This site supports the One Day of Blog Silence on April 30 in honor of those who died in Virginia Tech and other crime victims around the world. Let us all say a prayer for them.
Close to home, this blog particularly grieves for Julia Campbell, the Bicol-based US Peace Corps volunteer who was found in a shallow grave last April 18 in the tourist spot of Banaue, Ifugao. Reports state she could have been murdered after going on a solo hike to see the famed rice terraces of Batad.
Shame that a great woman can encounter such fate, and in a country she sought to help with her heart and soul. Good enough that Julia left behind not only her legacy but her blog where she composed her experiences as an educator, environmentalist, volunteer and traveller of these islands.
A few of what Julia wrote should provide food for thought for Filipinos, written as it is from the point of view of someone who was treated differently in a foreign land:
“I have been thinking about all the things you are forced to give up. Independence. Privacy. Personal space. Anonymity. Toilet paper in public C.R.’s (bathrooms), etc. You get used to the little things. You learn to carry sanitizer, toilet paper and other bathroom essentials. But it’s the big things that cause you the most anguish. The things that Filipinos least value — independence, privacy, personal space and anonymity — are the fundamentals of American values. We couldn’t be any different in this regard. Baliktad, as we say here. Or inside-out, topsy-turvy. Of course, there are Filipinos who value these things, too. But culturally speaking, these are generally not at the top of their list.
I have also been thinking lately about how it feels to be different. One of the things I don’t like here is how much I get hassled just because of the color of my skin. How often a taxi or tricycle driver will try to cheat me just because they see my skin color and automatically think I can afford to pay more. The more I settle in here and try to make the Philippines my temporary home, the more it grates on me. The Philippines is not a diverse country. It’s just not. And in brown skin countries, whiteness is always equated to richness. I understand it, but it’s not always easy to be the recipient of this mentality. I have a new strategy. Instead of acknowleging people who treat me this way, I ignore them altogether. Maybe they will get the point?”
Paalam Julia! You’re definitely a hero to our countrymen whose lives you touched, brightened up and helped.