THE most merciful thing in the world... is the inability of the human mind to correlate all its contents. We live on a placid island of ignorance in the midst of black seas of infinity, and it was not meant that we should voyage far.
--H.P. Lovecraft, “The Call of Cthulhu” (1926)
A resident alien is a foreign person who is a permanent resident of the country in which he or she resides, but does not have citizenship.
In the United States, people are classified as a resident alien if they have been there for more than 31 days during the current year, or having at least been there for 183 days over a three-year period, including the current year.
Filipinos and other foreigners in the USA are resident aliens in that country for tax purposes.
A resident alien comes in many shapes and experience actually. He or she is a foreigner, a citizen of another country, an exile. A resident alien lives in a world that is not his or her homeland, is living under foreign rule, a sojourner in another place awaiting true citizenship.
People call themselves citizens of the country they were born and reside in for convenience and political reasons. Imagine the kind of life I would have as an exile in my own country or in a foreign land. It certainly is not desirable.
I am brought to this brooding about being a resident alien in my country once more by an old man, a fellow participant in the recently concluded 2nd Philippine Coffee Congress.
Visiting the coffee demo farm of the Benguet State University (BSU) in La Trinidad, Benguet on the third and last day of this national event he was surprised to see coffee shrubs thriving and farmed under the pine stands.
I am a vegetable farmer in these mountains all my life but I did not realize we can commercially grow coffee like it is done here, he remarked.
The BSU coffee demo farm has been providing local farmers, information and knowledge on growing or intercropping coffee, vegetables and fruit trees under pine trees. This kind of agroforestry technology maximizes limited land area in rugged mountainscapes for agricultural production, livelihood and conservation of precious natural resources like pine.
Farmers are model citizens who are looked upon as stewards of the local resources in their places of abodes. It means they know and understand the potentials of farming in their home places. They continuously study and employ appropriate resource stewardship principles and practices in their livelihood pursuits. Such a pre-occupation seeks balance in their livelihood activities with nature to sustain quality existence.
I reckon the farmer and the people in his community suffer from the continued devastation of the land: the loss of the watersheds and wildlife, degradation and erosion of the soil, loss of biodiversity, drying of creeks and rivers in our mountains. I wonder if he feels like a resident alien now in his own homeland as he is confronted with a situation and sad reality that indicate where he is to current-day survival. Does it have a center, coherence or wholeness? It is homelessness or rootlessness actually.
It is a lonely feeling when you do not have a base to come home to, when you are physically present in a place and yet absent. You reside there with a yearning to belong, but the reality is you are an alien, drawn to passivity, cynicism, or merely skeptical about life which seems meaningless or absurd.
I lived with this feeling since we left our ancestral home early in my youth. My psyche remained in that Eden, my mind sustaining its fading norms and traditions until this time. In this manner and direction, I became a resident alien to the present and its citizens. There is yet another experience and expression to this feeling, characterized by an uneasiness and uncertainty about the future in a deteriorating body that lives in an economy based on product (goods and services) sale and production.
“Dis-ease” and death, emphatic end-concepts in a materialistic world highlight our limited knowledge and understanding of fractal human existence that is played out in the terrible emptiness of time in any country space.
You will always find a place and time in which you do not truly belong, mine is the earth that we made in its present form. The best way to live in such a place, as the missionaries of old has done, was to seek out, create and live a tradition or order of their own.