‘..if i could tell one thing to the world..’


I ran the TCU workshop yesterday and it was a lot of fun. It was the debut run in Sydney. I wish to thank all those who attended, most especially Gabby and Ressee Mangulabnan who organized it for me. It was a long, magical day. I was bone tired when I came home but I felt alive and animated. I was happy that I made many new friends. I was grateful that I had the privilege to touch their lives, but more so because I had learned so much from them.

Salamat sa inyong lahat!

I can’t believe some of my students are already on their 8th week of guitar lessons. For those who really do the assigned homework outside the 30-minute or 1-hour sessions they do with me, it’s clear that they are progressing at a pace that amazes their parents and even themselves. As their guitar teacher, I am so happy since their efforts at learning chords, strumming techniques, inversions, transposing and rhythm are beginning to produce results. Slowly but surely, they are moving towards more exciting discoveries and they are even beginning to sound better.

Every week, I look forward to passing on new lessons and songs they can learn in the hope that they can progress even faster.

Two weeks ago, I finally relented to requests to teach voice lessons as well. I was hesitant at first to do so since I am clearly more comfortable teaching something I have been doing all my life. I still think of myself primarily as a songwriter before being a singer. But then, haven’t I been singing all my life too? Why not teach voice then? While I am not the greatest singer in the world, I have done enough singing and have attended enough voice lessons and coaching to know how to produce results.

This has opened a new vista for me as well and it is something I look forward to in the week. I have met some great people and very talented kids

One thing I’ve realized is that I can teach anything that I set out to learn. I have never studied formally any of the things I had done that has given me any income. I do not have any degrees or academic training in music, writing, teaching, workshop design and facilitation, performing, photography, and my other creative pursuits. And yet I have made semi-careers out of a lot of them and at certain times have even done quite well enough to be recognized by my peers and my milieu. I am to say the least quite thankful.

When I ponder on questions people ask about the ‘methodology’ I use that makes me excel at what I do, I can only come to the conclusion that whatever it is I choose to LOVE to do, I always learn quickly and well. When we love something or someone, we learn to pay attention and so become intimate with the details. And to know the details about anything is to be intimate with it. Love is not a general pursuit. It is always specific. For example, I can take great pictures when I am ‘in the zone’ with the subject. The subject becomes a ‘love object’ in the sense that there is nothing else but IT! I know the whole universe about it by paying attention. So it is with making music. Nothing escapes me when I am listening to the inspiration that is almost always there. And so it is also with teaching, doing workshops, fatherhood and everything else. All this paying attention especially in everyday living is probably the main reason why despite my unconventional life, I am still a relatively sane person.

I have consciously made it my spiritual practice to pay attention to whatever it is I am doing, experiencing or whatever IS before me. As a consequence, I almost always find fascination in the so-called ordinary. When one is present, there is no such thing as repetition and so boredom seldom creeps in. If I were to tell one thing to the world, I would tell them that the secret to being happy lies not in some Shangrila out there, or a bank account or anything ‘extraordinary.’ It lies in things as they are, and in you just as you are. Just be awake to it.

When we were young, we always used to hear from our parents and teachers that God made each one of us special. I found that rather strange and suspicious since if we were all special, then it meant we were all the same and therefore ordinary. My simple mind came to the conclusion that what all that talk about being special actually meant was that God’s imprint was in everything including the mundane and the ordinary which meant there isn’t anything that is not special—and therefore not ordinary. In short, one didn’t need to look or go anywhere else. It is all over that one can’t miss it. The special is in the ordinary and the ordinary is in fact, special. Read below my favorite poem:

To see a world in a grain of sand
And heaven in a wild flower
To hold infinity in the palm of your hand
And eternity in an hour

William Blake

Look at anything long enough and it can become a portal to the transcendent. To recognize the ordinariness in the so-called special person we love is to know what love is. We learn that we love a person not because he/she is special. The truth is he/she has become special only because we have chosen to love them. Or to put it more accurately, we ‘wake up’ to the reality that our beloved and every sentient being on earth bears the face of God.

My daughter Ala is off to a new adventure. Ever since she joined the Greenpeace boat that sailed around the Philippines promoting environmental concerns, she’s been hooked. She is a walking encyclopedia on issues about ecology, has turned vegetarian, and now is on a mission to help highlight Australia’s contribution to China’s pollution.

Here’s a message from her:

Would you all like to make a difference together? Would you like to take a leap of faith on me, believe that together we can make things happen?

I have just said yes to a very special challenge, together with a friend. I invite you to walk alongside us on it.

Here is the lowdown of this project:

Who? Lucy and Ala!What? The Greenpeace Great Wall of China Challenge

The primary goal? To raise 5,500 AUD each (11,000 AUD), half of which is due by August 25, 2006, for Greenpeace’s climate change campaign activity.

The secondary goal? To trek the Great Wall of China, the only man-made structure visible from outer space, with Greenpeace China!

Read on here!!!

In the months to come, she will be blogging very actively. Please bookmark it, or if you have a livejournal, please add her as a friend.

17 thoughts on “‘..if i could tell one thing to the world..’”

  1. hello jim,
    didn’t know that you are now based in oz. again, kudos for a great post in blogkadahan.

    i have yet to read all your aussie stories. been working for them for almost 5 years now.


  2. Experience is the best teacher, Jim, not only in music but in parenting too. You have raised your daughters very well.
    With your talent and success you should have been given an honorary degree in music. But surely you must have received a lot of awards in the phils. I’ve been overseas for 19 years now kasi.
    I agree with you about pursuing your passion and being focused on what you believe- as well as finding pleasure in things around you.
    Happy to learn that you are going to have a concert here in brisbane next year – or if you will have one in Baguio, will probably catch you there.
    My son is a self-taught piano player. I encouraged him to take formal lessons and he started last year. Now, his teachernow says he has nothing more to teach him. At 16 he is teaching beginner’s piano lessons to new students. A couple of months ago he also started taking up vocal lessons (his voice is not all that good but do you think that through practice and determination he might be a good singer? like yourself? but he is a true entertainer and not afraid to be onstage) I dare not criticise him though I just keep on supporting him in whatever he wants to do. These musical activities keep him away from trouble esp drugs. Actually tonight 22/7/06 he just got home fromSydney where he joined his school band touring/performing in 4 different Sydney high schools. His description of his experience- ‘it’s wicked and sydney is awesome!’
    There you go.
    have a good weekend.

  3. Hi Jim,

    “The special is in the ordinary and the ordinary is in fact, special….Look at anything long enough and it can become a portal to the transcendent.”

    Just wondering if you would consider this to apply as well to the ordinary houses in “boring” suburbia. Do you think they might also represent something special, like the drama and struggle of the people who live in them?

  4. I have made it a point when hiring applicants at work to look for their experiences if education is lacking. I firmly believe that education is not the only way to learn and be the best. Lifetime experiences plays a great deal of role in ones life.

    I think you are a great sample of that.

    I have come across your daughter’s mission during one of my blog surfing. She is to be admired for her enthusiasm in her contribution to preserve, if not to make mother nature better. I have actually mentioned her in my blog. I have even discussed this with co-workers who are willing to help support her. I am looking forward to the end of next week for the pledge of support they are going to turn in and then in turn I will forward to Ala.

    You & your wife must be so proud of your kids. Kudos!

  5. I’d like to say what the Supreme Court justices often use..

    Sir Jim, I concur in you in toto.

    Cheers to life and the love for it!

    If only half the people in the world were half as positive as you…

  6. mari–salamat. i really enjoyed that topic and will post it here this coming week.

    Vicky–your son is really an artist. I know what he is feeling. I remember how excted I would get doing gigs. I still do. He is pursuing his passion and that can only be good. Congrats to him an d to you for bein g so supportive.

    anonymous–I will check out slate’s link. thanks

    anonymous–without a doubt. As i said ANYTHING can be a portal to wonderment and even transcendence. Even the so-called boring. WE just have to wake up to it.

    cerridwen–Ala willl be happy to hear that. Yes, we are so proud that she has herat ikn the right place and that she carries a lot of idealism.

    Doranne–You sound like a lawyer already. ha ha. Temporarily down yung site. check later.

  7. Jim, I am very grateful for your encouragements. I know that in the music industry it can either make or break you. Plus creative people seem to get into a ‘mood’ and are lost in their own world. So far, Ray my son is on the right track- very tame habits, does not smoke or drink yet…drugs- god forbid! and his friends are OK. He spends 60% of his time on the piano and it’s really driving me crazy sometimes. But he plans to pursue music in the academe- maybe the sydney conservatorium as he fell in love with sydney…rgds

  8. Hi! 🙂 I’ve been trolling your site for such a long time and never got around to comment cos I didn’t have anything substantial to say. 🙂 I just wanted to share with you that a certain group of guys (who sing a bunch of cover songs from the 50’s and 60’s) also covered “Panalangin”. You should see them if ever you decide to come back. 🙂

    I hope I’m not getting them in trouble for sharing it with you but they’re really good. 🙂


  9. Vicky– I can imagine how proud you must feel. And i can sense hpow talented and how passionate your son must be about what he does. He is lucky to have a supportive parent in you.

    anonymous–coolness! Who’s the group?

  10. Hi Jim,

    I am inspired by your practice of finding sacredness and divinity in everything you do even in the “ordinariness of life”. I guess we are born to be spiritual, nothing more, nothing less.

    In living your life as a whole, I feel energized in being spiritual and to integrate each moment of my life as special. Sometimes, I do struggle with my own spirituality and falls to my ego and the materialistic world.

    Yet, I see that you are a true testament of how our real life experiences are building foundations…I feel honored to share in your blog, to have read your books and for listening and being open minded with my idiosyncratic ideals.

    I salute you always.

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