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"Tell the chef, the beer is on me."
Done with differences, now I want to talk about similarities. As much as people say that we find love through differences, we also find mutual understanding due to similar background –that is, similarities.
We can almost find similarities in every difference that we have. We’re all human despite the race and religion. Every bit of simple similarities can tie up two people who clashed due to differences.
The same thing happened to me in Philippines.
Outside from the differences that I have faced in Philippines, I got lots of valuable experiences in where I find other parts of myself in the place where I’ve never imagined before.
As a moslem girl in a foreign country, I will never expect my other side of personality, that is, me being a fangirl, to show up right away in the very second I arrived there. Since, well, I happened to have this burden as exchange student and being that means I need to manage my composure (fangirls tends to blabber nonstop about things that they like, mind that), I’m so surprised, flabbergasted if I may say, when I got this amazing woman as my Ate (big sister, although she already owns two children) with her complete set of book collection.
complete series of Star Trek, Riordan's serials, Tolkiens, Harry Potter, and and and ohmygod am I in heaven? :""""")
In our first dinner, she asked me “I saw you coming with a Doctor Who pin on your headscarf, are you possibly—“ and yes, at that exact moment, I exploded. We chatted through the night. How she likes fantasy and how I like science fiction. How I’m currently reading Paulo Coelho (later time she even put an effort to find me a book from Mitch Albom that I want to own eventhough sh couldn’t find it but oh, she gave me a Dan Brown’s one that I haven’t read so yeah I’m so happy I can go to heaven) and how she is crazy with Start Trek and Tolkien. She is the exact embodiment of Tolkien’s fans, I told you. I just realized it when she pointed out that there is a frame ready to be placed on the wall in the guest room and it is the map of middle earth. I feel like I can die happy at that time. Hahahahah.
Other than that, I happened to encounter few events in which I can oblige myself happily since it’s also another part of me. If I may say, the part of me being a fangirl really helped a lot. But no, this time I want to talk about my other side, my musical side. The knowledge of me being able to play music is not a common thing, especially with people in a new circle, also, I didn’t bring any music valuable thing back in Phlippines so I can only rely on daily conversations to share stuffs. Then it happened.
It was when Seer (yeay, I mentioned you here bruh, be grateful okay) played a song from his phone and it’s the mix from my favorite youtube channel. In a second, all hell breaks loose. We talked a lot about our youtube journey, and how we like the same genre of music, and then others started to dig in. It turned out that Guilermo (yo Panamanian boyfriend, you finally made it to my blog) and Tiph (I miss you my Belgium girl!) also have the similar taste. And so we talked, we shared, we chatted a lot. It was fun since it’s only a small thing that put us together –moreover it’s all about music! Now I know why I can never move on from this hobby of mine. Music bridges everything. As much as our genre differs, the talk about fine tunes and favorite songs, are more than enough to keep us in bond.
(and then the fact that Seer is a god of keyboard player and that Guil also played violin surprised me so much I was so disappointed that we couldn’t try to make a band together)
Even when I only met someone in a whim, God, I don’t even remember their names, we can convey our feelings together, because of the similarities between us. One moment I was talking about cosplay event happened in the city (a week after I went home to Indonesia) with new friend and another moment I was talking about superstitious stuffs with my Tatay (grandfather). Making surprises for Lewie to cheer up on her exam week with my doodle and playing together with Yuri finishing Avengers puzzles (viva the life of big sister). I can meet new people and share little similarities. It’s not always perfect, but it’s what binds us to collide. One time I was in a moslem community meeting in Misamis University (thank you for the trip Sam, you’re so awesome –and pretty eheheh), but other time I was biking to death to enjoy the sunset together with crazy fellas.
Those similarities can also happen in a flash of moment. Like my broken Japanese bickering with Yuka (okay, you played a lot of part in my Japanese debut, bakayuka). Or when I shared an eye glance with Kuka when things went weird (like when we tried to cook Indonesian cuisine in that cooking class, remember?). Or when I was in the airport, asking for a stamp in the immigration section and the staff was asking for my nationality and continued with “Do you like Stark family?” then when I didn’t understand what he meant, he pointed out my direwolf pin on my headscarf and I was like, yeah, grinning happily (if not crazily) since miracles do happen. Sometimes, it happened in place and time you never imagined –even in your wildest dream.
Exchange program is one from many ways for people to learn about each other. This program, through one brave soul, will bridge a lot of differences happened between two or more parties. In my case, I was Indonesia’s representative to learn about Philippines, while people there could get the glimpse of Indonesia by watching me.
Majority of my friends back in Indonesia was practically reacting “Whoa! Exchange program? Where? Oh, Philippines, okay” when they knew that I was going to go for few weeks in Philippines. They have similar reaction, thinking that an exchange in Philippines is dull and lame because 1) they are practically the same Asian country; 2) not a white people country; and 3) it feels like only a crossing island trip.
But every place has its own quirk, and as many similarities as people can think between Indonesia and Philippines, differences still exists. And now, I’m going to talk about the differences that I’ve faced t between Indonesia and Philippines while I was away in my Volunteer Exchange Program.
This is an obvious difference between Philippines and Indonesia –especially since I was placed in an area in the southern Philippines which is currently having a dispute between the national force and the Islamic Region. Majority of beliefs in Philippines is Catholic while in Indonesia, we have Islam as majority. The differences are really really really big (you can see it by the way I was picturing the condition in the previous posts)
I don’t know about other areas in Philippines but in Ozamiz, we absolutely have no traffic light. Not even one. Vehicles are walking aimlessly, people are swarming in every part of the road, the city is bustling without order. But there are hardly any accident, brutal shouting, or fight over a road. Everything just happened normally. It sure is weird; how can you stay in order when there are no straight lines to keep you intact?
Oh, and also talking about how people are so diligently keeping things in order, as much as similar we are between Indonesians and Filipinos (things as developing countries anxiety and ambitious citizens), people in there are paying high regards towards the culture of ‘lining up’. THIS. This is what I love from seeing a humanized version of human (okay, I gotta say that the culture in Indonesia about queue is really, really bad). They have the same condition as us yet they still know how to place themselves in society. When there is the need of a queue, they will stand in line, waiting for their turns –and not brutally stand besides the other, ruining the line without order.
It’s not a common difference. Actually, it’s almost bordering similarities. Eastern culture forces us to pay our respects towards elderly, sure majority of countries in Asia continent still practicing this eastern culture, yet what I like about this part is when it comes to policy, the local government dip a hand down on it.
Nothing can be ensured unless there is a regulation for that. And in Philippines, particularly in Ozamiz, I got to experience what it is like to be placed in environment where the people are working together creating a harmonious atmosphere. Lines were created for different purposes, elderly, mother and children, and then normal healthy people. Cashiers were divided into parts, where elderly with pension can easily go through –also getting a good discount on stuffs due to their respectable hard works in the past. The older you get, the more respects you earn, and the more you want to share your knowledge to the youngers. It’s a common thing to have an organization in the city ruled out by a good cooperation between every element in the society. Meetings are held, involving representatives from the children association, youth communities, elderly leaders, and also part of the city such as the front liners or even the city council itself. So awesome.
Theirs maybe still not perfect, but when the citizens and the government can work something out together, it means that they’ve reached mutual understanding since they want to work in sync to attain something greater (well, because you know, citizens and government in Indonesia tend to have their heads bumped to each other, right?)
This is a big deal since it is also covered with other things involved on it, religion and local customs. Pork, pork, pork everywhere. If back in Indonesia you can find bakso (meatball) or mie ayam (chicken noodle) everywhere, in Philippines you can almost find pork everywhere. In case you smell something being grilled deliciously, no it’s not a sate (satay), it’s a grilled pork. Score!
And party? Filipinos knows how to party well. How to set the full course of food, the event, and the after party –drinks! I have my own policy regarding alcohol but, nah, it’s something that I can only tell you in person (oh the quirk of science student). But I really respect on how well they treated the guests and all. I can never move on from Filipinos’ party –even if it’s just a birthday party!
Also, don’t forget about the sweetness of the food. You may have already heard about the distinctive taste of Asian cuisine being sweet and all but wow food in Philippines is the real deal. They are not hesitant to put every sweet thing onto the pan and voila, you can almost say you have your dessert already included on your main course. I have this weird sensation when they generalized moslem as a group who worships spicy food. I mean, wait, I’m sorry, are you serious? (although I can see it why since curry and spices and all). Then I tried to explain on how it is just the effect of the culture and no, Islam isn’t always about spicy food and so does the opposite. Luckily, I’m coming from Yogyakarta which is famous from its sweetness (either for the food or the hospitality *wink*), so I can relate to their confusion about spicy food.
Weird, and all the good talks about bridging the differences between cultures are all starting from a set of meal. True to its words, peace starts from the dining table!
Huraaah! I’m already back home in my lovely city, Yogyakarta! Wait, that doesn’t mean I’ll stop posting about all of my precious experiences back in Philippines. The list just goes on longer, honestly. Eheheheh :D
Okay, back to the hot topic in which I need to face a lot when I was staying abroad. Since I am wearing a headscarf (as in, you call it hijab), almost every subject that I went through was usually about my identity as a moslem. The point is, majority of the people in Philippines are all Roman Catholic. I expect there would be a different treatment towards moslem, especially when the country itself has a war brewing between the nation force versus the militant group acting in the name of Islam. Basically, you could say that there are some groups here in Philippines, acting rebellious, war, and all, tainting the name of my religion worse than before.
With what happened in the world right now, ISIS, Charlie Hebdo, Chapel Hill, and now, the things happened in Philippines, I dare to say that the image of Islam is not really good. To add things up, ignorant people weren’t given the right information about Islam so wohoooo my responsibility as one of the Islam entity just got a wholesome heavy.
And, I’m not even one good example as a moslem. Sure, I am wearing headscarf as my identity, but truthfully, I’m not religious enough to set a good example for people. I am just a normal, average girl –carefree but not really going in the liberal way. I’m not the conservative type who would clasp my hand in front of my chest to avoid direct contact with opposite gender –I know the limit of casual touch and I can oblige to adapt with the international circle around me (actually I’ve been there, errr, and that didn’t suit me well). I didn’t go to a routine meeting for a communal quran reading, a halaqah (you can call it a circle for people with the same vision and mission in a religious aspect in order to share knowledge and study the holy book together), but I make sure to read thoroughly about my own religion.
My family is not the traditional and conservative type but my mother make sure that if I chose Islam, I need to do it right. Pray five times a day, read quran because it is our guide in life, stay away from the things that will drag you to the fire of hell (you know, it’s like the seven deadly sins, basically it’s almost the same only in different form). Yet outside of my Islamicity, I also have life as a normal teenager. Having the same problem just like another college student around the world, being active in several youth communities, reading books and stuffs, still passionate as ever in the world of music and art, and even fangirling over silly stuffs. Hello, world, I am a moslem girl and I live my life normally.
I am 21 years old and I chose Islam not because I was born with it, but because I know it’s the most suitable way of worshiping the Divine One for me (cheers for Anjar for her Hindu choice and Kristine for her Catholic choice, I’m grateful to be able to know the both of you with similar point of view). Our world has the same creator, it’s just the way of worshipping Him is different thus the various methods and names of religion exists. It’s just like a part of this song from my country:
God is only one, it’s just us that different
But does the difference in religion make us differ our way to treat each other? Nothing could be a good parameter on how you could treat someone but your humanity. You do me good, I do you good. Treating others differently just because they aren’t one of your circles won’t justify anything. Race, religion, nationality, wealth, sickness, sexual preference, and any other things which keep draw a line between us. What does it good to us if we were only to favor someone due to certain aspect?
We’re all different. If you want to justify others by putting people in boxes, you will never be able to put everyone in the same box. What people need to do is how to put a good order in those boxes, treating them carefully because every box has the right to receive the same treatment. We’re all just human, who are we to play God?
And just because few people been nasty and terrorizing, it doesn’t mean you can generalize the bad idea for the whole group. Sure there are a lot of groups acting sick in the name of Islam, but does that make you think that I have the same trait with them just because I have the same religion of them? People nowadays just want the instant way to solve things down. They tend to blind themselves from the truth. They have time to clarify things but they weren’t really informed about it so the media justify things for them. What people need is a different perspective to accept things objectively. That, is my obligation to make people see Islam differently by looking at me through the exchange program that I’ve had. I’m pretty sure my behavior isn’t the best one as an example but at least I can tell people that there exists a moslem girl living her life no different than others –blood and flesh in front of them.
In Philippines, I had to do a lot of facepalm since there are a lot of judgments for Islam. False labeling, if I would say. One part, I’m quiet sad that oh my god they weren’t truly informed about my religion but in another time, I’m happy to answer their curiosity. As Islam representative, I would like to answer hundreds question just to clear the misunderstanding in their heads about Islam. I can be their source of answer –I’m pretty confident with a general knowledge, okay. The most hurting fact is that if it happened in my community back in my city in Philippines, then it should be happened also in another place. And oh dude, imagine how many million people were wrongly informed? No wonder there are always dispute in the worldwide in the name of religion, they didn’t have the right source to bridge their misunderstandings!
Imagine that there are two people playing swords with their eyes covered blind. That was what happening right now, and we need to put a stop to it.
It happens not only with Islam, but also with other certain aspects that we can relate. In Philippines, Roman Catholic is the majority so Islam is pretty much a minority. Here, in Indonesia, Islam is the majority thus making Christian and Catholic as the minority. Misunderstanding happens everywhere, and the only thing to solve is a bridge.
And knowledge, my friend, is the bridge.
A conflict is always started in misconception, the inability to accept differences, and the lack of communication. What makes it last long is because people are in denial to make peace, they want no dispute but at the same time they want to prove that they are the right one. This is why we still have war at this time of ages. It is because the majority of the people want to declare that they are the almighty one, the truest party.
Exchange program, in which one is brave enough to take the challenge to be hosted in a new environment with different cultures and customs, is one of the good ideas to provide a better channel for communication between people. There will be no misunderstanding because the experience from the program will enlighten their blindness into something. Take for example, the commotion between races. If only one little part of them knew each other, there would not be any problem. They will learn about each other and they will know that befriending people does not mean we need to judge them from race only. After spreading their knowledge about the real fact behind their false accusation, they will start to accept each other as human, with no attachment on them, and living life in peace because there is no problem between them –because they already understand each other.
What we need to do to avoid those uncalled is the better understanding. That is it. That is the point of exchange program. So, since it is impossible to have everyone experience an exchange program, why do not we start to spread the influences right now?
Inspired by Gaby’s blog (gabriel-philippines.tumblr.com) and also irritated from the heartless returnees of exchange student program who did nothing after went through the program (I mean, what they do after the program is just boasting around that they have one year experience here and there and do nothing but clinging on their exchange year –not being able to move on), I want to start writing something useful that I can share with people. That, if there are people who drops by in this tiny little soup of mine and are all willing to read my words vomiting action. LOL
I will try to write everything that I’ve met and experienced during my stay in Philippine, especially in Ozamiz City. I want people who reads (and maybe is having the same insecurity as a moslem girl with head scarf staying in another country, especially a country with a high commotion about radical Islam) knows what really happened so they will have the picture of it.
One other reason of a misunderstanding is because there will be time when both opposing parties will assume things about the others and start concluding a false statement. I want people to stop assuming, and maybe after reading my experience, they will have a better image about it.
ps: I know I am not a good writer in english but please understand my humble intention okay *winkwinkwink*
Kebetulan sedari tanggal 29 Januari 2015 sampai tanggal 15 Februari 2015 ini aku terlibat satu program dari AFS, Volunteer Exchange, ke Filipina. Dari AFS-Yayasan Bina Antarbudaya Indonesia, ada tiga delegasi yang terpilih (tadinya sih empat tapi kemudian karena satu dua hal, seseorang mengundurkan diri). Aku wakil dari Chapter Yogyakarta, Kuka dari Chapter Jakarta, dan Kak Bahrudin dari Chapter Karawang. Kebetulan sekali, aku dan Kuka yang sepantaran ditempatkan di satu chapter yang sama, Chapter Ozamiz, yang terkenal sebagai chapter paling kece hehehehe.
Untuk postingan VE Philippines ini, selanjutnya akan aku tulis dalam bahasa Inggris (yaaa walaupun grammar dan kapabilitas otak ini masih cetek).
Kenapa dalam bahasa Inggris?
Bukannya mau sok-sokan lho ya, tapi setiap program pertukaran selalu memiliki misinya, di AFS, misi utama kita adalah bridging people through multicultural experience. Jadi aku pengen nih, semua nilai-nilai yang aku dapat dari program ini, bisa aku sampaikan ke banyak orang di luar sana. Aku pingin buah yang aku petik ini, bisa aku bagikan ke orang lain, supaya yang bisa merasakan manisnya nggak cuma aku.Oke deh, stay tuned ya!
"Tell the chef, the beer is on me."
"Basically the price of a night on the town!"
"I'd love to help kickstart continued development! And 0 EUR/month really does make fiscal sense too... maybe I'll even get a shirt?" (there will be limited edition shirts for two and other goodies for each supporter as soon as we sold the 200)