If there is one thing that stayed with me long after my trip to Germany was the way the people made me feel that embracing their past means owning up every part of their history. There was no evasion; at least from the people that I have been privileged to have long conversations with. There was no effort to evade the topic or consider it taboo: the killing of the Jews under Nazi rule.
I think this is a beautiful reminder of how the human soul is capable of owning the sins of the past and from there, self-acceptance and forgiveness. As I disembarked from the Lufthansa Airlines plane (I must say that it was a pleasurable ride despite the long hours), I did not know what to expect but I carried with me a resoluteness to capture what my lens could get in that brief visit, wary only of the very tight schedule and the possibility that I would be taking most pictures from the buses and trains that our group was taking while we travel from one place to another. I was there as part of an Asian media delegation that was invited by the German government for an informational tour and attendance to the International Conference for Renewable Energies held in Bonn.
Luckily, I was able to take pictures but at first, I was not too sure how they would come up. It was not very sunny on most days (it was still the last days of Spring when we arrived but the weather was still very unpredictable) and the beauty of black & white photography depended so much on the stark contrasts that only a good sun can provide.
It was also difficult to know how those photos from the buses and trains would look like. So I was nervous when I went to the photo shop where I had my films processed. When I got the contact prints, I was relieved. I had good shots that show the soul of Germany, and perhaps, even a bit of mine as I tried to focus my eyes and mind on the learnings that I encountered each day.
Germany is a beautiful country. It is alive. It is an abstract painting waiting to be understood. It is a poem. There is vibrancy. Serenity. Confusions. Order. And I enjoyed each step I made, confident that I am embarking on a journey towards understanding the past, the world and my present more. The Berlin Wall echoed hopes and aspirations. The house of the great literary genius Goethe embraced me like a long-lost daughter or it must be that I find so much solace in old houses and books that smell of the past.
The cobbled-stones streets of Weimer reminded me of our Old Intramuros, and they warmed my heart as I saw young and old couples walking hand-in-hand, sometimes with their beautiful dogs. In Cologne (Koln), I saw the majestic Dome Cathedral and it simply took my breath away! The grandeur was mesmerizing.
And oh, the City of Bonn. The House of Beethoven there was a source of fascination. Imagine seeing the pianos that this great musician used! Bonn intrigued me as a city caught between the past and the present. In its quiet and unassuming confidence, I found reassurance.
And how else would I forget the friendships forged among my fellow writers and journalists who all come from Asia? Mostly from tropical countries, it took a while for us to adjust to the very cold temperature! But there were fun and laughters, political and not so-political discussions, dissecting of cultural intricacies, dancing, learning together….it was one of the best trips of my life. These photos that I took carried with them the history, messages, longings, mystery and hope of the German people.
In my heart, there is only that desire to connect to these people who have somehow made me feel very welcome. Among those that I truly found very special is Ingrid Fischer. She glides through the streets of Weimer in a wheelchair but you will never really feel it because her strength strikes you as very reassuring. That everything in this world is ok.
This is not a paid blog.