Sunday, June 08, 2008

jolo glimpses


opened my eyes in a dark room. looked around, i was under thick sheets, there was a tv in front of me, there were blue curtains on the window, it was unusually cold. the pillow doesn't smell like me. i am not home.

i remember. i am in sulu at the ssc hostel. i began to relax at that thought. i am not lost.

its a sunday, and i distinctly remember hannbal telling me that i can go to church this morning. what the heck, i wanted to go to mass to pray for some things. so off i go.

i went to the morning motions. i had to move quick, its almost 6a. the cold morning air breathed on me as soon as i greeted the courtyard of the hostel. i observed the early light making its way through the trees, tinting them darker with a bright green. it looks like its going to be a nice day.

toh, sa cathedral.

the cathedral loomed as i turned left from the main road, the cross pierced the sky even as the dome and the spires of the masjid prominently displays itself in the early morning sky. fr. ante said mass. it was really unusual to see him in his sutana, and all dressed up as a priest. he is as good as a man as he is a priest. this was a man that has definitely lived life. i said a prayer, that may i take a similar path. halfway through the mass, i realized that i was hungry not only for breakfast but for nourishment for the soul. i decided that breakfast would have to wait.

the wait was well worth it, just at the back of the cathedral is my favorite coffee shop, second only to consequia. dennis coffee shop is owned by pah sali. one of our friends in sulu. i was looking forward to some satti and kahawa sug. satti came fast, kahawa came strong. both came hot! this should take me through the day. it was a good breakfast.

going back to ssc. i soon felt the pangs of being a foreigner. i am still not from here. i noticed the stares of people are more intense, now that i am venturing alone. it has a sense of worry and wonder. i am still not from here, i had to speak softly and briefly in order to communicate to people. the jolo that i knew in my last two visits, was quite different this morning. everything seems to be a blur. everything happening too fast, too quick for the eye to see.

upon arriving at ssc, i took a deep breath and closed my eyes a bit. getting to know jolo is now becoming deeper. i begin to know the other side in which regular visitors do not see. that of a land trying to come into terms with the realities of poverty, and the constant threat of violence.

all the time i was on the streets, i am sure that i am safe. i had the reassurance of people. but its just unusual to see jolo with through a different lens. now i know what ernie feels, why he wants to make his presence felt here. there is always a sense of need. in which every bit of help, even as little as concern can be of great help.

much needs to be done, and i start with the 2nd day of the workshop today.

a step at a time jolo. magsukul for showing me a more personal face.

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