“World Without Strangers”

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Cheung Chau street on ordinary days.

           You buy Giordano clothes in Hong Kong, a usual stuff for pasalubong, in addition to “I heart HK” shirts. Giordano made popular the statement “A World Without Strangers” lately which probably what I would be wearing to make several new chums out of strangers. Big hopes for a shirt. The slogan came out strong as a reminder that I am both a tourist and a fellow participant in HK’s life. The Filipinas working there as domestic helps know exactly what that means.

When you cease to be an observer, you cease to be a tourist. I think this begins to sink in when you already situate yourself within a certain social stratum. Your mind and ways adapt to the society you happen to be in.

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Cheung Chau village during last June’s festival.

Culture has an alienating factor. You don’t feel a stranger to a strange land, say being in a desert or on top of Mount Arayat for the first time. What gives you that unmistakable feeling of alienation is the strangeness of the people: their ways, language, rituals, food, skin color, the way they talk to a child and so on. But that is just the other side of a boat (a coin is so two sided, you see). We must not forget too that we receive the feeling of being at home in culture. Culture is a principle of alienation and at the same time that also “by” which we feel at home.

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