Beheaded Buddhas and Being Asian

Jogjakarta in Indonesia was quite a blast! We spent 4 nights and almost 5 days there mostly in conference with other delegates composed of past winners of the Ramon Magsaysay Awards (a.k.a. the Nobel of Asia). Let me tell you that it is quite exhilarating and inspiring to engage brilliant men and women whose lives are exemplary and whose hearts are in the right place. These RMAF winners exude greatness of spirit which bring to life a world that much better than what we ordinary mortals know it to be.

Before the conference started, we went sight-seeing in Borobudur, a rural place that is home to a majestic temple that is 1,200 years old! You can see Buddhas galore!!

Atop Borubudur temple. Inside the huge bells are sitting Buddhas still intact!

You gotta hand it to our Asean neighbors. Cambodia, Thailand and Indonesia were able to build impressive, lavish monuments hundreds of centuries ago while we have very little to show save for the rice terraces. What was sad though was that so many Buddha statues have been beheaded and presumably sold to treasure hunters. Death to all culture vultures!, I say!!

We were also able to watch a beautiful ballet rendition of the Ramayana epic al fresco! I was able to witness a couple of productions in Cambodia two years ago which were pathetically sophomoric and totally uninspired compared to this one! It’s worth going to Jogjakarta even if just for this.

Ramayana’s fiery end where Sita, the one in the center proves her “purity” to Rama by surviving fire unscathed!!

The cast!

I love visiting places in Asia. It is refreshing to see ourselves in comparison with our neighbors rather than the West which has always been our standard for everything. It is my belief that we stand to learn and probably gain more if we end our fixation with American music, culture, and entertainment and instead direct our interest to the rest of the world particularly our Asian neighbors. Only then will we stop measuring greatness in terms of placing in, say, American Idol or something stupid like this. We will begin to look and accept ourselves as who we really are—brown, talented, Filipino, and able to express ourselves in our own culture and language (as the rest of Asia speaks with their own tongue). The day we do that, we will see the end to whitening creams, western-looking young stars, LA sounding FM programming, and more movies, songs, art, books, essays and blogs in Pilipino! Then perhaps the world will begin to take us more seriously. I can go on and on with this but that’s for another entry!

Meanwhile, as we arrived at the airport yesterday, our daughter Ala was on her way out to go on a safari in Africa with her Lolo, uncles and aunts. In a few days, Lydia and I will be leaving for Europe to join the APO in a concert tour.

This will be quite a traveling month. I will be posting stuff along the way so I hope you keep visiting.