There is something amazing about seeing something breathtaking that brings about that feeling of awe and wonderment.  More than a few times, when I’ve gone out of town or visited a spectacular place locally, it is not uncommon to hear people say, “Ang ganda! Parang wala ka sa Pilipinas!”

Why is that? Why do we sometimes have this penchant for appreciating beauty around us, only to immediately follow it up with some negative quip about our country? I may liken this to a Pinoy who receives an unexpected guest in his home, and suddenly feels the need to be apologetic, “Pasensya na, simple lang ang bahay ko.”

I remember a conversation between my friends, with one in the process of finishing his house construction. Friend A mentioned how he needed to scrimp on the construction of his gate, adding that he can’t replicate the intricate grills of his house’s window, and so his gate might have a different design. He was worried that neighbors might have something to say about the non-uniformity of design. Friend B was quick to reply, “Why should they complain? They’re lucky they have something to look at.” This got me laughing so hard, but the truth resonated with me, that as a people, we are sometimes quick about wanting to make a good impression, but also just as quick to put ourselves down.

Outside our usual out-of-country or town trips and vacations, we usually find ourselves being in a place, either because we have something to do there, we needed to get something there, there’s an event, so on and so forth.  But how many times have we visited a place near us just because we want to see it with new eyes?

Recently, I have had the privilege of reconnecting with my college co-majors, and with our enthusiastic, small group of four still holding the same interests that initially brought us together in our youth, we’ve embarked on a journey of rediscovery.  Our squad’s mission:  Go to places that are familiar to us, not because we needed a reason to be there, but just because we wanted to. We make an effort to see the extraordinary out of the ordinary, because we have fun doing so. Who says we have to be rational all the time?

Armed with our smartphones, we fired away with unli-clicks here and there, channeling our inner shutterbug selves, and in the process gaining more appreciation for the myriad attractions that the familiar had to offer. What magnificence! Beautiful in its disorganized glory! Such explosion of colors!

The beauty of this nonsensical approach is that I’ve come to embrace and enjoy being in the moment. I’ve learned to ‘stop and smell the flowers’ again, sometimes literally. Breathe in the moment, breathe in the place. Savor the experience. I am rewarded with knowing the joy of seeing what is truly beautiful in my home. To be fair, our ‘lupang sinilangan’ is not really the cleanest, most organized place, but look closely and you will see the beauty amidst its chaos, simply because it is home. Our folks said it quite well … love your own because what is yours is beautiful.

Home is truly where the heart is, and this should be enough reason for us to lift ourselves up, to resist the lure of disparaging ourselves as a people.

So take that journey to rediscovering your home, your country, and yourself. The next time you’re in a company of people and you hear someone say, “Ang ganda!”, go ahead and say the words that need to be said and heard, “Kasi nasa Pilipinas ka.”

Lee Borci Chua
Author

Lee is a doting mom to her three blossoming gentlemen. She loves to talk, listen to stories, and read about life stuff. When not doing consultancy work or writing, she dabbles in real estate.

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