THE name of Aang San Suu Kyi, the Nobel prize winner and politician, is reminiscent of “Angsan” – our local expression to remind us not to veer away from what is acceptable.
This is closely similar to “Inayan sa” or “ululay sa” – our indigenous people’s expected wisdom to know what is right from wrong, what is morally tolerable and what is not, even without the written laws. Aang San Suu Kyi’s silence to the atrocities against the Rohingya people, however, proves a stark contrast to our culture of "angsan" which demands moral responsibility to speak out against injustice and oppression. Lest we become like Aang San who will be judged unkindly by history, we speak. Lest the spirit of "angsan" and "inayan" curse our breath and blood for not raising our voice when we were given much, we speak.
It is a challenge to convince our friends (even our teachers) that the world does not revolve around polarizing extremes of being for the administration, or for the opposition. When we dissent and criticize, it does not mean that we are already "dilawans." We only speak out because there is a need for such. And the living are the only ones who can speak for the dead. It is simple really; as citizens, we give credit to a job well done, and we react against abuses and injustices, regardless of position or politics. We speak because silence amidst cruelties is "Angsan": that is not right.
People ask my opinion about tourism and violence, “How do you promote our country with all the bad news?” “Will it be morally acceptable to paint rainbows to cover terrorism and killings?” “Is your work even relevant today?” Contrary to common perception, most tourism officers are not shallow people whose only job is to promote a place. Because they travel often and interact with different people, they can form well-balanced and substantial opinion on various topics – arts, culture, economics, trade, and yes, even politics and current events. For tourism, the negativity surrounding our country today may only be purged by simply being human. Humans with a conscience like that culture of ‘angsan’: Violence is angsan: it is not right. Abuses are angsan: they are not right. Disrespect for the rule of law and basic concepts of justice and human rights is angsan: it is not right.
I miss the office work. So much for being confined at home on a sabbatical while the mind eagerly wanders to the year-end projects and plans we owe. Though not yet final, the 2nd La Trinidad Tourism Conference will be held on December, hopefully at Mt. Kalugong (we really plan to hold the yearly conferences on the different tourist spots so that it will promote the sites further). It would be the last 2017 event in La Trinidad, after the Benguet Adivay on November. The target participants would include all interested town tourism stakeholders (or even those who simply care about their home, La Trinidad). This will be a "first" hence, I’m anxious – but just imagine this; a great meeting on top of the mountain, a pig butchered for lunch, an afternoon coffee and tour, music, bonfire and story-telling. Too much work. But hey, it should be worth it. After all, tourism is really about the memorable human experiences.
Published in the SunStar Baguio newspaper on September 19, 2017.
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