I first began thinking about studying abroad in my junior year of high school. In America, particularly. It felt like the safest option in terms of diversity and accessibility, and was entranced by the prestigious Ivy League dream (I knew about Harvard and Yale before most local universities, Western media influence and all). One day, I brought it up to my mother and was pleasantly surprised with encouragement. If we can afford it, go for it. In 2017, Town & Country Philippines released an article called “The Best and the Brightest: Brilliant Minds From the Class of 2017“. Questionable title, they’re definitely not “the best and brightest” but the point on their international education stands. The universities mentioned in the list are all selective–they’re not those kinds of schools that accept anyone that can pay the full fee and boost their international student count, a metric often used in top college rankings. If you do a quick Google search for a school, you see their acceptance rates–or you know, you know that Harvard is Harvard because it’s …
I’ve always clouded my thoughts. I drown them in verbose descriptions of pedantic moments and scenarios. Little murmurs in time that mean nothing to be but late-night visions and blurs that make me shudder in fear for what I had left behind. Every thought here existed in time, even for just a moment. I relay my fears onto drunken rants with the computer screen rather than eye-to-eye. That’s how I was raised, after all. A child of blinking lights and the whirring of fan blades. I. Love is a fucking farce. And I am endlessly contriving new reasons as to why it is.
On May 9th, the Philippines continued its march towards democracy. Fingers were stained with lasting ink, the ground was littered with name-plastered paper and shredded coercion; I rested in the throes of my home, travelling and watching the empty highways fading against the skies like they never had before. A bystander to the events that mold the experience of my generation. In two years, I join their ranks and get to have my fingers stained with the blood of freedom — but for now, all I can do is discuss, learn, and speak. Never have I been so maddened, never have I sworn upon my inability to make a name for myself. Never have I scorned this nation for the lack of education, the ignorance and blasphemy that cycles over and over – the disgust that I feel at all the death threats thrown at me. This is a child’s cry; this is the beginning of a wish, this is the start of the fear she holds in her own country.
Borrowing from French: bête noire (literally “black beast”). When I tread on the age-old cement running down the mountains; my mind brings up stern warnings left on the trembles of my mother’s lips. “Do not trust strangers,” looking for the affirmation in my gaze, nods done over and over — I understood, I understand, etcetera. “Do not follow anyone you don’t know,” like reading off an old book, proverbs told time after time from her mother, and then the mothers before her, “only trust your family.” Yet in those brokenly repeated words, I felt the fear clinging onto the teeth marks left on the edges of her lips. So was a mother’s bible, written to protect and nurture, from the very own birthplace she raised you in.