I have just returned from a ten day trip to the Philippines and I feel very fortunate to have had the opportunity to visit such a country. My time was split between the island of Bohol and Dumaguete city on Negros Oriental. There are many things I could write about from this amazing trip, especially considering this was my first visit to a non-western developed country, and I am sure all my experiences will filter through into my writing one way or another. I got to hang out with old friends, meet new friends and go to a wonderful kirtan meditation retreat. But for now I would like to write about my experience in regards to the practise of thankfulness.
As I sat at my friends place in Bohol, the night before leaving, I was trying to work out what had moved me so much about this visit. I realised it was that every single person I had met had a mood of thankfulness – thankful for what they had and thankful for whatever opportunity they were given.
I did not once hear anyone complain despite the under developed roads, chaotic traffic, or low wages, or the fact that washing machines, fridges, cars, good water pressure, hot water and flushing toilets were all a luxury rather than a given, let alone complaining about the size of their house or that they don’t have the latest mobile or a TV in every room.
It was like the people did not expect the world to be a materially perfect place. They did not seem to possess that attitude of entitlement so commonly found in out culture (myself included). They were thankful for what they did have, rather than being bummed about what they didn’t. As one of my new friends expressed (who as an adult shares a room with her two other sisters and whose house does not have hot water) she sees herself lucky, and is thankful for having a roof over her head and the means to eat three meals a day, because many people there do not.
I feel blessed to have had the opportunity to visit the Philippines and I hope I get to visit again there one day. Thank you to all of those I met for teaching me through your actions and attitudes about thankfulness. I hope I can carry what I have learnt through into my own life.