Most of the time, trips are planned. You have an itinerary on hand, a map and a camera to capture all our special moments. You like to have a clear picture of the sites you will visit, the places you will stay in, the people you will encounter and the many ways you can get around town.
Once you grab your tickets and step out the door with your bag, it can only go two ways – it is either your plan goes off without a hitch and you enjoy a stress-free holiday, or things do not work out as intended and you find yourself absolutely and positively lost.
Getting lost is sometimes frustrating. It entails many emotions, mostly negative ones –desperation, loneliness, and even fear. Fear of the unknown that comes with getting lost can sometimes be paralyzing. It is the fear of change. For some people, the horrifying part is not the arrival of something new, but the idea that you might not like what you will see or get when you reach another point. For example, no one wants to roam the streets of a city hungry and confused, where the locals cannot speak or understand English; you can just end up at a shabby cafe where they serve a wary looking soup dish that resembles coagulated mud.
Getting lost can mean starting out blank, going back to square one. A different viewpoint lets you see that getting lost is not just a hindrance, but also an integral part of the journey. Getting lost grants you the chance to start anew and go on an adventure. Perhaps you have heard of backpacking? It is when an individual straps a backpack on and hikes mountains and traverses the plains. There is no schedule to be followed, no reservations, no itineraries – go where the wind takes you, both figuratively and literally. Carry supplies that last you for several days and then replenish them when you get the chance. It feels like living the life of a nomad, where being lost is the point of travelling.
Travelling from one place to another with no specific destination in mind allows you to immerse yourself in the place you are currently in. You get to appreciate the locals and traditions because you cannot compare it with anything because you had no expectations. The best thing you can hope for is that the surprises you chance upon are pleasant.
But still, is getting lost really such a bad thing? The greatest explorers were deemed as such because they got lost. Christopher Columbus set sail to establish trade relations with Asia but ended up finding the Americas instead in 1492, putting that continent on the map. Another great addition to the world map would be our own country, the Philippines, when we were accidentally discovered by Portuguese explorer Ferdinand Magellan on his route to the Moluccas Spice Islands.
Speaking of the Philippines, it would be a great idea to backpack around our country. Very few people know of nature’s bounties in the various regions of our nation and of the ethnic diversities, but in retrospect, we cannot help but feel that once we go backpacking, something aside from ourselves is lost. Something else is amiss.
Our country can be considered a melting pot of cultures and has long been lost in an identity crisis. More than architecture, food, fashion and trends, something uniquely Filipino has been lost – our values and our pride.
For instance, let us look into our milestones in world history. Just 113 years ago, the Philippines formed the first Republic in Asia, an act of change that others in the continent soon followed. Ferdinand Marcos had plans to make the country competitive internationally and was close to achieving it; during that time, it was reported that we were second to Japan’s economy. We also have the famous People Power Revolution of 1986 that other countries symbolized as a sign of hope.
We have so many things to be proud of, but what do we have to say about these achievements now? One would not be surprised if the heroes of the Philippine Revolution wondered where the Republic they started has gone to after all these years. From a country second only to Japan in the 1960’s-1970’s, we lost much ground and are now behind countries that used to look up to our efforts in the past.
Finally, a memorable movement worthy of remembrance is tarnished by the “People Powers” in the 21st Century. These “movements” could have possibly destroyed the meaning that the original 1986 People Power expressed to the world. The magic of change without violence is lost and was replaced by a view that Filipinos overused. In other words, we took everything we pioneered for granted.
In a more modern context, current events lead us to a great example such as Christopher Lao – the guy whom a TV station caught on camera as he forced his car through the floods of Metro Manila. The situation could have been perfect had his car not stopped, but the vehicle floated. The more pressing point is not Lao’s lapse in common sense; rather it is when he blamed the government for this very obvious mistake.
He claimed that the government did not inform him about the flood. Is there something in our culture that pushes us to blame others? Could it be that Christopher Lao was just one of many Filipinos under the culture of finger pointing?
Unfortunately, unlike backpacking, there is no map to lead the Filipino identity back to its starting point. Unfortunately for most of us, the starting point is still a big question mark. As each generation goes on, we get farther away from the Filipino idealism and nationalism that we strive for. The strong bayanihan during Magsaysay’s time, the unwavering nationalism of Rizal, Bonifacio and Aquino – things of the past we have yet to live out in the present day.
But again, let us look at it from another perspective. Our culture may be lost, but that could be the catalyst to self-discovery, self-rediscovery and self-betterment. Getting lost, or being lost should not be looked upon with apprehension. Instead, it could be appreciated. It is pushing the limits; it is stepping out of your comfort zone. The Filipinos can embark on a whole new adventure, building a personality that is stronger, more unique, and more powerful than before.
So, what have we to say now, dear Lasallians? What is our role in all this? Being blessed with a good education, we are expected to continue the tradition of our Filipino culture and be the change that will bring this country back to its feet. It is our responsibility to pick up our bags and go on that journey where the destination is love of country and the mode of transport is willpower. There are many roads to get there, and no one ever said you had to choose one. Take the best route you can manage and revel that despite being lost, you still manage to get there somehow.