25 November 2014
My most recent trip to Bali with my family was two things: last minute and extremely refreshing. I'd just arrived back home from the US when my dad told us he was heading to Indonesia for a Harley Owners Group convention (think of it as a 1D fan party but for Harley Davidson riders in Asia lol). Originally, it was just supposed to be him and my mom going, but after some slight passive-aggressive prodding on my behalf (and my sister's keen interest in traveling), two additional tickets were booked. I remember there being about two weeks of silence regarding this trip, and then suddenly, "Hey, pack your bags, we're going to Bali."
We haven't gone on too many last minute family trips in ages, so this was definitely a much needed bonding vacation. When I was younger, we traveled more often seeing as my parents loved going to neighboring countries for the weekend, sometimes with my cousins and aunts and uncles, sometimes with friends. I think our last trip as a family was back in 2012, and since then, it's mostly been my mom and I going to and fro.
But before I get into the details of my trip, it's worth mentioning that I think I might've gotten my wanderlust from my father, whom one could liken to an open history book. He often humors my siblings and I over dinner, discussing Philippine history, for example, and how our culture was influenced by nearby countries and then promptly westernized when the Spanish colonized our country. It's a topic that—while I wouldn't say I'm an expert on—I have enough knowledge about to discuss with others; to point out certain things, certain similarities when I see it. So being in Bali was like being in World History class, except instead of being in a classroom, listening to your teacher drone on and on and on, you were actually there in the country you were studying, seeing the sights instead of reading about them, and therefore able to absorb more information. It was like—as Beyonce had put it—"schoolin' life." I was more engaged and interested than I would've been in a classroom, my thirst for knowledge unquenchable, and if my participation was graded every time I traveled, I'd be a straight A student.
So it was nice—it's always nice—to find yourself deep within a country so rich in culture that you could attribute to your own. The Filipino language is heavily derived from other languages, so listening to the Balinese people talk was always interesting. While the meanings may be different, I often catch similar words in their vocabulary, like 'buka,' for example, which means open.
Bali is a country filled with people who value their resources and tourists. A thought that occurred to me while we were driving on the expressway that had only two lanes (an instant traffic-starter if you tried it in Manila) is that the Balinese are the epitome of 'take only what you need.' The trees, their nature—I could actually feel the energy radiating off of them. And their religion? Their religion is that of a beautiful one.
Pung, our tour guide, taught me that they had three rules governing their belief and dictating their lives: respect for God himself and as the creator, respect for nature, and respect for human beings. That, in itself, was enough for them to go about living their daily lives as peacefully as possible, and holy moly, it's not that hard a concept to grasp and follow. It's the heart and soul, the very core of every belief, but I hadn't seen it practiced so efficiently and thoroughly until Bali.
It seems that in every country I go to, I pick up a new life lesson—some too personal to reveal. But one of the main things I learned in Bali was to love my own country, my own culture, the same way the Balinese people love theirs. It was so heartwarming to see their tradition blend with the modern times, and it makes me sad that our countrymen as a whole don't do much to preserve and practice ours, myself included. We're too concerned with the shiny new things to pay mind to our roots, aren't we? Hell, I've only gone to about a handful of places in the Philippines—I've never even been to Boracay—so as soon as I got back, I made sure that that would change.
All in all, going to Bali made me realize that life is—despite its complexities—beautiful. All it has to offer? Beautiful. It made me appreciate the world we live in.
And finally—the last but not the least—it heightened my love for my country, because damn it, Philippines, I can go off about how beautiful the beaches are in other countries, or how the sunsets are different down under, but there will never be a country more home to me, more beautiful to me, than the Pearl of the Orient Seas.