People People Everywhere

People People everywhere. They call it culture shock, "the personal disorientation a person may feel when experiencing an unfamiliar way of life due to immigration or a visit to a new country."

While driving down the narrow, cluttered and filthy streets of inner city Manila- navigating through the traffic, around the trikes and jeepnees, Mac trucks and buses it occured to me it wasn't just a small road packed with half a dozen different types of transportation but it was also congested with people. Everywhere you looked- if there wasn't a building or a car there was a person.

What's even more facinating are all types of people. Sure 99.9% of them are Filippino but they are from all walks of life. You see the common street vendor, the mother with her small children, the shirtless Filipinno men, the less common businessman and as you round the corner you see a naked little girl of about 7 years of age squatting along the side of the street- there's no privacy or luxury of a toilet here.

If you look past the dirt and grime, and the sewage running down the street, the missing teeth and wrinkled skin, if you take a moment to let your eyes meet you'll see the true beauty in these people. You'll start to see their worn bodies, the scars and wrinkles, the dirt and grime all tell their inidivudal stories. If you took a moment to stop and listen you'll discover these are hardworking people. There is no welfare here- everything they have (even though it may be nothing at all they've earned) They are fighters and survivors. They've faced challenges and heartache that most can't fanthom. These people have never experienced the luxury of flooring or 4 walls, or airconditioning, three meals a day or clean water. Yet they smile.

Their homes may be damp, dark, wet and infested with roaches and rats but their smiles brighten even the darkest place. They delight in being able to share what they have and invite you into their home… insisting you take a seat.

These smiles and this joy come from some of the most beautiful hearts I've ever seen. They show pride in what they DO have and their fierce love and passion for life is contagious. Death is a commonplace here. Some communities will burry multiple children, mothers, fathers, grandparents, aunts, uncles, daughter and son in any given week. Causes of death are many and can vary from water born pathogens to malaria and dengue fever to accidents in the streets. It's a hard life, it's a dangerous life and I'm convinced that's why they choose to make the best of everything they've been given.

The people are many and the resources are few but their love, joy, passion and smiles are many. They stand in a true testament that it's not the material things you acquire in life, your job status and the home you live in that enrich your life… but the way you view at what you have and how you choose to live.