Among the crowded streets emerges a significant peace. I saw a bell tower in the distance from the entrance of my hotel. Eroded and abandoned, this bell tower boasted the title of “the tallest in the area.” From a Western perspective one would assume that this would be a sacred place, representing one of man’s most sincere offerings to God. However, as much as I wanted it to cultivate all of my hopes, it could not. Surrounded by supermarkets, resteraunts, and shops this bell tower served a purpose that superceded my expectations. It acted as a central point from which the city would spread out. It was a beautiful representation of the integration of faith and the rest of one’s life in the Philippines.
I found myself questioning why in the West, for the most part, our faith symbols and places of worship are not the central points from which all cities emerge. Why are our churches not as physically present for all to see? The Philippines is primarily Catholic, and has been rooted, in most aspects of life, in Catholicism since the Spanish occupation. In contrast, Canada has never had a strong religious rooting. I am beginning to understand more and more that many of the countries in Southeast Asia were and/or are still predominately rooted in religious faiths. It is interesting to see how this influence affects the political affairs of the country. Here in the Philippines there is a bill trying to be passed about reproductive health and education, which includes national access to brith control and abortion. The main opposer of the bill is the Catholic Church because of their strict reservations about birth control, abortion, and sexual education. It will be interesting to see the outcome of this bill because it is one of a few times the Church and State have come in to a serious quarrel over political policy. But for now I exist to learn and understand the reasonings of this culture while attempting to assimilate into it as best I can.
I’m finding more and more that I am being pushed beyond the very limits I had unknowingly placed upon myself before departure. Bucket showers and a steady diet of rice are not something a typical Canadian experiences on a daily basis. Still, this reminds me of the great commission. If I am not willing to go into all the world and push past my own reservations to embrace another’s culture, then how far will God go for me?