A New Beginning in an Old Framework

Posted on: Aug 4, 2010

MANILA, PHILIPPINES. AT THREE O’CLOCK this morning, I was awaken by an eerie sound of a gun-shot, and a shout – “Holdaper yan, holdaper ’yan!” (He’s a mugger, he’s a mugger!). There was a commotion outside my apartment near the karaoke bar in the intersection of Dapitan and V.G. Cruz streets.  When I looked outside my window, I saw a police officer interviewing the drunken istambays (bystanders). After 15 minutes, the street life was back to normal as though nothing happened. Or should I say, muggings in the streets near my university (University of Santo Tomas) are a normal occurrence and it is interesting that my initial reaction was that of a “culture shock”.

Oh yes, after nearly eight years of Canadian student life, I am now experiencing a “culture re-entry shock” – a state which is experienced by those international students who chose to return to their countries of origin after years of exposure to another culture. In my case, this morning’s incident reminded me that I am not in Halifax, Canada anymore. I have re-entered my Philippine society and while I have been enhanced by my years of studies in Canada, I should not have expected that the streets where I, too, (at knife-point) was mugged before, have changed.

I have entered a new chapter in my life, a new beginning of some sort, but in an old framework. This is the social space that I have to re-negotiate to survive, to live and hopefully, to find new meanings in life.

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