Walkies

Today I took my dog Charlie out for a walk. It’s the first time in a while that I really took her out on a leash to walk around where I live. She’s three years old now, but all this time we never made walking a habit, so I thought I would take her out and see if she likes it.

Initially she seemed apprehensive, but still game. She shied away from her harness when she realized I was trying to put it on her—strange, considering most dogs poop themselves upon hearing “walk.” But when I did get it on her, there was a hop in her step and she seemed very glad to know that we were going to take a stroll around the subdivision. It was so nice to see her walk with gradually increasing confidence as well. She seemed really happy to be out and about, which was nice. She got to walk around a bigger place than normal, got to see new houses and smell new smells, hear new sounds.

The walk was good for me as well. Exercise and I don’t have a good relationship because I have extremely weak cardiovascular endurance, and even the smallest amount of physical activity makes me feel like like my heart is going to burst out of my chest. I am also basically incapable of sweating, so all the heat gets retained in my body, which leads to episodes where I lose my vision and hearing. And consciousness. That didn’t happen today though. I like the pace of walking, and I quite like that I felt like I was training my heart to gradually quicken without overworking it. I definitely think this is one small step towards #Fit2016, and I am so glad to have found my footing in it. I am also looking to try yoga this year, and maybe if this walking thing improves my heart greatly, then I can move on to running.

Aside from the physical aspect of walking, I found that I had quite a lot of time to reflect and really think about things. When I was younger I thought of myself as a philosophical person. Granted, I was probably pretty pretentious, but my thoughts and ideas then were much bigger than they are now, and I desperately want to move back into a time where I felt my mind was a goldmine for good ideas (enough to merit “brainrose,” at least). A while ago’s walk really gave me time to get lost in my mind—to ride my trains of thought to the uncharted territories they ventured into, and I loved it. So definitely I found walking to be intellectually stimulating, too, which is plus points for it in favor of being a staple in my daily routine.

For example: I found myself walking back home around 5:30 PM, which is when mass starts at the community center where I live. It’s near my street so I had to pass the street of the community center. I found myself walking with droves of people, all coming from different streets, different veins of the village. I saw yayas and families walking to the community center and I found myself in the middle of it. It brought to mind one of the dioramas at the Ayala Museum. The museum has a floor wholly dedicated to 60 dioramas that show significant events of Philippine history. My “Rizal and the Emergence of the Philippine Nation” professor Dr. Ambeth Ocampo had asked us, after we’d gone to the museum, which of the dioramas was the most useless. Was it the one of EDSA? Was it the one of Rizal’s execution? Was it the one of Rizal sitting in his room, writing the Noli?

No, it was the one of droves of people walking to church on a Sunday. One whole diorama of people—regular people who aren’t historical figures—just walking to church. Ayala Museum had deemed this among the top 60 significant events of Philippine history (which the Gomburza executions were not, apparently).

Obviously Filipinos have always been religious and very, very Catholic since the Spanish came and colonized us. It’s just nice to see that what was a regular cultural staple during the colonial period is still very much a regular cultural staple now. When he was touring me around Bulacan (a trip I’ll talk about another day), Benjamin mentioned that if you look at provincial towns, you’ll notice that the church is always the center of the town. All urban planning revolves around it. The plaza is near it. Casas—old colonial Filipino houses, where the affluent lived—were near the church. If you were in a province and you see casas, you can be sure that there is a church in the immediate vicinity.

Considering all the sociological, cultural, and political differences between then and now, it’s interesting to see the same scene still. I live in a gated subdivision where residents are supposed to be out-of-touch with their Filipino identities, because, well, that’s how the Filipino middle-/upperclass goes now. And yet they cannot escape the influence of the fabric of Filipino history.

Yet, there was still a vast difference between the way my neighbors and average Filipinos, then and now, practice religion. They’re all walking to church, but the churches are different. The walks are different. The people, the stories are different, and there’s a lot of spacial politics at play here. (My “History of Political Theory” professor once took us around Manila to look at different churches and write papers on the politics of space for each of those churches, an exercise I found incredibly effective. I find myself thinking back to this time a lot.) Religion: Supposed to be the great equalizer, but really just an indicator of a very vast divide.

And all of that I was thinking during my half-hour walk! It was invigorating, and I’m so glad to add this to my routine.

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