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4 November 1984

My immediate impressions upon arrival at Berlin Schénefeld airport, during a taxi drive through the city, and on the train ride to this city, were that the scenery was drab and austere. And the people a bit subdued. These impressions are not entirely wrong. It is not easy to reconstruct an entire nation on socialist foundations. These people have won.

One hope of mine is that the young, especially, do not forget the turmoil and suffering that had to pass, over hundreds of years, until the final tumult of this century, just so they could inherit this—a society of real peace, of genuine human striving.

It is truly remarkable how this nation was rebuilt from the death and ashes of the World Wars, with a conscious advocacy of selflessness, despite the poverty and desperation. They have proven that the human spirit has no limits.

There is much to learn from them.

It is also striking how many people exude a childlike innocence. They have no pretensions, no haughtiness nor vulgarity. They appear simply not to have learned them, Could it be a function, too, of this particular socio-political system; that a real gentleness and unselfishness are deeply inculcated into the character of the people?

It is obvious, though, that a lot of people still find themselves wondering what life is like on the “other side of the fence.” Some are agog over imported goods such as coffee and chocolates, which is frankly a pathetic sight. And I have a feeling they show these off too. But such lapses of human nature are found everywhere.

Does this mean, though, that certain foundations of the personality in the milieu of socialism still require further strengthening, even in this advanced society?

It can be quite amusing how the consumer goods business strives to keep the buying public at a tolerable level of satisfaction, with displays and advertisements ranging almost to the point of inanity. .

Though one is almost tempted to say that a certain flamboyance, albeit superficial, -that one feels at home (in the Philippines, and probably in every “capitalist” society) is lacking here. (The sobriety that pervades the atmosphere can be so palpable.)