Mine.

I probably drew the Philippine eagle several times but I can’t get over its ferociousness. From its sneering eyes to its wild hair to its expansive wings, this eagle’s looks alone represent the unconditional strength that its neighbors carry themselves: the Philippine people.

When people ask me how my last trip to the Philippines was, I usually sugarcoat it. Three specific moments replay over and over in my head– even until this day– and I’ve been back for more than a week. I’m done sugarcoating.

How was my last trip? For starters, it was far from a vacation.

The first of the three moments was this:

When the government began demolishing Ulingan, Project PEARLS very first adopted community, my mom and I headed to the smoky town right away. My mom checked on children and their families, asked what their plans were, and sought out what and who remained. And in the midst of the chaotic destruction, a tatay stood firmly on top of his home’s remains. He darkly relived the demolition with his words; he told us what they did, showed us what was left, and gestured towards his wife feeding his baby on the splintered floor.

As he looked around at the gray-to-black gradient of a landscape, he exclaimed, “This is my Philippines! This is my people!”

It is.

It is his.

It is theirs

It is ours.

It is all of ours to share.

So what are we gonna do about it?

– ChiChai@Empire

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