Thursday, September 15, 2005

San Francisco

It's freezing although snow does not fall in San Francisco. It's the cold wind meeting the warm ocean breeze that makes fog and turns the wind cold. People make the place warm. They came looking for gold. The Spaniards called California the "golden city" but it was not for the gold. It was because of the golden brown grass on the mountains. Rain rarely comes to San Francisco. Then people found gold and the Chinese came as workers, the Filipinos, then many other Asians. People make the city warm. The Silicon Valley is an hour away. It makes business warm. And the "rebels" made San Francisco famous too -- the hippies started here and the beat generation before them. San Francisco is a big Greenwich Village but it lacks the fast-paced life of New York.

I thought I saw the Golden Gate. I did not. It was another bridge. "The Rock" is here. The cable cars too that go up and down the streets. I saw the cable cars and the buses that run on electricity. I saw Union Square and found out that it was built to remember the "subjection" of Manila by the Americans and the defeat of the Spaniards in the Battle of Manila Bay in 1898. History makes cities. People make history.

The Grand Canyon touched my soul. San Francisco is trying to win my heart. City Lights Booksellers and Publishing grabbed me. I tried to escape but the books on the shelves and the autographed posters on the walls held me. There was no escaping the Beat artists. They bit my soul.

Journeys never end. They only start. I realized that the place where one goes doesn't really matter at all. What matters is how one looks at experience and how experience touches back one's life. My American journey has just started. It will continue even when I will be home. I have no plan of embracing America as a home. I plan to understand America as an experience that teaches me to love my country and to treasure our little hut in the province, the coconut trees around our hut, the rice fields, the sea breeze, the cemetery behind our house and my friends who were not able to go to school and could not read this blog because they have no access to the internet. They don't even know what internet is. They haven't even seen a computer.

I will treasure my days here in America, the good people I met, the stories they shared, the food I ate, the miles I walked. But I will never exchange my little hometown with San Francisco despite the books and the universities, despite the food and the music. I will not leave my heart in San Francisco. It thrives in the cruelty of life in my little hometown, there in the faraway place I call home, where dreams make us forever alive.


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