NOTE: This is intended for those who have not actually been to the Philippines but are dreaming of doing so…
Well, seeing as how I haven’t done a blog entry in like FOREVER, I figure it’s time to toss one out.
I actually started this particular post while I was back in the US. It basically has to do with what I like to (ironically) call the Philippine Dream – the idealized construct of what life in the Philippines is like without having actually faced some of the harsher realities of living here. You know what I mean – the visions that many of us created of an inexpensive house rental cozied away on a pristine white sand beach, kicking back on a gently swaying hammock whilst sipping fresh margaritas, wooing a beautiful, dusky-skinned island girl and living happily ever after……
Yeah. Exactly. That Philippine Dream.
Unfortunately, after some amount of time in country, reality will usually rear its ugly head and all those preconceived dreams we so lovingly crafted get torn asunder upon the cruel rocks of practical experience.
This past year in particular has done a lot to peel the “rose-tinted glasses” from my face. Why, you might ask? Well, murders, fatal motorcycles, lost homes, and a bunch of scams, hustles, burglaries and robberies have done much to dull the shine of my own personal Philippine Dream. Above and beyond the “death by a thousand cuts” that plague any person living in a third world country (the heat, humidity, burning rubbish, chronic inefficiency, piles of trash, etc.), actual crimes happening to actual people you know tend to refocus one’s outlook on life here. From the murder of Phil Prins and Ted Blaszak to three fatal motorcycle accidents involving long-term foreigners to our neighbor losing “his” house (and a few other foreigners acquaintances experiencing this same this year) to a number of folks we know being burglarized and/or robbed due to an uptick in shabu-infused crime, a number of incidents occurred in the last twelve months that put things in perspective.
But enough of that. Let’s get a bit more into what – for me – was an integral part of my personal Philippine Dream.
Weezer’s Island in the Sun.
ISLAND IN THE SUN
“When you’re on a holiday
You can’t find the words to say
All the things that come to you
And I wanna feel it too
On an island in the sun
We’ll be playing and having fun
And it makes me feel so fine
I can’t control my brain..”
-Weezer, Island in the Sun
If you’ve purchased our book, you’ll know (or should know) that this quote prefaces everything else there contained. I included that quote when I was first assembling the book and looking back, it was rather prescient. And with all the craziness of this past year, rather apropos as well.
I am a big fan of Weezer. A huge fan, actually. Pork and Beans, Hash Pipe and Island in the Sun are always in my playlist. And whenever I hear the latter, I can’t help but think of the Philippines. Truth be told, before I even moved to the Philippines, it was a song that listen to a lot and with it’s happy, upbeat tempo, I’d add more and more idealized bits and pieces to my own personal Philippine Dream. But – as we noted earlier –that dream eventually succumbs to the irresistible tide of reality.
Now, overtly Island in the Sun is an upbeat, melodic tune initially bringing on visions of swaying palms and sun-swept beaches. The song’s idyllic mental imagery is accompanied by sweet, summery strumming but also undercut by the sublimely sad delivery of River Cuomo’s vocals. For me, there is also a certain level of melancholia that seems to cloud the rays of sun that play along its surface.
What does this have to do with the Philippines?
Well, first off there’s the ostensible imagery of the “island in the sun,” where all one’s cares will gently fade away. But again, there is also the melancholia. Oftentimes in life, we have all encountered things that are “too good to be true,” especially when it comes to human longing and dreams. Our internet sites are called Philippine Dreams, and I am SOOO glad that I (unknowingly) named it that. Because as time goes on and bad things continue to happen, the dream is slowly – but steadily – losing some of its glow and the unique is turning into the everyday.
That’s actually OK and is just a part of the human experience. Some might even go as far to bring up the whole “familiarity breeding contempt” aspect but since I haven’t yet gotten to that level, I will abstain.
Even the video of Weezer’s Island in the Sun underscores the effect that reality ultimately has on one’s dreams, hope and aspirations – the original “Mexican wedding” video portrays a fun-filled, sublime wedding where everyone is happy and nothing could possibly go wrong. But – as many of us know – the reality is that many marriages end in divorce as the cold reality of the mundane settles upon the once-happy couple.
Now, please don’t think I am trying to be negative. I’m not. I am just trying to objectively convey the changes that some people go through when making what is truly a drastic change like moving to the Philippines.
Hold onto your dreams. Clench them tight. But just be aware that everything in life is not what we think it might be. Especially when it comes to living one’s life in a foreign land.
Check out the video – It’s rather apropos to the topic at hand….
Photos by Phil Prins – RIP.