspects of life including caring for Mother Nature to our personal relationships.
I am lucky to be born in a small island where the bond between the people and the ground is very strong. I’ve seen how the rice on my plate was planted, harvested and processed, experienced it myself even. Some of my clothes, especially uniforms were not store bought but were made by trusted mananahi (tailors), we fetched water from the river before we even had running water on our kitchen. We raised (and killed and ate) our own chickens and pigs. When you grow up in an environment like this, you tend to waste less because you know the hardships required to provide you with these things. Until now, it pains me to throw away spoiled rice.
Life in the city is too easy, everything is within reach. I have to admit, I enjoy the luxuries of city life maybe a little more than I should. Going back home regularly serves as a reminder that I came from a very humble home and my life should remain as humble as it was. That was one of the lessons that my parents instilled in me when I was young.
I miss Marinduque.
All photos by Robin Kuijs.