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Having a province is great! Here’s why

By Jay Buenaflor | Essays From the Land Whenever I ask people where they are from tell me that they grew up in Manila, I actually say, “Oh, I’m sorry to hear that.” Having grown up in Bicol, I know it’s formed a huge part of who I am now and here are six reasons why: 1. It Has Grounded Me – Part 1: Truth is, the Philippines is divided by social class. In the province, that divide is less pronounced. My friends and classmates all came from different backgrounds. I didn’t realize, until later, that my friend in the farm was “different” from my barkada in school. 2. It has made me appreciate the Filipino culture more and, thus, has made me more understanding. There is a reason for our feudal mindset. It is real. 3. It has allowed me to speak a number of languages: I’d realized its importance when I learned how much easier it was for me to absorb new words while living in Europe. After English, Filipino and Bikol, Spanish didn’t seem so hard. 4. It has Grounded Me – Part 2: I’m writing this on top of a hill overlooking several others at magic hour. It is golden and green. This is God’s country. People find it funny I walk barefoot around the house. It’s just me still attached to nature. 5. It’s Ground Zero: When things are tough in the big city, it’s nice knowing there’s a place I can always rush to for some quiet, solitude and friends. You really can go home again. 6. It’s a resting place: When all is said and done, I know I’ve a place where my ashes will be spread out in God’s country.

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