Education, Information, Knowledge, Reflections, Travel

travel story – lesson 2

I had known so many Filipino friends from my childhood and never even imagined I would’ve found myself visiting there!

As I love the tropics anywhere around the world one year before the Easter holiday I swapped around my shifts for additional vacation time and took Mabuhay Airlines over to Manila! When you fly to other Asian countries while in Asia it’s very economical and at that point I needed time off.
As I was there with my friend for almost a month I decided to really take the time to rest and rejuvenate but more importantly take in the history and cuisine. What I ended up learning and how I ended up learning this was ‘the culture shock’
Let me add this in for razzle dazzle: Black People should still be wearing sunscreen. But Black People also need tremendous amounts of sun for health reasons and as I almost 3 winters in Japan…the amount of sun required was taken in mostly on these trips I would go on!
I was gifted a cute caftan from my good friend and aesthetician so I wore that over my bathing suit when I went on those many trips and I promised myself first thing in the morning I’d head to the beach everyday to get a head start on sunbathing and saltwater (you know it heals)
You get to know the staff really when your stay is extended. Also keep in mind that you treat your reception and service staff and crew nice and hope they’ll be nice to you too right? I minded my biz as usual and every morning greet them and know them by first name basis. As I walk past the front desk for the 5th morning that week the guest services lady asked me the strangest question, she said ‘I noticed you go the beach every morning…’

Me: Yes, why not?

Her: Why would you want to be in the sun?

Me: Vacation.
I had no idea where this conversation was headed yo…

Her:‘are you from here?’

Me: No

Her: Is your Mom Filipino?

Me: No (but in my head I’m like do I look Filipino to you?)

Her: You shouldn’t be in the sun-you’ll too dark

Me: Too dark? What? (I’m Black.Hello,I’m Black!)

Her: I thought you were Filipino but because you keep going outside that’s why I’m asking you…..

Me: I don’t understand what you are saying,I’m Black (I’m African) and I’m from Canada living in Japan and both places in Winter get no sun so I can and will roast as much as possible.

Her: In this country we associate being darker with poverty and lower class

Me: But I don’t care what you associate it with, I’m Black (I need sun,I live for it!) I’m on vacation…..I bit my tongue on this (because I was gonna tip her well by the end of my trip!) My mind changed after this interaction though….. what I did say to her though was….and ‘my ‘darker skin’ got me travelling to many places and booking at THIS hotel you work at…..’
I was so confused about the conversation, the mindset (she held) and how people are/were conditioned and why didn’t I know about this at home? (Toronto) Made me realize how much colonization of any kind was sad and dangerous. Later on that day and week I was floored because her ratchet statements and questions led me on a little adventure thereafter…
As I went into town and hit the beach I used to have children shyly walking behind me. Some asking for candy’ and others asking for USD. But one day a little kid with a tightly curled Afro and much coppery tanned skin ran up to me and said: you look like my Mom. 💡
Another reference to me being ‘Filipino’. I just tried not to act surprised when the child said this and was like really? Okayyyyy!
A tour guide assigned to me upon my arrival at the airport asked if myself and my friend wanted to go further across the island and we both agreed that we’d love to! They took us fishing and we stopped mid-ocean for pictures and some history lessons…..Then they took us to the mountainous regions and now in one trip I learnt about the colonization of the country and it’s post effects and the Indigenous that to my knowledge has never been the true face for that country. They led us to the mountainous region weekly marketplace where Indigenous women with woven baskets, hats, rattan home decor, t-shirts and souvenirs gathered for tourists and city folk to purchase stuff. And I came face to face with these gorgeous women. And no lie…..we looked at each other with a kind of recognizance. At the time I had just cut off my dreadlocks so my fro was pretty tight and some of the women had the same hair and beautiful skin that the little boy had. It was a kind of mirror in a way and looking from a child’s eye, I realized that I really did look like them! It was fascinating for me because I learnt all the history I needed to truly understand in one week-starting at my morning appointment with the sun!

So what’s the lesson here? sometimes the roots are the most important parts even if they are buried, behind the scenes, silenced, hidden, removed or unknown

Education, Information, Knowledge, New York, Reflections, theshineprjct

travel story – lesson 1

I was happy for the man that then and there is when he realized and understood his racism. He knew that colourism was tied to his self hate and he knew for sure that he projected that to others he felt were weaker than him. He introduced himself and sat down beside me to explain that he was an inventor and that he visits NYC twice a year to patent and present his inventions. He quickly followed with ‘I have a confession to make’
Lemme assure you before I continue that I didn’t know this man.
He was waiting for his shuttle bus to La Guardia and asked to sit down beside me in the lounge. I hesitated as I was waiting for the time to pass before grabbing my bus at Penn Station and I noticed that he was eager to talk to me-as if he had something profound to say.
He apologized before uttering his truths and talked about his upbringing.

As a young man he explained, he had the deepest hatred for Black People and that he once hated Black folks so much that he would have never sat beside one of us in any public place- buses, offices, classes, meetings and lobbies, like where we were at that very moment. For him to start a convo this way-took a lot out of me and to then sit quietly and listen to him speak HIS truth….and now looking back at who I am today is pretty wild…I have very little patience today.

He admitted that he was treated differently growing up because of his ‘Native’ roots-he was labelled ‘Indio’ at school and though he had ‘Spanish’ roots he did have darker skin. It was a very uncomfortable topic for him at those younger ages to the point where he rejected himself enough to embody that much distaste for someone like me.

Upon moving to the United States though-going to Law school and studying Civil Law and even after becoming a practicing lawyer and later a professor-he still retained the same racist mentality he adapted and maintained specifically against Black People.
He was a middle aged man at this stage (November 2001 post 9/11 to be specific. This is the most important part of this lesson) when I was talking to him. At the time he further described that he was was old enough to still remember the Native tongue he studied and spoke fluently (by his Native Grandparents) in addition to Spanish. He was even given a Native name at birth.

He spoke one of the Mixtec dialects very well. He studied with elders before his coming of age and at age 25 he migrated to the United States and began assimilating and began forgetting who he was. He talked about going to law school. Becoming a lawyer, assimilating into the ‘dominant’ culture while working civil cases for his people (Hispanics and especially Mexicans,)all the while taking digs in many professional settings at African American people especially women-he gave me a very detailed description of his thought process and said he was very ashamed but felt it was important to tell someone like me about his innermost thoughts related to race relations and oppression. It dawned on me then also that NBPOC hold the most adversity towards Black People. And I had never fully understood that concept until I left Toronto because I had grown up in VERY multiethnic neighbourhoods most of my life where the common denominator was being first gen children of immigrants.

What would trigger all these moments of honesty in a hotel lobby in the middle of the financial district in NYC? I was about 23/24 years old at the time. It was November 2001 only 2 months after 9/11.As we waited for our shuttle buses in the lobby to catch flights and buses he was reflecting on his life that had flashed before his eyes as the flight he should’ve been on to San Francisco was flying through one of the skyscrapers that burned down that sombre day. He had initially been angry that the airline had cancelled his flight and that he had to wait around-but as he watched the news at the airport lounge; his life was spared and had he been gone he would’ve left behind three daughters and a wife.

So what am I getting at with this travel story 20+ years later? Simple. Don’t wait for a world altering occasion to change your biases. Don’t allow division by race, colour, country,class-pretty much all the shit that distracts us from why we’re here on this planet keep up the hatred and maligned ways on which we think or treat others. That clichéd but truthful statement that life is short during this age of COViD et al and is too much of a historically altering time that is begging us to shift whether we see or not.
So the man thanked me for hearing him out. He thanked me for listening 👂🏾 intently and apologized for having these types of thoughts towards someone like myself whom he didn’t know! So, that’s the story! He, FINALLY at 50+ years loves himself-took a good look in the mirror after that near death experience and was thankful for his life. He shook off the self hate and learnt to like, get to know and truly respect others. He realized how easy it was to see others as deserving of respect!
I went home that evening thinking about where I had biases (not that kind of deep racial hatred though) and talking to this man made me appreciate being from Toronto!

Beauty, boundaries, Education, Knowledge, Reflections, theshineprjct, Travel

travel stories

for any of you that have followed this blog over the years, you might have known by now that I’ve travelled quite a bit. I have usually only talked about where I’ve been and the fun activities I’ve planned out. It dawned on me the other day though; that I’ve never talked about the deep learning I experienced on my travels. When I look back at older travel pics and what I felt about the places I went to over the years after leaving Toronto only once in my life and then later living in Japan-those experiences changed me. The other night I was flipping through old photo albums and very specific interactions with profound occurrences that shaped my mindset moving forward…I could only think of four really powerful stories.

I’ll share them here over the next four weeks and they are indeed packed with details that I probably would have never shared in general conversation with anyone. These experiences do speak to where the world is headed right now and why it’s important for humanity and society to get it together personally and culturally-so stay ready to read them! 🙂

-shine

Travel stories – a series of lessons

Education, Humber College, Intern Life, Knowledge, Toronto

I’m an intern!

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I started my internship at Manning, Selvage & Lee on November 2nd 2009. I’m enjoying every minute of it! This internship is very different from what I expected in an internship. It’s a large company with an interactive setting. I’m working on the consumer care side. I’m learning the process and procedure of event planning, media relations and media monitoring for now. The one thing I have realized to be VERY important moving forward is building networks and relationships. Building networks enables you to be more productive on the job. Much more to come but just thought I’d update!