the eternal city and a ‘spiritual interview’

This is the second time I write about Baguio on this blog.

Just came back from Baguio with Lydia. We stayed in a house we bought years ago but do not get to use as often as we want or should. It was cold and pleasant with nary a Manila resident occupying parking space with his large SUV or upping the price of strawberries in the market. The meningococcemia scare took care of that. As a saleslady put it, it seems like summer did not happen this year since the Manila crowd which comprises the bulk of the city’s summer revenues stayed away.

Meningococcemia or not, Baguio was/is and will always be the eternal city for me. Many days and nights of my youth were spent there with barkada, girlfriends, family doing all the fun, crazy things that young kids do, like gate-crashing parties, meeting with girlfriends secretly or otherwise, smoking strange plants and flowers, getting crazy on strawberry wine (there was such a thing before) or just hanging around with the barkada talking and laughing your head off till early morning, or just being the bluesy, angsty teen that everyone gets to be at one time in their lives. As an adult now, I just enjoy the quiet, the fog, the dignity of majestic pine trees, and the remaining quaintness of the city.

Baguio, even if old time residents complain of the monstrous mall, the pollution, and the overpopulation was/ is still a pleasant place—still cool in the daytime and c-o-l-d at night, and still pretty in my eyes. There are still more books to read and write, songs to make, long walks and paths to trod, ghosts to meet, memories to remember in time, hearts to pine for, solitude to ponder, conversations to have by the fireplace, visitors to entertain, treasures to discover through the ukay-ukay and the market, new restaurants to try and more of the Benguet quaintness to savor before this old city loses its charms on me.

Must go back soon


‘spiritual interview’

On a roll these days. I had a ‘spiritual interview’ and I’d like to share it with you. Visit this site if you wish to read it. Please leave your comments there.

Thanks coolmel.

This I know to be true.

I’m taking a break from my book writing which seems to be progressing ever sooooo slowly. Been at it all afternoon and only a few pages done. I thought I’d write something quick for this blog.

The past 10 years has been a growth spurt for me especially in my spiritual life. I have done my own questioning, my intense investigations about earthly existence and its meaning(s) and continue to do so almost daily. I have done many meditations which have at times been unmistakable glimpses into the depths of life’s great mysteries itself. In so doing, I have picked up some important things I hold close to my heart.

I have also learned a few things from many masters, their lives, works and their books. Many of what they have written have resonated with me and I suspect will also with many readers of this blog, even if I know I only speak for myself about life as I have known it.

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I take great appreciation of Buddha’s observations regarding the acceptance of teachings. He says,

Rely on the message, not on the personality of the teacher.
Rely on the meaning, not just the words.
Rely on the real meaning, not just the provisional meaning.
Rely on your wisdom and insight, not just on your ordinary, judgmental mind.

I hope you do the above as you read below.

These truths below, I know are real for me.

1) That the second rule of life is survival and the first rule is that all are one.

2) That the pair of opposites such as good and bad, ugly and beautiful, etc. are necessarily with us because they not only validate each other but are inextricably linked. What is white if we do not know black?

By the way, many times they are also quite interchangeable. Haven’t we found ourselves eating our words and changing our beliefs, opinions, views and even our morality quite often?

3) That everything is perfect just as it is.

4) That one’s spiritual journey has reached an important and happy phase when almost everything one sees and encounters is God and there seems nothing else but God.

5)That if we can’t find heaven in the here and now, we will never find it.

6) That if we could ask God what life’s meaning was, God would say, ‘it’s up to you.’

7) That the biggest source of unhappiness is not living in the moment, and that the second one is the refusal to be fully conscious and accepting of one’s power to create.

8) That only what is eternal is real, that the spiritual journey is all about finding the eternal, timeless truths in this time-and-space bound temporal setup called ‘life’.

9) That we have it wrong when it comes to death. Death, contrary to our beliefs is probably the happiest moment in life since everything false and unreal about us disappears and what remains is only what is eternal and true. And we finally get to meet God and know the unknowable.

10) That despite the level or state of one’s spirituality and enlightenment, we still have to live on earth. The house still needs to be cleaned, the plates still have to be washed, laundry done and worldly matters attended to. Enlightenment is not exchanging earth for heaven but seeing heaven on earth.

11) That to understand life is to appreciate its immense complexities and to accept them as such is a step towards simplifying it.

12) That the truth really sets you free but sometimes can make you extremely mad and uncomfortable first.

13) That there is so-called little truth and there is big truth. Little truth has a near expiration date. Big truth is one which has not reached its expiration date, and it may seem like it never will.

14) That what we do for work speaks about what we have, and what we do for leisure speaks about what we are. And lucky is the man whose leisure activities brings him what he has.

15) That symbols take us out of the literal and into the magical, mystical reality of God. All religions are true symbolically but become problematic when we interpret them literally, or worse like scientific documents.

16) That while man’s greatest yearning is divine experience, God’s greatest kick is having a human experience through people. Our lives are God’s ‘out-of-spirit’ experiences.

I have a 17th rule that is equally important to accept and understand and it is this:

17) That there are days when I am stupid, dense, unconscious, and not attentive and so none of the above can seem true for me.

Hmmm.. I think I’ll include these thoughts in the book.


I was interviewed via the net by Svelte Roque a few weeks ago for a website for our (you guessd it!) kababayans. It was an interview I thoroughly enjoyed as we burned cyberspace from Manila to Belgium for a few hours exchanging emails. Come to think of it, we should have just chatted. ha ha! Allow me a little ego room and share this with you. It will only be an excerpt though. If you feel it’s worth reading, please visit

Thanks, Svelte!


It’s almost like a scene from “Entrapment”. Catherine Zeta-Jones and Sean Connery go through a maze of invisible laser threads that guard a priceless work of art. It’s after hours and the museum is closed for the night. The inaccessible pieces are the most heavily guarded.

Cut to reality. Today, anyone with a connection, be it dial-up or broadband, can access the internet. There are restricted sites; after all, beauty and quality come at a price. If you know where to look, you can tap into the bursting new literature of modern times, the weblog.
The internet can be a very exciting place where the old and the new kiss.

Then there is this article at hand. If you were alive during the 70s, the following words will most certainly be familiar to you: “pumapatak na naman ang ulan sa bubong ng bahay…” If you lived through the tumultuous days of EDSA I (1986), these words resonate in your memory:
“handog ng Pilipino sa mundo – mapayapang paraang pagbabago…
katotohanan, kalayaan, katarungan…” Any guitar-playing-loving Pinoy would know the voices and faces behind the first song. How can anyone not know the Apo Hiking Society? (link: The more discerning fan would recognise the hand that penned the 2nd song that captured the sentiments of a hopeful people yearning for change and a dignified life for all.

Jim Paredes is the man behind Apo’s songs. Jim’s a songwriter, for heaven’s sake. “I got my first guitar at age 11. I wrote my first song at age 15… I don’t read or write music. I write completely by feel. I save the melody and lyrics and work with an arranger for recordings. I wrote my first book in 1999.” Yes, he writes more than songs.

And captures more than just words with his eye. He shoots photography.
“I’ve been taking pictures for about 10 years… I am still learning my style here but my methodology or my way of taking pictures is to follow where fascination takes me regarding my subjects. I try to immerse myself with the subject. Lately, I have been attracted to ‘dark’
pictures, thick shadows…”

He dives. “Man!! Diving is like being in Mars or another planet. It’s overwhelming.”

He teaches. “I love to teach and the main reason is selfish. I teach because I learn as much and it clarifies me to express and teach things that are important to me. It certainly [is] not for the money. I feel that at my age, it is important to pass on what I believe are valuable things learned in my life. I enjoy teaching and give it the greatest care and attention. I look back at some teachers who had such an impact on me and I emulate them by being that kind of teacher to my students.
If I am to spend an x number of hours in class and get paid peanuts, I might as well give and get quality time from it.”

He is an artisan with these thoughts. “Basically, I am a snob pagdating sa art. Generally, pag nagawa na, ayaw ko na gawin. I never buy records/CDs that are popular. I am not a loud artist. I think I kinda go about things with more subtlety in expressing what I want to say. For influences, I listen to world music-not American Top 40.”

He blogs. *you do a double take* But he’s famous! I’m not kidding. Jim, tell my uninitiated friend why you blog. “Because I don’t believe that fame is THAT big a deal. Really! So Why should I not blog. Because I am famous? Huh?” Oops! Ok, ok, take it easy, Jim. “Ikaw naman! Did I sound galit? It’s just that from where I am I really feel fame is overrated.”
See? Told ya. But does he have time to blog? *still a bit disbelieving* Well, he says it’s a great outlet. Right, Jim? “Blogging is a great outlet.” See??? He’s so normal! Sure he is. He would reconsider his fame status, though, if he were Paul McCartney. Yeah, right. Yes, too! He said so himself! “Well maybe if I were Paul McCartney it would be different. Ha ha!!” See??? *you hand me over 500 pesos* Oo na. Panalo ka na. There’s more. Let me give you a sneak peek of my session with Jim P.
We were thousands of kilometres apart, but the way he answered my questions, you would think he had been sitting just across me.

Me: What kinds of blogs do you read? Do you frequent other blogs?

Jim: I like all sorts of blogs but gravitate towards those that sort of deal with spirituality, or at least reflect a depth of emotional interiority of the blogger. It does not have to be that deep but it has to be honest.

Me: What kind of writing do you do in your blogs, Jim?

Jim: Stuff I think about and do. I try to give it an angle that will go beyond the voyeuristic thrill I imagine people have when they read a so-called celeb blog, if you know what I mean. It’s a blog I wish to share with everyone, not just fans.

There’s so much that can happen in the simplest of exchanges. Jim and I have yet to meet each other personally. While the Oscar’s played from 2:30-5:30 in the morning here in Europe, Jim was answering my questions
7 hours away.

PE (before watching the Oscar’s): Tell us about yourself, Jim. What you do, what you really love to do, what you’re forced to do, what makes you uncomfortable, what makes your heart go wild, what captures your fancy…

Jim, midmorning in the Philippines: I am an artist in many aspects. I sing, perform write songs, write books, teach, take photos, and ruminate about life. I love to do all of the above plus diving, long walks, travel, meditation, and just finding myself thrown into unknown situations which can spell adventure. I am also the type who is learning constantly from people and from everything I encounter.
I try to be present 100% to everything I am doing and everywhere I am.

My heart goes wild at all of the above plus beautiful music, art, a beautiful subject to photograph (lalo na pag babae), [p]oetic experiences of the divine as it manifests [itself] in little things.
Live haikus without words, ika nga.

What am I forced to do? Nothing really. Whatever it is I do is with my consent although some things I least like to do. An example is sitting in formal social events that prevent any real substantive encounters, conversations, etc.

PE: Does this mean you don’t like sitting in noisy bars where you can hardly hear the people you’re with?

Jim: Yes!! I prefer quiet places. I almost cannot stand discos beyond around 30 minutes.

PE: What shocks you?

Thought I’d cut it here. Suspense ba? Wanna read more? Visit!

Which one are you?

I occasionally stumble upon great links that are too good not to share. This one I got from coolmel. I sort of rewrote it a bit though. I am hoping that this article will ask the reader pointedly the question, “Which one are you?”. Read on.

In Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, he talks about the types of people there are and what basically moves them. I’m quoting heavily from C. George Boeree’s excellent summary of Maslow’s work:

“Maslow created his now famous hierarchy of needs. Beyond the details of air, water, food, and sex, he laid out five broader layers: the physiological needs, the needs for safety and security, the needs for love and belonging, the needs for esteem, and the need to actualize the self, in that order.

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The Deficit NeedsT
he first four layers in the hierarchy Maslow called the Deficit Needs:

1. The physiological needs. These include the needs we have for oxygen, water, protein, salt, sugar, calcium, and other minerals and vitamins. They also include the need to maintain a pH balance (getting too acidic or base will kill you) and temperature (98.6 or near to it). Also, there’s the needs to be active, to rest, to sleep, to get rid of wastes (CO2, sweat, urine, and feces), to avoid pain, and to have sex.

2. The safety and security needs. When the physiological needs are largely taken care of, this second layer of needs comes into play. You will become increasingly interested in finding safe circumstances, stability, protection. You might develop a need for structure, for order, some limits.

3. The love and belonging needs. When physiological needs and safety needs are, by and large, taken care of, a third layer starts to show up. You begin to feel the need for friends, a sweetheart, children, affectionate relationships in general, even a sense of community. Looked at negatively, you become increasing susceptible to loneliness and social anxieties.

4. The esteem needs. Next, we begin to look for a little self-esteem. Maslow noted two versions of esteem needs, a lower one and a higher one. The lower one is the need for the respect of others, the need for status, fame, glory, recognition, attention, reputation, appreciation, dignity, even dominance. The higher form involves the need for self-respect, including such feelings as confidence, competence, achievement, mastery, independence, and freedom. Note that this is the “higher” form because, unlike the respect of others, once you have self-respect, it’s a lot harder to lose!

“All of the preceding four levels he calls deficit needs, or D-needs. If you don’t have enough of something — i.e. you have a deficit — you feel the need. But if you get all you need, you feel nothing at all! In other words, they cease to be motivating. As the old blues song goes, “you don’t miss your water till your well runs dry!”

The Being Needs
“The last level is a bit different. Maslow has used a variety of terms to refer to this level: He has called it growth motivation (in contrast to deficit motivation), being needs (or B-needs, in contrast to D-needs), and self-actualization.”
“These are needs that do not involve balance… Once engaged, they continue to be felt. In fact, they are likely to become stronger as we “feed” them! They involve the continuous desire to fulfill potentials, to “be all that you can be.” They are a matter of becoming the most complete, the fullest, “you” — hence the term, self-actualization.”

“…they had a sense of humility and respect towards others — something Maslow also called democratic values — meaning that they were open to ethnic and individual variety, even treasuring it. They had a quality Maslow called human kinship or Gemeinschaftsgefhl — social interest, compassion, humanity. And this was accompanied by a strong ethics, which was spiritual but seldom conventionally religious in nature.”

“And these people had a certain freshness of appreciation, an ability to see things, even ordinary things, with wonder. Along with this comes their ability to be creative, inventive, and original. And, finally, these people tended to have more peak experiences than the average person. A peak experience is one that takes you out of yourself, that makes you feel very tiny, or very large, to some extent one with life or nature or God. It gives you a feeling of being a part of the infinite and the eternal. These experiences tend to leave their mark on a person, change them for the better, and many people actively seek them out.”

So, which one are you?

For more of this, go to