Living consciously

Sunday, October 28, 2007

To be able to be unhurried when hurried;

To be able not to slack off

When relaxed; to be able not to be

Frightened and at a loss for what to

Do when frightened and at a loss;

This is the learning that returns us

To our natural state and

Transforms our lives. — Liu Wenmin (early 16th century)

I can still feel it. I may be 56 but I have not forgotten what it was like being in my 20s. It doesn’t seem too long ago when my mates and I were as sharp as knives, our bodies taut and ready to spring on the world at a moment’s notice. When we heard the clarion call of youth and juvenile thrills loud and clear and almost always answered it. We could stay out partying every night, drink and smoke and feel none the less for wear.

No challenge was too scary when we were in our 20s. While our minds comprehended that there was danger in the world we should be worrying about, emotionally, we believed in our hearts that nothing, not even death, would befall us. Death and disaster were things that happened to other people.

Even if I had classmates who died early in high school due mainly to sickness, and while I prayed for them, I never felt their death was proof that I would also die someday. My youth enveloped me with some sort of Teflon of invincibility, which also made me believe that I would be young forever. Aging was something that happened to other people, but not to me.

Even when I already had my three kids, I still felt that I belonged to the youth demographic. I believed, and in many ways I still do, that this is my world and I still want to participate in it.

In many ways, my youth has not left me. I still dive head-on in pursuit of new things and experiences. I still wear my heart on my sleeve quite often. Many will say that I am crazy to have moved to another country in my 50s. While I knew the perils of uprooting and taking on a new country and culture at my age, after weighing everything, I came to the decision that I would rather be a foolish old man than spend the rest of my life speculating on, or worse, regretting how things would have been if I hadn’t done what I wanted to do.

There are people I know who resonate with this boldness (some would call it recklessness and abandon) which I indulge in occasionally. One of them is the esteemed writer Gilda Cordero Fernando. I first met Gilda seven or eight years ago, and we immediately hit it off. We sensed in each other a kindred spirit. I remember once at lunch when she asked me what the Seventies were like for me. How wild was it? Was it really all about sex and drugs? As I narrated crazy experiences I had during that era, she was wide-eyed, not with shock, but with the excitement of a teenager listening attentively.

Gilda, who is already so accomplished and esteemed, even in her senior age still has books to write and dreams to pursue. She is forever young.

There is also Mariel Francisco, another person I admire for changing careers in her 40s and for her boldness to question the most fundamental beliefs she grew up with. I have learned a lot from her after spending countless hours with her in book clubs and discussion groups. People like Gilda and Mariel have auras much younger, more alive and more sprightly than their actual ages. They exude a sense of the possible that is more common among much younger people.

Ironically there are some young ones, at least age-wise, whose auras exude just the opposite. They communicate not openness but blockages, or at least, a sense of very little possibilities. Only in their 20s, they express a rigidity that is found mostly among the elderly who have lived long and bitter lives, who got old never getting to live the lives they wanted. These “young people” hold on to opinions and conclusions about life like they have been around forever and have seen enough to be dogmatic about it. So young and so set in their ways.

While I know where they are coming from (since I went through such a stage for a while), I still pity them. They are the ones who prove the truism that youth is wasted on the young. Too full of their own opinions, they fear letting go of them because they are uncomfortable with the emptying needed for new experiences to come in. They cling tightly to their biases, seeming to come from a place of contraction. They fear new ideas, or the prospect of changing their preferences or their core values for new ones that will make them expand more.

But what can we really expect of the young? In their hurry to be adults, they tend to overdo it, and while they let new ideas come in and embrace them, they form their opinions and sadly close their minds too soon. When Georges Clemenceau, the former French Premier, found out that his son had joined the Communist Party, his reaction was not only surprising for a man of his political stature, but wise. “My son is 22 years old,” he said. “If he had not become a Communist at 22, I would have disowned him. If he is still a Communist at 30, I will do it then!”

I have also observed that many older people, in their fear of aging, tend to cling to their youth by blindly emulating everything young. They have their bodies and faces ‘Belo-ed not just once but many times, and submit to rigorous treatments of all sorts so they look younger than their real age. All this puffing up is not for me. I will dye my hair occasionally, but that’s about as far as I will go.

While I tend to live and let live, it can look pathetic when one is not comfortable in one’s own skin. But it is hard to pass judgment on this since the world seems to tell old people that it is a crime to age.

The world, especially the youth, is the big loser when the seniors in our society are pressured to deny their own status in order to feel relevant. This way, they withhold the gifts that life has taught them from being passed on to the young who could certainly learn from them. This is the bane that we baby boomers have unwittingly inflicted on the world. In our fixation to celebrate our children and give them every material opportunity to live life fully, we have encouraged a cult of youth even as we have abandoned our introspection about our own aging.

This very world we crafted for our children has now relegated us to the periphery; we are becoming increasingly irrelevant. While the chasm between generations has been there forever, I believe that these days, the gap is greater than ever. But it does not have to be this way.

The answer lies in awareness, and in celebrating the ever present joy that was with us at the onset of our lives and will be there when we breathe our last. This is the joy of timeless spirit that does not age, that makes itself known to anyone who bothers to be conscious of it. It is the joy that continuously makes us feel expansive, just as the universe that houses us is expanding. It is the glue that connects us to everything.

This joy has no exclusivity. Anyone can access it. It is the ticket to being constantly relevant and participative in the world, regardless of how old or young we are.

Many people may feel that the world belongs to the young. I say it belongs to those who live it consciously.

Equal right to lawlessness

I am angry!!

Gloria the Midget has just pardoned Estrada.

My friend Danny texted me and even if I am thousands of miles in Sydney, it did not cushion the insult to my sensibilities, and my sense of justice.

The man STOLE billions, and we spent 6 years and MILLIONS to convict him and he gets off without serving a day in jail, or saying sorry or even returning the money. Where is justice there?

Ah but Gloria the Manipulative says she is doing it out of compassion for a 70 year old man whose mother is sick, and who has been in ‘jail’ in his lavish Tanay Mansion for years now. Kawawa naman daw. I call it ‘idiot cmpassion’ and I am being kind.

More accurately, what Gloria the Megalomaniac has done is to isolate herself and the political class from the rest of the Filipinos. THEY are different. THEY are the exceptions to ANY rule. THEY can and do lord it over anyone and everything including the whole nation. THEY can do whatever the f___ they want—- cash in on ZTE, give out illegal cash dole outs, cheat elections, kill their enemies– you name it.

Don’t be surprised if the Marcoses will probably follow suit and be cleared of all the crimes eventually. Besides, even if they are found guilty, the government will rush to pardon them anyway. That’s the way it is. So be it.

ERAP is pardoned. That’s the way the cards have been laid. If we are to live in a society where government is unable to deliver justice, I have suggestion.

If government can’t muster political will to enforce justice, then let’s accept it and make the whole disaster official.

But to be fair, let’s allow the same right given to Erap to every Filipino. That’s right. Let the Republic of the Philippines allow all Filipino citizens to enjoy the right to unlawfullness equally. If we can’t be equal in the eyes of the law, let’s bend the rules. Plainly, we should all be allowed at least one crime and a guaranteed pardon that we can ‘legally’ commit. Let’s make this official. Calling Mar Roxas, Villar, the Catholic Bishops and all who supported the pardon and are ‘happy for Erap”, give a litsen. This new idea could be your legislative coup d’ grace. It is the only way to save the joke we call ‘democracy’ and ‘rule of law’ since we refuse to do the right thing.

Here’s a list of crimes all Filipinos should be allowed to do even just once.

a) steal billions from the government (like the Marcoses, Erap Estrada and many others)

b) do not pay taxes and behest loans (like so many we know, JDV, et al)

c) subvert the government through coups, armed rebellion, etc. (like Honasan, Enrile, CPP-NPA, MILF, Trillanes and all who have done so and are still scott free)

d) murder (like what some congressmen and senators, and other public officials have done). But to be fair, government officials should not be exempt targets by regular citizens, since they do same to each other anyway.

If we can’t be strong and do what needs to be done to enforce justice, let’s at least be honest and say we are hopelessly weak, spineless and too morally challenged to see justice done all the way through. Throw away moral outrage. It’s too tiring. Besides, all that is alien to Gloria the Moral Cretin, and her ilk and does not move them one bit anyway. Let’s just all lobby for equal unlawfullness and enjoy the joy and benefits of moral decay and corruption.

Last two days!

I know I should have posted this earlier but was so busy leaving for Sydney yesterday. Now that I am settled somewhat in Aus, here it is:

Hey Everyone,

I am inviting you to view the Panasonic exhibit now going on at
the TriNoMa Mall. It features 5 photographers–Wyg Tysman, Mandy Navasero,Jean Young, George Tapan and yours truly! It’s quite an exhibit.

Each photographer was assigned an element to photograph—water, earth, wood, metal, and fire. I was assigned to photograph fire.The exhibit runs till October 25th only. It is at the center ofthe mall where the restaurants are.
I will upload my pics after the exhibit.

Making our own prayers

Sunday, October 21, 2007
Prayers are very reassuring and can calm us. Actually, they can touch our very core. That’s one thing I learned as a child. There was nothing like the classic children’s prayer from the 18th century which started with:

Now I lay me down to sleep,

I pray the Lord my soul to keep:

May God guard me through the night

And wake me with the morning light.


This made me feel safe at night from the shadows and demons that could be lurking in my room.

Prayers are powerful incantations, potions made up of words that work their magic on us. We grew up memorizing prayers, and they were very helpful. I grew up in a family that still prayed the rosary almost daily. But as one grows up saying prayers over and over again, they seem to lose their power. We get bored with them. They become routine and lose the very purpose why they were made in the first place, and that is to make the moment in which they are recited holy. Take the prayer before meals. How many of us actually mean what we say when we say grace?

I do not discount that maybe it’s because I am of little faith, and that is why I reached a point where many prayers had lost their appeal to me. At certain points in our lives, some of them do make a comeback. Sometimes, we stop saying them for years, before we pick them up again with the same belief and fervor in their power that we used to have.

In my own journey, as I got deeper in my quest for the divine, I slowly ventured into expressing my own prayers by using my own words as they reflected my experiences and insights.

One of the things I knew to be a clear indication that I was becoming my own person was when I found myself making up my own prayers. I actually have rewritten a few standard prayers to make them more real to me. I felt it was a present-tense, coming-from-now attempt at dialoguing with God in a creative way using my own insights and yearnings, instead of repeating the pre-made prayers I had grown up with. It’s pretty much about being more spontaneous with God than using someone else’s script.

Here’s a prayer Danny, Boboy and I always recite while gathered with our producers, management, technical crew and musicians before an APO show:

God, we thank you for the last show we did. We also thank you for bringing us together and giving us the opportunity to do what we do best.

We ask you to make this show the best show this audience has seen so far in their entire lives — until they watch us again.

Give us good sound, lights, great technicals, voices, spiels, intuition, charm, humor, memory, presence of mind and make this the best show and audience we can possibly have.

Whenever we asked for it in the past, it has always been given. We thank you in advance for tonight’s show and we offer everything back to you, Great Source of All Being.

The very act of praying puts us on holy ground and impresses upon us the very purpose of why we are in this specific place and time. In practical terms, we are brought to concentrate and internalize the power we have to entertain.

One of my favorite holy verses is the Beatitudes. I love the Beatitudes, and am still moved by this sermon from the Gospel of Matthew to this day. As beautiful as the Beatitudes are, I thought I could do my own take on it that would spoke to people who live in the more current world with all its obsessions, addictions and vexations.

Here are my “Modern-Day Beatitudes,” which I am lifting from my book from a few years back entitled Between Blinks. I have even added a few things since then.

Blessed are the strange, the weird, the people we laugh at, those who do not fit our mold, especially the socially wretched and despised. By their presence in our lives, their mission is to expand our reality — on our part, reluctantly and on theirs, so painfully — by forcing us to look at them in the hope that we see God in them.

Blessed are the depressed and the addicted for they are called upon to demonstrate the healing miracles of God through their own awakening and liberation.

Blessed are the broken, those who fail, those who fall below our expectations for they are asked to show the rest of us that not being perfect is part of the human condition — that accepting our imperfection is the first step in our realization of the divine perfection of all that is, as is.

Blessed are the nameless, the faceless the dispossessed — the refugees, the homeless and the poor, for they point us to the way to compassion. By their sheer numbers, they tell us that, ultimately, the experience of compassion is inescapable.

Blessed are the cruel, the calloused and uncaring, for on some deep unconscious level, they choose to delay their own liberation so that others, strangely enough, may be “enlightened” by their example.

Blessed are those who constantly arouse us to anger, who bring out the worst in us, for they force us out of the denial that we harbor within — that we are hooked on them, that they resonate with something hidden inside us, and to break free, we must let go of our misguided moral superiority.

Blessed are those who cause us to suffer repeatedly by their mistakes, for they are our tutors who spend valuable time so that, in their failures, we may learn our lessons well.

Blessed are those who do not seem to have a life, and especially those who do not have a choice — those who are physically debilitated, paralyzed or in a coma and cannot move, for they bring us a message that is lost in this age of frenzy — that to be worthy of God’s love, we need not strive to do or achieve anything, but simply be.

Blessed are all of us, for whatever condition we find ourselves in, we can choose to remember our true nature, our original blessing, our timeless grace — anytime, any place, and always — and be happy in our Oneness.

While Jesus may have been the author of the Beatitudes, I am sure He won’t mind my ruminations on it. As the greatest Creator, He will surely appreciate our adopting and using His creations. I liken it to the way a jazz musician improvises on a classic song. It is a way of giving tribute and honor and, in the process, we make the prayers our own.

* * *

I love my job!

Photo by Sammy Samaniego

OK, I admit I’m kinda bragging. The Jewish word is ‘kvelling’, I think. I am talking about basking in something I am part of, and that is my group, the APO. I really love my job with APO. Actually, it’s crazy to call it a job because it’s too enjoyable to be that.

We had a BLAST last Friday and Saturday at the Music Museum. We had a full house. It was just terrific being on stage and taking the audience to moments of surprise and delight. We delivered the hits, gimicks and we enjoyed as much, maybe even more than the audience did. I know some of you may think that after 38 years, Danny, Boboy and I should be jaded performers already and not care how a gig turns out, but the truth is, we are far from that. We go the extra mile for a good spiel, choose our songs, and constantly add on and improve our material.

Photo by Doranne Lim

Photo by Doranne Lim

Photo by Doranne Lim

Photo by Doranne Lim

Recently, the Rolling Stones were awarded the recognition of staging the Most Successful Concert Tour in history. I would llike to think that if Jagger and Richards and their mates are still performing at age 65, then APO still has some mileage left before retiring. Ha ha.

The new APO tribute album called Kami nAPO Muna Ulit turned gold a week after release. We must have done something correct in the past. Our audience these days is starting to look young again. Many come with their parents and they have made our music a bonding thing.

All I can say is thank you, thank you and yes, thank you for giving us the opportunity to do what we enjoy doing and if I may say, are still getting good at it.

Photo by Sammy Samaniego

See more photos here.

* * *

Upsetting God

Sunday, October 14, 2007

When we think of blessings, most of us think of events, things and people that make us feel good. We think of “interventions” that come our way and bless us with good fortune or tidings like winning the lotto, a promotion, a bonus, an unexpected windfall of cash or other material gifts. We look at them as special because they are desirable and being the recipient of such bounty can be wonderful. And because of this, we have no problem seeing the hand of God bringing these to us as we profusely thank heaven for smiling down on us. God has answered our prayers.

But when we experience unpleasant things, we think otherwise. We are convinced that bad luck has befallen us, and some may even think that it came from the devil or some malevolent spirit to test us. In short, what we experience is not from God because the God we know would not do such things to us — unless, of course, we are being punished.

Watching the Emmy awards the other week, I was jolted by the acceptance speech of comedienne Kathy Griffin. To be honest, even if she was just being irreverent in “dissing” Jesus, I found what she said to be quite insightful, even if cynical, especially when she pointed out that it seems fashionable for celebrities to thank God for the awards they get, as if God did not have better things to do than bestow them on the denizens of Hollywood. She added that it is no wonder God does not seem to be in Darfur because Jesus is too busy showering awards on celebrities. Basically, she said that Jesus had nothing to do with her getting the award and thanked herself. It’s not surprising that her speech upset a lot of people.

But I saw no reason to get upset. In fact, I found it thought-provoking. Why? Because I cannot imagine God getting angry over something like that, when it seems He/She/It does not seem to get upset over so many other more serious things happening in the world. If God, who is all-mighty, powerful and omnipotent, was upset over Darfur, or Iraq, or 9-11, or the Abu Sayyaf, wouldn’t we know it by now?

By definition, you’d need an ego to get upset or affected by anything someone has said, and I really do not believe God has an ego. Therefore, He/She/It never feels sensitive and upset like we do, never feels personally attacked, never feels the need to protect or defend Him/Her/Itself from anyone or anything.

We, as humans, like to think that God is like us. But people usually get upset because they have egos, and ego can do only three things: attack, defend or promote itself. Our lives are ruled by our egos and we believe the temporal world is everything. Thus, a lot of us build up wealth and power to feel superior to others, and by doing so, we think we can buy security and safety, and perhaps eternity.

I know I will get negative reactions for this, but I find some of the Old Testament and Holy Text of many religions hard to fathom, especially when they describe an angry, vengeful God who gets upset and feels compelled to kill, maim or punish. It just does not fit with the simple understanding of the God I know. Only people with needy egos have temper tantrums.

The best three “starting truths” I have learned in my catechism have been my guiding light. And they are truths I accept with no hesitation: that God made all things, that God is everywhere, and that God is love.

But you may ask — and rightly so — if God is indeed love, and He is everywhere, then why is there suffering everywhere? Does suffering come from God? Why did God allow the 2005 tsunami to happen? Why do children die? Did God, who is the source of all, give my wife cancer four years ago? The subject of suffering is one of The Questions of All Time.

I have pondered over this many times and in the process I have had to change my conclusions about my concept of God quite often, especially what I believe He/She/It would or would not do.

During some dark moments, hints of the answers to why there is suffering have appeared to me fleetingly, but have not stayed long enough for me to proclaim it as universal truth. As hard as men throughout the ages have tried, I know God is difficult to fathom and the only thing I can say is, the answers I have discerned to this question are real to me (as of now), and there are two plausible ones. Here goes.

God allows suffering in the world, the loss of property, lives, limbs and loved ones because the temporal realm does not rate highly in God’s value system. And there lies the true message. If you’re looking for something lasting, the world is not the place to find it. Nor can you depend on it to ultimately save you because it is unstable. Unlike us, God does not feel a sense of ownership or attachment to anything, much less to the world because God does not have an ego.

That’s how I think the world was designed. We are not made to last. And our ego causes our suffering because it wants to believe the world is all there is.

When I don’t get enough comfort from the above reason, I turn to reason No. 2 since it seems to always make sense when something unpleasant happens and rocks me out of my shallowness and complacency.

The second reason God gives us challenges is because He wants us to become deeper and discover our strengths and weaknesses, our spiritual depths — things we usually wouldn’t bother with during “normal” times.

We turn introspective and forget our fixation with attacking, defending and promoting when faced with suffering. Especially when we find ourselves helpless, we realize that the security walls we’ve built up can’t hold back the tide. For what reason does God allow suffering then? Because God wants to break us, to take us out of our ego trance and force us to explore the depths of being human and to expand our understanding as much as possible. Otherwise, few of us would leave the temporal comfort zone of ego to discover the truth that we also have qualities that are God-like and eternal within us. And those parts of us are more interesting to God and are the terms by which He/ She/It wants the conversation, the relationship, to eventually proceed.

In many instances in my life, I’ve felt that the bad times have actually helped shape me into a better version of who I was. Joseph Campbell was right when he said, “Where you stumble, there lies your treasure.” Those instances have built my character, for one, and forced me into a deeper quest, and a greater curiosity and relationship with the divine, even if it was just to make sense of what was really happening.

In this light — and this may sound funny — shouldn’t we praise God as well when we get cancer, get into an accident or when we are beset by misfortune?

“I got sick. Praise the Lord.” Crazy as it sounds, I have done so many times.

* * *

Special Announcement: Due to unavoidable circumstances, I am postponing the 37th run of the TCU workshop in Makati this month. The next run will most likely be early 2008. Sorry for the change of plans.

Gadgetitis, animals and an APO weekend

I am suffering from a severe bout of ‘gadgetitis’ and have been doing so for sometime now. I am so desiring the Apple Iphone that everyday I read about it on the net. I have been following the cat and mouse game between Steve Jobs and the hackers who have managed to unlock the iphone.

With the release of the upgraded operating system 1.1.1 by Apple which unequivocally lays out their plans to tie up the iphone with specific phone companies all over the world, it is imperative that if I am to get one, it will have to be an unlocked iphone otherwise, I will pay exhorbitant rates using a Philippine sim card in every country I go to. I can’t believe Apple is doing this. It is so ‘unglobal’.

I am thinking of asking my sister to get me a couple of iphones from the US. The going rate here in Manila of an unlocked iphone is around 29K to 35K depending on who you are talking to. With the Peso the way it is, it is cheaper to buy it in the US at around 20K Pesos (399 USD plus tax) locked. I plan on umlocking it myself. A few questions come to mind.

1) Does anyone know what the best software there is to use for unlocking the iphone?

2) In the Philippines, which company will have the honor of carrying the iphone? Globe or Smart?

3) For those who own an iphone, can you give me an idea of your satisfaction rating from 1 to 10?

Gadgetitis is such hard sickness to recover from. In moments like this, I defer to the wisdom of Oscar Wilde who said, ‘The best way to deal with tremptation is to succumb.’ Heh heh.

Last weekend, APO had a show in Lucena and before hitting the city, we had lunch in a little resort called Palaisdaan that had beautiful exotic animals. There were Palawan bear cats, huge turtles, ostrichs, huge snakes, a puma and two gorgeous tigers.

Beautiful tigers

If this were a lion, it would look like the opening credits of a movie.

A snake crushing a chicken for lunch

A fierce looking puma. It is scary until you hear it growl. My God, it growls like a kitten.

A baby croc.

It’s an APO weekend at the Music Museum, one of our favorite performance venues. It’s small and intimate enough you can see the people’s faces up and here individual chuckles.

I am really enjoying our shows these days. After 38 years, I just feel we are on a new high. Even our audiences are about 30 to 40 percent young people again. When wqe ask the audience how many are watching us ‘live’ for the first time, we are astonished at the numbers. Sometimes it’s over 50 percent. The new audience has ‘discovered’ us thanks to the tribute albums the bands did to us and our songs. If you are thinking of catching the shows this Friday and Saturday, call 4265301 or 4260103 to inquire about tickets. Don’t take too long. It’s going fast I hear.

It’s final. TCU is postponed to next year

It’s final. The TCU Makati run is postponed to next year

To everyone who called, texted, wrote to inquire about the 37th run of TCU which was scheduled this month, I am afraid I will have to cancel it. I apologize. It seems that I may have to leave eralier for Sydney and so cannot do a complete run.

I will post a notice when the next one will be which will most likely be held in early 2008. Once again, my sincere apologies.

Ordinary is OK

Sunday, October 7, 2007

The world is in awe of public heroes. By that, I mean well-renowned and successful people — high-profile statesmen, multi-billionaires, business tycoons, great artists, world leaders and the like who lead lives that are inspirational and expand the sense of the possible in many ways. How can we help but admire them? We are attracted to them because their stories are told constantly and everywhere. The media seem to revolve around their lives, picking up every morsel of information, every little anecdote about them and it seems that everything they do is of human interest. There is an insatiable lust to peek into their lives and get to know them intimately while they live out their everyday dramas on the biggest screen of all, which is public life. I am pretty sure that a majority who are reading this right now have often wondered what it’s like to be of such stature and would probably even like to be or at least experience being an icon, even for only a short while.

It is not surprising that most everyone would like to be famous. Most people would want their lives to encompass great concerns, visions and actions — to be of great consequence — and to be able to do that, we assume that one has to be a big player in society. Most people believe that for life to be meaningful, they have to live it in a big, high-impact way. Every parent, as early as the onset of pregnancy, has imagined what his child will be like. It’s not farfetched to fantasize that he/she could be president someday, or perhaps a renowned scientist or artist, or a recipient of the Nobel Prize. And when in the course of their lives their children get to be famous, renowned or publicly successful, the parents feel they have done a great job of raising them.

This fascination with bigness is tied up with our own fascination with the idea of fate or destiny. All of us, at one time or other, have mulled over the idea of destiny. Is destiny real? What is my fate? Are we destined to do something big or be something special in this life? I believe that early in our lives, we all believe we were born special and that we are destined to do wondrous things. But somehow we give up on the idea as we get older. Perhaps because of early disappointments and traumas, we give up on the concept of the “bigness” as our destiny, or what great impact our lives could contribute to the world, and settle for just being ordinary and regular. As adults, we pretty much stop entertaining the thought of following the big “mission orders” from God to change the world.

Yet, despite the disappointment and the “dropping out” from the initial bigness of purpose we thought our lives would manifest, there are those who wake up to their own lives later on, and though the arena in which they see their roles in is nowhere as big or as prestigious or as hallowed as the hall where the Nobel is handed out, they have a pride and purpose that is wonderful.

Carolyn Myss, the intuitive healer, likes to ask her readers this question: If life is all about what one does, or about one’s job, does it mean that the jobless have no life? It’s her way of saying that every life has its own meaning and purpose regardless of the circumstances one finds one’s self in. Where one’s life is played out does not need to be a public one. The work need not be dramatic and high-impact or of interest to the media. The important thing is to determine one’s mission and to do it as best as one can.

This dose of reality and acceptance needs to come in before we can awaken to our life’s purpose. Many of us entertain the idea that every life is “a hero’s journey” — and it is, in its own way. But when we look at our own lives, we find that it is nowhere near monumental or in the scale that we romantically imagined it would be when we were younger. We are not Rizals, Ninoys or Mandelas who are able to capture the imagination of the world. And that’s okay. We may have wanted to play out our lives, perhaps as someone famous and admired, but ended up a simple family man who earns a simple living or a housewife. Some of us awaken to the fact that our destiny lies simply in being a neighbor to someone who enjoys our company, or a grandfather to a precocious child, a mentor to a troubled teen, or one who trims someone else’s garden or comforts a sick person. Where we thought we would be the hero who gets the girl and rides towards the sunset, we end up playing a part that seems far less big. Instead, we are the stable boy who makes sure the hero’s horse is fed and healthy. Or perhaps one of the townspeople who cheers as the hero rides away. And that’s all right. In fact, when we really realize our purpose, it even feels like that is how it should be.

When we know the mission that is our life, the magnitude of the arena in which we must fulfill our destiny it is not an issue, because everything we do becomes imbued with purpose and importance. Every minor detail is part of the mission order. Who was it who said that on stage, there are no small roles, only small actors? No life is too small not to matter, even if it is just to one person, or even just to oneself. I sometimes go through a lot of self-doubt and question the importance of certain things I do in my life. Often, I catch myself stuck in “big” mode where I feel that nothing matters unless it has a big, measurable impact on society. I have to knock myself on the head and realize that it’s probably my showbiz orientation that has made me biased toward big production numbers. It is this kind of thinking which prevents me from doing the tiny, less dramatic, but no less important work of, say, “just” doing the dishes, or being a dad who must be there for his son and daughters; or just being there for someone who needs to have someone listen.

I’d like to end this with a story. There was a man who was walking along the beach early one morning when he saw hundreds of starfish on the sand washed onto the shore and drying under the sun. And then he saw a young man picking up one starfish at a time and throwing it back in the ocean. Perplexed at what this young man was up to, he approached him and talked to him. He tried to ask the young man how he thought he could make a difference throwing the starfish back into the water when there were hundreds of them dead on shore and the hundreds more that lay there dying. Wasn’t he just wasting his time? Without missing a beat, the young man picked up a starfish and, throwing it back into the sea said, “Not to this starfish.”

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To residents of Makati and neighboring areas, here’s great news. The 37th run of “Tapping the Creative Universe,” a cutting-edge workshop that will unblock your creativity and joy, will be in your area this month. Dates for the workshop are Oct. 18, 19, 20, 23, 24 and 25, from 7 to 9 p.m., at the 4th Floor, Magallanes Barangay Hall, Lot 2, Block 6, San Antonio St., Magallanes, Makati. Cost of the workshop is P5,000. If you’ve been stalling about getting your stalled dreams and life going, this is the moment.. Call 0917-5251218 (ask for Sandra) or write to email for a syllabus. This is the last run of TCU this year.

Everything I like to do…

OK, Makati people and those who live or work on the southern part of this big town, we hear you. A lot of you are curious to attend my workshop but it’s just too far. Quezon city, while it’s a nice town is just too out of the way to go to after work what with traffic and all. So, here’s good news. Read below:

To residents of Makati, and its neighboring areas, the 37th run of TAPPING THE CREATIVE UNIVERSE, a cutting edge workshop that will unblock your creativity and joy, will be in your area this month.

WHEN: 18, 19, 20, 23, 24, 25

TIME: 7PM to 9PM

4th Floor, Magallanes Barangay Hall,
Lot 2, Block 6
San Antonio St.,
Magallanes, Makati

HOW MUCH: 5000 Pesos.

If you’ve been dillydallying about getting your stalled dreams and life going, this is THE moment. Call +63917-5251218 (Sandra) or write to for a syllabus. This is the last run of TCU this year. Reserve now. This is not gonna happen again anytime soon. I leave again for Sydney right after.

The 36th run of TCU is ongoing right now and it’s just what I need after my dengue episode. My spirt or prana is springing back to life and building up to the speed I am used to. Spring has definitely sprung’.


APO is gearing up for 4 shows in the next few days. It’s a private show this Friday, and a big show with a huge venue in Lucena (9000 people if I got it right) this Saturday and two Music Museum shows on the 12th and 13th. If you want to inquire about tickets, call 426-5301/ 426-0103 and look for Agnes.

Love, love, love this. This is pure joy.

To top it all, I will also be part of a photo exhibit for Panasonic at TriNoMa, the new mall on the North side of town across SM North. My co-exhibitors are idols of mine like Wyg Tysman, George Tapan, and a few others. I am scared, and though a bit intimidated, I am so looking forward to it. We were all assigned different themes. Mine is ‘FIRE’. Love, love, love this!

Incidentally, my first photo book is out via It has the pictures I displayed during my last exhibit at the Renaissance Gallery in Megamall last December 2005. I added a few recent pictures in it. You can only get the book through the internet since the set-up is they print on demand. I hope you can drop by and preview the book.

I hope you can drop by. It’s on the 20th of this month.

I am lucky and blest to have the chance to do the things I love to do and what I think I do best. I’m on a high. I’m riding a big wave. My cup runneth over.