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I write this in darkness, well candlelight.  It’s the second blackout of the day (called a ‘brownout’ here for some reason—I like to pretend its some ironic homage to skin colour).  The neighbours next door are singing American pop songs to each other as orange light flickers from their window.  Speaking of Americans, I saw one in front of the airforce base earlier, well I assume the white guy in fatigues was American.

So I’ve been in the south for a couple weeks now.  The adjustment has been fairly easy.  It’s interesting to reflect on how ‘normal’ the different is here because of my many long trips here in the past.  I drink from the tap, I “shower” using a small bucket to dump water from a bigger bucket on myself—the same bucket I use to replace the non-existent toilet paper whose absence is always brought to mind in Philippine bathrooms (“comfort rooms” they’re—for the unaccustomed, ironically—called), and I sleep on the floor.  As in literally, I sleep on a ‘banig’ (a thin woven mat without padding) on the floor.  When I’m lucky, on my travels I’ve gotten comfy wooden floors, but when at home base, it’s a tile floor.  It took the back a few days to adjust but I’m ok now.

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The one thing that I sometimes remind myself used to drive me crazy, but have since learned to live with, are the bugs.  As in constant bugs on and around you.  Flies that land on your feet all the time, ants that you discover crawling on random parts of you, and at night the mosquitoes.  The first two I simply don’t care about anymore (because if you do care, it’s like that dripping water torture thing and will drive you mad).  The mozzies still annoy, but you just deal with it and I learned long ago to just not scratch at the bites and eventually they stop itching (though I’m constantly with 20 or more bites on me).

Outside the family is still singing, crickets provide the backup vocals.  I took a wander out there before writing this, the stars are out, it’s pretty.  There are on average 2 or 3 blackouts a day.  The government says that it’s because the energy reserves are ‘dangerously low.’  The locals here think it’s bunk.  The activists think it’s a play to get people on side to create coal power plants.

It’s been a quiet couple days, I’ve had time to think about the news…
– the tens of thousands of evacuees from the Zamboanga crisis still live in makeshift structures on the beach with little attention from the local authorities (and virtually none from the international community—Muslims displaced by government bullets is less sexy than natural disasters I guess, not that the survivors of Yolanda/Haiyan are doing all that great)…
– Canada continues to debate the temporary worker program, from whom many participants are from the Philippines—trying to provide for their families since their own country won’t do what it needs to to create jobs…
– Canadian companies (as well as other nations) announce new mines in the area, potentially causing displacement and poverty…
– a Filipina overseas worker is hospitalized by scalding hot water thrown on her by her employer in Saudi Arabia…
– a Filipina political prisoner (for being an activists’ daughter) is provided inadequate medical attention so that her newborn dies

It’s late.  I sleep relatively early here.  I should lay out my mat soon.  I need to go shopping tomorrow.  I need food.  Maybe I should get some foam or something to sleep on.  I’d get toilet paper too, but I’m cool with being Filipino with that one.  No biggie.

The bugs are out tonight.  I’m itchy in new places already since writing this.

… and some of those itchy bits are from the types of bugs that connect issues together, that contrast privilege, feints, and authenticity.

 

 

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