By Christine Moncado

Kasla ak koma kenka o danum a napigsa. Nagayusak agpababa inggana wayawaya. Kitaem kadi kadwa ti danum idiay bantay, nagayos nagpababa inggana idiay baybay… Uray no anya ikastam, uray man no lappedam, mabirukan na latta ti dalan ti waywaya.

(Translated in English) I wish  I were like a river… so strong and mighty, then I shall flow towards freedom. Behold comrade, the waters of the mountain flows down to the sea. No matter what you do, the water will find the path to freedom.

During my trip to Bologna, Italy, a very long rigorous bus ride of about 24 hours riding into the night till dawn crossing borders, stopping on every country to take a break or to put gasoline in the bus.

A very memorable experience happened during this trip. We were on the border of Luxembourg and France when out of nowhere we were flagged by border patrol. During the checking, members of the border patrol checked the passengers one by one, I was so nervous because I was just traveling with my Philippine passport.

They were asking for national identity: Where are you going? What is your reason for visiting the place? How much cash are you carrying? Do you have drugs with you?

When it was my turn, I gave them my passport and they checked it. They just asked three questions: What are you going to do in Milan? Do you have 10,000 euros with you? Or are you carrying drugs with you?

In response, I said I do not have 10,000.00 euros I have only 200 euros and I am not using drugs and I will be staying in Italy for four days..and they said okay and gave back my passport. Maybe the divine providence heard my plea or it was just pure luck.

But some luggage was inspected. There was an interpreter in the group who can speak Arabic, Hindi and other Asian and Mideast languages. This was evident when one Pakistani passenger said he cannot speak French and German but only a little English and suddenly one of the Patrollers started talking in Pakistani.

The trip was delayed for about an hour and thirty minutes. This was one of the longest hours of my life…Hoping against hope and praying deliberately that everything is gonna be alright. I can hear the sound of my beating heart .. pounding so hard against my chest…   a fleeting… feeling of uncertainty.

How I wish that freedom is like water, lucid and fluid. Free to flow where ever it may want to go… But what is the use of the word freedom if it always comes with restraint, compulsion, being hampered, controlled and discriminated.

We only live once, why can we not enjoy the mother earth living without boundaries, without defining each other through the color of the skin and measuring the respect we give to each other based on our financial status, educational attainment, and physical features.

We should be like the water, it does not select the land where it passes through, be it black, red, sandy, clay or loamy.. it just flows and flows freely.. giving life to every plant and living creature that it touches…

Water represents freedom and life. But for a man, he needs the freedom to live.

(Photo credits: Christine Moncado)