Saturday, July 11, 2009
Stray dogs and cats of the Philippines
I just returned to Minnesota the other night from visiting my mom in the Philippines. I was supposed to bring her back to the States with me. Unfortunately she couldn't return with me as she was too weak to make the long trek from the other end of the world ... she's 81 years old and continues to hold hope that she will get stronger and can still make it back to the States for her last visit here. I admire her for her hope and continued optimism.
It had been almost 6 years since I had last been to the Philippines. For the past 3 years I have been devoting so much of my time and giving so much of my heart to animal rescue work here in Minnesota. Consequently, I was especially moved by the number of stray dogs and cats in the Philippines. I returned this past month to the Philippines with a new set of lens - a new perspective - as not only did the poverty on humans there touch me, but the plight of animals who are even lower on the totem pole. I was touched by my mom (who has never been a huge animal lover) who leaves left over food out for the stray cats. Tuesdays are trash day pick up in her subdivision ... the dogs and cats know it and they were all out that morning scrounging through trash.
It's hard to witness such poverty ... both for humans and animals. Yet, if there is one thing that really moved me it was the warmth, kindness and the spirit of giving I felt from those whom we in the U.S. would say had "nothing", at least from a material perspective. I could sense gratitude. I was also struck by the strong and wide division of those with wealth and those in extreme poverty. That was also the case when I lived back home in Thailand where I grew up. I realized how far removed I've become from my roots since i've been living in the U.S. for the past 28 or so years.
Home ... a large part of me feels like Minnesota and the United States is home. After recently returning from an 18 hour trek from across the world, I'm realizing that home for me is also 10,000 miles away.
I captured photos of stray dogs and cats in the Philippines. I work tirelessly here in Minnesota on behalf of abandoned, abused and neglected dogs and cats. I also captured images of poverty and overpopulation. I return to the States with gratitude for the life I have here. I don't think I've ever really taken it for granted, but a trip back home to the Philippines, is the best medicine one could have for humility and gratitude.
To view more photos of stray dogs and cats click here.