Claire’s re-entry blog story for IST-Philippines

Claire’s Blog story for IST-Philippines

copyright owned by author 06 02 2017
copyright owned by author 06 02 2017

This bayanihan reflective trigger has sunk deep within the schema of my Australian socio-cultural synapses and continues to resonate through my thinking and actions today and will into the future.

“Bayanihan,” the Tagalog word for active solidarity was captured in glimpses of moments throughout the trip and will continue to impress upon me for the entirety of my lifetime. It is everywhere you look, in both finite and immense proportions and everything in between. Community, and the power of presence are the driver’s seat, where need, kinship and love are under the hood.

From cleaning a thousand duck eggs before breakfast, replanting village crops and sharing what resources we had, as Swinburne Ambassadors these are just some of the engagements that brought us Nexus among not just our own group but those communities with which we shared food, song, dance, solidarity and productivity.

I see solidarity on a global scale swelling. Having travelled over five thousand kilometers I can both see this happening and feel myself a part of it. Though, it was hard to swallow the double edged words of thanks that Tito Tony gave out while still succinctly stating that the rich would never get down out of their comfortability to really help the poor. I imagine he meant the words to inspire the strength to rise within his followers, however I could feel the opportunity for segregation to crawl from it just as much.

How do we find solidarity throughout segregation? Do we promote sections of solidarity and across what lines can solidarity cross and blend? Active solidarity is a rich and complicated emotive action and the depths of what each person gives and receives cannot always be measured. As I recall Tito Tony sitting in the rain with no need or want for an umbrella to affirm his unison with those working a few feet away who had none, I wonder how far does solidarity go? Do I cut off my legs to sit in solidarity with my sister who has lost hers? Or do I use those legs for the both of us? Does that mean I am not in solidarity but in charity? And where does our solidarity lie? How many times can our heart align? Who gets it, when, how and why?

Reflecting on bayanihan, I very much started in a positive spin. I find though that the more I think of it the further my thoughts carry me and not always in a positive light. There are deeper darker depths to where bayanihan can go. The mentality of pushing through, of overworking of not sleeping and eating that can become a damaging detrimental spiral that can and has led to demise. By relating and reasoning I still hold the worth of bayanihan close to my heart, though I believe key to the art of fruitful bayanihan is balancing that bayanihan for the sake of the collective whole as well as each individual.

As far as taking these experiences and thoughts that continue to develop from and around bayanihan and honing it into a marketable and expanding employability skill, it is something each of us do as we interact on a daily basis consciously and unconsciously, the difference, I believe, is the level of understanding of bahaniyan. I personally will continue to immerse myself in different cultures and understandings and practice bayanihan, at each step of my understanding, within each circle of my life.

Written by Claire Dowling (06 02 2017)