It’s been a while since I last wrote, and so much has happened. I spent almost the entire month on January in the Visayas with the parents, which was amazing. I was not expecting to miss them as much as I found I did; it was so refreshing to be around people who know me and my history and to not have the burden of the properness of Filipino society. Moreover, being with them allowed me to connect to Antique and Iloilo in a way that was not possible when I traveled there without them. But that’s a story I will reflect on at a later time.

As I write this I am in Belgrade, Serbia, attending a CANVAS training. I am to become a trainer teaching people skills necessary for successful nonviolent struggle. Again, I am facing the same insecurities. The trainers are meant to be veterans of successful nonviolent struggle. There are amazing people here, the Canvas core are basically the people who organized the toppling of Milosevic; there are organizers from the Rose Revolution, the Cedar Revolution, the anti-apartheid movement and the anti-Pinochet movement.

I, on the other hand have not been directly involved in a successful movement. I suppose, though, that I am a member of the post-Marcos struggle. I was not part of EDSA I or even II for that matter, but I am the result of them and I continue the greater struggle that those events failed to achieve. Well, I suppose for now that justifies my participation here.

Thus, as our struggle continues, I find myself taking the mindset of a student, trying to understand how to bring the ideas to our struggle in the Philippines. Who am I to teach others?

As I sit here doubting myself, knowing that certain other people in our part here doubt me as well, I remember that the Canvas organizers themselves know my history, my lack of experience, or perhaps I should put it as they know the experience I do have. Yet, they still insisted I come. Perhaps there is something they see in me.

Today was our first day of sharing and I am incredibly excited to begin the curriculum. Our introduction to Belgrade has been amazing…in the less than 48 hours I’ve been here I can say that I love this country! I have completely been over-consuming milk and cheese and hard homemade bread – those very European things that I loved in New York that are hard to come by in the Philippines that are in abundance here. And I love how I am now the smallest person around! After living in the Philippines where I am bigger than most girls, where for the first time in my life I was called fat, everyone here calls me the tiny Filipino. Oh, and did I mention that they sell beer in plastic litres! Like soda!

Serbs are huge partyers, perhaps even more so that Filipinos. We partied till 3 am last night, then I woke up at 6:30 earlier to work out before breakfast. After not sleeping well Tuesday night or Wednesday night, not sleeping at all on Thursday night to go to the airport at 3AM Friday morning, I have no idea how I’m surviving, but I feel great. Reverse jet lag?

I had a ridiculous amount of really good wine last night, and I find that I really like Serbian music! The Middle Easter/African influence is very much felt in the minor keys and syncopation, every time a song started last night I would say to myself, “hey, that’s a cumbia beat,” or “hey, that’s a salsa beat.” As ethnomusicology, how I miss thee. I think it’s time for me to JSTOR.

So just call me Ceca (pronounced Tzetza)๐Ÿ˜€