That's my new name. It is a custom here in the Igorot culture to have a Christian name and an Igorot or indigenous name. My new name was ordained upon a misty mountaintop.
Through my mandala making project here, I am meeting folks from every level of this incredibly remote community. The other day I joined an expedition to the summit of the local mountain. On a grassy knoll near the top, the surrounding mountains peaking through a white carpet of clouds around us, Sasaweg, our guide, turned around and gave me the name. Once we got back below to the village, the word spread. Now I hear kids using the name in the streets.
I am told the name is of a warrior ancestor. He was known for his beauty and strength. The name essentially means "Beautiful Man".
I am in awe at the honor! Back when I lived in Paris, I was just a normal guy walking the streets. My lover, a striking blond, got all the attention. Growing up, I never really considered myself "beautiful".
Everyone should spend a stint living in a community of a starkly different ethnicity. It's a fantastic experience that cuts through the massively contrived bull-shit marketing that spawns so many insecurities. It is an experience to remind one that we humans are beautiful creatures!
Here, I am as much enchanted by their smooth dark skin and jet black hair as they by my white skin and curly hair. I find them all fantastically beautiful. My goodness, the women wouldn't be single for a second back in Europe or America!
And, I am beautiful to them. We are all beautiful!
Yesterday, during a town volleyball game, the mayor, who knew I played, talked to the referee and team captains and they invited me to join. Volleyball is their big sport here, so it was an honor and a crazy challenge to be invited on. These guys were good-- running plays and positions. And, they had already been playing a whole set when I joined on the court, completely cold! Volleyball however is one of my favorite sports-- there was no way I would miss the opportunity.
However, I was wearing a sweater when I came down from the stands. I had a t-shirt in my bag, but there was no where to change. So, I stripped off my shirt quickly and... The whole crowd cheered! Wow. That's never ever happened to me before!
I am Chewog. I am beautiful!