The end of 2012, the time of solstice and holiday warmth, flew by as I traveled in the Philippines. I wrote most of this newsletter from the very-warm-indeed Philippines. I was on a ferry from Manila/Batangas to Mindoro, making my way to North Pandan Island for some diving off of Apo Reef. Now, I’m safely back home with Oliver in the L.A. area, and I can hardly believe it’s March!
As I think about this past year, I realize how much of a gypsy I’ve been. Although I started off the year living in the Bay Area for a solid four months, the summer quickly took me on a whirlwind tour of scattered friends. While in the Bay Area, I had these healthy weekly rituals that included hiking, dancing, yoga-ing, happy houring, and working! I bicycled around town and caught up with friends and family. I also finished my first comprehensive exam, and I felt closer than ever to my school community.
In June, I started moving around: to So Cal for Oliver and his health, New Mexico with Grammie, back to the Bay Area for retreats, to the farm in Ventura County, and last to Alaska for my hitchhiking/camping/kayaking/ice-climbing adventure. With the Fall, things did not change so much. I celebrated my birthday in Tahoe then around Pismo Beach, and last in Los Angeles. I also visited a friend in NYC on my way to present a paper at this big academic religious conference in Chicago. The Chicago time became really a big reunion, and I loved it. I was struck by just how many friends of mine would want to attend or present at a religious conference. And, my presentation went well thanks to the many friends that supported me.
And, then, just after thanksgiving, after a Filipina grief retreat, I decided it was time to be in the Philippines for a while to connect with my Lola Concepcion’s homeland, my motherland in part as a Mestiza Filipina. It was a timely trip as my second comprehensive exam is on this topic (Mestiza Xicana and Filipina Identity, Spirituality, and Creative Writing). I romped around the Philippines with my partner and also became certified as a scuba diver too (big for me! Big fear embracing!). Life under the sea is amazing, and I found myself in love with the coral and colors and fish and turtles. I spelunked through a long underwater tunnel too!
For most of February, I joined with other Filipinas and Filipina-Americans on a tour of Mindanao tribes. The trip was one of great celebration of these indigenous people (my people!) who keep the ways of Earth and women affirming community. Connecting with a couple Mestizas on the tour, I had the opportunity to present at a multicultural conference on women’s spirituality in late February. Also through women I met in the Philippines, I connected with Sister Mary John at St. Scholastica’s in Manila. We danced together at One Billion Rising, the Vday (Feb 14) event to end violence against women and girls.
Altogether, the Philippines was transformative and both painful as well as beautiful. My life just can’t be the same, and as I step into 2013 in California now, I’m (a bit nervously) excited to see what comes from that grand adventure into one of my family’s homelands.