20 Jan 3 Valuable Lessons I’ve Learned in the Philippines
It’s been a while my friend and I apologize for being on hiatus. I’ve been doing a lot of thinking/planning for 2016 so that I can have a lot of exciting things coming your way!
If you didn’t know, I just came back from a 3-week trip to the Philippines for a family reunion. The last time I visited the country I was only 13 years old, so it has definitely been a while. I just always remember it to be frightening experience (aside from family time), being a third world country and all. There was this time a psycho pulled out a large pair of scissors from his backpack on a jeepney for no apparent reason… and if it weren’t a psycho on the street, it was the insane driving on the road where no one followed the traffic rules or the numerous lizards/bugs everywhere! However, this recent trip was different.
I’m pretty sure it’s due to the fact that I’m 13 years older, but I now have so much appreciation for my country. It’s always good to get in touch with your roots and learn the life your parents lived (if they are from another country). I wasn’t expecting to do any soul searching out there, but that’s what ended up happening. I just couldn’t help but notice the locals’ positive spirits and perspective on life. Their happiness really comes down to 3 things.
3 Valuable Lessons I’ve Learned in the Philippines:
1. HAPPINESS ISN’T TIED TO STATUS, POSSESSION, OR MONEY
We all know money can’t buy happiness and it’s very true. You can have all the money in the world, but you won’t feel whole if you don’t fulfill and manage basic aspects of your life.
I remember having a serious conversation with my 9-year old cousin one night. I had asked him what he wanted to do when he was older. His answer came from such an honest place, I can never forget it.
“I want to cook for my family like my older sister and become a pastor like my papa.”, he said.
I loved that answer so much. I am so used to the typical, “I want to be a doctor/engineer/basketball player/etc.” response, that I hadn’t expected that answer. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with any of those aspirations, but I felt my cousin’s response wasn’t influenced by anyone, a desire for fame, or most importantly money. It came from a desire to help people, something that gives him fulfillment.
In the Philippines, the people are happy even when they could barely afford to buy food for the night. Most people wear basic teeshirts with random verbage because having the newest and coolest clothes isn’t important to them. It’s not about being the best tennis player in the world or making a ton of money as a businessman. As long as they have the necessities, they are happy.
2. FAMILY IS EVERYTHING
The one thing I am extremely thankful for is having a big family. However, my family is dispersed in 10+ countries all over the world, so I barely get to speak to them and I barely know them.
After spending a few weeks in the Philippines, I got to have conversations with some relatives and not only learned a thing or two about them, but learned more about myself as well. It’s crazy how bloodlines work. I found similarities between my cousins I haven’t spoken to in years.
My grandparents have a big house in Manila, where my dad, aunt and uncles grew up. That house still serves as a main hub for my family. Everyday, family members will visit to either hang out or to help out around the house. I never knew what it felt like to have extended family around, but it feels nice.
Family is everything. They will give you support when you need it, love you unconditionally, and will always tell you how it is — even when it hurts. They give you a better understanding of who you are — your values, morals, and overall being. They shape who you are and are an extension of you, so love them while you can.
3. HAVE A POSITIVE OUTLOOK NO MATTER WHAT
You’d think that because the Philippines is third-world country, where people struggle to make a living and where typhoons are constantly destroying the homes of thousands, people would be in a state of depression. But that’s actually far from what I’ve seen.
Most people are really happy. They never forget to make light of what’s right in front of them. They always know how to have a good time and enjoy the company of their friends and loved ones. They aren’t constantly worried about what they don’t have or what they can instantly lose.
In the Philippines, the people are content. They understand their situations and know that bad things can happen anytime, but that isn’t enough to bring them down. Instead, they focus on the positives and what they can appreciate in the moment.
I’ve had such a humbling experience in the Philippines, I can’t wait to come back next year (hopefully)!
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