A self-portrait waiting for my flight back to Toronto in Detroit In't Airport.

So I flew back on the 20th. In the past I would have called this leg the “homecoming,” these days I’m no longer so sure where ‘home’ is.

Now it is very cold again, very cold…

On a warmer note at least people will stop worrying so much (as if anywhere is really “safe”). To be honest I did do quite a number of foolish things while on the road, just for fun let me list some (in no particular order):

– I visited areas contaminated with toxic heavy metals in the air, water, soil, and/or food.
– I walked unprotected in/through toxic waterways that are causing health problems.
– I walked barefoot over a 7.5 km stretch of toxic heavy metals that are causing major health complications.
– I ate seafood that live in toxic waters.
– I drank water that is no doubt dangerously high in heavy metals.
– I breathed. [this is just plain a bad idea in many places in the Phils, though probably worse in those places with blowing particles of toxic heavy metals.]
– I travelled alone with expensive gear that I waved around in peoples faces [sometimes at night, often in areas with high crime rates].
– I spent time with people who have reason to fear for their lives (ain’t the photo-gig exciting?!). In one such place there was a guard dog at every door/exit, seven in all. There were previous attempts on people of this place, and colleagues had been hit—one night there was a murder next door which caused only minor worry (this being such a ‘normal’ event).
– I stood in between angry protestors and riot police in battle gear – even after the Media Advisory by Dept of Justice Secretary Gonzalez’s warning journalists that police will use necessary force if the media get in their way. I also enjoyed pushing cops out of my way through the police line.
– Then of course there are the non-risks that people back in Canada always freak about: drinking the tap water (the ice, random street liquids, etc.), eating random streetfood (esp. in places like junkyards), sleeping in random homes/porches/whatever, placing my life/safety in the hands of people I just met, etc…
– And there were others…

I don’t know why I find all of the above to be so non-worrisome. I guess its part of the reason I do this sort of thing. I identify with these people, and I can’t stomach living differently from them when I am covering their stories. This is what many do, and it stinks of arrogance to me.

Good ol’ Catholic guilt is there too I guess. I didn’t come from a money family. My relatives are still street vendors just scraping by. By pure chance I got out, they didn’t.

I won’t be that balikbayan that only speaks English, wears nice new designer clothes, and basically lords it over the lazy dirty masses. I prefer to be the guy in ill-fitting stained clothes that rich Filipinos shout their orders to because they think I’m a vendor too.

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