culture

Hasta luego Huaraz!

Hasta luego Huaraz!

“Make sure you come back!” That’s what most people have told me these last two weeks. I’ve made friends here, and Huaraz does feel like home. As much as I’m excited for my month off work and traveling, in the back of my mind it feels like a dry-run for when I have to leave Peru for real in September.

My bus will leave in a few hours, I’ve never really done the backpacking thing. Even though I have a list of what I want to see in the south of Peru, I also have a flexible itinerary. That’s both exciting and slightly out of my comfort zone. Who am I kidding? It’s going to be a month of incredible memories!

Finding my bliss - the incredible gift of giving back to myself

Finding my bliss - the incredible gift of giving back to myself

Everyone has their catalyst story - when we look back at that time of our lives wondering if this was all we were meant to do, meant to be. Here’s the fascinating thing I’ve learned in my most recent introspection, I wasn’t necessarily unhappy with how my life was going. Although I was doing and being what I wanted to be before my own ‘a-ha’ moment, I wasn’t living a life that was soul-enriching either. You see, not everyone has to be at their lowest of lows to ask that question - is this it?

The woman behind these words can say honestly say how grateful she is for what pushed her to walk in the unknown. To discover and learn from the shadow parts so that she can appreciate and feel joy from within. In this chapter of my life, I know I’ve found my bliss.

For me, knowing and living my bliss is about letting go. To live from a grateful and abundant mindset and most of all, to be honest about who I am.

Hike. Eat pizza. Repeat.

Hike. Eat pizza. Repeat.

I lay on my bed while using my fingers to count how many months I’ve been in Peru. Seven. Almost seven months. It’s only 7am on a Saturday morning - I close my eyes again and ten minutes go by. April is my birthday month. Just a few days after my 36th birthday, I hope to gift myself a day on top of a glacier. I have set my sights on Mateo, a moderate terrain that can be climbed in a day. It’s towards the tail end of the rainy season, so I’m optimistic that we’ll have a mint view.

That reminds me, I also need to set aside a day or two to go rock climbing with Guido before I go on holiday in May. I tried it for the first time a couple of weeks ago and I saw a shift in me. I think that goes hand in hand with trying anything hard, right?

It took me two goes to get up what they called a “really easy rock”. On my second attempt and while halfway up the rock face, I began to hear those familiar internal tapes of doubt. I looked down at him and yelled, “What do I do next?” He smiles and yells, “Keep going up!” I laughed. And climb I did. I was pretty proud of my effort that day.

# 66 The Cultural Divide

# 66 The Cultural Divide

What I have to remember in all this is to keep living my truth. Taking on other people’s expectations of me, that’s a heavy burden to carry and impossible to live up to. I don’t want to live the rest of my days scared of disappointing people, because let’s face it, it’s going to happen anyway. When we label others, how we see them is biased while that person is in that bubble.

Peel away the labels and let go of the judgement. Take away the regrets but keep the lessons. Yeah, I think that’s a good place to start.

# 59 Don't Forget Your Roots

My relationship changed with my parents this past year - I’m grateful because I feel my separation became a catalyst to a more honest connection with them both, with my Mum especially. We don’t have to agree on everything, yet I’m not as quick to judge their perspective, or feel resentful that they may not agree with some of my life choices.

Being the child of migrant parents, born in the Philippines but raised overseas, I’m an awkward split of a generation. Even though I have spent most of my life in New Zealand, I’m still proudly Filipino. I don’t know what it is about us, but we are raised to be patriotic to the motherland. I don’t think I have met a Filipino who isn’t proud to be one.

As a child, I both respected and feared my parents. The repercussions of stepping out of line as an Asian kid is different to some cultures. You don’t just disrespect them - it has a ripple effect on your extended family too. To feel that my family were disappointed in me instilled a guilt far greater than I could ever impose on myself.

A big part of my upbringing is Westernised, and I guess that’s where my Mum and I have clashed in the past. As I got older, I learned to see and understand her point of view and how she has carried the burden of expectation of our culture, and our roles as mothers and nurturers. During those first weeks of moving back home, there were times I felt she was always in my personal space - asking where I was going, if I had eaten, what my schedule was. At first it was a point of contention between us because all I wanted to be was alone.

Pinoy ako - always have been, always will be.

 

I must have been a real cow back then - but she couldn’t give up. Someone had to save me from my own darkness. There’s no doubt in my mind that my parents love me unconditionally - even though we’ve had countless arguments, home was always a safe place to fall. I couldn’t even begin to imagine how different I would be if I couldn’t trust them like that. I have friends who don’t feel the same way about theirs and that’s sad. We always need someone in our corner to be help us tackle the sucker punches life throws at us.

They say that women who have a good relationship with their fathers have a higher chance of having healthy, loving relationships as adults. I remember when we first moved to Whakatane in my high school years, my Dad and I used to go fishing during mackerel season. We fished at a local wharf about fifteen minutes from home and would usually leave before sunrise. The mackerel came closest to the shore at dawn. There with our yellow rod, he and I would fish. OK, he fished and I was his assistant - not a very good one either because I didn’t want to get that fishy smell on my hands. Still, it was cool to hang out. Some mornings we got lucky and caught a decent sized fish. Other days we came up empty, so he would just buy us breakfast and take it home to share with my Mum.

My Dad and I haven’t fished in years, and I wonder what we would talk about now if we did. Something we do share is our love of singing, and no one loves karaoke more than us Asians. They own the latest Magic Sing (it’s a large microphone with built-in karaoke software that you plug into your TV) and a turn on it is as common as offering a visitor a hot drink. If I sleep in on a Saturday morning, I could be waking up to the smell of toast and be serenaded by Frank Sinatra at the same time.

In my meditation evenings (which I realised that I haven’t been to in weeks), we are taught to ‘ground’ ourselves. Grounding is a term used to describe that feeling of connection to the Earth, to keep you steady and safe wherever your mind may take you. I guess it’s the same as knowing your roots - by giving us a strong foundation to lead soul-enriched lives.

As an adult I finally understand why knowing my culture (or re-discovering my appreciation for it) is important moving forward. It explains a lot about who I am and what I value, my quirks and what I offer this world.

Pinoy ako - always have been, always will be.