Saturday, February 04, 2006
Another anxious year for me. At the turn of the new year, I was anticipating my return to the Philippines. I had enough of Saudi Arabia and all I want was to return back to my sweet abode. Also, I awaited to be paid back of my unpaid wages of several months. Our contract got extended for six more months without any renegotiation or change in renumeration. It was just like the ordeal of any Filipinos have gone through the anguish, the anger and frustration of working with an ill-managed company.
I recall that what used to be a loud and busy hang out room of my fellow migrant workers at Christmastime met the New Year in silence and desperation. Save for the singing along with a videoke. Most of my co-workers had gone back after several months of being treated shabbily since the project did not turn out well. Initial/down payment was received by the company but the workers were not given what is due them.
So I had my taste of experience as an Overseas Filipino Workers (OFW). Still I consider it a worthwhile experience. At least in my own little ways I was able to engage myself with volunteer work that kept me happy and involved. The Computer Society of Filipinos (COMSOFIL) based in Riyadh, KSA kept me engage in serving fellow OFWs to upgrade and improve their computer skills. It was the organizations 10th year when I left. The Society is one of those expressions of OFW’s greatness.
How was my year in 2005, well it was generally good, despite the many challenges of the company I worked in KSA. I consider the year as another year of being fortunate and blessed.
I arrived back in Manila during summertime. It was an occasion for reunions and vacation. My arrival in the province of Ilocos Norte was just in time for me to join family and friends for summer break. I attended Eman’s kinder graduation in Laoag City and met my high school classmate, Dr. Arlene Francisco. Instantly we had a high school reunion among three other classmates, Grace, Harlene and Nelmee.
Several weeks in Ilocos, I joined my colleagues at CO Multiversity for their R&R in Bohol. I just paid for my fare the rest were taken cared of by the office. It was magnificent to finally behold the famous post card scene of Chocolate Hills as well as the world renown tarsier. The lunch at Lobok River was equally wonderful, aboard a dining raft ferried by two joined bancas. The river was so clean, very rustic scene. Some boys where bathing in the pristine green colored river and showing us their stunts diving from trees along the river banks. Some women where washing clothes. I learned that the river was made more famous by Cesar Montano’s period film entitled Panaghoy sa Sugba (?). I hope the forest gets protected and the river maintained clean.
Back to reality became my mantra after the fun and merrymaking of summer. Cely’s enrolment last June was another of those anxious month. The project in Mindanao does not have funding yet so my only recourse was to try to find another job abroad. Then Fides got an invitation to nominate someone for an International Internship Program on Human Rights conducted by The May 18 Memorial Foundation in Gwangju City, ROK. She asked me to try to apply, so I did. I never expected to get accepted though. I applied for my visa, my bank account containing only a maintaining balance, I thought I will be denied of visa. So on that fateful day of 8 July 2005 at the height of Hyatt 10 when Dinky et al were forced resigned and called a presscon to ask GMA to resign, I left the country.
Arriving at Incheon International Airport like any other suspects for being an illegal alien or worker, I was detained for questioning by immigration officer for almost an hour. Waiting for my interrogator, I listened and observed the interview going on. In the room I joined Bangladeshi, Africans and a tug looking Japanese. I overheard they were asked who their sponsors and contact persons were, how much money they have, what their businesses were in Korea, etc. When I was called, they asked for my papers, I gave it to them and they called the May 18 Foundation, without any questioning I was told I can go. The immigration officer was polite enough to ask for apology for detaining me. I took a questionnaire with me that seems to emphasize Korean visitors are all expected to be tourists.
My stay in Korea was an experience of the many firsts. Although I’ve been familiar eating kimchi and kennip with Korean friends and guests, there were so many new experiences that I am so delighted with my stay here. First and foremost was the experience of white Christmas, finally not only sung in songs, but I got a taste of it in extreme, a snow storm, with temperature dipping -6°C. Me and my co-interns from Indonesia, unaware of its impact were giggling and enjoying with childlike innocence. Only to find out in the news the wrath it brought on others that was for us was a source of wonder and awe.
I was afforded a chance of visiting different places. On the first month of my stay, since we had a long vacation I organized an NGO visit to Seoul with my co-interns. CONET was gracious enough to allow us to stay at their office since they did not want us to sleep in jimjilbang.
We had a chance to join the tour of youth participants for the Introduction to Korean Democracy Program. We visited with them some Korean historic and tourist sites of democratic significance since the pre-colonization period.
The month of November and first week of December was a very busy month. Previous months were preparation period. Last November we conducted the 3-week Gwangju Asian Human Rights Folk School participated by 22 individuals from different Asian countries. My good friend Ros was so lucky to become participant when the chosen from the Philippines backed out. I had a great time with her, long talks, walks and (separate) soaks at saunas. Sleeping with the rest of the people in common sleeping area, being one and part of a community but whom we could not engage in conversation.
In December, the 3-day Gwangju Forum for Asian Human Rights was held. Another big event in conjunction with the promotion of Gwangju City as Asian Hub for Culture, Arts and Democracy. Like any other events minor problems and personality dynamics were encountered.
For Christmas we were invited by Kelvin to stay at his place in Seoul. Kelvin is a new friend made during the folk school. He was the official translator/interpreter. He lead us to the National Museum of Korea. Agnes and Mus found Indonesian artifacts and culture displayed as a major exhibit. The museum is really awesome, 10-year in the making I was told. I celebrated Christmas also with the BK Family in Seoul and I got nice gifts from the exchange of gifts.
New Year was spent in Gwangju City (Choondam area), we celebrated it at Toto Bar with other expats. I think Agnes and Mus got bored. Not of the merrymaking I am familiar with. We listened to performers sing.
A lot of unresolved issues still, emotion is one of them. I sometimes fear I might have forgotten how to love having been un-attached for quite sometime. I envy Jane, she’s now married to Bruce, my wishes for their everlasting happiness. I missed that event of the year.I got though a very nice invite from them.
Spiritually, well I practiced meditation especially when I was in Saudi but was not able to meditate well here in Korea. The room arrangement (ahh escuses) prevented me to be on my own to read, write and meditate. So most of the time my attention is with the computer/internet or with the TV. So, 2005 was a year of the least-book read year. I feel so guilty not being able to accomplish my book quota.
Finances, how wish I had enough, especially after I arrived back. It would have been so nice to treat all friends for a nice dinner. I was not able to save well, just enough to pay for previous obligations and spend for my daily needs.
Previous to my coming to Korea I met in the Philippines new friends like Rohgan. He was on a study exchange at the Asian NGO Center. Fides introduced me to him and I am so glad to find out that he is a Gwangju simin (citizen/local). Also Jane introduced me to Mariko, now an email pal. It was through her that I got connected once again with Atty. Jeff Plantilla, now with HURIGHTS, Japan. I came to know him during my CPAR days (in 1990's). He was part of the pool of lawyers who helped us with the paralegal and fact-finding program. It was through him that I was able to get contacts of NGOs that we visited in Seoul and also got invited to the APCEIU conference where he was one of the speaker.
A month after the new year I am able to finalize this report since I got held with an internet project I call Million MinutesVlog4Peace. Video Blog is the new internet trend aside from blogging. The videoblog is dedicated to peace. The videoblog is available at vlog4peace.blogspot.com.
2005 was a great year, living in two countries and experiencing different languages, cultures, traditions and climates. I love life!
Posted by Pete Erlano Rahon at 7:27 PM
Wednesday, February 01, 2006
Meet my new adopted cyber-dog, Wisey...
It is year 2006, year of the dog! It is my year. For the past years I've been travelling or living here and there. Perhaps it is good to adopt a cyber-dog. I like dogs, as kids we grew up having dogs for pet. It is unfortunate that I can't have one these days so a cyber dog might be a substitute.
Wants to adopt a cyber dog? Click the link:
Posted by Pete Erlano Rahon at 3:33 PM
I am doing the Vein of Gold of Julia Cameron, a companion book to the The Artist’s Way when I thought of this vlog project. It is a book on nurturing and enhancing creativity. I was in the Kingdom of Sound when I got this inspiration. The idea was reinforced by the other vlogs and blogs I’ve seen especially those concerning the impeachment campaigns on George Bush.
In the book of Cameron, she described the healing power of sound and music. Also, when people articulate and express themselves they invite and encourage communication and transformation. Sound is energy, a vibration. I wonder if a collective sound energy could make a ripple of vibrations that translate to action and change. Will the sounds coming from vlogs make a difference? What are the potentials for vlogs to educate and advocate for issues and concerns that confront humanity?
Then I questioned my motivation for such a project. Why should I inspire Bush’s impeachment when in the Philippines we also dislike our president? People are calling for her resignation and others are advocating for her ouster. We put her in power when we deposed then President Estrada. It was through the spread of mobile/cellular text messages that gathered a crowd of protesters so quickly on a single evening. The protest carried on for days forced Estrada to quit. We call it People’s Power 2, others dubbed it as “Text-message Revolt”.
The original intention for this project was to collect a million minutes of impeachment vlogs in the form of shout, chant, slogans, songs and other creative forms or expressions. What would be the outcome of gathering such vlogs on the net? Or say put them together as vlog collage?
But with so many people doing those things already, it is better to do a different and an alternative vlog. I believe there should be balance of vlog rants and shouts with that of vlogs on silence and peace. Impeachment is so close to being mispronounced as in-peace-men!
So trusting that both sound and silence have potentials for healing, positive influence and maybe magical powers this idea of vlog4peace came about. Definitely it will not eradicate peacelessness, but, through the effort of vloggers creating vlogs for peace I believe they can make a difference. They could contribute in spreading the message of peace. Imagine the first thing vloggers would see and watch is a peace vlog, that will definitely set the tone for them to be calm, at ease and more focused.
This vlogging initiative will be called as the Million Minutes Vlog4Peace. It is a vlog project dedicated for personal peace in particular and world peace in general. It will be vloggers contribution to making a peaceful and better world for all.
It is a global project owned by no one but by everyone. The vlogs will be a one-minute vlog on peace. Why one minute? The idea of small is wonderful– one-minute that makes a difference, especially when it accumulates to a million. Also, on the part of the author it would be much easier to produce and submit a one-minute peace vlog. And on the side of the viewers, it would be much easier to download and watch such vlogs. It won’t take so much time of the person to view the clip as well. Perhaps by the time the millionth one minute vlog had been watched vloggers had become by then a lot more peaceful, creative and made the world a much better place.
The mechanics is very simple. Anyone with a video camera can join. Create a one-minute video on peace. As much as possible it is an original work, so that it could be considered as public property (should you be amenable) or a creative commons. Like peace it is not copyrighted. An author can submit as many peace vlogs s/he could make so that the one million mark will be achieved. The only considerations, be as creative and artistic as you can be, and have peaceful intentions and motivations doing your film so that it will communicate peace to people. Send email link of your vlog to this address: firstname.lastname@example.org. Always include in your tag vlog4peace. For those who do not have websites, blogs, and webspaces (it is high time for you to sign up for one), your videos could be emailed to the same address and I will post it on this blogsite: http://vlog4peace.blogspot.com.
The start is today 18 January 2006 and the end date will be on 28 September 2006, the United Nations International Day of Peace. Definitely this is not a UN related project. The date is celebrated by most nations. But you can inform and submit Mr. Kofi Anan the vlogs for his information. Or if you had trouble with your friends, loved ones, or maybe your boss, and you would like to make up for it why not make a collage of the peace vlogs as peace offering for a change.
A yahoogroup is also available to discuss issues and concerns regarding this project. You can sign-up do this egroup - http://groups.yahoo.com/group/vlog4peace should you want to fully engage yourself for this project. An FAQ is being developed for the other details of the project. So visit the blogsite, the yahoogroups for updates or send email for your inquiries.
What you can do: create and submit your vlog, spread the word, ask questions, and translate this information in your language so that others may get informed about this, invoke peace and try to be peaceful always.
Vloggers of the World Unite! Let us Vlog4Peace!
(The author is Pete Rahon who believes that the internet should be made as a free international space for all to communicate. Like air which is free, the internet should be the breath of communication freedom for netizens. Visit his blogsite : http://peterahon.blogspot.com for a glimpse of his person.)
Posted by Pete Erlano Rahon at 3:33 PM