Sunday, December 28, 2008


once, while introducing Peace Journalism to a group of campus journalists, i asked the question--

"what five-letter word do we always speak of, hear of, write about, talk about, but can never get enough of?"

of course, the answer was a give-away: "Peace", and the audience almost simultaneously spoke it.

then, i asked--

"how come? if we speak, hear, write, talk about it so much, how come we still don't have it in our midst?"

that took a while answering. and the audience fell silent for a couple of minutes.

then, somebody ventured, "maybe, it's because we don't live it out yet? when we actually live something out, we don't even speak of it anymore?"

i smiled and nodded, and the audience guffawed when i said, "just like sex, no? the people who keep talking about it are the ones who are not having it in their lives, true?"

: )


this makes me wonder now about which is deeper, truer then... the pain that one can speak of and describe in all its gory, gnashing detail--

or the one which renders one wordless?


in the same vein, which is the truer, deeper love then... the love that everyone knows about because one announces its every nuance and development--

or the one which is kept in the silence of one's heart?

Thursday, November 27, 2008


this is what my horoscope said yesterday--

Wednesday, Nov 26th, 2008 -- People more powerful than any you've known will enter your life over the next decade, forcing you to reassess your priorities. This may take a while to notice, but it can begin as you get involved with new social groups or organizations. Not surprisingly, as your friends change, so will your world. Even if you cannot yet fathom what's ahead, just remember to voluntarily let go of the past when it's time. Struggling to hold on to the wrong things can exhaust you when you need your energy for something more important.

and this is what it says today--

Just give yourself the space to dream big because anything is possible. The greatest limitations at this time will arise from within your own mind.

Monday, November 24, 2008

A cosmic explanation for the Obama era

From my free subscription email:

Change is coming, fight it as you may! The expansive, worldly sign of Capricorn welcomes Pluto this week for a 16-year stay, heralding a time of complete global transformation - in economies, structures, and governments.

On a more personal aspect, this is what Pluto (the planet of transformation) in Capricorn (the sign of worldly matters) has for me--

A New Moon in your career zone on Thursday paves the way for a new beginning, especially if you're embarking on a new job. Your first tentative steps will lead to great things. Pluto moves into your social zone on Wednesday, where it will remain until 2024. It's going to transform your social life from the inside out, bringing you new high-powered friends and encouraging you to be practical and realistic about your long-term hopes and dreams. You're going to be in the spotlight whether you want to be or not. Get ready!


Does this explain all the "fame" I've started to experience lately, as a preview and jumpstart of things to come?



For more on Pluto in Capricorn, please click here.

Some points I'd like to highlight about what this astrological transit means, though:

Pluto transits typically include a breakdown phase, where structures that no longer serve us are dismantled to make room for new structures that are more in line with our spiritual evolution. I like to think of these periods as course corrections, where our guides or gods decide that certain changes are required. If we understand the process and can surrender to it with trust, this can be an exhilarating time of transformation and empowerment. If we resist and hold on to the past it can be full of tragedy and pain.

When Pluto goes through Capricorn we can expect the transformation of all things ruled by that sign - such as our religious institutions, halls of government and political structures, the way we inter our dead and take care of our old people, construction techniques and buildings, and how we handle ownership of property.

Pluto will be entering Capricorn for the first time January 25, 2008 and will retrograde back into Sagittarius one final time on June 14. It will journey back into Capricorn on November 26, 2008 and remain there until January 21, 2024. For sixteen years, Pluto will engage in a process of breaking down and then rebuilding the structures on which we depend for a successful experience in the material world.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

8 Ways to Increase Hope

Don't let bad news and depressing outer circumstances get you down. You can still create hope, for your self and for others. To read more, please click here.

1. Be kind to your self. Take "care breaks" as frequently as you need to.

2. Create a daily 5-minute silence ritual to stay connected to your Soul.

3. Curtail your intake of news.

4. Treat each day like a precious gift. Be vigilant in looking for things and people to appreciate. What if today was the last day of your life?

5. Take a break to savor Nature and to remind you of the timeless ways and truths of Life.

6. Express love tangibly.

7. Say this affirmation every day and see where it leads you: "I am the key to Peace."

8. Make a positive difference. Our accumulated gestures of care and compassion will ultimately transform our lives and the lives of others. We are each the source of that transformation.

Saturday, November 22, 2008


My 8-year-old Bea keeps saying lately how she wants to be the first lady President.

of the United States of America.

: ) : ) : )


i'm scheduled to do a volunteer storytelling session with 3-4 year-olds on Monday at the Provincial Library, whose librarian asked me to do so some weeks ago, in celebration of National Book Month.

it's strange how I'm feeling jittery and self-doubting about my ability to engage my audience, when I've been going around the country these past few years training and speaking to even thousands (1,700 has been my biggest audience so far) of older people!

there's something more special, even sacred, with having a session with 3- to 4-year-olds, i guess. they're purer, clearer, more transparent, more honest-- either you jell with them or you don't.

God help and bless me and these children! May our time together be mutually enriching and blessed!

Monday, November 17, 2008

3:44 a.m. thoughts

the kids and i bought a new 8-foot Christmas tree and its matching ornaments of green, gold and copper today. Thea wanted an autumn look.

they put it up and decorated it as i watched.

our trees grew over the years as they grew, from a 3-foot one to a 6-foot one, and now our big and tall, 8-foot majestic tree almost touching the ceiling.

we all beamed joyfully as we ate the fusilli pasta Thea and Bea made earlier, over candlelight (since it was a brownout), and i proclaimed as we admired our "Royal" tree, "first a bigger, more elegant tree, next a bigger, more elegant house!" : )


i miss Papa and Mama.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

"Tight Times" nominated for National Book Awards TWICE!

I am honored to learn that "Tight Times" has been nominated in the Manila Critics Circle's and the National Book Development Board's National Book Awards for books published in 2007 not only once but TWICE-- for children's literature and best design.

To think that among the three stories I submitted for PBBY Salanga 2007 before, I thought "Tight Times" was the "weakest" because it required less effort from me in terms of craft, that it just flowed when written...

Hmmm... come to think of it... so did "Papa's House, Mama's House" (PBBY Salanga 2004 grand prize winner)!


Maybe the writing flowed in these because the effort was in the months and years of actually living them out.

Sunday, November 02, 2008

IPRA memories, Leuven, Belgium (July 15-19, 2008)

Photobucket Album

surrounded by angels

i have 7 kids aged 8 to 15 sleeping in my home.

my 3 treasures--Thea, Paolo and Bea-- had such fun with their cousins at the Greenhills Memorial Park yesterday, they wanted to sleep over at Angkong's and Grandma's mausoleum! in the end, they decided on a happy compromise (as the cemetery had to close by 10pm): sleep over at my home instead.

my place's being the next best thing to Angkong's and Grandma's mausoleum is something i consider a compliment. : ) apparently, the kids feel comfortable with me and trust me enough for their joy and fun.

so, after we got home from the cemetery at past 11pm last night, i proceeded to my own bedroom to sleep, while their evening had just finally started.

as i slept, they had the run of the house, doing as they pleased-- some tinkering on the piano organ, some watching dvd copies of The Simpsons, some chatting on the net, some playing card games, and everyone feasting on the leftover-food-from-the-cemetery-celebration on the table, including the tub of Mahinay native ice cream we brought home with us.

now, the house is quiet as everyone (except for Redd, who hasn't slept yet!) is asleep. : )

as for me, i must've mastered the art of sleeping amidst chaos, as i slept very soundly, peacefully and happily last night.

on second thought, who wouldn't sleep so well, knowing one is surrounded by angels?

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Today's Sharing: Soul and the Alchemy of Crisis

I'm not really in a sharing-my-self mode lately, more on inner-journeying, hibernation mode, but here are some stuff I find beautiful, and which reflect where I'm at right now, too...

We all flow from one fountain—Soul. All are expressions of one love. God does not appear, and flow out, only from narrow chinks and round bored wells here and there in favored races and places, but He flows in grand undivided currents, shoreless and boundless over creeds and forms and all kinds of civilizations and peoples and beasts, saturating all.
-John Muir


In The Alchemy of Crisis, my favorite quotes:

... "How do you live?" Not only survive to save your skin, but how do you survive as a soul? How do you reinvent yourself after catastrophe? How do you handle the really extreme things that life deals you and come through intact—and with curiosity and interest and enthusiasm in your life?

- O -

You have these moments when you snap awake, and you’re in the present. And it happens so rarely that when it does, it feels like almost like an altered state. And you think, "What’s different now?" And what’s different is that my eyes are open and I’m seeing. I’m actually here. These sacred moments are happening all of the time. But we’re in a kind of trance. We’re in a workaday, mundane hallucination of ordinariness. And what you realize is when you touch mortality, where life and death meet, that’s where epiphanies happen. Nothing is ordinary. What could be less ordinary than being alive? On this mysterious planet? It’s extraordinary.

And when you have that experience, it changes how you see. Not permanently, in every minute. You're still screwed up, struggling you, but you have a reference point for something that’s beyond mundane.

- O -

What’s the difference between people who transform in crisis and people who melt?

One of the most important things is being able to imagine yourself in a new way. If you can’t, it’s very hard to come through fire. When mystics talk about ego-death—it’s a very literal experience. It doesn’t feel good. It’s not easy. But you realize you are so much bigger than you thought you were.

Most of us have to be forced, kicking and screaming, to give up our ordinary life, even if we’re not happy. That’s what’s amazing. A lot of people would rather hold on to the hell they know. And those are the people who melt. One guy I spoke to, he was in the hospital for eight months and said he could tell within a couple of minutes whether somebody was going to survive or not—and it had to do with whether they were willing to see themselves in a new way. If they couldn’t, they were doomed.

What conditions have to exist for us to imagine ourselves different?

One is the inability to escape. Because most people will run away from whatever is uncomfortable. The inability to escape is a blessing because it really, truly forces you to be there, grow through that, and then transform.

So transformation isn't about will?

No, no. When you’re going through rapids, often it’s surrender that gets you through. That’s why I called the book "When You’re Falling, Dive," because, if you don’t dive, you do so much more damage to yourself and you don’t go as far because you’re kicking and screaming and holding on to the branches. If you dive, you find that life will take you. And you feel—finally—part of something bigger. When you go through it enough times, you start to trust it.

And I’m a control freak. I'm a type-A personality. Your typical macho, idiot guy. But when you can’t control it over enough years, and find that you’ve been taken consistently places you didn’t expect, you start to believe it. You start to believe you’re really not driving the car.

What did you learn from the people you interviewed?

On thing is that loss or change becomes part of who you are. I can be a little transformation crazy, one to just do a 180. But it’s never 180. There’s residue. There are shadows. There’s something that’s left in you from the loss. And that needs to be blessed.

What else did you learn from them?

That your body has an intelligence, and it’s talking to you. But most of the time we’re too busy blabbering to hear it.

- O -

And when you have walked through whatever your fire is, it connects you to the human condition in a way that you’ve probably spent most of your life avoiding and denying. That’s a huge, wonderful, beautiful thing. It deepens you as a person. It humbles you as a person. It opens your heart. It makes you grateful. We forget to have thanks for the things in our lives. People think it’s corny, but it changes everything.

- O -

So, life isn’t blueberries. And nor would you want a constant diet of blueberries. Often it’s the thing that irks you that pushes you forward. For myself, so many of the things that I thought were the most infuriating have been the things that have made me face my s**t and walk through doors I wouldn’t have wanted to walk through. Almost everything that grows you is stuff you would avoid if you could. That's something people can learn about crisis—that it gives you faith in pain. And that sounds weird, but we automatically think if there’s pain, there’s something wrong, and that is really not true. The impulse might be to fight or flee. But bearing is for me, the real revelation.

You realize everyone has their cross— and what do you do with it? You bear it. It becomes a part of who you are. And then you stop resenting the hardship and see it’s the stuff of your life. It’s the shadows in your life that make your life better. People want it easy—they want "life lite."


Read more here.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

"My One-Boobed Mamma" Debuts!

You can pre-order it now before it gets to Amazon and the major bookstores! ;D

Please click here.

My Probe Team Interview

It's going to be aired tomorrow (Sept. 24, Phil. time) night, at 11:30 p.m., right after Bandila! ;D

For other schedules, channels, countries--

Wednesday, 11:30 PM on ABS-CBN (VHF Channel 2)

Thursday, 4.50 AM on ABS-CBN

Saturday, 5:30 AM on the ABS-CBN News Channel (ANC)

Sunady, 1:30 PM on the ABS-CBN News Channel (ANC)

Wednesday, 11:30 PM on TFC
Wednesday, 7:30 AM on TFC (replay)

Thursday, 9:30 AM on TFC
Saturday, 5:35 PM on TFC (replay)

Friday, 11:55 PM on TFC

Thursday, 8:50 AM on TFC
Friday, 2:55 AM on TFC (replay)

Thursday, 8:40 PM on TFC
Friday, 7:15 AM on TFC (replay)


Do watch and let me know how you find it, please!

Monday, September 15, 2008

Glamor Girl

I had fun being one of the "glamor girls" our colleagues picked to represent our College of Business and Accountancy at the U-Week's first night's show tonight; a welcome light and pleasant change from the usual intellectual focus and challenges I am usually preoccupied-- if not inundated-- with.

We danced to a combination of "Diamonds Are A Girl's Best Friend" (we were assigned a 1950s-60s theme) and "Material Girl" from the Moulin Rouge soundtrack, wearing evening gowns and faux glittery jewelry. I even wore a tiara. : )

I've never really thought of my self as the glamor girl type before; I've always thought I was too big, too tall, too heavy, too fair--compared to the petite, tan Asian-Filipina frame--and too shy and even too plain (the only makeup I wear daily is lipstick, and the only jewelry I wear is a pair of pearl earrings!) to even come close, much less to be considered as a likely Marilyn Monroe type. So, it's also a compliment to be even asked to join in this dance presentation.

I still don't think I'm the Marilyn Monroe type, though. Up to the last minute of our dance practice, it surprised me that some thought I was to be the central attraction as the buxom (buxom?!!! me???) bombshell, acting and lipsynching the part. I thought that was hilarious and I'm still not over it!

In the end, when they saw me come out of the dressing room in my simple long gold gown, with long silk gloves, simple but tasteful jewelry and tiara, they finally agreed on what type I thought I could approximate at least-- Grace Kelly. : )

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

The Forgotten Grievers

When it hits, it hits hard.

I woke up very early (a little after 12 midnight) last Monday, eager to finish computing the last of my Econ. classes' Midterm grades, so I could surprise them that day with not only fully returned papers but also their Midterm grades, the first day after Midterm exams, and not a week or two after, which is the norm.

So when I met my first class at 9:30am, I was fully prepared. I heard one student comment to another that she can't believe I've returned their papers to them and given them their grades so soon, and I was secretly pleased with that.

Then came my 12:30 class, and everything went well, too, and I was so proud of my self for being so efficient.

By then, though, I had already started to feel a throbbing headache, which I just shrugged away as the effect of waking up too early.

By two o'clock, though, just 30 minutes before my next class, I was feeling so dizzy and nauseous I could barely walk straight to the University Clinic. I only thought to have my blood pressure checked but I couldn't even trust my self to still remain solidly seated while they took my blood pressure, that I went straight to the nurse in charge instead, asked for medication and one of the beds to lie down and rest on.

I was promptly assisted and while I lay down there feeling groggy, but needing to inform my 230pm and 330pm class contacts still that I won't be able to meet them that day after all, I still managed to text them. After which, I put my phone on silent mode and proceeded to go to sleep, hoping I could at least sleep off some of the throbbing headache away.

I remember my last thought just before I dozed off, though-- how, if it weren't for B and the hope of being happily together with him someday, as well as the hope of seeing my children grow beautifully into happy people leading meaningful lives, I'd be happy to die right then and there (!). I remember this because it surprised me even as I dozed off.

An hour later, I woke up feeling better but still groggy and feverish now, and promptly went to the car to drive over to the Integrated School area to pick the kids up.

While waiting in the car (they knew it was pick-up time), I suddenly just started to weep, feeling sorry for my self. Even if I wanted to climb into bed right then and there, shut out the rest of the world and just rest and be babied for a change, I couldn't, as I still had responsibilities to attend to like pick up the kids and shop for groceries on the way home, as food stock at home had run out.

The self-pitying mode spiraled and I started thinking of how, even if I have a good life now, I still have to do everything on my own, and how, even if I have a good love with B now, we are not together yet... how unlucky i am, getting to a good place at last but not really there yet,... and so on and so forth. It helped (or didn't help?) that Meryl Streep was belting out "The Winner Takes It All" and "Slipping Through My Fingers" from Mamma Mia in the car stereo.

By the time the kids came around, I had wept enough to manage to wipe my tears off now and present my happy (well, composed, at least) Mommy face to them.

And so, on to the grocery shopping, then the dinner instructions to the housekeeper at home, then the homework with the kids, and finally, getting my much-needed rest in my own bed a few hours later, with the throbbing headache and fever to a high pitch now.

By early morning yesterday, it was a full-blown case of the flu.

And then, I realized, it's not just the flu.

A little email exchange with B made me realize that this is something deeper than just the flu.

Since June, I have been down like 3 or 4 times, when I never even had the flu for the entire year last school year while I was on leave, and even while taking care of Papa and Mama during their last days at the hospitals.

My thoughts since Papa and Mama died have been mainly on how this world does not appeal to me now, how I've lost my taste for things which used to inspire, excite and move me to work and reach for more, how I've even dreaded going on my all-expenses paid travels now, and how I just wanted to stay home, close to the kids and the things I loved, doing only what I truly desired--reading and writing learning how to cook and bake well so I can feed my family and my self well, and taking long walks in Nature...

I used to think that my parents' deaths have blessed me with this acutely clearer sense of who I am and what I essentially just want in my life; I still do. I also used to think that I've been taking my parents' deaths quite well, compared to many, as I have in fact been flourishing and blooming in so many ways, even people tell me so.

What I didn't realize was that in the subterranean depths of my life, I am grieving so deeply, it takes my body to tell me (and to keep telling me) this now.

I surfed for grieving articles late last night (I slept most of the whole day yesterday, so I felt fully awake and alert late at night instead), and yep, a lot of the physical, emotional and even social symptoms are there: dizziness, nausea, heart palpitations, fatigue and weariness, loneliness and sadness, wanting to withdraw from social contacts, even a sense of wanting to die or dying soon...

This one article struck me most, as I just wept and wept, recognizing my self in it even as I read it: "The Peculiar Grief of the Adult Orphan".

Forgotten grievers, disenfranchised grief, orphaned adults, adult orphans, midlife orphans-- they can't even agree on the term yet, but at least, there is recognition of the phenomenon now, when before, it was just swept under the rug, with "adults (are) supposed to be fundamentally different, quickly dealing with the grief of losing the people that raised them from the cradle."

I wept my self to sleep last night.

I wept so long and hard that I woke up feeling cleared and refreshed, like I've excavated my lungs and heart out of all the dross and pain there, so I guess that's a good thing.

I'm still feverish and groggy this morning, though, so I still called in sick. I even asked the kids if they can just be absent today, too, so I don't have to drive out to take them to school and then pick them up again later today. Naturally, the kids are happy to be free, while I have this temporary reprieve today, at least, from further mommy duties.

What this recent bout with the flu has taught me, though, is to finally sit up and take notice of my grief over my parents' recent deaths and all that it entails, to fully acknowledge now my much-decreased energies and capacity to give to others (I'm glad I refused overloads this semester, and have refused a number of university assignments too; my intuition knows me better than I know my self consciously!), and to not expect my self to perform tasks as well, as efficiently and as generously (loading my limits taking on multiple projects all at once and just multi-tasking) as I used to before.

Lately, I've been concerned about how I couldn't seem to concentrate and take in information for long periods anymore (that's why I have 900-plus unopened emails), in addition to my inability to stay up all night working without paying for it health wise the next day.

I've noticed in my self an increased incapacity and intolerance for bullshit (that's a good thing) with a shortened fuse and fast-boiling temper (not really so good), too.

It's a good thing I've resumed my daily meditations as regularly as I can again. But even that has its challenges, because meditation makes you even feel more onion-skinned and sensitive to energies in and around you even as you become more cleansed... and that's maybe why I have just been so quickly prone to flu and so weepy lately.

When will this end?

I don't know; I don't think I should even expect it to end. The articles I've read say it subsides over time, but at the oddest of times, it comes up again.

I'm just sharing my journey here. It's my way of dealing with it as healthily and positively as I can ...

I don't even expect any answers anymore.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

The Secret to a Happy and Long Life

Based on a research on nuns (yes, nuns! ... to minimize confounding variables, the research says), this is the secret (excerpt):

The belief that we can rely on shortcuts to happiness, joy, rapture, comfort, and ecstasy, rather than be entitled to these feelings by the exercise of personal strengths and virtues, leads to legions of people who in the middle of great wealth are starving spiritually. Positive emotion alienated from the exercise of character leads to emptiness, to inauthenticity, to depression, and, as we age, to the gnawing realization that we are fidgeting until we die. The positive feeling that arises from the exercise of strengths and virtues, rather than from the shortcuts, is authentic.

The trait of optimism helps explain how a single snapshot of the momentary happiness of nuns could predict how long they will live. Optimistic people tend to interpret their troubles as transient, controllable, and specific to one situation. Pessimistic people, in contrast, believe that their troubles last forever, undermine everything they do, and are uncontrollable. Optimism is only one of two dozen strengths that bring about greater well-being.

We need a psychology of rising to the occasion, because that is the missing piece in the jigsaw puzzle of predicting human behavior.

Read more about it here.


Somebody I loved told me once, "Can you tone down your sunny you please? You make me feel worse."

It hurt, very much, considering that my choice to be positive is a choice borne out of the pain and struggle of rising above negativity, not just a blind adoption of some Pollyanna-ish philosophy.


Of course I didn't "tone down the sunny me"!

I said goodbye to him instead.

I'm glad I did.

It wouldn't have worked out for us in the long run; he would have been a drag, to say the least.

He would've significantly shortened my life too, haha.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

My One-Boobed Mamma

Happy surprise!

I found this while surfing.

I thought My One-Boobed Mamma would be released in early 2009 yet; apparently, it's coming out this August already!

The release of one's work to the public always feels like sending your firstborn out to The Big School. I guess I'll never stop feeling this way about my "creative children", aside from my flesh-and-blood creative children...

May My One-Boobed Mamma reach those who need her most, and may their lives be better from reading her.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

It's Time

I intend to die at 80. That leaves me 40 years to go.

For the last 40 years of my life so far, I have been mainly taking, receiving, learning from others, even as I sought to find my own way and become comfortable in my own skin. Now that I am in a good place at last (my own skin : >, knowing my way), I figure it’s time to give back, to “pay it forward” so to speak, as the next half of my life spreads out before me.

One would think that with the many sites and blogs I already maintain, I would stay put with these. Well, I guess I surprise even my self up to now. It’s ideas, gut feel, and spark that get to me best. It’s not really about planning and deliberate creation; it’s more like spontaneous combustion for me.

Way back in 2000, after finishing a creative writers’ workshop, I was asked to deliver the “valedictory” speech in behalf of all my other writer-fellows. I remember summing up the experience of the journey in creative writing as being composed of three levels: first, there is writing for catharsis; then, there is writing for self-expression and self-discovery; then, there is writing for craft and communication.

I guess it would apply to this new endeavor, too, although this is not about creative writing. As I created this new blog (actually, this was the last one in this new series), I also created along with this other blogs (please see Blog Roll) which reflect my interests and passions, as well as my training, education and experience so far.

It’s writing for craft and communication time now, giving back to the world what I have learned so far in my own journeys, studies and reflections.

I see this new endeavor as also a way for me to bridge the link between the so-called experts (the academe, the civil society organizations, even business) in their field that I have worked with for most of my life, with the everyday person and net citizen out there, as that seems to be a vital but still unfulfilled link today.

I have discovered that I have this gift– for linking seemingly unrelated ideas and incompatible people and groups together. Since it’s payback time for me, I might as well use this gift well and to the maximum.

The Net (and WordPress) is a good place to start.

Monday, August 04, 2008

Let Your Life Speak

This made me cry, in a beautiful way. It resonated with me and affirmed how I have been trying to live my life so far, consciously so for the past 6-8 years now... which has been called crazy, at best, by some, and stupid and foolish, at worst, by others...

Well, heck, at least it's MY life, on my own terms... and the peace and joy from all the adventures and misadventures and lessons learned either way is priceless.


Vocation does not come from willfulness. It comes from listening. I must listen to my life and try to understand what is truly about--quite apart from what I would like it to be about--or my life will never represent anything real in the world, no matter how earnest my intentions.

That insight is hidden in the word vocation itself, which is rooted in the Latin for "voice." Vocation does not mean a goal that I pursue. It means a calling that I hear. Before I can tell my life what I want to do with it, I must listen to my life telling me who I am.

Read more here.

Saturday, August 02, 2008

Here's to us, one more toast and then we'll pay the bill
Deep inside both of us can feel the autumn chill
Birds of passage, you and me
We fly instinctively
When the summer's over and the dark clouds hide the sun
Neither you nor I'm to blame when all is said and done

In our lives we have walked some strange and lonely treks
Slightly worn but dignified and not too old for sex
We're still striving for the sky
No taste for humble pie
Thanks for all your generous love and thanks for all the fun
Neither you nor I'm to blame when all is said and done

It's so strange when you're down and lying on the floor
How you rise, shake your head, get up and ask for more
Clear-headed and open-eyed
With nothing left untried
Standing calmly at the crossroads,no desire to run
There's no hurry any more when all is said and done

Standing calmly at the crossroads,no desire to run
There's no hurry any more when all is said and done

from: ABBA's "When All Is Said and Done"

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Today's Quotes

Ask yourself: Have you been kind today? Make kindness your daily modus operandi and change your world.

-Annie Lennox


Intimacy means that we're safe enough to reveal the truth about ourselves in all its creative chaos. If a space is created in which two people are totally free to reveal their walls, then those walls, in time, will come down.

-Marianne Williamson


Maturity is the ability to do a job whether or not you are supervised, to carry money without spending it, and to bear an injustice without wanting to get even.

-Ann Landers


The only way to get what you really want, is to know what you really want.

And the only way to know what you really want, is to know yourself.

And the only way to know yourself, is to be yourself.

And the only way to be yourself, Jeanette, is to listen to your heart.

I do,
The Universe

: ) : ) : )

Friday, July 25, 2008

What if War was Outlawed?*

July 22, 2008
11:25 a.m.
Phiippine Airlines (PAL) Domestic Airport/Centennial 2 Departure Terminal

I'm at the Philippine Airlines (PAL) domestic terminal right now writing this, as I wait for my 2pm flight back to Bacolod. I have just come in from the 2008 International Peace Research Association (IPRA) Conference in Leuven, Belgium, which theme is "Building Sustainable Futures: Enabling Peace and Development".

The experience was wonderful--intellectually stimulating and culturally enriching, although seeing all those Europeans holding hands everywhere, especially the old couples, drove me crazy with admiring envy and longing for my own holding-hands partner to be with me too!

Sigh.... oh, well, maybe someday soon...

Anyway, one idea which grabbed me during the Conference was the suggestion proposed by two groups of participants, when we were asked to workshop on the peace research agenda for the future via open source technology (THAT is another topic I hope to blog about soon, too!): that Peace IS a BASIC HUMAN RIGHT, and if so, then we must outlaw war!


Truly, it got me thinking: how come we make a criminal out of a person who has murdered or even just violently attacked another person, but how come we don't make criminals out of a person or group of persons who decided to hurt, maim, kill an entire people in war?

What if we do, indeed, OUTLAW war?

What if we make it a crime for any body, any state leader, any nation for that matter, to wage war against another? Wouldn't that law and structure itself IMPOSE non-war at least, and force people to seek other options, other methods of resolving their conflicts? Even if its coercion, wouldn't it at least coerce people to seek more peaceful means because they are obliged not to wage war?

We outlaw murder. Why not outlaw mass murder in war?

*Originally, a New Tomorrows post

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Home again

arrived last night
via Manila
via Amsterdam
via Brussels
from Leuven
no time
for jet lag

soon after landing
i put on
my car owner robe,
then mommy robe,
then homeowner robe,
asking the kids how their week went
without me
as they feasted on
Belgian chocolates
while i watched the driver
and gave instructions
on next destinations.

we stopped by L'Sea
to buy take-out Chinese food
as homecoming celebration dinner
while i texted two money-exchange contacts
for today's rates
thinking i might convert my Euros to pesos
or maybe tomorrow
so i can refund the PJ office soon,
as we arrived home
and the housekeeper
reported on comings and goings,
bills and letters received,
and appliances needing repair
while i unpacked
and then had dinner
with the kids
who prattled on
about their day,
their week
without me,
while i too shared
my new memories
of Belgium
and the people i met,
even the Commission Convenor
i crushed on. : )

no time for jet lag
i woke up at 5am
turned on the pc
checked and started whittling down
new 374 emails
as B found me
and we chatted and caught up
with each other
as i woke the kids up
from their groggy sleep
and i thought to my self
how blessed i am
to have B
who keeps me rooted,

and then it was almost 7am
so we packed ourselves
into the car
as i drove off
steering into my favorite
short cuts
which are actually the long way around
inside subdivision roads
but with no traffic
they take less time
to drive through

and then we're in school
and i drop the kids off
as i turn back
to go home
eat breakfast mindfully,
then continue with my email whittling
as i make the prelim exams
which my students will take
tomorrow and friday

as i text a writing client
that i have arrived last night
still jet-lagged (!)
will resume work on the writing project
by tomorrow
and have it in
by august 1

and then, as usually happens with me,
believing my own white lies,
i begin to feel drowsy and tired--
truly jet-lagged now?--
and so i climb into bed
to sleep
but dream of Belgian landscapes
and rooms
and strangely interesting people instead.

so instead,
i wake up again
to finish the exams
even as i respond
to my vulcanizing mechanic's text
that the Vios jack i wanted
was ready for pick up now
and could i pick it up now?

with 2 of the 3 exams done,
i drive out again
to pay for and pick up the jack,
then proceed on to school
stop by the risograph office
to submit my two exam sheets
as i drop by the bosses' office
to say hi, hello, give a quick report
on Belgium and how i did,
as i gave them their chocolates
and the staff's too.

picking up the children now,
we drop by our favorite mall
on the way home,
for them to get their snacks,
as we shop for
a new flat iron
(the old one at home has conked out),
school supplies for their homework,
and some little gift bags
for me to distribute my chocolates into
for giving to more people;
then, groceries
to stock up on the dwindling stash at home,
then the dry cleaner,
for my Conference suit.

arriving home,
we have dinner
and homework,
as i finish
the last of the exams,
answer more emails,
until i find Bea
has fallen asleep on the couch.
so i pick her up and tried to sleep with her in my bed
even as i convinced Paolo
that it's his turn to sleep with his Manang Thea tonight.

but i couldn't sleep
thinking of a children's story
long percolating in my head
but now boiling into something
with more form
and voice

so i wake up again
and write some notes
as i also read my writing notes to my self
from 3 years,
3 months,
then 3 weeks ago
while i ate roasted almonds
and drank non-alcoholic Cali
(i eat strangely when in a writing mood.)

so it is 2am now of my tomorrow
yet i have to write this one last post
after i've finished finetuning an old story
and finally sent it to the Contest
(deadline july 31)
as i put my writing notebook aside
to let the new story cook some more
and i try to lie down and sleep again
but this blog post
runs through my mind instead.

Saturday, July 05, 2008

New Tomorrows

There must be more to life than blaming, complaining, dissing what's going wrong, and generally feeling like helpless victims to the events and forces acting on our lives. That is not the way I want to spend my time on this planet.

The same energies used for blaming, complaining, dissing what's going wrong, and generally feeling like helpless victims (it takes more muscles to frown than to smile!) CAN be used for focusing attention on what does go right, what one can still do, what one envisions for one's self and one's loved ones, working on building that vision, and finding like-minded, fine-spirited people who are engaging in and aiming for similar endeavors.

So, when a group of friends from the futures, education, peace and cultural work communities and I got together some weeks ago to catch up with each other and have fun again just being ourselves as well as sharing what we're trying to do in each of our individual lives, the idea of banding together specifically for putting all our vision, faith, knowledge, experience, expertise, resources and networks to good use in this direction was born.

KalayLah GLocal Network (KGN) was conceived.

"KalayLah" as a coined term for the Filipino terms, "Kalayaan ng Lahi", or freedom of the race, freedom of generations. "GLocal", for the coined term "global" as well as "local", and the implied synergy between the two spheres acting on each other as preferred futures are envisioned, created and built.

In one of our later discussions, though, the idea of extending this community further, not necessarily as part of KGN itself, but just as an online global community of people focused on enabling preferred futures was born.

So many social networks abound on the Net now, and they are mainly for self-promotion and keeping in touch as well as making new friends purposes. What if we utilize this grand (also free) resource and opportunity to harness people's attentions and energies not just to tell others about themselves or to make new friends, but to share how they think and see and what they are doing towards the future?

Imagine what can happen with this harnessed energy and potential.

At the very least, I want to be around when it happens. : )

Please check out the new global community on the web, "New Tomorrows".

Thursday, July 03, 2008

the gifts of my parents' deaths

people at school keep commenting how i'm looking so bloomingly gorgeous these days, well, actually since the last time they saw me, which was last schoolyear yet.

one colleague said i had an almost otherworldly aura about me. another said i had a glow, and how im looking really younger and more beautiful. one other person said i had an "international, star-quality" aura, whatever that means.... heehee. thank you. : )

i feel it, too, ... well yes, feeling good about my self, my life, like im in the right place and right path at last, comfortable and happy and joyful and content in my own skin, yet also relishing achieving more of my dreams.... and yes, feeling otherworldly, too.

like somehow, as i accompanied Papa and Mama to their last days and hours, i sort of stepped into some zone reserved only for the dying and those died, but which i was allowed the grace to enter and experience.

so now, coming back "from the dead", i feel even more alive, yet also not part of this world anymore.

in-between worlds. that's how im feeling.

so, im finding my self transformed in many subtle but powerful ways these days--

1. i don't sweat the small stuff, and yes, everything is small stuff.

there used to be time when id get anxious and bash my self, especially, for things not turning out as planned, or even for not being able to finish all ive set out to do for the day in my to do list. these days, i simply move them on to another date. i figure, if they can't be done today, then probably today was not enough for them, so they can wait for another day. when things go wrong... oh well, ive been through worse. and i also know things will get better again. life goes in cycles of up and down. the trick is to ride the cycles well, to crest the waves gracefully.

2. im kinder to and gentler with my self these days. i take time, just to savor each little action, each moment spent with a loved one or even just a friend or passing acquaintance. now is really all i have, i am sooo conscious of that now. so i stay in the moment and relish it and feel so deeply awed and thankful for it. i don't engage in anxious, rushing, pressing self-talk now, especially.

3. im even more philosophical and accepting of Life as it comes now, not much shoulds and musts anymore, just letting Life and people and events flow and my responding to them according to how i authentically think and feel and am at any given moment.

4. surprisingly, im finding my self more willing to live with structures and deadlines and schedules and even commit to appointments when people try to pin me down now. is that a sign of settling down, or what? : )

5. i have less and less patience for bullshit and dramas and melodramas, though. when im feeling really in the mood for fun, i tell people to shove off, and enjoy the surprised looks on their faces. when im feeling nicer, i tell people to shove off, but nicer and in a sweeter way. still, i find i have less and less patience for being nice these days. i find im enjoying just being me, however i am, whoever i am, at any moment in time.

6. people ask how ive slimmed down and am looking so great and what's the secret? i kid them by saying, "have your parents die at almost the same time." heheh. but it's true.

practically speaking, im more mindful of the food and drink i take in now, taking care to make only healthier and cleaner choices. is that dieting? no. i just feel that im taking even better care of my self now.

so, condolences... tragedy?

up to now, i still can't see what's to condole about.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Home and Healing

oohhhh i just love this article! it expresses exactly what i have been feeling these days, after i've finished renovating my home: healed, whole, complete, and even more content, no matter what happens. it reminds me of similar true stories like "Under the Tuscan Sun" too!

indeed, the process of even just renovating one's home, refurbishing it, making it look more beautiful and feel comfortable, is just a symbolic manifestation of what's really going on inside-- or vice versa. maybe the process itself also catalyzes certain subtle but powerful transformations going on inside, too.

i went way beyond the budget i initially intended, but what the heck, every purchase i make is an investment of love in my children's and my living space now. the feeling of comfort and contentment and God's Abundance is indescribable and irreplaceable, and it comes more easily and naturally now with the physical manifestations in place and surrounding and reminding us each moment, each day.

Thank you, God, for home, for healing!

Thursday, June 05, 2008

cooking lessons and charmed lives

i had a wonderful day today, spending time beautifully with two friends, both 20 years-or-so older than me, but both truly the friends of my heart, mind and soul.

Ma'am Cecille was a former colleague at the University but is now retired and living her life happily doing what she pleases while pursuing her passions in literary research. Ma'am Cora is still a colleague but will be retiring in a couple of years.

Ma'am Cecille and I arranged for me to have my first cooking lesson with her today, and we invited Ma'am Cora to join us too.

the cooking lesson was actually just an excuse to get together again, to my mind. : )

Ma'am Cecille showed me how to make a special and home-made pesto sauce and pasta, garlic bread, as well as her self-conconcted mung bean salad.

i learned more than those, though.

from the way she organized all her "hang-able" kitchen utensils in one whole wall made up of a wooden board with custom holes and hooks bored into them, to how seemingly ordinary everyday ingredients can be made special with just the little touches of extra care and thought, to charming table-setting and presentation, to identifying the herbs in her garden from the shape and scent of their leaves... as well as to living la dolce vita, with just being authentically you, taking on life fully with heart, mind and soul, with focus and passion and nerve.

Ma'am Cecille served us wine and assigned Ma'am Cora and I to learn how to uncork the bottle. we had fun even with that, trying to find a way to do it. first, we tried with one of us sitting on a chair and putting the bottle between her thighs, while the other pulled with the wine bottle opener bored into the cork. that didn't work, so i suggested we do it from the floor, for more stability. then Ma'am Cecille, who was in the kitchen adding the finishing touches to our lunch and seeing us struggling and giggling so, came over to show us a book on wines and we three looked up "how to open a wine bottle" together (researchers and professors to the core, huh?)

in the end, we went back to my sitting down on a chair, not squatting on the floor, with the bottle between my thighs, while Ma'am Cora tugged with all her might (we did it wrong the first time because she both tugged and twisted the opener at the same time).

i normally don't drink because i'm allergic to alcohol and break out in rashes, but for this one special time, i allowed my self one glass, and the tipsy, warm feeling only added to the mid-day glow i felt enveloping us all, as we talked and laughed and shared over the healthy and graceful lunch we ourselves prepared.

for sure, i learned more than just cooking, today.

when im their age, i want to be a lot like them and how they live their lives so authentically from the heart, even as i work on living that way now, every moment, every day.

i didn't break out in rashes after the wine intake, either. my body approves of the treat then. : )

Papa and Mama

that's firstborn, three-month-old me with Papa and Mama, in May, 1968. he was 30 years old then; she was 25.

i miss Papa and Mama, very much.

Saturday, May 31, 2008

it's not personal

i don't know how it is for people in other parts of the world but in my part, people have been talking about how everything seems to have gone awry lately:

a couple of days ago, Smart telecoms giant experienced some breakdown so us subscribers couldn't send nor receive messages, whether by texting or calling. appointments were missed, promises broken, as my good friend and fellow blogger Dave Al posts. : )

this morning, Smart-based servers experienced glitches again so those of us subscribed to SmartBro couldn't go online either.

yesterday, i noticed long lines at Metrobank ATM machines near Lopue's East because the BPI machine close to it was offline due to "phone company troubles", its sign said.

this morning, i got an update email from Metrobank saying they're doing a maintenance check tomorrow morning to preempt breakdowns, but to expect some downtime still.

tonight, after a wonderful dinner out, our host and my good friend was surprised to find that our favorite restaurant couldn't take credit cards because their credit card machine broke down due to phone connection troubles.

the people around me are beginning to wonder if it's a conspiracy by some people somewhere.

i told them not to take it personally-- it's Mercury Retrograde! : )

What's a Retrograde?

A planet is described as retrograde when it appears to be moving backwards through the zodiac. According to modern science, this traditional concept arises in the illusory planetary motion created by the orbital rotation of the earth with relation to other planets in our solar system. Planets are never actually retrograde or stationary, they just seem that way due to this cosmic shadow-play. (from Astrology on the Web)

There is no real backwards movement of Mercury; it's just that we see it this way from Earth, because of the combined movement of the Earth and Mercury around the Sun. However, astrologically this is very relevant. (from Astrology

More from Astrology

General influence of Mercury retrograde

Mercury rules over the mind's processes, studying, communication, businesses, travels and the like. When Mercury reverses its direction, all these areas are affected as well.

The mind turns naturally inwards and people tend to analyze more their own thoughts and follow the common thinking patterns, rather then be curious and eager for new intellectual experiences or challenges. This helps in meditation or the thorough lonely long-term study of a specific matter, but it affects the study of new subjects, the communication with others, the attention oriented outwards.

Businesses, travels and communications tend to experience delays and different problems. Computers and other processes that work with information may experience crashes, unexpected failures.

Don't enroll for new courses, don't buy expensive Mercurian items (books, cars, mobile phones etc.), don't sign important contracts and do not marry.

What is this Mercury retrograde period good for?

It is definitely a very good period for some actions. No time is completely bad for anything, there is a reason in everything that happens.

The key is the reversed direction of movement: take any known Mercurian action, reverse its flow, consider the keywords "re-doing something", "double-checking", "finish the old projects" and there you are, you've found the good side of Mercury retrograde.

For instance, you may want to read again a book you particularly liked, a subject you studied before, meet and discuss with old friends you haven't met for a long time, travel to places you've already been to before.

This is an excellent time to work on old projects that never got to be finished. So, think about the things you started and never finalized.

Next, you might wish to prevent any bad things to happen to you: so double-check your agenda, call your business partners to confirm that everything goes as planned, have everything ready before the deadline and leave some extra time for unexpected events. Make copies of your important files and documents, save your work more often.

The other solution is to go on vacation or at least slow down the pace of your projects. You will find that going slowly during the Mercury retrograde period will spare you many efforts of redoing the same action that wasn't performed right the first time.

Above all, be generous and compassionate: you are already aware about the influence of this period, but the others aren't aware of it or there may be uncontrollable events. That's why you should have more diligence with the others and give them some more time. It'll be your mental health that you'll be sparing actually.

This period's Mercury Retrograde lasts from May 26 - June 19, and since the Mercury Retrograde is also in Mercury's home sign, Gemini, the sign of the mind and communications, you can expect the retrograde influence to be doubled. (Read more about the "Murphy's Law of the Cosmos" here.)

so take heart and relax: it's not personal--

it's planetary. : )

work with it and go with the flow, or work against it.

peace of mind, or frustration?

it's your choice.

Friday, May 30, 2008

"Life is queer with its twists and turns..."

i remember this line now from an old poem, Don't Quit, that Mama used to post around our "home" (the dinghy mezzanine floor above our store in the public market) while we were growing up (she liked to post a lot of quotes and poems on living life the best and noblest and highest way, despite our miserable physical surroundings...), as i am struck now by how queerly indeed my life has twisted and turned, especially in the past year.

first, i decided to take an unpaid year's leave off from university work, just to rest, relax, and follow my bliss. people thought i had lots of moolah stashed for the full 12 months ahead; they thought i was kidding when i said i was living in God's Grace month to month (i was)!

in June, a love which i thought to be The Love of My Life turned sour, but i consciously resolved not to take it like a victim and to keep my faith and hope for True Love still pure and unsullied instead... and then i met B on July 1, on his birthday!!! : )

then there was the awarding ceremony for my second national book award at the Cultural Center of the Philippines last July, and the fun radio interview out of town, which my kids enjoyed as much as i did (the radio station treated us like superstars, with our own coaster to fetch and bring us back to the hotel and wherever else we wanted to go after the interview).

after that was a children's literature conference i attended where i expected to just be a participant but ended up being like a "grand finale" speaker which got the audience very hyped up and involved.

then the U.S. visa interview with my sis, where the visa officer just asked us questions, didn't even look at the rest of the documents we brought, and then granted us 10-year multiple entry visas each!

then the fun, special bonding time with Mama in the States last Sept-Oct, where we got to relive our teenage years again and fill in the "missing link" in our lives (Mama left us when we were teenagers). we didn't know it was to be our last time with her together, but i think now that she knew all along.

then i come back here in October to have my books launched at The Negros Museum, along with the museum's Storytelling Program, in the midst of the Masskara Festival.

in December to February, both Papa and Mama got seriously sick, having to go in and out of the hospital several times, until they couldn't leave the hospital anymore. Papa was last admitted on Jan. 16, while Mama on Jan. 29. Papa died on feb. 20, and Mama on march 10.

taking care of both, first here in Bacolod, then there in Atlanta, Georgia, was both special and surreal in itself. it was special because i discovered that one gets to forge and develop a new, adult relationship with one's parents one never had before when they were physically healthy and well. now that the tables are turned and they are dependent on you and you are taking care of them, the masks fall off, and you just relate to each other as full human beings in all your best and worst, and you find that if you just show up for them everyday anyway, just dig in there and continue to care for them the best way you can despite the arguments and the rehashing of unfinished business, the Love and Laughter remain and only grow stronger and unbreakable in the end. i would never have exchanged those last moments with Papa and Mama for all the world. it was the sublimest of benedictions.

and it was also most profoundly healing and special that both Papa and Mama just kept on asking about each other in the end. they were in each other's thoughts, even in their semi-conscious and pained states. how's that for deep Love, huh? : )

my brother, Tope, and my sister, Honey, and i-- we kid each other about our parents being Soulmates after all-- despite their stormy and tempestuous love and lives. but we also quietly know that all jokes contain a deep truth in them; we just joke about them because we could only comfortably take them in joke form; the deep truth both scare and awe us so...

yet, it was surreal, too, living in hospitals and around sick and dying people and the medical staff who also help care for them for three months, and then after that, having to deal with the business of funeral homes and cultural and social norms for the dead. it was twilight-zonish, waking up in the morning and not even able to make plans for noontime, because one never knows what happens next. after they died, it was twilight-zonish still, to find that people get so hung up about certain practices and arrangements (and money, yes, money!) and that they can even be the source of a lot of family and friends' dramatics and melodramatics.

in the midst of it all, i was asked to submit a proposal for an international conference, and found out later in April, that i received a full grant for my paper presentation proposal. so now i have been applying for my Schengen visa to Belgium, as well as preparing my paper for the conference.

in the midst of it all, too, B and i found time to be with each other, just the two of us, and it was a most special, special healing and sweet time.

then, there was the most welcome trip to New Jersey and New York, the bonding with cousins we last saw when we were children, and of course, conquering The Big Apple on our own. it was a most precious, healing gift from Tito Tony and Tita Melvi, more than they will ever know...

coming back home, i decided to beautify my home with part of the inheritance funds i received from Papa's estate. so since April, i have been living in home depots and hardware stores most times of the day. : )

now, i am looking forward to spending more special time with B again when his summer vacation starts, even as i prepare to go back to university teaching, refreshed and renewed in my zeal for the calling.

this afternoon, my publisher's staff communicated with me for a single-parenting talk they plan to do in July, a day before i leave for Belgium, and in which i have been invited to speak and share.

then i come home to find an email from Lifestyle Network who wants me to be a guest in their show! ;O



a friend asked me once how i was, and we both laughed when i said, "i'm mastering the art of winging it!"

but it's true. i am discovering now how life is so strange, all the best-laid intelligent plans can fall apart in a moment. no use stressing over the minutiae of the how-tos.

just focus on what brings you joy, and live more of them each moment each day. the rest, just wing it. ; )

true security is found inside, in your knowing and realization that no matter what happens, you can handle it... not really just because of you alone and the strength of character and life skills you have developed, but because somehow, you are taken care of and provided for, always, by both Seen and Unseen Friends of the heart and soul...

another friend shared with me a joke quote once, and which i find most apt now--

Life is short. Don't make it shorter!

: ) : ) : )

Monday, May 19, 2008

NJ and NY Memories, Week 2

Tita Melvi has yet to upload to us the 600plus pics taken from her digicam, so this will have to do for now. (Turn on the music!)

Diary of Week 2--

April 6 - Dinner party at Carteret

April 7 - just stayed at home; i enjoyed doing the laundry on my own, and took a long walk around the neighborhood afterwards

April 8 - Honey and I took the bus and then the subway to Central Park on our own for the first time! visited the Museum of Natural History and just walked half of Central Park and wondered which movies featured which spots (I remembered "Serendipity" and "When Harry Met Sally" :> )

April 9 - Italian lunch at a resto in Port Authority; walked down the avenues to get to 42nd Street to watch "A Chorus Line" (matinee-- the ticket prices are less expensive, and we get near front row seats at that!), then took the subway to Chinatown to meet Tito Tony at Hopkee's where he treated us to dinner. My former IDS student, Andrea Tolentino, met me there too.

April 10 - Honey and I took the bus and then the subway to Central Park again, to visit the Metropolitan Museum of Art and walk the other half of Central Park. we temporarily got lost and boarded the train going to Brighton Beach! Heheh. Well, as Mama used to say, "The best way to finding your way is by getting lost first."

April 11 - Tita Vicky took us to Menlo Park Mall. We watched "Smart People" there and I bought a bear and her clothes at Bear Boutique for our niece, little Angela, Tope's only child and the baby in the family. Later in the evening, Tito Tony and Tita Melvi took Honey, Elmer (our cousin, their youngest, Cecille (Tita Melvi's best buddy) and I out to a Hibashi dinner.

April 12 - lunch (I had "dinuguan"! I missed "dinuguan"!) at Tita Vicky's house, on our way to our cousin Albert and his wife Judy's place at Nutley, where we hung out with cute babies Anna (Al's and Judy's darling) and Kylie, cousin Linus and his wife, Dalia (parents of enigmatic Kylie : > ), and Elmer (who has yet to find his one and only somewhere out there) -- and Tito Tony, Tita Melvi and Cecille. We ended the day with a wonderfully sumptous dinner, both for the palate and tummy, and for the heart and soul!

P.S. to Week 2 --

April 13 - lunch at King's Chef, then flew back to Atlanta via Continental Air. For a while there, we almost got bumped off and I was already wondering if I could buy Victoria's Secret lingerie with the $300 voucher Continental Air would be giving us... well, when you get lemons, make lemonade! : D

April 14 and 15 - Honey and I just stayed home at East Point, to wind down even as we finished the last of the packing for all Mama's stuff to be sent home via Balikbayan Boxes, as well as our luggages.

April 16 - Mama's wonderfully fun friend, Darling Manching, drove us to the malls for Honey's last-minute shopping, and then we had a wonderful early dinner at their charming home in Peachtree City that late afternoon. Dinner: American-style pork chops and Filipino-style dried salted fish and steamed shrimps with achara. Guess which dishes won out? : )

Later in the evening, back home at East Point, after Carmen and I finished our butterfly orders for shipping, Carmen took us out to do our laundry for the last time, en route to the post office.

April 17 - Mama's friends Elmer and Lolit Cortez invited us (Dad Larry, Honey and I, as well as their best friend and Mama's friend too, Elvie, and her kids) to dinner at their beautiful home in Fayetteville.

April 18 - for our "despedida" (farewell) dinner, I treated Dad Larry and Honey to a dinner theatre show of "A Midsummer Night's Dream" at The New Shakespeare Tavern in downtown Atlanta. : )

It's all been like a dream, alright.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

my Moms' Day morning

i woke up to find these in our newly-renovated bathroom...

the kids' note says--

'Just because you're the BEST mom in the world and the awesomest woman we know!

:) :) :)
This is also why I've been so quiet here lately:

my "inner sanctum" has been undergoing...

... a major transformation!

Friday, April 18, 2008

The Invisible Mother

I got this as a forwarded email from a friend and fellow mother. This is beautiful and makes a ton of sense. To all the wonderful mothers out there! Advanced Happy Mothers' Day!!!


It all began to make sense, the blank stares, the lack of response, the way one of the kids will walk into the room while I'm on the phone and ask to be taken to the store. Inside I'm thinking, 'Can't you see I'm on the phone?' Obviously not; no one can see if I'm on the phone, or cooking, or sweeping the floor, or even standing on my head in the corner, because no one can see me at all. I'm invisible. The invisible Mom. Some days I am only a pair of hands, nothing more: Can you fix this ? Can you tie this? Can you open this??

Some days I'm not a pair of hands; I'm not even a human being. I'm a clock to ask, 'What time is it?' I'm a satellite guide to answer, 'What number is the Disney Channel?' I'm a car to order, 'Right around 5:30, please.'

I was certain that these were the hands that once held books and the eyes that studied history and the mind that graduated summa cum laude - but now they had disappeared into the peanut butter, never to be seen again. She's going, she's going, she's gone!?

One night, a group of us were having dinner, celebrating the return of a friend from England . Janice had just gotten back from a fabulous trip, and she was going on and on about the hotel she stayed in. I was sitting there, looking around at the others all put together so well. It was hard not to compare and feel sorry for myself. I was feeling pretty pathetic, when Janice turned to me with a beautifully wrapped package, and said, 'I brought you this.' It was a book on the great cathedrals of Europe . I wasn't exactly sure why she'd given it to me until I read her inscription:
'To Charlotte , with admiration for the greatness of what you are building when no one sees.'

In the days ahead I would read - no, devour - the book. And I would discover what would become for me, four life-changing truths, after which I could pattern my work: No one can say who built the great cathedrals - we have no record of their names. These builders gave their whole lives for a work they would never see finished. They made great sacrifices and expected no credit. The passion of their building was fueled by their faith that the eyes of God saw everything.

A legendary story in the book told of a rich man who came to visit the cathedral while it was being built, and he saw a workman carving a tiny bird on the inside of a beam. He was puzzled and asked the man, 'Why are you spending so much time carving that bird into a beam that will be covered by the roof, No one will ever see it. And the workman replied, 'Because God sees.'

I closed the book, feeling the missing piece fall into place. It was almost as if I heard God whispering to me, 'I see you, Charlotte. I see the sacrifices you make every day, even when no one around you does. No act of kindness you've done, no sequin you've sewn on, no cupcake you've baked, is too small for me to notice and smile over. You are building a great cathedral, but you can't see right now what it will become.

At times, my invisibility feels like an affliction. But it is not a disease that is erasing my life. It is the cure for the disease of my own self-centeredness. It is the antidote to my strong, stubborn pride.

I keep the right perspective when I see myself as a great builder. As one of the people who show up at a job that they will never see finished, to work on something that their name will never be on. The writer of the book went so far as to say that no cathedrals could ever be built in our lifetime because there are so few people willing to sacrifice to that degree.

When I really think about it, I don't want my son to tell the friend he's bringing home from college for Thanksgiving, 'My Mom gets up at 4 in the morning and bakes homemade pies, and then she hand bastes a turkey for three hours and presses all the linens for the table.' That would mean I'd built a shrine or a monument to myself. I just want him to want to come home. And then, if there is anything more to say to his friend, to add, 'You're gonna love it there.'

As mothers, we are building great cathedrals. We cannot be seen if we're doing it right. And one day, it is very possible that the world will marvel, not only at what we have built, but at the beauty that has been added to the world by the sacrifices of invisible women.

Great Job, MOM!


The Will of God will never take you where the Grace of God will not protect you.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

lucky day, happy day

my numeroscope for today--

Daily Number: 6

Today is a lucky day for you, in which you're likely to experience progress in your career and/or finances. You feel a sense of closeness with relatives and friends, and an overall healing of the heart. Few things could be better.


few things could be better, indeed!

i started out the day waking up late after a good night's sleep, having arrived from newark to atlanta at 10pm already last night. i woke up to find an email telling me that the International Peace Research Association (IPRA) had just approved my paper for a full travel grant to present at a conference on peace journalism in Belgium this July!!! : )

then i was so happy and inspired, i finally decided to bake and cook, at the same time, FOR THE FIRST TIME ON MY OWN, today, with my sis Honey just standing by to oversee my progress, and i am soo proud of the home-made bread pudding and paella i produced today! Honey and dad Larry both agreed they tasted great, and i know it's not just to please or humor me, because my own taste buds agreed too!

while preparing the ingredients for baking and cooking, my mind was intensely focused too, on planning my kitchen renovation at home when i get back. finally, i am staking a claim to my own kitchen now as i should!

i also daydreamed about how it would be like to be together with my new husband and our children someday soon (i hope), and how i would feed them delicious and healthy and attractive-looking dishes even as i cared for them as a full time homemaker, while i earned from home, too, with my writing and the family's online crafts and exports businesses... : )

then, my long-delayed Amazon order rescheduled for delivery by UPS (because i wasn't here to sign for them) finally arrived today-- Thea's wished for Canon G9 digicam and Shannon Hale book, Book of A Thousand Days; and my own wished for books, especially Joan Didion's The Year of Magical Thinking and Mary Oliver's book of poems, American Primitive!!!

ohhhh, this has been a day of delicious and abundant food-- food for the mind, food for the body, and food for the heart and soul!

thank you, God.

Spring has indeed come into my life again, at last.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

today's quote

Don’t be discouraged by a failure. ...Failure is, in a sense, the highway to success, inasmuch as every discovery of what is false leads us to seek earnestly after what is true, and every fresh experience points out some form of error which we shall afterwards carefully avoid.

John Keats (1795-1821)

Monday, April 07, 2008

NJ and NYC Memories, Week 1

March 29 - arrived Newark airport at around 8am; went to Beacon (Jonas' and Jen's place) after depositing luggage at Carteret

March 30 - went to international car show at Javits Center with Al and Judy and Jonas and Jen, then met up with Linus and Dalia for an Italian dinner at Nonna's; we had our first view of Times Square and Central Park from the car, as Jonas drove us around to point the sights to us

March 31 - stayed at home, puttered around, read, wrote, rested

April 1 - lunch buffet at Filipino restaurant, Colonia's, with Tito Sonny and Tita Vicky Quisumbing; then accompanied Tita Vicky to Walmart for some shopping

April 2 - first bus ride to and from NYC with Cecille, walked up and down 5th to 8th avenues and assisted Cecille as she visited a business contact for costume jewelry distribution

April 3 - stayed at home and read and slept; down with heavy period, felt extremely homesick; chat with B helped a lot

April 4 - dinner at Quisumbing's house in Carteret, too, just a 15-minute ride away

April 5 - Ellis Island and Statue of Liberty Tour

Lourdes Concepcion Patindol Watts

Sunday, April 06, 2008

Ellis Island

for the first time since i came to America last September yet, today i felt that i am finally in the real America, its heart and soul, that is, not its flashy accoutrements.

because of a wonderfully perfect sunny yet cool day today, despite dire weather forecasts of a rainy, even a stormy day, tito tony suggested to my sister, honey, and i that he take us to Liberty Park, to join in the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island ferry tour. we quickly agreed, although i had my private reservations.

these days, i have just been wanting to stay home and read, or surf the net and do my emails, or watch movies, not really go out and/or socialize-- just clock time until we go home again. so, half of me hated being pulled away from home this morning, but im glad i let the other half agree to the tour.

before getting there, tito tony even suggested that we skip the Ellis Island tour (he said most tourists aren't familiar with Ellis Island anyway) and just stay on the ferry to go straight to the Statue of Liberty. but once there, honey and i decided to step down anyway and explore it, just out of curiousity's sake.

Ellis Island is where around 70% of immigrants to the United States were processed, before it closed in 1954.

as soon as i stepped into the hallowed front hall of the Ellis Island Museum, and was greeted by large black and white pictures of immigrants in the 1880-1924 peak immigration exodus, along with sample artifacts of the kinds of luggage they brought with them-- i was just suddenly overwhelmed with feeling and i choked with tears.

my first thought was, "oh my god, B's ancestors must have stepped into this same hall too almost 100 years ago!"

as i explored the 3-storey museum, from listening to the very dramatic rendition of the tour guide, to my own wanderings in and out of the many exhibits all over the three floors, reading the quotes from Ellis Island immigrants interviewed in the mid-1980s during the Island's restoration as well as listening to taped interviews with some of them-- i cried quietly even as my heart broke, realizing the struggles and suffering all these immigrants from different countries had to go through even as they pursued their fragile hopes and dreams.

the Filipino Diaspora isn't as unique as i've always thought and felt it was.

of course, intellectually, i understood that many people from all over the world immigrate to other countries, especially America, to build a better life for themselves and their families, but it never hit home for me, until today.

i learned that basically, regardless of race, creed, sex, age and background, all immigrants who came to America before shared the same stories of leaving families and precious histories and cultures behind because of extreme poverty, deprivation due to totalitarian governments, atrocities, war... and they made America the great nation it became (until recently).

i was struck by one quote i read from an Italian immigrant who said (paraphrased): "They told us America was paved with roads of gold. When I came to America, I found out 3 things: there was no gold, it was not paved, and we were expected to build the roads."

i saw America with newer eyes, with a newfound respect and appreciation for its people who built it. i am saying this in contrast to my developed anti-American sentiment from my college activist anti-U.S. bases, anti-U.S. imperialism days : ), which was itself a 180-degree turn from my childhood adoration of Hollywood America as the land where all dreams came true.

in the end, as i shared this insight with honey, i truly felt and understood now too when i also said, "the American government is not the American people."

until today, whenever family and friends would tour us around sights and monuments and memorials, i was curious and interested, but still distant and detached. my attitude was, "okay... hmmm... interesting... and then?... so what?... or, hohum... next please..."

until today, i never really felt like i was in America, but just in another developed country, with all these interesting sights and foreign-looking people to see and interact with.

until today, i merely tolerated being in America.

at the end of the tour, in the lawn outside the Museum, honey interviewed me on video with the cam she brought while we were waiting for our ferry back. she laughed when i said, "I am proud to be an American now, even if I'm not an American!"

when we got home, she told tita melvi, "today, Manang (me; Ilonggo term of endearment for "older sister") just fell in love with America!"


Thursday, April 03, 2008


that's how my life has been since the start of this year: surreal.

first, there was papa's hospitalization and amputation, which necessisated a one-month stay in the hospital, until he died last feb. 20. then, there was mama's hospitalization from stroke, too, two weeks after papa was hospitalized.

the day after papa was buried on feb. 25, i flew to Atlanta, Georgia, to be with mama, who was still in the hospital. she died on march 10, two weeks too after papa died.

then, there was the very wonderful and specially healing time spent with B, a week after we buried mama.

now, my sister and i are here in new jersey with an uncle and his family, discovering new jersey and new york, and rediscovering old cousins and cousins of cousins everyday.

from the depths of grief, to the heights of joys, and now stretching the limits of our world by venturing into new worlds, all in a space of 3 months-- i find my self just cresting the waves of my life each day as they come.

i have learned not to make too detailed plans anymore, not even for tonight, much less for the next day or next week, as i am learning that life can change in an instant. i have learned to just go with the flow, and let what comes, comes, and just deal with them as they come.

i have finally learned to let go of the last vestiges of anxiety and worry, as they really are useless anyway, just extra burden on one's energies and spirit. life comes as it is; being anxious about it and worrying about what comes next does not make you any more prepared or peaceful or happy.

i am learning to trust in my own inner resources-- my intelligence and wit and wisdom and gifts of insight and discernment to see my way through, and work my way through peacefully and happily, even when outer circumstances are so chaotic. in short, i am perfecting the art of "winging it"! : )

i have ceased to question why, well even before this year, but more so during this year. i have learned to trust that whatever happens, i can handle it, i am well taken care of and provided for by both seen and unseen angels and loving spirits in my life, and that the answers will come when i'm ready for them. if the answers don't come, that is fine with me too, i just live the Mystery as best as i can, bringing my whole self into it, and living my depth.

in all these, Life for me now has taken on a new richness, a deeper meaning, and a more beautiful and wondrous poignancy and delicacy to it.

i think now that my mind, heart, soul and even body are being stretched out for more spaces to accommodate more of Life and the mystery and magic that it unfolds, each moment, every day.

in all these, thank you, God.