Yes I’m back, and for those wondering I have recently been sent out of Libya for my safety which is why I have once again access to the internet. For a bit of an update, I was stuck in the house for a about two weeks without any web access, because as many of you know by now it was cut off when the unrest began. The following post is an entry I wrote around the end of February, I was still kind of hoping the net will come back soon, so I wrote something down just in case.
But before you go on reading I have to emphasize a disclaimer. The views written on this post and this blog are mine alone and are not shared or represented by my husband or the Philippine Embassy in any way.
Written February 27, 2011 while still in Libya during the unrest:
As I write this entry, I am sitting in our room waiting. I have been back in Libya a week now from our month long vacation, and some things have not changed. As before, I am still stuck in the house, unable to, as much as I want to, explore and get to know the place I have considered home for the past year and half.
The difference now, is that reason I am unable to go out is that as you may all know by now, Libya is currently going through a crisis. Before we returned I promised myself that I will no longer make myself a stranger to Libya. That I will get out more, and get to know the city, its people and its culture. I was so determined I finally bought (according to the pack) a very effective Arabic tutorial on CD. But just as our luck, we return from vacation a day before things got bad. When we left about a month ago, the unrest in Tunisia was just beginning and by the time we were scheduled to return, Egypt’s President was toppled by its masses. On numerous occasions I asked JG if he thought Libya will follow suit, and as always, he shrugs and says that he really can’t tell.
If you asked me if I saw it coming, to be honest my answer would’ve been no. I always thought that the locals were if not firmly supportive of their Leader, was at least contented to live their life in peace. I even remember reading an article that says something like that one time, I forgot where, a man was interviewed by a paper and was asked if he was happy with the way Ghaddafi was running their country, and as I’ve said, he replied that as long as he is left to live his life, he is happy. Also, I thought that everyone was collectively happy with their leader because he did actually lead them out of their monarchy more than 40 years ago. I was here when they celebrated the 4oth anniversary of that revolution and saw on their local channel how people danced on the main city’s streets. And lastly, I had thought that the Libyans were happy to be moving forward, after being under sanction for years. Everywhere buildings are being built, more western shops and brands were being opened especially along Gargaresh. I also remember one time someone was telling me that in Libya everything is cheaper because everything is subsidized, for example bakery’s sell bread here so cheap because the government already pays for the owner’s profits that he practically gives his pastries away.
But honestly, from someone who grew up in a democratic way of life, it was all still a bit weird to me how the Libyans can put the welfare and future of their country in the hands of just one man, and his family. I stopped myself from wondering because my impression basically was that the locals were happy enough, why else would they let Ghadaffi stay as long as he did? Besides I was merely an outsider, but visiting, I have no right to meddle in their country’s affairs. But as it turns out, the Libyans are not happy, at least not all of them.
This is not the first time they have surprised me, when I got here I thought the men were a bit too friendly, and the women were a bit too brooding. Whenever I’d be walking by the men would follow with stare as if they have never seen someone like me before, and the women would always seem to frown whenever they’d pass by me on the road, also as if contemplating where had I come from. But over the months when I got to know some of them, I learn that they are very warm, kind, happy people. Some of the things I notice are that Libyans and Filipinos have numerous things in common; their love of family and their deep rooted faith that is greatly part of their daily life and culture. Even in some of the areas that ought to be improved; like Filipinos, Libyans are almost never on time. Which is why I cannot help but feel sad for them, how they have to endure all this, I have been stuck in the house for only a week afraid that it might not be safe outside and already the frustration of living in fear and all this tension is so overwhelming sometimes I cannot help but cry, and yet I can always go; but the locals will have to weather this through, because unlike me this is their home and they have no other place to be in.
Despite being stuck in this country’s unrest, I still consider myself lucky. In the past week my neighborhood has been quiet so far, aside from some helicopters passing by; I am spared of the reported violence we all see in the news. I used to envy friends and Filipinos I know who are living in the city because they are closer to where the Medina is, and all the great bargain shops and great places to eat and spend the day in. But now it seems that they are unfortunate to have to have been living there. My landlord assures me that we are safe; his sister explains that all those things are happening only in the city, and his nephew found it a bit funny when I told him that I was almost got scared out of my wits when I mistook kids playing with firecrackers for gunshots. I want to believe them I do, but who can really tell what will happen?
JG is busy evacuating our Kababayans (countrymen), like all the other countries, they are making sure none of us will get hurt during all this and that we get out safely. As I am writing this entry I am waiting, waiting for word that it is time to leave my temporary home away from home for now. We have prepared bags just in case, but most of our stuff will have to be left behind. Since I do not know when I will be back, or if there is a possibility that I will be back, I feel bad for my books, for the bed I have come to be so familiar with, I feel bad for all those foreigners who had to flee (especially those who are still stuck in the border, where a massive exodus is taking place),but mostly I feel bad that I will have to leave Libya so abruptly when I haven’t had the chance to get to know its people and its culture even more.
For now I will continue to pray for the speedy resolution of this crisis Libya is facing, most especially for the safety of its people; so that I can come back and finally get to know it better.
I still have a lot to share, but mostly about some of the things I observed. I however have to make note that if you are looking for stories of violence or traumatic experiences I am afraid you will be disappointed. Like I mentioned in the post, I was lucky to be in an area where it was quiet and generally safe, if you have been following the news what you hear and see there are the same things that I heard.
I am safer now, but would really like to come back when it is safer or when things get back to some normalcy. For one thing, I left a lot of my beloved books, but I am optimistic, very much hopefully when things get better for Libya.
For the next few days I will make up for lost time and possibly post two or more each day, like I said more on my experience while in Tripoli and for some refreshing new perspective, the ones on our trips in the Philippines.