NUNAVUT – I took up two semesters of academic studies on Anthropology, but I am not an anthropologist. Nonetheless, my fascination to discover, to know, and compare the various societies and culture, and the science of humankind never cease to amaze me.
During my elementary schooling, my late father, a mathematician, was likewise my classroom teacher in world Geography. The allure about the other parts of the world keeps me enthralled that even after class I would engaged my father in conversation at home to tell me more about Antarctica, and the other polar region, the Arctic.
I never heard my late father discouraging me to pursue what I intend to pursue, like travelling to foreign lands and investigate anything that appeals to me.
My father recognizes the free spirit in me—-my love for novelties and adventure. To visit the Arctic and view firsthand the icebergs rising higher than Mount Payaopao, the tallest peak in Tablas Island, was mind staggering when I was young. To visit the Arctic one day is a juvenile wish.
But in uncanny ways, personal circumstances and confluence of events do conspire for the wish to materialize. When our kids completed Grade 12 schooling, my spouse and I assessed other options and considered venturing into another level of undertaking. She, in pursuance of her professional career as an Accountant would explore the North, either the Yukon or Yellowknife. In my case, I’ll return to the old homeland and pursue corporate agriculture by commercially cultivating cassava for biofuel production.
The momentous decision was evidently right. My wife found her niche that is in line of her field of interest. Paradoxically, owing to the volume of work she is handling, she keeps on refusing to be promoted as Finance Director in the Department of Health & Social Services of the Government of Nunavut—-Canada’s newest Territory.
From my end, after several moons of lobbying the adoption of a national policy to develop cassava as an industry in helping address poverty alleviation of Filipino farmers, I felt a wave of sense of accomplishments. That eventually my labor of five years to tap the lowly crop as source for feeds, food, and feedstock for biofuel production was not in vain. A distillery plant in Negros that process dried cassava chips into ethanol is now operational. The next activity in line is the installation of a biofuel manufacturing facility in Luzon, in partnership with South Korean investors. My negotiation with a Hong Kong based international trader is ongoing. His client in China needs one million metric tons annually of dried chips for various industrial uses.
Rejoining my spouse in the Arctic Region in Summer 2010 (my first visit in Iqaluit was in August 2009), after a month of rest I immersed in learning the culture and the people of the land, the Inuit Way. To my pleasant surprise, going through their history and the dynamics of their family life I discovered their practices is not completely strange the way Filipinos live, or relate with their family.
In particular is the aspect about the virtue of sense of shame and the value of strong sense of family. The Inuit is clannish too that although the family is blended they never distinguish the biological siblings from step ones; unless, they are probed deeper of the relationship. It is nakakahiya to abandon or reject a step sister or step Dad if they are not recognized as real sibling, or parent. It is nakakahiya if an individual causes embarrassment to the rest of the family. My discovery about Inuit life is humbling. To live with them is something I am thankful for. To live among them, my humanity and being a Canadian of Filipino heritage is being affirmed. Just as I am, they too are GOD’s handiwork.