on walking

walking is incredibly liberating.

to do without the metallic chunks of a vehicle, of keys, coins, gas, and grease, and to do with just your own body. with just your own two legs, each foot touching the ground beneath, moving you forward.

vancouver taught me to walk, very far to get to places. it was usually a stroll, hardly unpleasant. with bags of books and groceries, or on winding foot paths through a forest, or skipping along the city streets under the rain. those walks were not always solitary; often it would be a walk holding mahal‘s hand in mine. or with a large crowd chanting, parading, marching together through closed streets. i think these walks gave us all a joy, a strange euphoria, knowing that we could go far and that we could do much with nothing much really, but just by being on foot.

manila too is teaching me to walk. in the lack of well constructed sidewalks, it is a game of balancing over cracked cement, strewn debris and garbage; the pedestrian needs to find one’s way through squatting vendors, rusting fences, and past other rushing bodies. every step my feet take is a moment of awakening –even to the passing smell of piss, the sudden belch of smog, or to the sight of campaign posters melting over crumbling walls. it is hardly a stroll here, but walking has become ever more my practice on staying present. on foot you awaken to realities alive all around you.

maglakad, maglakad… caminando, caminando…


“La utopía está en el horizonte. Me acerco dos pasos, ella se aleja dos pasos más. Camino diez pasos y el horizonte se corre diez pasos más allá. Por mucho que yo camine nunca la voy a alcanzar. ¿Para qué sirve la utopía? Sirve para eso: para caminar.”

“Utopia lies in the horizon. When I draw two steps near her, she retreats two steps away. If I walk ten steps forward, she swiftly slips ten steps ahead. No matter how much I walk, I can never reach her. What, then, is the purpose of utopia? So we keep walking.” — Eduardo Galeano

walking is a practice.

at maintaining presence, of moving, to keep moving, with intention and in wakefulness. one cannot walk not knowing where s/he’s headed; but even if it seems that another, better world is not anywhere nearer, the steps one takes are just as real. also beautiful.

Imageonce a man whom his students call Thay (or teacher) also taught me how to walk. he lived in vietnam during the great war, fully awake to all the tremendous pains inflicted on his land and people. he was nominated by dr martin luther king for the nobel peace prize, for his courageous heart that spoke against the war. today an old teacher, he continues to walk –one foot, and the next, one at a time– with all those who wish to walk too. to heal, including the earth beneath our feet.

the right to dream

i remember watching this with papi, our heads huddled over a handheld screen, ears straining to hear eduardo galeano’s voice. our eyes moistened as we listened on to a voice we very well recognised — truly unafraid and of brilliant passion. a 60-year old salvadoreño, a 24-year old filipina. our hearts pounded, glowed and sighed. we understood the same truth.

¿Qué tal si deliramos por un ratito?
Shall we be delirious for a moment?

¿Qué tal si clavamos los ojos más allá de la infamia para adivinar otro mundo posible?
What if we fix our eyes beyond infamy, in order to divine another possible world?

El aire estará limpio de todo veneno que no provenga de los miedos humanos y de las humanas pasiones.
The air will be clean from all the poisons that do not originate from human fears and human passions.

En las calles los automóviles serán aplastados por los perros.
In the streets the automobiles will be run over by the dogs.

La gente no será manejada por el automóvil, ni será programada por el ordenador, ni será comprada por el supermercado, ni será tampoco mirada por el televisor.
People will not be driven by the car, nor will they be programmed by the computer, nor will they be bought by the supermarket, nor will they be watched by the television.

El televisor dejará de ser el miembro más importante de la familia y será tratado como la plancha o el lavarropas.
The television will no longer be the most important member of the family, and instead will be treated just like the iron or the washing machine.

Se incorporará a los códigos penales el delito de estupidez que cometen quienes viven por tener o por ganar, en vez de vivir por vivir no más,
The ‘crime of stupidity’ will be added to the penal codes for those who live to have or to gain, instead of living just to live and nothing more,

como canta el pájaro sin saber que canta y como juega el niño sin saber que juega.
like the bird who sings without knowing what it sings, and like the child who plays without knowing what it plays.

En ningún país irán presos los muchachos que se nieguen a cumplir el servicio militar sino los que quieran cumplirlo.
In no country will young men go to prison for refusing to serve in the military, but rather, for wanting to serve in the military.

Nadie vivirá para trabajar pero todos trabajaremos para vivir.
Nobody will live to work, but all of us will work to live.

Los economistas no llamarán nivel de vida al nivel de consumo, ni llamarán calidad de vida a la cantidad de cosas.
Economists will not define the level of development with the level of consumption, nor will they define the quality of life as the quantity of stuff.

Los cocineros no creerán que a las langostas les encanta que las hiervan vivas.
Cooks will not believe that lobsters just love to be boiled alive.

Los historiadores no creerán que a los países les encanta ser invadidos.
Historians will not believe that countries simply love to be invaded.

Los políticos no creerán que a los pobres les encanta comer promesas. Politicians will not believe that the poor simply enjoy eating promises.

La solemnidad se dejará de creer que es una virtud, y nadie nadie tomará en serio a nadie que no sea capaz de tomarse el pelo.
Seriousness will no longer be considered a virtue, and no one will take anyone seriously if they cannot laugh at themselves.

La muerte y el dinero perderán sus mágicos poderes y ni por defunción ni por fortuna se convertirá el canalla en virtuoso caballero.
Death and money will lose their magical powers, and neither by death nor by fortune will a coward be turned into a heroic gentleman.

La comida no será una mercancía ni la comunicación un negocio, porque la comida y la comunicación son derechos humanos.
Food will not be a merchandise, and communication will not be a business, because food and communication are human rights.

Nadie morirá de hambre porque nadie morirá de indigestión.
No one will die of hunger because no one will die of indigestion.

Los niños de la calle no serán tratados como si fueran basura porque no habrá niños de la calle.
Street kids will not be treated like garbage because there will be no street kids.

Los niños ricos no serán tratados como si fueran dinero porque no habrá niños ricos.
Rich kids will not be treated like money because there will be no rich kids.

La educación no será el privilegio de quienes puedan pagarla y la policía no será la maldición de quienes no puedan comprarla.
Education will not be the privilege of those who can pay, and the police will not be a curse for those who cannot buy them.

La justicia y la libertad, hermanas siamesas, condenadas a vivir separadas, volverán a juntarse, bien pegaditas, espalda contra espalda.
Justice and Liberty, Siamese twins, once condemned to live apart, will be reunited, so close together, back to back.

En Argentina las locas de Plaza de Mayo serán un ejemplo de salud mental porque ellas se negaron a olvidar en los tiempos de la amnesia obligatoria.
In Argentina, the crazy women of the Plaza de Mayo will be exemplars of mental health because they refused to forget in times of obligatory amnesia.

La Santa Madre Iglesia corregirá algunas erratas de las tablas de Moisés y el sexto mandamiento ordenará festejar el cuerpo.
The Holy Church will correct some mistakes on the tablets of Moses, and the sixth commandment will order us to celebrate our bodies.

La Iglesia también dictará otro mandamiento que se le había olvidado a Dios, “amarás a la Naturaleza de la que formas parte”.
The Church will also dictate another commandment that God had forgotten, “You will love Mother Nature, of which you are a part of.”

Serán reforestados los desiertos del mundo y los desiertos del alma.
The deserts of the world and the deserts of the soul will be reforested.

Los desesperados serán esperados y los perdidos serán encontrados porque ellos se desesperaron de tanto esperar y ellos se perdieron por tanto buscar.
The desperate will get some rest, and the lost will be found, because they have become restless at being desperate and they have become lost from so much searching.

Seremos compatriotas y contemporáneos de todos los que tengan voluntad de belleza y voluntad de justicia,
We will be compatriots and contemporaries of those who have the will for beauty and justice,

hayan nacido cuando hayan nacido y hayan vivido donde hayan vivido, regardless of where they were born or when they will be born,

sin que importe ni un poquito las fronteras del mapa ni del tiempo. because the borders of maps and time won’t matter a tiny bit.

Seremos imperfectos porque la perfección seguirá siendo el aburrido privilegio de los dioses. We will be imperfect because perfection will continue to be the boring privilege of the gods…

Pero en este mundo, en este mundo chambón y jodido But in this world, in this screwed up and messed up world,

seremos capaces de vivir cada día como si fuera el primero y cada noche como si fuera la última. we will be capable of living each day as if it were our first, and each night as if it were our last.