Aus day!

January 26 was a day not to be missed. At least that’s what everyone was telling us. We went to Darling harbor with friends to celebrate our first ever Australia Day. Aussies love this day and they really show it. Aside from the fact that it’s a holiday, there’s a big hoopla all over. Everywhere you go, people are celebrating. The flag is predominantly displayed, waved and worn, body painted or stuck on body parts and everyone you meet greets you with a smile and a ’Happy Australia Day’.

The crowds were thick everywhere. We stayed at the Darling harbor bridge to get a good view of the fireworks. Prior to the light show, a few bands and singers came on the stage situated in the middle of the water and did a few numbers. Then there were the customary messages from the politicians about being Australian and what a proud and beautiful country Aus is. The last part had videos and voice clips from people all over the world who had chosen Australia as their country. One by one, immigrant voices spoke of coming to this country and never looking back. They were thankful that they had done what they had done.

Lydia and I couldn’t help but be touched since we came in as immigrants too, taking the big psychological and physical leap out of the Philippines to stake our time and future in this place. I caught myself thinking how lucky I was to be standing on the bridge on this day as a migrant and staring out at the most beautiful harbor in the world and being part of this beautiful and lucky country. The feeling was close to exhilarating. In the midst of it, I still knew that I was Filipino through and through, but was also part of an other millieu as well.

Then came the fireworks. Awesome. As foreign languages and accents around me shrieked with expressions of delight and cheer, I knew that deep down, I was not just a Filipino or migrant to Aus. I was a citizen of the world as well.

By the way, do not miss the movie Apocalypto, directed by Mel Gibson. It’s quite an action-packed film. No known actors but it’s OK. Midway through it, my son and wife were complaining na pagod na sila. I love the whole Mayan culture scene. It’s quite a story and its warness will shock you and arouse your sense of awe and wonder.

good times in sydney

I had a great weekend and a good monday. First of all, my workshop went ahead as scheduled, thank God. I was thinking twice about pushing through with it because I was getting very few confirmations a few days earlier. It seems that January is not a great time for things like this in Sydney. People are on vacation, and recovering from Christmas expenses, and anticipating school which they will have to spend on by the end of the month when school resumes. Just the same, I got 7 intrepid souls to sign up. I held it at my house, and I am happy and proud to say it went very well. I have done TCU many times, and each workshop has its own dynamic and unfolding which is quite unique. For this one, it was more intimate. The sharing was wonderful and I felt I learned quite a lot from the participants. I can’t wait to do my next one.

I ended Sunday having a great sense of fulfillment and happy that the students felt that they had learned something important and possibly life-changing. Most significantly, I felt a cosmic duty fulfilled as I kept an appointment with people who were ready for something like the TCU workshops and paradigm to enter their lives,

Last night (monday) I had my first pictorial in my Sydney residence. I put up my lights and background paper in my garage studio. My model was Lena Cruz, a Filipina actress who is part of the Sydney production of the stage musical Priscilla, Queen of the Desert. It was a great session. It’s always nice to shoot performers who are comfortable being themselves. Bhajune, THE filipino haidresser here did the hair and make-up and Lena looked fabulous. I shot this for a future cover of Filipina magazine, a new and exciting publication here.

By the time the session ended, I had the smile of a man deprived of a joy for sometime but finally getting it again last night. Sarap mag-photography.

I am happy at the number of people who respond to my articles in Philippine Star (which I reprint here) and take the time to write me through this blog and through my email. I seem to elicit different reactions from many people and from all over–Philippines, US, Australia, Scotland, England, the Middle East, etc. Nakakatuwa! Writing , especially on the net is great since I reach out to the world and get responses. Never in the history of man was this possible–this ability to dialogue with as many people as possible. My humble site gets a few hundred hits a day. I can imagine what major websites contend with. I try to answer every single letter. If I do not, it doesn’t mean I did not appreciate its contents. It just means that I do not have the time or I am speechless. Seriously!

My days in Sydney especially the past month have caught me either very busy or doing nothing. Well, not exactly doing nothing since there are always errands to do here. There are chores–cleaning the house, cooking, washing, mopping, picking up, etc. Those things are daily events of life for Pinoys outside the Philippines. By busy, I mean having wall to wall schedules of guitar and voice lessons, and having a full day of activities that concern other people and thus cannot be canceled just like that. Actually, I love it, and come to think of it, there are actually fewer and fewer things I do that I do not enjoy. I don’t think it’s because of the things I do per se. I think it’s just that I choose to do them and have a great time about it.

Life is short. Your house can burn down. It justhappened to Chinchin, my neighbor. You can get sick. YOu can lose a loved one. I say be happy NOW wherever and however!

Great faith, great doubt, great effort

Humming in my UNIVERSE By Jim Paredes
The Philippine STAR 01/21/2007

Moving to Australia last year was a big undertaking for my family. We had to wait five years to do it. We had already decided to move in 2001 but the cancer episodes and deaths that shook our family prevented us from moving when we wanted to. It’s been 10 months now since we left Manila.

I was watching a TV documentary on SBS-TV here in Sydney about how some Africans spend years and risk everything to cross the border from Morocco to Spain just to make it to Europe. As an immigrant myself, I was on the verge of tears watching how much suffering they had to go through – emotionally, physically and psychologically – to have a shot at a better life. I salute their determination and their stories have raised the benchmark for me on how indomitable the human spirit can be.

I admit that my family was compelled not by economic reasons but by wanderlust to move to Australia. That, and a respite from life as I knew it back in the Philippines plus other reasons not anywhere as dramatic as those of the Africans.

But even so, it was a major undertaking on our part. In 10 months, we have passed through many hoops to get settled in a place of our own. My kids Ala and Mio seem to have gone past the initial depression of feeling lost in a foreign setting and are assimilating to Aussie life quite well. Lydia is doing fine although it is tough for her at times since I an often out of Sydney doing work in the Philippines or elsewhere. Many times, she finds herself alone and feeling the pain of alienation and meaninglessness in suburbia.

Last year, I, too, felt the loneliness when I had to be in Manila for four months instead of being with my family. The irony of it all hits me sometimes in a funny, and at other times, an unfunny way –that I actually do part of my work in the Philippines to support my family abroad!

Looking at our situation, I recall a quote from St. John of the Cross where he describes the three stages of human endeavor: the first stage involves great faith, which then evolves to great doubt, and finally, to great effort. In my own life, I have seen this dynamic happen many times.

When we left Manila, we were all optimistic that we were doing so for the right reasons and that we had the wherewithal to do what we were doing. We believed that we had planned our migration meticulously well and that everything would fall into place. And in many ways, it has. We have come quite far settling in, in the short time that we’ve been here.

It feels good to be on a sure footing. It’s comfortable and reassuring to be in control of things, people and events. It’s nice to know all the facts about something before making decisions and commitments so that things turn out just how we expect them to.

But we all know that life isn’t always as predictable as we wish it would be. No matter how much we plan and second-guess how things will turn out and take steps to make life turn out a certain way, we soon learn that life has this annoying habit of going its own way in spite of our best-laid plans.

For one, we underestimated the loneliness. It can hit you and cut deep to your core – enough to plant great doubts in your mind about the worthiness and even the sanity of this great move you have made.

I’ve heard many immigrants, myself included, ask: “What the hell am I doing here?” I was quite taken aback when a friend who has been living in Sydney for 15 years, has a great job and has acquired five houses, told me that he still occasionally asks himself the same question in spite of his success here.

Planting oneself into a new setting and culture takes time and a lot of planning. You need to know the terrain, choose the best part of the country to settle in, and ensure that you not only survive, but thrive. Australia is a wonderful country. But just like any place outside of home, it can be an alienating experience to be assaulted constantly with a foreign accent and a way of life that is so different from life as you’ve always known it back home. And you may find yourself missing the very reasons that compelled you to leave home – the chaos, inefficiency, uncertainty – in this too predictable and orderly society.

When I get this feeling, I know it’s time to consciously exert great effort to keep my optimism and spirit alive and afloat. This loneliness, too, shall pass. There will be better days ahead. Soon enough, the very foreignness of everything again takes on a magical character that always manages to arouse my sense of wonder.

My son and I were talking the other day and he said that when one gets over the loneliness, living here is actually a good deal. I was happy that he saw it that way. I do not know if I can ever completely immerse myself in Aussie society and culture, enough to become a player here outside the Filipino community. But I know that this isn’t a permanent place for me to live in.

I am learning that migrating is not about attaining a certain status, or achieving something, or even getting to a final destination. As the Zen mantra goes, the journey itself is the destination. Every day is what it’s all about, as I realize that every little gain I make in this new setting is a sprout, a bud, or even a sapling making its presence felt along the road I have chosen to travel on. Paying attention to the right things has its rewards.

It doesn’t really matter which country you have moved to, or whether you even left the Philippines at all. We are all on a journey. As my wife and I are learning, it can get better every day if we choose it to be so.
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Violent beauty, familial love, techno-lust, and no combing!

Went out with Lydia and my son Mio with our dear friend Malu Moraza and her son Xavy to Watson Bay. We took the ferry from Paramatta and went to this picturesque little destination with such breathtaking views. It was not just the view of the city that was impressive but also the prehistoric cliffs and rock formations that seem to stand defiantly against the expanse of a big ocean. It was a wonderful site to behold these natural wonders. But at the same time, one can’t help but be totally pulled in by a bigger story about the place, and that is that it has been a dramatic setting for many a suicides committed there. Many teenagers it is said, have jumped to their deaths from the high peaks into the rocky and watery depths below. There is such a violent beauty about the place. I couldn’t help but pay tribute to it by allowing it to take my breath away (without dying).

The most fun part of the day trip was the conversations and exchanges I had with my son Mio. We talked about a lot of things, from mundane jokes to heavy philosophical and spiritual stuff. I learned one thing about Mio today, and it is that he has a very probing mind–more than what I thought I knew. I’d even say that he has the makings of an intellectual since he seems able to grasp difficult concepts and ideas with ease. And he seems generally interested in them too, unless he was just accommodating his father. Ha ha!

What a great day it was.

Actually, we’ve been going out for three days now. The past two nights it was at the Noite Brazil concerts held at the Domain in the city and a park in Paramatta. Mio and I are both musicians and we thoroughly enjoyed the fantastic playing by the Brazillian Bossa players that entertained the crowd on those nights. More than enjoying the music and all that, I was so happy to enjoy Mio’s company. Actually, I do enjoy each and every member of my family and I am so grateful that they are easy to love and I am the kind of father who is crazy about them.

I defintely want an i-phone, Apple’s re-invention of the cellphone that will put any Nokia, Motorolla, Sony Ericson, Blackberry, etc. to shame. And to think I was lusting for a Nokia N-series phone just a month ago. Alas, lust is truly fleeting, and if it isn’t it’s at least transferable. Heh heh. I am definitely gonna hold off buying any other phone and will be among the first to line up for the i-phone this June. I have been an Apple user for many users now and have always enjoyed its cutting-edge technological wonders. Believe me, the i-phone will blow you away.

In two weeks, I am going back to Manila to do concerts with APO. I am quite excited to see Danny and Boboy and our musicians again. At the same time, I am quite lonely at the prospect of again leaving my family. I have been spending a lot of time with them and am so happy to be learning a lot about living abroad and sharing it with my loved ones.

It is also a great feeling to be living in our new house here. For some reason, I had no problem feeling at home in it. It felt like it was ours from the very first night I slept here. Maybe it’s because the furniture is familiar since we brought a lot of them from Manila. Or maybe it’s because Lydia has put her touch into it. But more than that, I just feel it has the ‘Paredes home’ spirit that seems to characterize every house we’ve lived in and owned. It is a friendly house and naturally attracts good people to visit. I know this house will recieve many visitors from Manila, Aus and the US and many other places, and they will be welcome.

I got a new ‘do’. It’s time for a change. I just felt that on this trip I was ready to do something adventurous. When I went to Pinoy hair specialist Bhajune in Rooty Hill to have it done, I was so surprised to find out that, a) the back of my head actually had a good shape (contrary to what Lydia had been saying all along), and b) I was not bald at the back as I suspected all along. What a relief! I feel so liberated having done something so uncharacteristic of me, cuttting it short like this. There was something very zen-like about letting go of a long-held image of what my hair ought to be. No attachmements. No combing. Great! I will still try skinhead one of these days! Rock and roll, as they say!

PS. If you are a regular reader of this blog and your name happens to be Emily, please write me at I have a message that may be important to you. I got a letter from someone and it concerns you. Please properly identify yourself in the letter–where you are from, civil status, etc.. to make sure I know I am communicating with the right Emily.

Quality time in a playful mood

Quality time in a playful mood
Humming in my UNIVERSE By Jim Paredes
The Philippine STAR 01/14/2007

I love the time I spend with my family, especially when everyone is in a playful mood. On a recent leisurely two-hour drive to Terrigal, a scenic destination north of Sydney, we started asking each other hypothetical questions to while away the time. Some examples:

1. Which five historical figures, dead or alive, would you would like to have dinner with?

2. What would you rather experience: two hours onboard a real alien ship or an equal amount of time with real live dinosaurs?

3. Who would you rather meet? Jose Rizal or all four of the Beatles?

4. Name five vampy, sexy personalities you would like to have dinner with.

5. Name off-beat, flamboyant characters, dead or alive, you would like to meet.

6. If you could choose any job in the world, what would it be?

The questions were exciting enough, but the answers were even more intriguing. Among the historical figures we wanted to have dinner with, Jesus, Buddha, Einstein, Hitler, Leonardo Da Vinci, Rizal, Salvador Dali, Judas, Mao Tse Tung and Rasputin topped the list. But as soon as we came up with our guest list for dinner, more practical and some funny considerations popped up. For example, could Hitler, an anti-Semite, and Einstein, a Jew, be seated together or even be in the same room? Would Einstein insist on kosher food? What if Rizal wanted adobo? And would the Buddha even eat at all? What if Jesus insisted on washing everyone’s feet all of a sudden? And why have Mao there? Isn’t one dictator more than enough? And didn’t Mao, according to the account of his American doctor, enjoy the habit of “breaking wind” after a meal? Wouldn’t that upset everyone?

Leonardo would probably be inspired to paint a new “Last Supper” with this motley crew as his models. And what would the eccentric egomaniacal Dali do? Wasn’t he known to carry a big bell that he would ring if no one was paying attention to him? And wouldn’t Rasputin make everyone uncomfortable with his evil killer stare? Would he be paranoid and suspect that the meal was poisoned? What a bizarre tableau the dinner table would make.

On question No. 2, which involved the choice between an alien experience with the possibility of being abducted and all of our orifices probed (but perhaps we could be benignly treated, as E.T. did his earthling friends), or the prospect of witnessing real live dinosaurs à la Jurassic Park, we were evenly split. Admittedly, both prospects are quite spectacular. Imagine actually dialoguing with creatures from another galaxy. Would they be like us in any way? Would they be superior? Our assumption was yes, because their being on earth would mean they had the technology to travel to this neck of the universe. But what would it really be like, seeing with one’s own eyes mammoth prehistoric creatures like the T-Rex, the velociraptor or the stegosaurus, which no man has ever laid eyes on? Would they look anything close to the artists’ sketches we have based on scientific speculations?

Between hanging out with Jose Rizal or the Beatles, I am sorry to say but our national hero had to take a back seat to the Fab Four. We are all musically inclined in the family, after all, and even just the hypothetical prospect of meeting the greatest band in history tops anything else. My son Mio loves to hear me tell over and over again my experience of watching the Beatles when they came here in the late ’60s. It is such a wonderful bonding experience to relish music and discuss musicians we both like.

On question No. 4 regarding the vampy, sexy company we would enjoy having, I named Marilyn Monroe, among others. My daughter Ala rattled of some Latino-sounding male names. She also said she was intrigued by Cleopatra – she with her extravagant milk baths who seduced powerful men, and who killed herself with an asp. My son mentioned Paris Hilton, which I readily seconded. We both laughed at how attracted we were to her white trash-slut image and how unabashedly we were admitting it.

The offbeat or flamboyant characters we tripped on were Johnny Depp (my daughter Ala’s choice) and Sasha Baron Cohen, a.k.a. Borat, who we unanimously agreed on. Also mentioned were Salvador Dali, Freddie Mercury and Marie Antoinette. Oh, what fun company they would all be.

On the last question about the ideal occupation, Mio said it would be cool to be a spy à la 007 – with all the gadgets – or an assassin. In the creativity classes I offer, this fantasy seems to appear quite often. I wonder why? But nothing beats the occupation I read somewhere, of being the “official devirginizer,” which is assigned to the shaman of some tribe in the South Pacific. While we found the job description hilarious, my children had serious doubts as to how much “fun” that would be if it became an obligation and duty to administer to everyone. And you can’t delegate the job to anyone. Hey, it’s a tough job, but someone’s gotta do it.

Such silly moments when everyone is just hanging loose and being playful make for priceless quality time. Often, when we try to imagine ourselves as old and alone, we imagine that our best memories would be the serious conversations and the monumental and dramatic quotable quotes and great truths that we learned from our loved ones. While such moments would undoubtedly qualify as great memories, I would also include in the list the times when we were all just being and doing it with unconditional fun and unguarded humor.

One of my fondest memories of my grandfather is a story he told, obviously a fib, about someone he knew who wore his suspenders so tight that his feet could not touch the ground. And he made this ridiculous claim that the only ticklish spot in his body was his thumb. I remember his impish smile as he insisted on the veracity of his claims against our loud, incredulous objections. Those silly moments with him say so much about his creativity, his humor, and his capacity to enjoy light moments with his loved ones.

I imagine that even Jesus and Buddha had such moments, though unrecorded, when they laughed out loud at jokes, or saw the humor that God likes to leave in little corners in the universe and that spring at us from time to time. If you don’t believe God plays cosmic jokes, look at a platypus!

Great men must have a great capacity for laughter. G.K. Chesterton put it so well when he said, “Angels can fly because they take themselves lightly.”
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Comforting Prayers

Comforting prayers
The Philippine STAR 01/07/2007

A vivid memory of my boyhood is lying in my bed at night with my mother at my side teaching me the child’s bedtime prayer which starts, “Now I lay me down to sleep, I pray the Lord my soul to keep…” It was comforting to be near her, hearing her voice, and it was reassuring to listen to her entrust me to the Lord if I should never wake up from my slumber.

Every person must have prayers, incantations or invocations that make him or her feel like he or she is standing on solid ground. I have some that I almost always recite in my head when I find myself in great need.

Before every show APO does, it is our practice to call everyone involved in the production – the members of the band, our management, the producers, the sound and lights people, production assistants, guests, dancers, directors and whoever else is there – and invite them to pray. Often, I lead the prayer. We usually start with a prayer of gratitude where we thank God for His help during our last show, and for giving us the opportunity to perform again. We note that this is a wonderful chance for us to show the world what all of us do best. We then ask for the same thing that we did the last show – to help us make the concert we are about to perform the best concert that the audience has ever seen, until they watch us again! We also ask God to give us good sound, lights, stage presence, attentiveness, great memories, wonderful chemistry, the X factor that will make us appealing, good voices, good timing, a friendly and sizeable audience, and whatever else we need to make the show the best we have ever done in our careers.

This praying together has been part of APO’s pre-performance ritual for many years. Besides invoking unseen forces to help us, the prayers help us focus on every little detail that we need to pay attention to by mentioning all of them.

Whether or not we are prayerful, we usually resort to prayer when we find ourselves in a predicament, sense a threatening situation or the presence of an unfriendly force. Before taking an exam or while driving in the rain, I mutter an anxious, “Dear God, help me.” I have more elaborate prayers that involve more words, which are a prelude to my asking for greater things.

I remember when I went to Saudi Arabia for the first time, and walked through the Jeddah airport in the 1980s. While I thought I had prepared myself mentally before visiting this part of the world, I was still jolted by the strangeness of it all. The icons for male and female depicted on the doors of the toilets, for example, showed Arab men and women in traditional headgear and burka. Then there were real date trees inside the huge terminal. It was also the time of year when Muslims from all over the world were in Jeddah to catch a plane to Mecca for the Haj.

I remember staring at the calendar on a wall which said we were in the 16th century following the Muslims’ measure of time. In the airport were Muslims of every color and stripe from all over the world. There were Africans with painted hands and faces, and Mongolians who were dressed in very foreign attire. While I was fascinated with them, I was slightly intimidated by the strangeness of it all. It was like stepping into the bar scene in the first Star Wars movie where aliens from all over the galaxy converge.

In the midst of this surreal (to me, at least) landscape in the airport, I murmured a quiet, almost customary, “Jesus, be by my side.” But instead of feeling assured and safe, something hit me hard that made me feel more vulnerable. This was not Jesus’ territory. This was Muhammad’s and Allah was God in this part of the world, and how dare I be so insensitive! I can now laugh about the panic I felt then, but it felt very real at the time.

Some prayers have different meanings for me now, compared to when I first encountered them. In my case, some prayers seem to have become less and less relevant as I developed my understanding of what God is. I have reworded or changed some of them. For example, in place of the Holy Communion prayer (“Lord, I am not worthy to receive you…”) – which I have found to be more and more meaningless in my life as I discovered the Buddha nature or Christ presence in everyone, including myself – I now pray: “Lord, I am worthy to receive You, but I always forget. Please remind always me that I am Your son.”

There are other prayers that have become so ingrained in my memory that they have become mantras. When I find myself in an intolerable situation, I whisper a simple prayer that goes, “God, please remind me that this too shall pass.”

Prayers are like the links in a chain that binds and centers us so that we are not lost among life’s shifting tides and fortunes. One of my favorite prayers is from my Zen practice. It is long but delightful and makes me feel anchored beside my creator. We say this prayer before and after teisho, when the sensei (Zen teacher) gives a talk to the sangha (congregation).

“Source of all Being, You created me when Your purpose first unfolded. Before the oldest of Your works, From the everlasting I was firmly set, From the beginning, before the earth came into being, The deep was not when I was born.

“There were no springs to gush with water. Before the mountains were settled, Before the hills I came to birth; Before You made the earth, the countryside, Or the first grains of the world’s dust. When You fixed the heavens firm, I was there, When You drew a ring on the surface of the deep, When You thickened the clouds above, When You fixed fast the springs of the deep, When You assigned the sea its boundaries – And the waters will not invade the shore – When You laid down the foundations of the earth, I was by Your side, a master artisan, Delighting You day after day.

“Ever at play in Your presence,At play everywhere in Your world, Delighting to be with the children of earth.”

But to me, the best prayer is said in silence, wherein I ask for nothing and I offer nothing. I can best explain this by way of a story about Mother Teresa.

An interviewer asked her, “When you pray, what do you say to God?”

Mother Teresa said, “I don’t talk, I simply listen.”

He then asked her, “Ah, then what is it that God says to you when you pray?”

She answered, “He also doesn’t talk. He also simply listens.”

This was followed by a long silence. Mother Teresa, sensing the confusion of the interviewer, broke the silence and said, “If you can’t understand the meaning of what I’ve just said, I’m sorry but there’s no way I can explain it any better.”

Indeed, true connection with the divine is beyond words.
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hitting the ground running

I’m hitting the gound running this 2007.

It must be the new house we have just moved into, or maybe I am in a new cycle of life but I feel ready to embark on many things this year. This is just the second day of the year and I am getting busy setting things up for the rest of 2007 and beyond.

For one thing, I am doing the 30th run of TCU or TAPPING THE CREATIVE UNIVERSE, a workshop I designed to reawaken creativity in people. I will be holding it for the second time here in Sydney this January 21. If you are interested, go down three entries below and get the details. Or write me at and I will be happy to send you the syllabus or answer any of your questions.

I also have resumed my guitar teaching here in Sydney and most of my old students have signed up again including some new ones. I was happy that many of them have not forgotten the lessons I gave them before.

I am also going to go all out with my photography. I have set up a studio here in my house in Sydney and will be accepting photo assignments while I am here. The background sheets are ready, the lights are waiting for me to swithch them on. All I need now is for clients to call. Tawag kayo. I promise the best photos you will ever have. If you want to see some of my work, visit here, or here.

I have also received a prototype of my fourth book from the printer. I am completing the typo corrections and a few other things before I send it back for final printing. I actually finished the book early last year but have been so tentaive about releasing it since I felt I needed some distance before I read it again. And that’s exactly what I did last week, and I am quite happy about it. I will make an announcement on this blog about where and how you can order it. I am utilising this new digital publishing technology that makes it easy to ‘print on demand’ so that anyone in the world can order through the net and they will get it delivered pronto!! On my part, I will have no inventory, and anyone who wants the book can have it.

I am really excited about this.

With my two other friends Danny and Boboy, I will be doing a lot of concerts this February in the Philippines, and a US-Canada tour this April to end of May. This is gonna be fun. I can’t recall any tour not being fun, actually.

As you can see, I am up to a lot of things.

After months of Pinoy Dream Academy and just plain laziness on my part, I have started exercising again. This afternoon, I ran around the park here in the suburb where I live, and it felt great. I am admittedly tired since my body has not done any exercise for more than a year now, but it was good to feel my blood flowing again. My last stint nin manila wasn’t exactly great for my health. For one thing, I was hardly getting good sleep at all. I had gotten used to the quiet of Sydney and found life in Manila too noisy. I’ve been taking care of myself better lately by sleeping and eating right.

Lastly, I would like to share with you a song and video I made for Western Union where I paid tribute to all overseas Filipinos everywhere. In a sense,, I know what it’s like to undergo the loneliness and alienation they are going through. One can feel like one is missing so much by being away. I am happy and proud of this song.