Growing wings!

I love giving my workshops! It’s like entering a dark room and turning on the lights! I delight at seeing faces beaming ‘aha’ moments. That’s what it feels like when I see the participants hook on to the subject matter and go to places unknown to them and…wait a minute, let me rephrase that. The truth is, the places they go to are not really unknown to them. In fact, they are places they know but had forgotten, and are revisiting again after a long, long time.

I am talking about everyone’s inherent, original, God-given creativity which the adults in our growing years stole and replaced with blocks in the names of practicality, education, morality, responsibility, guilt, discipline, fear, etc. with the intention of controlling us. Oh sure, I know they did it in the name of love, as we do the same with our own kids now. I don’t doubt it. Neither do I doubt that we absolutely need those things in life. But many times, they were lessons that were passed on without much thought and sensitivity (just as they got it from their parents too) and unquestioningly put on their kids’ laps. They instilled discipline, to be sure, but they destroyed something else, and that is our sense of wonder at life’s mysteries, and our confidence in our creativity, or worse, our capacity to ever be happy! No wonder so many people are so screwed up and walk the earth like the living dead devoid of creativity and zest for life.

Getting back to who we really are so we can become what we were meant to be is the liberating goal of this workshop/journey! When we rediscover that our very essence, our creative DNA is that of the greatest Creator Herself, we begin to claim our power back and live life with so much more to savor, enjoy and contribute. Such is the power of our creativity. The very act of it is an affirmation of our greatness, our God-like powers. I tell my students that as an artist, I find that I like to hang around with other artists as well. That’s why it is no surprise that productive, creative people actually feel very powerful because they know (however small in scale) how God feels like. And the Great Artist, a.k.a. God, Goddess, Universe (or whatever name you want to use), just like us probably likes hanging around with other ‘artists’ as well! How can one not get ecstatic over that!

I love doing this workshop (Tapping The Creative Universe or TCU) because the very things I teach are the things I need to learn. And I do grow with every story and sharing I pick up from my students probably more than they pick up from me. I am affirmed by the process they go through—meeting their blockages, unblocking and acquiring new practices to remain unblocked. Once freed, you can begin to confront life with clarity, realism and joy, and thus truly create from that place in us that truly counts. Only then can one begin to live life, walk the edge confidently!

One of my favorite mottos in life is, ‘Jump and the net will appear’. But what happens if the net doesn’t appear, you may ask? My answer is, ‘Surprise! You could grow wings”!

I will not discuss too much since some of you may take it someday. I live to surprise and delight my students/audience! Four more exciting days to go as guide to this class’ journey! Man, I could keep on doing this. This is it for now. More adventures to attend to.

this too shall pass..

Two weeks ago, we found ourselves reeling from a triple whammy that hit us bad. In one week, we woke up to the news that my father-in-law had stage 4 cancer of the lungs that had metastasized to his spine, a sister-in-law had stage 1 breast cancer, and that Lydia’s mammogram tests showed that she had a new lump on her right breast as well.

But before we could even allow ourselves (Lydia and I) to feel that our world was about to crash once more, we rushed to comfort our two relatives and dealt with their realities first. Through the next days, we learned more and more about the seriousness of dad’s situation. Lydia and the family have been spending a lot of time with him and have vowed to be constantly there to support him. Lydia has also been going out of her way to help Vangie, my sis-in-law understand the stages she is about to go through.

But in between caring for both of them, Lydia also had to undergo more tests during the next few days to further explore the suspicious growth on her right breast suggested in her mammogram. After a few days, all the tests were completed. Strangely, even if all the test results were at the house, none of us wanted to open the envelope. I, for one did not want to come to uninformed conclusions while looking at tests results I knew nothing about and getting unnecessarily morbid. Lydia and I felt it was best to let the doctor look at it for us. Meanwhile, we slept the following nights in shallow comfort.

Thursday came and at 9AM, we were at Lydia’s oncologist’s office for her appointment. This was D-day when we would know whether we would have to go through the whole ordeal once more—-operation, chemo, radiation, hair loss, physical suffering, etc. He looked at each test result expertly—-blood, bone, liver, kidney, lungs, and then went to study the ultrasound sheets which was to clarify the findings in the mammogram. All the time, we waited in quiet anxiety. Then, one by one, he pronounced ‘clear’ after reading each test, much to our relief which turned into absolute delight a few seconds after.

She was spared, thank God! And while that’s a blessing, we will need all the strength now to care for two other people we love who will need all our support. Just as they were there for us, it is now our turn to be there for them.

This will be the third year in the last 4 years that we are dealing with cancer in the family. Our past cancer bouts had given us a wealth of experience which will now come in handy. If we had to go through it again, hard as it is, we would now know what to do. Once more, a long year lies ahead for us. With God’s grace, this too shall pass.

enemies and dogs..

I opened the Interlude Retreat site just now and saw this quote. I thought that visiting some of my favorite sites might be a good way to start the week. And since I like passages that deal with the harder issues of life, I thought I’d share this one. For sure, all of us have had (or still have) a few people we secretly wish ill-will on. This one cuts beautifully.

Another way that you love your enemy is this:

When the opportunity presents itself for you to defeat your enemy,

that is the time which you must not do it.

There will come a time, in many instances,

when the person who hates you most,

the person who has misused you most,

the person who has gossiped about you most,

the person who has spread false rumors about you most,

there will come a time when

you will have an opportunity to defeat that person.

It might be in terms of a recommendation for a job;

it might be in terms of helping that person

to make some move in life.

That’s the time you must do it.

That is the meaning of love.

In the final analysis,

love is not this sentimental something that we talk about.

It’s not merely an emotional something.

Love is creative, understanding goodwill for all men.

It is the refusal to defeat any individual.

When you rise to the level of love, of its great beauty and power,

you seek only to defeat evil systems.

Individuals who happen to be caught up in that system, you love,

but you seek to defeat the system.

Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Sakit ba? Lastly, I wish to leave you a bit puzzled with a zen thought from an anonymous source!

This whole world reminds me of my dog.

My dog reminds of this whole world.



Underwater Friends!

Redford White and Jon Santos, my two dive buddies and I decided to finally have a get-together last night since we hadn’t seen each other for a long time. We were supposed to be joined by Maan De Ocampo,the only girl in our foursome diving team but she begged off due to a family emergency. Just the same, we decided to eat in Quatro, a resto that Maan’s family owned.

Her father so graciously greeted us, helped us order, joined us for great conversation and sumptuous dinner and generously picked up our bill. What more could we ask for? Well, Maan’s company would have topped all that of course.

Going back to Jon and Red, these are two friends who are so unlike what they are on TV, as many comedians are really. True, they are funny and fun people, but they do have their very serious sides. I’m sure no one would ever suspect that Red is very much into charity work and is a serious seeker of the spiritual path. He also shows keen interest in Vipassana, Zen and is quite prayerful. His wife is a healer who has built churches that are recognized by the Catholic hierarchy. Together, they have taken under their wing close to 60 children whom they raise in their own home. Among his friends is a Buddhist monk from Sri Lanka who is currently studying here in the Philippines.

The best part about being with Red is getting to know him. I am charmed by the pureness of his intentions and the transparent quality of who he is. During long car and boat rides on the way to a dive site, he can choose to just sit quietly and is not bothered by the lack of conversation. He is simply there, appreciating the now. Normally, most showbiz people instinctively ‘turn on’ and perform when there are strangers—-boatmen, other divers who share the boat, etc.. When he wants quiet, he is simply quiet. But he can joke a lot too and he is hilarious! But his TV persona betrays his real depth. He is an astute observer of life and shows an interest in a great variety of subjects and can talk about almost anything. Aside from his spiritual side, he also has a deep fascination with everything under the sea and will always go the extra mile just to dive. We have done Tubataha twice, Bohol, Cebu, Davao and Anilao countless times.

Jon is almost the exact opposite of Red. He is constantly talking and jumps between being funny to serious at a flick of a switch. But he is also very transparent in the sense that nothing is off-topic or forbidden to talk about. He can discuss personal pain and pleasure with equal involvement and in shades of light to quite dark. He is very passionate in everything he does from comedy, to cooking, to diving and everything else. He can be totally absorbed in anything that he is involved in. He is also a seeker of answers to life’s questions from the trivial to the fundamental. All these add up to great company! As a diver, it is great to buddy up with Jon. He is extremely conscientious and therefore, one can feel safe knowing that he never takes safety rules casually. After all, a buddy is supposed to watch over you!

I must have done about 50 dives with Jon and about 120 dives with Red by now. Jon stopped diving last year due to a back injury. But Red and I continue to get together on occasion and splash under the sea. We have seen sharks, (except Jon who always seems to be looking the other way, ha ha)dolphins, mantas, groupers, snakes, done night dives and have experienced a few close calls together.

Divers bond very easily because every dive is potentially a near death experience or may even be the real thing, if one is not careful. When I dive, I am fully awake and present to the situation. To be somewhere else and hilo can mean disaster. I like the way a dive can spell one’s options so clearly—-either be present to the beauty, or die! So simple, and so unequivocal!

Perhaps it is the shared experience of plunging into the unknown that has bonded us together. Diving into the depths is a kinetic metaphor for what Red and I have actually been undergoing spiritually the past years, and that is diving deep inside to glimpse our Original Face. For Jon, the thrill must be the “walk the edge” quality in diving that is very much like what a comedian goes through when trying out new material on stage. One must be sure, be at one’s wits and execute properly—-or die!

Can’t wait for our next get-together, or better yet, our next dive!

Erica, Ala, Mio, Lydia and Me

My daughter Ala is in a playful mood again! Once more, my header has changed a bit. She asked me if she could tinker with it. I said yes and while she was at it, could we go back to the old title of “Writing On Air” instead of the “10,000 Things” I had changed it to? Now it looks even more interesting. She’s come along way with her skills on html and graphic design. She must have gotten it from her mom who is a visual artist as well as a pottery teacher. From my side she got her free spirit and her boldness.

My oldest daughter Erica has also earned the priviledge of having a place in Ate Sienna’s panistan table. She likes to write about girlie stuff–make up, fashion, relationships, her kid Ananda, and about being a working twenty something. She’s on a real growth mode these days.

Then, there’s Mio who is 16 and has taken to the guitar wih a fierce dedication that continues to surprise me. I am so glad he is not one of those inarticulate, brooding young teens who work at being invisible to their parents. He likes to talk, joke, and share stories like his sibs. He also has great friends.

Between my two daughters, my son Mio and Lydia, (and me) there’s almost always great conversation going on in the house especially over dinner. That’s probably because we have an unspoken rule that talk during dinner time be always free and unencumbered, (meaning, uncensored..well..kinda! ha ha!) Believe me, some of the things said around our table really teeter on the edge and will shock more conservative families. Sometimes, we stay around the table an extra hour or so after meals just talking about anything between shades of light to serious stuff, or laughing and just having a good time. Their barkada, boyfriends, cousins like to hang around and join in too.

I’m relieved and thankful we’re not one of those quiet, estranged, I-don’t-mind-you. You-you-don’t-mind-me families. I guess we can truthfully say that we enjoy each other’s company despite the fact that children their age are undergoing their own angst and their parents are already “mid-lifing”. Sure there are disagreements too, but there’s a lot of democratic space outside and around the dinner table which we use to argue our sides. There’s give and take too. The sum total is a closeness, love and respect that is, I would like to think, real!

Years ago, I made a song about them. I tell everyone that I am the only person in the world who can sing this because it is strictly about my family.

Ang kayamanan na ating hanap

Kapag siya’y tunay ay di mo masusukat

Ang ugnayan ng pag-ibig

Ay kayaamanan ating pinapangarap

Lydia, Ayca, Mio, Ala

Ang pamilyang may pag-ibig pinagpalang tunay

Ang kadena ng pag-ibig ay bahagi ng ating kasaysayan

Ang ninuno ng bawat tao ay may iniwan na tanging kayamanan

Lolo, lola, nanay, tatay

Tito, tita, ate, kuya, bunso sa bahay

Lydia, Ayca, Mio, Ala

Sila’y pamilyang kaugnay sa buhay

Mahal kong tunay

I was just gonna write a short one on the header Ala made but alas, I digressed big time! Ha ha!! Mea culpa. Sorry if I do get way too crazy about my family! Oh well. Fathers are like that!

Healing Ourselves and the World

We were about 30 people in the middle of the vast Bellarmine field in front of the Ateneo College admin building. We sat in a circle and lighted candles which expressed our oneness with those who died and those in pain and set them in front of us. We had a moment of silence for the dead, the suffering and those who are doing the work of providing comfort to those immediately affected. It was a precious solemn moment of quiet as we searched our hearts for answers. After that, we read poems that spoke of compassion, respecting Mother Earth, and learning from nature.

Then each one was encouraged to express their take on the tsunami phenomenon and the calamities that have been happening in the Philippines. It was enlightening to hear different points of view—-from scientific explanations, emotional responses, mystical and spiritual meanings, to existential conclusions and some who simply expressed pure bafflement. Some asked where God was in all this. Others gave answers that made sense to them.

Soon after, we passed around some bread and water—-symbols of life, while we publicly expressed affirmation and gratitude for being alive, for communal gatherings such as these, for compassion and change that seemed evident as people everywhere continue to open their hearts and wallets to help others.

It was a beautiful night under the stars with candlelight projecting flickering, dramatic shadows on faces as people spoke. It was a night (I thought) no different from how early men sat around their cave fires and ruminated about life and its great mysteries.

Somehow, I know that aside from helping each other cope with the pain of seeing so many suffer, there was some healing also done to the world.

In Oneness

This is an invitation to be one in spirit with all who are suffering in the Tsunami areas and in Infanta. See you there!

Dear friends,

In solidarity with all those affected by the recent disasters here at home and among our neighbors, let us come together on Friday, January 7, 2005. We have permission to use the field in front of the Church of the Jesu on the Ateneo campus, Loyola Heights, from 5 to 8 p.m.

We will light candles, offer prayers, and sing songs for the peaceful transition of all those whose souls were so suddenly wrenched from earthly life, and for those who are giving aid and comfort to the survivors. We will also have a simple sharing of bread and water to affirm our connection with life and all human beings everywhere.

As the new year begins, let us heal the planet and feel our oneness with one another. Please come with candles, flowers, guitars, bread and water.

If you have any further inquiries you may text Mariel Francisco at


Cracked Oracle’s Crystal Ball

While searching Google for “2005 Predictions” I went through 50 pages of the subject and stumbled on some interesting calls from astrologers, lifestyle forecasters, political observers, bloggers and just plain hacks and quacks. I peered through their crystal balls—business, economic, political, religious, fashion, personal and after getting info overload decided to list down some notable ones. Well, kinda! I must admit that I mostly went for the trivial, strange and the weird. In these days of world disasters of epic proportions, it’s a needed diversion to swim in safe, shallow pools of the inane kind. Here are random predictions or hunches of what’s in store for 2005. See the list below:

-On Cuisine: There is a move towards the cuts such as oxtails and pigs’ cheeks”

—Jeff Bland.

Aha! The world will finally discover what we Filipinos have loved all along, SISIG! Will dinuguan be next?

-On Lifestyle:New study will link mobile phone use to high phone bills.—Halfbaker.

Really now! This is quite an astute observation!

-On Movies: “Deck Dogz is a fast-paced teen skater movie which tracks three boys as they embark on a journey to meet their hero, a legendary skate champion. It’s a journey which ultimately catapults the boys from adolescence to manhood. This movie will likely win WORST MOVIE OF 2005”—Superluke

Hmmm…I know a few filmfest movies which can disprove this!

-On Personal: “I’ll get laid”.—Great Big Blog, Jeremy

Way to go, Jeremy!

-On Technology
A means of transporting materials in a “Star Trek” style transporter, will be introduced, starting small and then working up to large scale objects. Fed-Ex will immediately buy and license the technology to stay in business. The airline business will be very worried as a result of first trials of human transport proving successful—

Does this mean that she (IAmAWitch) will be giving up her broom to go from place to place?

-On End-Of-The-World: There are at present 19 end-of-the-world prophecies but none of them are predicted to happen in 2005. The closest is June 6, 2006 (6-6-6).–Prophecy Factoid

Except perhaps for people in the Philippines who thrive on doomsday scenarios everyday!

A Business insight: How can you reach a 19-year-old undergrad, a 31-year-old on the career path, and a 47-year-old who’s raising a toddler-with just one message? Market to all of them as if they’re 35.—

Hooray! We may finally see more actors and actresses on TV commercials who will look like they are past adolescence!

-On Medicine: A disease will attack our armpits.—True Or False? Call in predictors

This is a real cause for
(underarm) alarm!!

-On Politics: Those who voted against Bush will drink more heavily during 2005
.-CW in Ohio

This is also probably true for those who voted for GMA!

-From a Pinoy Psychic: Iran and Iraq will boost their tourist industry by 110% because of their elegant and sophisticated hotel accommodations and unique sightseeing of these countries.

The devaluation of the Philippine peso will reach its lowest – 85.00 pesos to the dollar. However, returning Filipinos, Balikbayans, will be returning to the Philippines in thousands everyday just to stay for a day or two just to eat their favorite delicacy such as “halo-halo”, “dinuguan”, “pancit Palabok” or just to have that cold “San Mig” at the International Airport and go back to their plane and return to the land of Milk and Honey!

–Boyet of Ultimate Bulletin Board


-On Famous People: A prominent male will pass away before the end of November 2005, with complete TV coverage. It may be the Pope, Billy Graham, Michael Jackson or Dick Cheney.-Visions of reality website

-On George Dubya: “I predict that George W. Bush will be kidnapped by terrorists who will hold him hostage in an undisclosed “spider hole” and force him to watch Arnold Schwarzenegger’s early films. After that Bush will oppose Arnold’s bid for amending the Constitution.”–Alec Baldwin, Actor

Hey Alec, I can tell you’re a democrat.

–On Books
: “It will be discovered that because of a secret code in the ISBN number of Dan Brown’s The DaVinci Code, bookstore computers that scanned the number were counting each sale as 1,000 sales. This discovery will result in the book finally dropping off the bestseller list after two years, and a recount will show that The Da Vinci Code was actually on the bestseller list for only three weeks. Something similar will be discovered regarding electronic voting machines all over the country, resulting in a new presidential election. The new president will be Dan Brown.” –Nelson DeMille, Author

–This and that: Monica Lewinsky doing stand up comedy.—Nikki-Psychic to the stars

Uhm,,,She must be tired of kneeling.

-On Bill Gates: Bill Gates will start blogging…. Gates will eventually abandon the project, after an avalanche of negative comments and spam weight down his host server. –ItSeemsToMe Blog

It will be a case of “nagabaan”.

If this is as bad as it can get this coming year, it will still be a better one than 2004. Seriously now, however the year turns out, I hope that your experience of 2005 will be a happy one leading you to greater creativity and happiness. May peace, love, wealth, good health, and all the other goodies of life be abundant. And may you discover the gift of seeing the hidden graces behind the seemingly not-so-good events thrown our way. In short, a toast to life, and all its details!!!

Have a great one!

* * * *

Some last notes: I would llike to thank Rommel De Leon (Blogging With Passion and Compassion) for giving me a 10 CD Ken Wilber set (my favorite author) when we finally met here in Manila after months of reading each others blogs!

Also, I will be running a Creativity workshop this January 24, 26, 28, 31, 2, 4 at the Rockwell at 7 to 9PM. If you are interested, write me at and I will send you a syllabus. Or call at 9290230 to reserve or ask for details. Thanks!