a prayer answered..

Do you dialogue with the world? With life? Does it answer back?

I did my meditations this morning and quite frankly, I was doing it in the midst of mild self-pity and a sense of loneliness in the middle of winter. There I was feeling alienated, uncertain in this new place I had moved to. I was homesick and missing my life back home. And even if I knew that my mood, like any other mood would also pass, I did allow myself to indulge in it. At the same time, as I sat quietly in lotus, I did ask God/Universe that I be connected to what I know to be the ‘best of me’—a state I seemed to be far away from at that moment as I wallowed in cynicism and negativity.

Three hours later, there was the ring of the doorbell. A package had arrived from zaadz.com, a website I had joined. Inside the box, I got the following message which I wish to share with you. It is the zaadz manifesto.

“What would you do if you weren’t afraid?

So…uh…what exactly are you waiting for?
This isn’t a dress rehearsal…
Wake up!

Here’s the deal:
What we can be, we MUST be.
There’s no getting around that one.

So, turn off your TV. Put down your drink. Get off the medication. Quit numbing yourself. The pain’s not going away.

Not until you thinkarete.

Gandhi got it. Einstein got it. Mother Teresa got it. Tiger gets it. Gates gets it. Oprah gets it. The Greeks got it…

Get this: Guys like Socrates, Plato and Aristotle said that if you want happiness you better live with arête-a word that literally means virtue or excellence but has a deeper meaning… something closer to “constantly striving to reach your highest potential.”


How beautiful is that? It was one of the highest ideals of Greek culture. It should be one of ours. Tragically, it’s not.

We seem to be more interested in resumes, accolades and 401k’s.

Speaking of retirement… Who came up with that? Work our asses off doing something we’re not passionate about so we can accumulate enough money to pay the bills from our stress-caused illnesses while we bitch about what we should have done when we were still young. Hmmm… can’t quite figure that one out. Seems like it makes a bit more sense to go ahead and dare to live now…

Why not thinkarete? Think about it. When do you feel most alive? Exactly. When ‘you’re being yourself—your highest self.’

You want happiness?
Dream. Grow. Stretch yourself. Rip off the tie. Jump out of the cubicle. Dream. Think. Dare to be crazy.

What are you waiting for?

Are you crazy enough to think you can change the world? Good. Now go out and do it.
Live. Love. Smile. Hug. Laugh. Dream. Do. Create. Have fun. Be intense. Be audacious. Be unreasonable. Act impeccably. Breathe. Be you. Be different. Get paid to do what you love. Dance in your underwear on your way to work…

Why not?

Ditch the tie. Escape the cube. Leave the 8-5. Trash the resume. Ignore the critics.
And the cynics. Burn the corporate ladders. Laugh at the ceilings. Quit the bitching. Open your mind. End the laziness. Overcome the fear. Transcend the conditioning… Why not?

Move the world. Change the world. Push the human race forward. Whatever you call it, go out and do it…



Not when you have enough money or once you do this or do that. That’s nonsense. It’s not gonna be easy, but go out and live your dream.

Now. You deserve this. And if that doesn’t move you: The world deserves it.

Ready to seize your potential?


Go. Grow.”

After I read the manifesto, I just had to say thank you to the Universe for reminding me I’m still connected. I really needed to know that Life must be up to something and that’s probably why I am here. It’s crazier than I am and any of us. Life has its twists and turns and can be thoroughly unpredictable. To let life in is to let uncertainty in. The other day, I watched a mystic on TV and he paraphrased Joseph Campbell, one of my favorite authors saying that “when you see the path clearly spread out for you, you can be sure that is not the real path.” Life is a big mystery asking us to say ‘yes’. It is only in the unknown where aspects of oneself appear and animate into life.

Today, I read another of Campbell’s quotes which goes, “The demon that you can swallow gives you it’s power, and the greater life’s pain, the greater life’s reply.” Strangely enough, I found comfort in it. Suffering always has a gift but we must hang around long enough to acquire the gift. I am getting better at embracing the mysterious unknowns in this new chapter in my life.

Some trivia: If you look at the zaadz poster and count from the 1st row down 7 rows, and count from the right 6 spaces to the left, that’s me holding a guitar. My zaadz name is apojim. I was so thrilled to see this ad inside my favorite magazine called WIE (“What is Enlightennment?”). Wala lang. Simple thrills.

Two things I am excited about…

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OK. It’s official! APO will be doing two shows in Aus–one in Melbourne and the other in Sydney. I am reprinting an email from Liz Angeles who is the producer for the Sydney leg.

‘Hi Everyone,

The success of “Kumustahan” concert featuring APO Hiking Society, Nanette Inventor and Geneva Cruz in Middle East and other part of the world have prompted the promoter from Melbourne (Global Events Organiser) to bring this group to Australia come Aug 4 (Melbourne) and Aug 5 (Sydney) 2006. There’s a big demand to return the ever popular and talented APO Hiking Society back to Australia after a long years of absence doing concerts in Australia.

In response to public demand, a return concert scheduled on (Saturday) 5 August 2006 is now booked at the Capitol Theatre, a world class concert venue located at Haymarket (City).

This show will be another popular hit with the Filipino community! APO Hiking Society with the addition of Nanette Inventor and Geneva Cruz packed into one show, this event is sure to be EXPLOSIVE!

Please spread the news and send this email to your friends and relatives.

Tickets are all $85.00 (Reserved seating). Booked your tickets early to get the best available seats.

Ticket Enquiries:

Liz Angeles 9618 1518 / 0414 759 890
Ed Pagaduan 9896 0151 / 0414 809 655
Bhajune 9677 1600 / 9724 5470 / 0411 673 558

Kind regards,
Liz Angeles’

We have done this particular roadshow in Amsterdam, London, Vienna, Rome, Bahrain, Oman, Kuwait. After Australia, we will be going to Guam (August 26) and Saipan (August 28). I hope you guys can catch this. It’s a lot of fun. You can also get in touch with me to reserve your tickets. Write me at jimparedes@gmail.com and leave your contact details and I will get in touch or ring you promptly.

The other activity I am inviting you to is my 30th run of my unblocking-of-creativity workshop. This will be the first time I am doing this in Australia and I am REALLY excited about this. Unlike the concert, this will be for a small group, probably no more than 30 to 40 people at most. Read on:

Do you sometimes feel that life is passing you by?
Do you feel alive to your own life?
Are you experiencing the feeling of aliveness or has everyday living become
a dull, boring, meaningless out-of-body experience?
Are you in between careers, jobs, loves, dreams, and life paths?
Are you stuck and can’t seem to move forward to where you really want to
Are you ‘mid-lifing’?

If you answered yes to any of the above, I am inviting you to a workshop that will open a wonderful opportunity to rediscover yourself and the fire and breath of the creative in you that you may have forgotten. Engage and know yourself in a way you have never known before as you wake up to the potential creative energy in you.

TAPPING THE CREATIVE UNIVERSE will help you identify your blocks and will give you the tools to overcome them and all other blocks that may come your way in the future. It will awaken the vitality that you need to feel and fuel the life that you want for yourself.

Where: Campbelltown Catholic club
When: July 23, Sunday 8:30 AM to 6:30PM
(Registration is at 8:00 am)
Fee: 99$ AUD
Reservations: email jimparedes@gmail.com if you want to recieve flyers and more info via email. Leave phone no. if yo wish to talk to a knowledgeable person.
(Name of participant and contact number)

This workshop has had 30 successful runs since it was first introduced three years ago in the Philippines. Companies, civic groups, regular people from different professions and walks of life have benefited from it. TCU has also been offered successfully in San Francisco and is now being offered for the first time in Sydney. I urge you not to miss this paradigm-shifting one day experience.

Here are some comments from former participants.

“TCU is about being conscious that every second, every thought, every little action.. and every little energy counts towards some destiny. It is about NOW. A series of joyous nows, makes a joyous life. TCU has made me conscious about the importance and logic of The Present… Moreover, I have found TCU friends here! TCU is growth not just during the classes. It is also what you do with what you have learned as part of your journey after the classes! -Diane, 40 years?!, (oh? it’s just a number!)

“TCU has changed my life…for better. I recommended it to my husband and it worked for him too. SPLENDID!” Warm regards, -Athiporn

“Every writer dreams to have his works published some day. TCU has opened a portal in my mind, and enhanced my adventures in creativity. Furthermore, it developed my skills as a writer and made me realize that there are countless opportunities for recognition!” -Jard M Gerona, writer

“TCU was a fun learning experience for me. At 50 (when I took the course), I was the oldest in the class of about 2 dozen or so people who were mostly in their late twenties to early thirties (some are friends of my kids). Thanks to my ex-classmate Jim Paredes for teaching me useful tips on creativity.

Just do it!”-Rene Ongpin, retired stockbroker.

“TCU helped me unblock my creativity and get in touch with my inner self. I have discovered that there is more to me than what I know and there is no other time but NOW to do whatever I should. =)” -Lara M. Garcia, 34, Ghostwriter/Researcher & Vocal Coach

TCU has tremendously helped me to focus my energy and passion to what truly matters: (i) here, in the now — by paying attention to life’s everyday details, and (ii) my divine gifts — by expending them where they will make huge and real difference.

It was a very liberating experience for me. I am also very grateful to have met my lifetime friends through TCU. Through TCU, I am also beginning to re-discover my true self.” -Bettina Gancayco (wife, mother and civil servant of the World Bank Group) Age, Forever 21 — hah-ha!!

“Learning to live each moment to the fullest has had a tremendous impact on me.” -Wouter Lincklaen Arriens,ADB Executive,
musician, 47

See you there.
Jim Paredes

My glamorous daughters!

T’was another evening of photo fun and play last night. I brought out my lights and I commissioned my daughter Ala to pose for me, and Erica to be her make-up artist. It was also a tutorial for my niece Monica and my cousin Malou who both wanted to learn studio and lighting techniques. Here are some pics I took of Ala.

What can I say? Ala looks so much like her mother when Lydia and I were just still dating. I really think Erica did a really great make up job on her sister. Erica is one person I know who really goes gaga over her work. Painting people’s faces is one of the things she really enjoys. It’s quite special to like something and get paid for it. It’s good she did not charge me though. Ha ha.

A commenter on my blog suggested I take Ala’s pictures. I’ve been asking her to pose for me for the longest time but for some reason, it did not push through. Actually, I had taken her pictures before with film but I think these ones came out better.

So blest to have daughters like Erica and Ala..

By the way, do check the new icon on the bottom right of the page called cluster map. It shows a geographical run down on where my blog visitors are coming from. I would love to hear from the readers who come from the far-away places like Africa, Latin America and other parts. Do drop a line on the comment if you have time. The lone dot in China I suspect is Peter Gonzales, my brother-in-law!! Tama ba, Peter?



It took close to three months but I finally made time to attend my first Ken Wilber group discussion meet-up in Glebe last Wednesday. Ken Wilber is one of my favorite reads and even while I was still living in Manila, I had already chanced upon some info on a KW meet-up group here and vowed to meet kindred spirits. It happened at 7 to 9 PM at the Home.Cafe on the second floor. There were seven of us and we spent the evening exchanging experiences and insights into a wide range of spiritually inclined topics which would once in a while connect to KW’s thoughts. As in every book club meeting I have attended, there was much to learn from everyone. In sessions such as these, one is exposed to people who come from quite varied backgrounds and in my eyes, have much to contribute to expanding our understanding. The lively exchange warmed the night for Ala and I who are experiencing our first ‘extended’ cold spell (an entire winter, that is) ever.

This is a must-attend for me in the coming months. It is good for the spirit and it is mentally stimulating as well.


Proudly, I write to say I passed my driving test!!!! May karapatan na ako maggmaneho sa bansang ito. I was so happy and relieved to hurdle this unnerving but necessary rite of passage that everyone in this country is subjected to. Thanks to Mario Aldeguer, my very able and wonderful teacher who took me around all the possible routes an hour before, I made it. I did not realise how much I had been anxious about the test the whole week that I could not sleep that night after I passed the test. I was just too hyper and happy at the same time. WOOOOOOHOOOOOO!!!

My apo and palangga Ananda had her 2nd birthday recently and was it a lot of fun. When she woke up on her birthday, she ran down the corridor to our room shouting ‘June 7″! A day before the celebrations which were held later last week, we were having anxieties about the weather since we had planned on holding the party in the park and it’s been raining. To simplify things, we decided to just hold her gathering at home instead. There were 41 people all in all at our little house and 16 of them were kids running around, screaming, eating, playing and having fun the way kids do. The house was a mess but what a party it was.

Ananda relished everything– the food, the gifts, the attention, and the happy company of people her age. When the kids left, she called her mom and simply said, “I am tired” and promptly fell asleep! What a cutie she is.


I was able to do my first real ‘sit’ here in Sydney. Since I got here, I’ve put my daily meditation aside as I attended to everything else. I found excuses for not doing my zen sits, and the main excuse was that I did not bring my pillows and cushion. The morning of my driving test, I decided to sit to calm myself and be in touch with the center that does not change, the reality that is not affected by any goings on in the world, the One that merely watches without attaching, or grasping to anything. There entered in me a peace and an equanimity that was wonderful. I knew I could do anything that day in a manner where I would not be fazed by however things turned out.

I ‘awakened’ to doing things as they should be done without any personal issues trying to force an outcome. I was unconditionally present to do them. All tasks that day were done with the least problems. Whatever needed to be done was done, period! As simple as that. What I notice is that in this state, things get ‘accomplished’ with the least effort. It’s like being in ‘the zone’. And I suppose that’s how it ought to be.


flashes of light , eagles and more and more like manila

Out Of The Box!

At last!

After staying in a box for 4 months since we packed it for our move to Sydney, I finally brought out some of my studio lights.I was elated and happy to see that my trusty equipment still worked flawlessly. I still had my background paper rolls of different colors packed and it was too much of a bother to unpack them so decided to just shoot inside the house and use any background I could find. I went for a simple light set-up. I had invited a niece of mine to pose for me at home just to practice my studio photography instincts. And so with a lot of help from my daughter Erica, my very good and just recently employed professional make up artist ( I say this not as her dad. TOTOO!), and my very photogenic model-muse Chinny, I got a few shots going which I wish to share with you.

I did not realize how much I had missed taking studio shots. I really enjoyed myself tonight. And so from here on folks, I am announcing the availability of this photographer to take your photos in my studio or anywhere you wish. For more of my shots, go here. Write me at jim_paredes@yahoo.com for details and appointments.

Blue Eagles In Sydney

Last Saturday night, I had a blast attending a dinner for my family and I hosted by the Ateneo alumni here in Sydney. Eagles of all ages an d from all branches showed up and it was great connecting with all of them. It’s nice to know that there are Ateneans everywhere. Somehow, it makes a foreign country feel more like home. Thanks so much Kate Andres, Dino Crescini, Obet Dionisio and everyone else. My family and I appreciate the hospitality.

More and more like Manila

If everything goes as planned, I will soon be announcing the details of the 1st run of my TAPPING THE CREATIVE UNIVERSE Workshop here in Sydney. This is going to be the 30th run worldwide of this ‘unblocking of creativity’ activity which I totally get into as its creator and facilitator. I am really excited about it.

More and more, I am slowly getting back to doing the things that I loved to do in Manila here in Sydney. I am doing all the creative activities I love–writing, photography, teaching, music, doing workshops. After winter, it will be diving. And oh, did I tell you that APO Danny and Boboy are coming soon and that I will have the pleasure of singing with them in Sydney and Melbourne?