It happened during our usual family Sunday get-together at the compound, right after a hefty lunch and dessert of ice cream. Most of the guys had just started to gather near the shade by the gate to cool off with our first tall bottle of cold beer. The women and the kids meanwhile had opted to remain indoors, away from the noonday sun and the heat, content on TV, the usual fam talk, and perhaps more ice cream.
An hour into our tagay session, one of my nephews brought in a foreigner, whom he noticed had been observing us outside the gate and invited him to join us. After the usual introductions, we learned that he was a guest at the budget hotel nearby and had just come by the store near the compound to get beer when he saw us.
Born in Europe but already an American citizen and a 40-year old resident of Atlanta, he admitted to having travelled the world extensively and even to visiting exotic and dangerous places like, Iraq and the Middle East. My query of ‘what brings you here?’ however brought out an unexpected reply.
“Exactly for times like these,” (pointing to all of us gathered in a wide circle). “l love mingling and talking to people, it’s a good way to learn about a place and its culture.” Admittedly being a travel geek myself, I said that this attitude was the best way to discover things about a people, despite the language barrier.
At this, he added, “All one needs is to learn how to say ‘Thank you’ in the dialect and that gets you accepted somewhat.”
He had actually come to Davao to meet up with his fiancee up north. When we informed him that it might be a little dangerous for him to go alone into security-risk areas, he just brushed it aside, by saying “I am really a friendly guy, and my principle is, everyone (even rebels) needs a smiling friend.”
After a few groufies, he was on his way, saying that it was best to leave us to our little family soiree. His words, friendliness and easy-going attitude towards us (and meeting new people as a whole) somehow stayed with us a while and we agreed that it was a great disposition to adopt.
An honest and open heart is a peaceful instrument that can only be met with acceptance. Anything less can be misconstrued as an armament against people you wish to influence and befriend. For me, “even an enemy needs a friend” is a novel tactic when in the presence of an opposite mind. Peace, brother, may your tribe increase.