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My Journey into the Other

I am a Mindanaoan by birth and by choice. My racial origins scale from Europe to the Orient. And based on my humble estimate, I am net of 250% native. How is that? Let me see. My paternal grandpa was 50% Spanish and 50% native while his wife was 100% native. My maternal grandpa was 50% Spanish and 50% native while his wife was 50% Chinese and 50% native. Now you have it! But people do tell me I look like an Indian. Yes, could be! I do believe my great grandparents came all the way from mainland India through what they call land bridges before the grand melting of the ice along this area of the globe. So there! I have European, Oriental, and Indian ancestry. Isn’t that great!

My father, born in a small barrio in the outbacks of one of the towns of Cebu in the Visayas, chose to join the pilgrimage to the “Land of Promise” after graduating in College from the country’s oldest University, the University of San Carlos in Cebu City, and settled in what is now my hometown, Pagadian City, as one of its migrant teachers. My mother, on the other hand, left a small town in Camiguin Island with her father and stepmother, after the grand eruption of Mt. Hibok-hibok, and settled in Pagadian City for good. And I was born in the land of promise, a true-blue Mindanaoan.

That must sound a very basic introduction of myself. But mind you, that is where I find simplifying things very interesting.

Coming from a hard-core Roman Catholic family from both sides, I was baptized with the name of a saint, not from the almanac, but as a female version of a father’s junior. My name was the salvage value from the tragedy of my birth because of my gender. I should have been a male! Or so people thought it best I was one. First, because the first-born was a female, so I, the second child, must be the opposite. Second, because of the redundancy, one of us had reduced her value and must live with my maternal grandparents as replacement of my mom, their only child, who “left” them in favor of my dad. And so I was bred a first-born, with all the birthrights due to one. This, I believe, is the mother of all tragedies that come and go into my life. I felt I was doomed to be “the else,” living the life of the “if not for.”

Why do I bother telling you all these? Obviously because I need to let go and this need must be recognized, for good. This communion with myself has been confined in my being for so long that I never thought it mattered, until I learned about “the other.” If there is “the other,” then who is “the one?”

Then I start turning back to track down “the others” that came before me, to my European, Oriental, Indian and native ancestry. Farther ahead I get to the source of life itself, to one amazing truth that my beginnings date back to the origin every creation relates each other with, The Creator. And “the others” my daily life delivers into me in a never-ending cycle directs me to one single destiny, The Almighty. Only then do I realize that “the others” are the very ingredients that make me “the one”…

I am 250% native. That’s too big for me to fit! Today I am smaller than what I really am, but I will grow to fit into my being and becoming, in my expansion and extension to “the other.” I recognize that my woundedness gives me the authority and the capacity to feel “the other” as “the one.” And so I begin with the acceptance that “the other” is another me. I am one with the rest - our faiths, one source; our lives, one destiny.

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