resilience and renewal of spirituality

ed and i had a full week this week, flying to london and oxford in a week,then back to quezon city. after a nap, i decided to blog what remains of my insights during the flood and what filipinos do in the face of crises, to be grateful for filipinos’ resilience and a sense of renewed spirituality.

while the flood was raging, all our attention was on what we could save inside our home. when the waters claimed most of our documents,books and desks with laptaps,we felt some loss but were not overwhelmed. we were grateful all were safe and that we could rebuild what was destroyed. as we got our television working again, we saw how much havoc ondong did but what got me was the news of many people saving and helping each other. ayen was saying she would go to relief work and ed and i told her to be home before dark. all our household members were eager to help and we divided work among ourselves to help others while trying to make life bearable at home.

 i organized our tasks so that we could have some space and energy for inner reflection. we all felt that life would never be the same. while on flight to london, many of the passengers were filipinos who were also talking of the floods.it seemed that many were affected,either directly or  indirectly by relatives who lost their homes to the flood.

when we saw friends in london, they were all happy to see ed and i have not changed after 20 years, perhaps a little older but still what they remember us when we lived there in the late 80s. we saw jamie  tapales oakes first and walked around leicester square together to reminisce the good old days. ‘jamie, do you remember all the filipinos whom you fed and housed in the 80s?  sheila coronel, marites vitug, boy morales, sr. mary john mananzan? ” . jamie added a long list of names ,eg. odette alcantara, mc canlas, arnel de guzman, pepe alcantara, beth protacio (now de castro) etc.  as we ate dimsum in chinatown. we told jamie of odette’s passing and she felt very sad about it.

jamie had survived her cancer and many crises with the filipino community. she told us that the filipinos and british who volunteered in the philippine resource center in kilburn have  been successful  in their chosen careers. jamie did  many pro bono work for the charities and filipino ngos in the philippines but she remained under the radar and lived a simple life. when i asked her” how are you able to live in london? it is so expensive now and ed and i wonder how we could afford it then.” jamie replied ” hardly,very tough.” this succinct state of affairs made me think of the filipinos in marikina, tanay,cainta and quezon city which will never become normal after the floods. yes, everywhere, even in london, i met friends who are resilient and have become more mindful of life’s challenges.

when ed gave his talk that night on the role of faith communities in conflict and poverty eradication in the tonyblair faith foundation, everyone was listening. i was seated between  jane linden and paul valentin, both were impressed with ed’s presentation and i could sense that many in the audience were taken by his insights and questions. i did expect that response  since i know ed prepared well for his talk but didnt quite anticipate the warmer response by the young staff of tonyblair faith foundation. ed was ushered to a smaller room after his talk and there were many young people who wanted to shake his hand and talk to him. it took some effort to get ed to join us in another venue for dinner.

“what did you find interesting in ed’s talk?” i asked jane linden. ” ed gave me something to think about, the lines about making one’s future bigger than one’s past.” jane and ian linden were our hosts in the late 80s, when ed was  not able to go home during the series of coups in the philippines. ‘Yes, do you ever think you could look at  making your future in a  bigger frame at this stage of your life? ” i queried. this question brought us to a long discussion of the work she and ian did with the ANC, the african solidarity movement. ‘After looking at what Mugabe of  Zimbabwe is  doing now, am not sure Ian and i could do something bigger than what we did in the past.” this got me talking to her and the young staff of what ed and went through during the martial law years and how it led us to nurture a strong sense of resilience and spirituality.

on my part, i do think there is no other path,  after the long road to freedom, after the crises of democracy, and now after the floods, for us to build a bigger future than our past. am banking on people’s resilience and spirituality to get us there.

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