‘..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.