Everything you always wanted to know about TCU

Due to the number of queries I’ve been getting via email, I have decided to make a Q and A to give everyone an better idea of what TAPPING THE CREATIVE UNIVERSE (TCU) is all about.

What is the workshop all about?

It’s a workshop that unleashes dormant creativity. It is where the participants uncover, face and overcome the issues that block their productivity, creativity and joy.

What kind of people have taken TCU?

All types—CEOs, housewives, students, engineers, businessmen, teachers, writers, painters, nuns, military, priests, counselors, retirees, OFWs, trainees, etc. of all ages from 18 to past 70. Normally, I do not accept students below 18 unless I can talk to them first and determine if they are ready for it.

Why is that?

The workshop works best with people who have actually lived and worked and faced disappointments and frustrations that have affected or blocked their natural, in-born creativity. I feel that many times, people who are too young react to the workshop intellectually, and not in the experiential manner that I would want them to. Thus, deep and lasting change does not happen as much.

Why six days?

If I could hold it longer, it would be better. It works quite well when people learn new concepts and try them out at home or at the office or other situations. They are able to experience the workshop in real life and not just theoretically. In the US and Australia, I have offered the workshop but as one day affairs because people are too busy to commit to 6 days. Strangely enough, it works well too, but I suspect that the 6 day run has a stronger effect. I also enjoy the 6 day run more.

How exactly does the TCU help unblock people?

TCU is an action-oriented workshop which believes that when people get a glimpse of their innate creative selves, they will re-experience and remember a joy that they had forgotten. The exercises, habits, tasks and the concepts introduced in the workshop are tried and tested ways to get people to always be in touch with their creative states. By doing certain things and following certain steps, one can be constantly creative and happy. I suspect these practices can serve people for life! I know it helps me with mine. I have been on a creative streak for many years now.

If I am a writer for example, how can the workshop help me?

First of all, let me be clear. The workshop will not teach you how to write, or sing, or do business, dance, or whatever your occupation is. I do not know what to teach you about such things. However, I can awaken in you the enthusiasm and joy of being who you are and what you do and teach you the practice to be able to do things as well as you can and do so consistently in a creative and joyful manner. I will introduce to you the practice of being the best, joyful person that you can be doing what you do.

What’s the batting average among those who have taken it? How successful has it been in transforming lives?

Five years after people have taken it, I still get congratulations from students for helping them with their newly transformed lives. Many came to the workshop stuck in their lives, stuck between marriages, occupations, dreams, relationships, or simply unable to overcome inertia. Many have done really wonderful work in getting new phases of their lives going after the workshop.

What if I am a shy person? Will I be forced to participate?

Participation is encouraged but not forced. People only get from the workshop what they are willing to put in. Progress is an individual thing. Some really go the whole 9 yards while some are more timid. That’s OK. Nobody will force anyone to be or do anything.

Didn’t you teach the same thing at the Ateneo de Manila University?

Yes, I taught it for 5 semesters. In a semester run under the confines of a university, the dynamic is different but it works as well too. I feel very honored that many students, years after they graduated are telling me that my course was one of the subjects they not only learned a lot from, but enjoyed the most. One of them put it well when she said that it was a ‘life course’ that has done her well in many facets of her life even after school.

Anything else you wanna say?

TCU is a workshop for people who want change in their lives. This is not an easy workshop to join. There is a lot of work involved. I will work hard but you will work harder but I guarantee you, you will love to do the work. I only facilitate. You will discover and wake up to your own greatness.

Come join the 32nd run of my cutting-edge workshop called “Tapping the Creative Universe.” Like hundreds who have taken this effective workshop, you will discover aspects of yourself that will surprise, delight and inspire you to achieve the greatness you were meant to in your life.

Sessions are June 18, 19, 20, 21, 23, 25, 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. at 31 M. Jhocson St., Loyola Heights, Quezon City. Tuition is P5,000. Call 426-5375 or write to emailjimp@gmail.com for further inquiries or a full syllabus.

Composing our own symphony

Sunday, May 27, 2007
Page: 1

Back in the ‘80s and ‘90s, when I would spend days in the studio producing recordings with APO and other artists, I noticed that the moment I began a project, the very momentum of starting would just open me up creatively. I would be wide awake to nuances that seemed to be everywhere, giving me directions, hints, whispering advice on how and where to take the project and, more importantly, how to nurture it.

Disparate objects, themes, processes somehow found each other and came together to coalesce seamlessly. The hidden ties that made them seem unconnected would suddenly expose themselves.

There is a logic, or even a conspiracy that I invariably discover in times of intense and inspired creativity. It’s almost as if, because I said yes to it, the process unravels and takes me along with it. And it makes me and the project, creator and creature, indelibly linked.

It has been the same thing writing my books. Creative urges, plans and dreams, when paid attention to and given their proper respect, become animated and uncoil into vibrant reality with lives of their own. And with proper guidance, attention and love from a conscious active creator, they become anything from decent works to masterpieces. In all this, a strange and wonderful thing happens: the creator is recreated by his own creation!

During the past five years, and more so lately, I’ve been thinking of my life in the same way. At age 55, I am struck more and more by the unquestionable fact that every life is a creation. By whom, you may ask? How much of our own lives do we create ourselves?

Agreat majority of people do not feel they create their own lives because they are saddled by the history that came with it, for good or ill, and they are merely reacting to given stimuli. They unwittingly give up their creative powers and surrender to the status quo.

And there are others who live an embittered existence despite their talent, winning physical attributes and the wealth they were born with. They, too, are in denial of their creative gifts.

But there are the empowered ones who feel they are living the lives they aimed for and wanted in spite of the handicap of the situations they are in, such as poverty, abusive parents, battered childhood, physical handicaps, etc.

Each one acts out his life’s themes and we can see these in the way people live. There are endless themes to choose from. Some are driven by the insatiable accumulation of wealth, power, the pursuit of ambition, fame, sex and physical pleasures, travel, work and so forth. Every single day is purposely lived for the goal of acquisition. Others may be more interested in less materialistic pursuits of family, home, caring, love, friendship, etc. There are also those who live by more ascetic themes such as spirituality, prayer and religion. For the great many, their lives are a combination of these different themes.

Some may pursue wealth and career in their early years but plan on living the afternoon of their lives more focused on the family or the solitary activities of soul work. Indian culture has a template that allocates all these activities in different life stages.

Many live without even knowing what their themes are, or have not even felt the need to know. But you can be sure their lives express certain patterns and themes just the same.

As one gets older, there is an urgency to wake up to how one’s life is lived because we do not know how long we will be alive. Life is like a song played on the radio. You don’t know how many minutes a station will allot to it before it is interrupted with commercials. It may not even be played in toto.

Reviewing how my life has transpired so far, I can say that the following have been the major themes: career (APO), writing, performing and appreciation of music, family (my Paredes sibs and my own family), intellectual pursuits such as teaching and writing, and spiritual interests ranging from the Catholic faith I was born into to eastern religions and practices that I am still trying to synthesize into some kind of unity. Sometimes, my spiritual interest is so intense I feel like a God junkie.

There are also my political, social and cultural interests and the causes I have espoused and devoted time to, like the environment, the fight for democratic ideals, Filipino culture and education.

There are other themes that occasionally ebb and flow in the course of my life. They are what I call my “shadow themes.” Everyone has his own list. Mine includes excessive guilt, pettiness, superiority masking as idealism, procrastination, the need to please (learned in showbiz, for sure), the penchant for regretting, living in the past, lack of self-forgiveness (resulting in intolerance of others).

For some, the shadow themes are the big, dominant ones. They have addictions to conquer and “victim” mindsets to overcome and outgrow, and their story is one of struggle and hopefully, redemption in the end. Our shadow themes are important to recognize since we have paid a lot of attention to them and have nurtured them as well. To accept them could be the start of letting them go.

There are also minor themes such as hobbies, interests and time-occupiers like scuba diving (which I do less and less of), meditation, exercise, and many more that come and go.

But whatever the themes that dominate our lives, what is important is that we are the composers, the conscious creators of this large symphonic story that we are playing to the world. And each time we do, our music becomes someone else’s inspiration.

From where I am right now, I often remind myself to become more answerable and assume more responsibility and culpability for everything I do with what remains of my life. It is a scary thought to be responsible and have no one else to blame, but not to be responsible is scarier because it means other people will force you to live the lives they may impose on you.

It’s depressing to sing someone else’s song and pretend it is your own.

* * *

Come join the 32nd run of my cutting-edge workshop called “Tapping the Creative Universe.” Like hundreds who have taken this effective workshop, you will discover aspects of yourself that will surprise, delight and inspire you to achieve the greatness you were meant to in your life.

Sessions are June 18, 19, 20, 21, 23, 25, 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. at 31 M. Jhocson St., Loyola Heights, Quezon City. Tuition is P5,000. Call 426-5375 or write to emailjimp@gmail.com for further inquiries or a full syllabus.

Don’t Miss It!

I am writing to announce the 32nd run of a cutting-edge workshop I have been giving the past few years called TAPPING THE CREATIVE UNIVERSE.

Meet your dynamic but unknown creative self. Conquer the blocks that stand in the way of your attainment of your dreams. Get your stalled life moving. This highly effective ‘unblocking of creativity’ workshop will shift your paradigm and you will totally surprise yourself about what you are capable of. This workshop is spread out at two hour sessions for six days.

Like hundreds who have taken this workshop, you will discover aspects of yourself that will surprise, delight and inspire you to be the greatness you were meant to be in your life.

When: June 18, 19, 20, 21, 23, 25 (Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Saturday, Monday)
What Time: 7PM to 9PM
Where: 31 M. Jhocson St. , Loyola Heights, QC
Tuition: 5,000 Pesos

Call 426-5375 0r write to emailjimp@gmail.com for further inquiries.

I won’t be doing this again in Manila, at least not in the foreseeable future. I will most likely run it again in Sydney and maybe Melbourne. This is the time to sign up if you seriously want to get out of a rut and start enjoying and living a creative life! Don’t miss the adventure.

idols, villas, homecomings and elections

Was in Tacloban, Leyte two days ago to judge the Bulilit Leyte Idol singing fest. I was a judge together with Danny Javier and Amy Perez. It was quite a surprise and delight to watch kids from age 7 to 14 perform their hearts out before a full crowd of partisans. The show opened with a medley of 5 of my songs–When I met You, Batang-bata ka pa, Panalangin, Nakapagtataka and Bawat Bata as sung by the winners of the newly held adult Leyte Idol.

All in all, the show had great production values, and even a live band with a string quartet to boot! It was a great night for Leytenos as their young kids from all over the province gave their all in the hope of winning the generous prizes. This wonderful idea of a singing competition is the brainchild of Governor Petilla who sang with the kids to the great delight of his constituents.

Every province should do this. It’s great for the kids and it contributes to the cultivation not only of local pride but the fostering of community as well.

We stayed at the uber luxurious pool villas of the Leyte Park Hotel owned by Engineer Wilson Chan and managed by Vicky Arnaiz Lanting. The accommodations were marvelous in an extravagant kind of way. Each time I had to leave the room, I felt bad having to turn my back on the infinity pool that was directly outside my room beside the sea!

If you ever visit Tacloban, make sure you book yourself for a night or two or three at the villas.

–A few minutes ago, my daughter Erica and my apo Ananda arrived from Australia and walked in to the house. It was great to get a hug from Dada who said that she missed her Lolo a lot!! Simple joys.

— I can’t get over how hot it is. I am melting. All day I am without a shirt and in shorts and I still feel debilitated by the heat. My electric bill will be astronomical for sure. I don’t think I have used my aircon as often as I am using it now. Bahala na. Meanwhile, Mio and Ala in Sydney are complaining about how cold it is getting over there.

Global warming indicators show that things are happening 40 years earlier than expected. Does this mean that every year, summers will get progressively worse?

–I am not too sure how to feel about the elections just yet. While I am happy that many showbiz people did not make it, and that some otherwise popular people are behind in the counting, I am saddened that the electoral process in this country is still so vulnerable to cheating and manipulation. Look at Maguindanao. How is it that an Ilocano (Chavit) has suppose3dly gotten the highest vote and that a Muslim is not topping it and instead is no. 12? People in the area do not have indelible ink on their fingers and the 12 zero score favoring the administration appears very suspicious. And why is the Comelec rushing to count the votes there despite the accusations?

When will we ever have real electoral reform? The people have been clamoring for it but the politicians do not want it for obvious reasons. “O bayan ko kailan ka tatayo?’

It’s clear from the results that

a) any association with GMA is a political kiss of death for anyone running for office.
b) people have an affinity or empathy with the rebel archetypes
c) Filipinos do not like vegetables. Pichay is nowhere near the magic 12 despite the 200 million media spending he did.
4) People like their heroes e.g. Paquiao to be heroes and to do what they do bes, not to posture as political leaders.

Getting what we wish for

Getting what we wish for


Sunday, May 20, 2007
Page: 1

Have you ever wanted some-thing so badly and ended up not getting it? I have, many times. A lot of my wishes have been denied in spite of my invocations, litanies and prayers asking God to grant them. I have tried the intercession of saints and dead relatives. Many times, as I beg God to give me something, I hang on to phrases attributed to Jesus like, “Whatever you ask the Father in My name, it shall be granted.”

I tend to read those words as a kind of ironclad guarantee that my wishes will not be denied. After all, if I can’t believe what He says, who can I trust? I am happy when things turn out my way but each time I am rebuffed, I wonder if I am not worthy. Or is it (again) not meant to be because it is not part of “God’s plan,” cryptic as that might be?

The many times I have been disappointed, my reactions have ranged from anger and questioning the existence of God (when I was much younger) to a deeper understanding of the divine beyond being a kind of powerful tooth fairy or the ultimate Santa Claus who grants us what we want. I cannot say that I have come any closer to a surer, more predictable understanding of an Almighty who I can please enough with incantations to give me what I ask for. But I now realize that asking for something can be both complicated and simple.

Consider this: to have a creative idea or a wish is easy and it does not cost anything. Carolyn Myss, the intuitive healer who believes in chakras or energy points in our bodies, says that these ideas and desires are conceived and enter through the chakras in our head region. It then goes down to the other chakras. The lower it goes, the more it demands that these wishes and desires be made flesh or “birthed” into reality by us. One of the lower chakras is the abdominal area where ideas and desires are felt by the body most physically. Notice that when you have money problems, you feel it in your gut. When the ideas that used to float above our heads are brought down and processed on this lowest level, things often begin to go crazy.

While ideas are free, things can go awry when we bring them down to the lowest chakra where they are supposed to be implemented. Why? Because this is where we encounter the nitty-gritty or the nuts and bolts that hold together our belief systems and define what to us is really possible or not possible. In other words, this is where we walk the talk. It is where we either implement what we profess to go for or bump into the wall of doubt that stands in the way of what we desire. This is where we decide whether or not we believe in something. That is why, often, it is within this realm, as pointed out by Myss, where we experience the countless “creative abortions” in our lives.

Carolyn Myss says that these “abortions” create as much impact on our cells as real physical ones.

Consider the belief or “thought form” introduced to the world in the 1960s that says “we create our own reality.” Myss says that if people subscribed wholeheartedly to that belief and internalized it all the way down to the lowest chakras, then the world would have experienced spontaneous healings “in the gazillions” by now.

And yet we know that it is not so because deep down we do not really believe that it can happen in this physical, literal plane. We are instead plugged in to the “reality” that cancer, for example, takes five years to heal with chemo, radiation and other cures. In other words, Myss is saying that our cells behave and heal according to the timeframe suggested by the “reality” we have subscribed to and that rules our first chakras. Healing will happen, but not any sooner, and not any later.

But what about so-called miracles? The word “miracle” is paradoxical. If we do not believe in miracles, they will not happen (and even when they do, we cannot see or accept it). But if we believe it can and that it does happen all the time, in a sense it stops being a miracle but one of many possible events in the reality we are plugged into.

There are times when I desire something and I am able to achieve or acquire it almost effortlessly. That is due to the fact that all my chakras are plugged into the “reality” that says it can happen. From the “idea” stage all the way down to the physical or feeling level, I know it to be true and possible. There is no doubt that stands in the way. There is a unity from my head all the way down. I do not sabotage myself. During such times, it is clear to me that I create my own reality.

I think of Thomas in the Bible saying (I paraphrase), “Lord, I do believe. Help my unbelief.” There is a remark that recognizes the problem of doubt, or the lack of wholehearted acceptance needed for something to become physically real.

This concept of having a unified belief system that rules our chakras on all levels is similar to what the writer Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi (yes, it’s a real name) talks about when he discusses “flow.” He says that people are in “flow” mode when they do things fully conscious, which almost always means they do what they do with joy, excellence and effortlessness.

Within this framework, I often wonder what Jesus could have meant when He said, “Ask and ye shall receive,” in the Sermon on the Mount.

Could it be that simple? I sometimes think it is.

* * *

a tour’s end, a favorite artist and a lucky dude!

Arrived this morning from LA. I am exhausted but quite happy. Our tour which seemed like it was going to be problematic in the beginning turned out beautifully. We actually played to a full house in every one of the seven venues except Winnipeg (around 40%) which only had a month’s notice and promotions. And the great thing is we got standing ovations in ALL the places. Each place (Toronto, Winnipeg, Atlantic City, DC, LA, San Francisco, Vegas) was memorable, but performing at the House Of Blues at Mandalay Bay Hotel in Vegas was a standout!

Can’t believe that we’ve been doing APO for 38 years and still getting the crowds and more importantly still enjoying ourselves. Danny, Boboy and I are really liking this phase in our career where it seems we are reaping the fruits of our labors.

Nikki Gil!

Nanette Inventor

Four of the seven shows we did was under the Kumustahan variety show format where we shared the stage with Nanette Inventor, Heart Evangelista and Nikki Gil.

Heart Evangelista.

But the main reason why I am happy being back in Manila is because… well… Lydia is here!!! Yehey!

In an earlier blog, I mentioned that I was going to watch Joyce, my favorite singer in California. Well, I did, and it was quite a treat. I went with my sister Lory, her husband Greg, and two other friends in a jazz venue in called Yoshi’s. After dinner at the Japanese restaurant, we took our seats so close to the stage I could almost reach out and touch Joyce.

My sister Lory, Joyce and I.

She sang with Dori Caymi, a legend in Brazilian music, and her husband Tutti Moreno and a bass player. It was a quiet, smooth but great set. She sang effortlessly while playing the guitar with such virtuosity. It was an hour’s performance all in all. No, she did not sing my favorites but never mind. For twelve dollars, I watched her really close as she sang in the way I have appreciated all these years. Nothing like being in the presence of a true and great artist.

With Dory Caymi.

I even got to meet her after the show and though she was kinda distant, she gamely posed for pictures. The good news ia that she and her group will probably be in Manila next May 2008 for the jazz festival. WOW!!!! I will plan on being in Manila by that time.

My son Mio is taping tomorrow for a Disney TV project in Sydney where he plays air guitar. He was asked to apply and was quite surprised when after his audition, they said he was ten times better than the winner last year. I don’t know too many details but will post when I get them which should include the schedules of when it will show on TV.

Mio, go go, you lucky dude!

What child is this?

May 13, 2007
Jim Paredes

Carl Jung, the eminent writer on the subconscious, says that every person harbors within himself certain ‘archetypes’—or primal characters that have existed throughout the history of mankind and we have all inherited. And he claims that all these archetypes of the past are embedded in mankind’s collective memory.

As examples, we carry within us the archetype of a ‘prostitute’ (which takes over us every time we decide what we will do for money), and the ‘saboteur’ (the one who warns us of our own recklessness). There are also the ‘hero’,’ teacher’, ‘child’, and others that dwell in us. There are millions of archetypes, actually, and each one of us is a jumble of characters waiting in line to express ourselves though our personalities and actions. And in time, they will.

This theory supposedly explains why we change, and what makes us suddenly behave in a contradictory manner, or the opposite of how we know ourselves. This is a really fascinating concept which other writers have explored in depth. Among them is Caroline Myss who wrote about this in her book ‘Sacred Contracts’.

The concept is intriguing as it is for experts to write voluminous books and articles about it. Allow me not only to throw in my two cents worth but to bring the idea a step further, at the risk of being reckless and superficial.

One of the things that intrigues me is this: Is it possible that, like individuals, countries, nations, races and peoples are also subject to archetypal influences and thus carry and act out the patterns attributable to certain archetypes at different times in their history? In other words, if nations were people, what would they be?

It is easy to imagine that Germany’s archetype is the strict disciplinarian obsessed with order. Take a look at its BMWs, Beethoven, Wagner, etc. During WWII, for example, wasn’t Germany acting this out in a perversely obsessive-compulsive manner? Wasn’t this evident in the way the Nazis wanted to rid the world of ‘imperfection’ (Jews) and establish the perfect Aryan race? Hitler had the death machine humming efficiently, just like the trains which were running on time. There was definitely ‘law and order’ and great efficiency.

Let’s look at America. What archetype is it acting out? Take a look at its politics and movies. Hollywood and the political establishments’ projection of America is often that of an aggressive, young and vibrant teenager with a lot of spunk, recklessness, chutzpah — a know-it-all with no distant past to learn from and temper itself. America is the source of rock and roll, the atom bomb and the Vietnam and Iraq fiascos. It can be both charming and destructive, and ‘vandalizing’ (like a teenager) of other cultures as well.

Japan. Didn’t Japan during WWII come on as the steely, disciplined warrior-samurai archetype complete with hara-kiri and kamikaze in its repertoire of heroic expressions?

I know I am speaking loosely and in very broad strokes. But you must admit it’s an exciting subject for speculation.

What archetypes dominate or rule the Philippines today? What can we observe from the way we behave as a people?

Don’t we tend to excuse our foibles and say that we are still a young country to explain why we are in the mess we are in? From all indications, we seem to be ruled by the ‘child’ archetype who refuses to look at things in an adult manner. Consider the following:

– We love to party—fiestas, salo-salo, barkada, ‘gimmick’, the longest Christmas holidays in the world, etc. We have A LOT of holidays in this country.

– We have very short memories. We are not great fans of history and we never seem to learn from it. We elect the same mistakes over and over again.

– We have an even shorter attention span. We do not hear of our government looking 20 years ahead. Even when other nations plan for the next 50 to 100 years, we don’t seem to go beyond the ‘5-year plan’. We like things ad hoc. Bahala na si Batman.

– We go merrily along seemingly unconcerned about our serious problems. In every survey the past few years, we always see ourselves as ‘the happiest people in Asia’ despite the hole we are sinking in.

– Our favorite religious icon is the Santo Nino — the depiction of Jesus as a child. We like a lovable, cute God—a representation not unlike ‘Hello Kitty’ or Barbie that we like to dress up. Our God of choice is a combination of a cute child star (with curly locks and white skin) and the Promil baby — intelligent and, at a young age, could preach at the temple.

– We love entertainment, Little Miss Philippines, telenovelas about young love, fantaseryes, etc. that are mostly about the young.

If all of the above are true, what kind of child is the Filipino? Is it the archetypal force that characterizes us as ‘the golden child’, the ‘meek and quiet child’ or the ‘spoiled brat’? Are there other archetypes to choose from?

Consider the following:

– A lot of Filipino children grow up these days with only one parent because many of their dads or moms are working outside the country. In one college class I spoke to a few years ago, 47% of the entire class had only one parent at home.

Could we then be the ‘orphan child’?

What about the ‘abused child’?

– We seem to project on our mass media, children in ‘adult’ roles or situations. Our telenovelas like to depict children who cry a lot because they are saddled with the problems of the family and the world. In singing contests, it is not unusual to hear kids sing ‘My Way’, or ‘The Greatest Performance Of My Life’ or ‘She Bangs’. And there is the phenomenon of very young kids gyrating like the Sex Bomb dancers and the like projecting an overt sexuality fit only for adults!

Our politicians know only too well how child-like we are. They therefore give us entertainment in place of governance. And as if to exploit the ‘orphan’ in us, they like to project themselves as ‘Ama ng bayan’ (Erap and Marcos), Ina ng bayan (Imelda) and other parent figures.

My own interpretation in archetypal terms of Erap’s fall from grace and GMA’s ascension to power goes something like this:

Nagwala si tatay. Napasama sa masamang barkada at bisyo kaya si Ate ang naatasan mag-alaga sa atin.

Why not Nanay? She can’t. She’s in the Middle East, or London, or America making money as an OFW.

Writers have described life in the Philippines as ‘magic realism’, the same way Gabriel Garcia Marquez’ sees life in Latin America. The child in us lives in a mythic, magical world where we expect a handsome prince to save us at the last minute, or that things will get better with the wave of a magic wand, without any need for us to change.

I have news for us: Things will not change, not until the party wears out and a more responsible archetype takes over who will want to clean up the mess we’ve made.

Pinoys outside the Philippines

The Philippine STAR 05/06/2007

I am on my nth concert tour of North America with the APO. As usual, it means that before and in between shows, we go out to meet and mingle with a great number of our kababayans. We do this to let them know we are in town and hopefully convince them to go watch our concerts.

After so many years of touring, I have acquired a few observations about our overseas kababayans, at least in North America, Australia and a few other parts. Some are obvious and trivial and some a little more profound. Here are some of them:

1. Being in showbiz, APO has considerable influence and effect on Pinoys abroad. It’s not just the fact that when an artista, which includes almost any form of celebrity singers, actors, models, TV personalities (except perhaps politicians) ? enters a room, there is some sort of commotion, from mild to electric, that occurs. Showbiz is a link to what preoccupied them at home and it continues be so here. Attending my first Philippine Independence social event in Sydney last year, my presence was acknowledged in the same breath as the Philippine Consul General and the Speaker of the Parliament of New South Wales! I thought that was a gas!

2. Despite the prevalence of digital cameras now, where one can see instantaneously what a newly shot picture looks like, Filipinos believe in taking an extra safety shot or two? or three. It must still be the effect of that Kodak campaign years ago which urged everyone to take an extra shot “para sigurado.” Nope. Digital has not made this aspect of our work easier. On the contrary, everyone with a cell phone or camera has become paparazzi. Ha ha.

3. Depending on who you talk to, the Philippines, in its present state, can seem infinitely enchanting or horrible from a distance of a few thousand miles. Some will trash it, and some will speak of it in romanticized terms. But the longer a person has lived abroad, the more idyllic his memories are of how things were. Old timers, especially those who have not visited in 25 years or more, still harbor memories of a Philippines that is pre-McDonald?s, traffic free, and where one could have a good time for 20 pesos.

4. People always ask you how it is back home, and they like to talk about politics. I suspect it has to do with their feeling affirmed about their decision to leave when they did. While they are saddened when they hear of bad news back home and how the situation has worsened, they feel better about having chosen to leave and stake their future where they are now.

5. Every Filipino tries to make a personal connection with every kababayan they talk to. With us, it could be a past concert they watched, or a common friend, or a friend?s friend, a school we both attended, a distant relative or even the province we both come from. It does not matter how remote the connection is, even if it is something like, “we walked together on EDSA.” Somehow, we just feel better belonging to tribong Pinoy.

6. This may be so self-evident, it shouldn’t even be mentioned, but it just has to be said that Filipinos, especially our kababayans abroad, invariably go the extra mile in expressing their hospitality. It is a declaration of loyalty that says they have not forgotten or abandoned their being Pinoy. And the generosity todo-bigay can be overwhelming. The sumptuous Filipino breakfasts complete with danggit, tocino, tapa, pusit, tuyo, atbp., the volunteers who take a day off from work to drive us around and see the sights, and the little pasalubongs that are given with such sincerity and heart simply bowl us over. I just love the way we are!

7. The big move of leaving home was, they say, “for the children,” and some professionals willingly took a step down career-wise and do menial tasks for this cause. At the same time, almost all Pinoys we meet worry about how little of the Filipino values their children will probably retain as they grow up in their adopted country. It is not unusual to hear the kids behave like their white counterparts, speaking with a strong Anglo twang and still making mano to their parents.

8. Pinoy kids who were born overseas usually grow up having no interest in the country and culture of their parents. However, those who discover the country by going home for a visit are fascinated to find that the Philippines is a place where many things that are not possible in their adopted country can and do happen. One can speed on the highway and not get a ticket, or go to a bar and not have to present an ID, are examples. My nephew who grew up in California was so fascinated with the vendors in traffic who walk around barefoot and sell different kinds of stuff. He thought it was the coolest thing. An in-law of mine saw a man carrying a bed and selling it right on the street. He turned to me chuckling in utter bewilderment and said, “We go to a department store for that.”

9. I still have to find a place where there is agreement among Pinoys on whether or not there is discrimination in the new land they have settled in. It all depends on who you are talking to. One of the most stunning observations I heard was from a very successful engineer in Sydney. My friend Rod Santos says that when dealing with his all-white, upper- management colleagues, all it takes is palakasan ng boses. He pointed out that he felt more discriminated against in the Philippines when, as a poor struggling student who sidelined as a Luneta photographer, he was not allowed to enter Manila Hotel. What he experienced back home was economic discrimination, he says. In hindsight, he asserts: “There is discrimination kung papayag ka.”

10. I observed that in North America, a great majority of Filipinos can be fiercely loyal to their adopted country. They will not bash the country that has given them the opportunity to begin a new life even if the rest of the world seems to have a different point of view regarding certain issues such as the Iraq war, or global warming. While many Filipinos back home (and in Canada) seem to be more sympathetic to what the Democratic party in the US stands for, many of our kababayan in the US are flag-waving Republicans (except perhaps those in New York and California).

11. There is such a thing as Pinoy laughter. I remember being in a hotel in Japan and walking through the corridor on my way to my room when I heard loud laughter coming out of a room. I just knew I was hearing Filipino laughter. I knocked on the door, and sure enough, there was a gaggle of Pinays having a good time laughing their heads off!

12. Regionalism rules. Nick Joaquin calls it our “heritage of smallness.” It is hardly surprising to see, say, three Ilocano, four Ilonggo and seven Tagalog associations all competing for recognition and official status in one community. Some of the organizations are pitifully small, with just enough members for everyone to become an officer. I can?t see why we don’t have just one big umbrella organization instead of the regional, provincial, barangay splinter groups proliferating now. Once, we attended a basketball tournament between Batangueños and Caviteños and within five minutes, there was a full-scale brawl going on inside the court and out. It only came to an end when the police came and many kababayans were seen scampering away because they were illegal aliens.

13. Almost all overseas Pinoys say that while they live a good life abroad, it can at times be lonely. There is a longing to go home, especially during the winter months when Christmas comes into full swing back home. While it may be beset with problems that exasperate many of its citizens, including our overseas kababayans, the Philippines is still, in their view, a “happy place.”

After all, there is where the family, barkada, the good old days, the “vices,” the simple easygoing life are enjoyed within the relaxed dimensions of “Filipino time.” We don?t have to tiptoe quietly, or put on an accent, or assume any kind of stance to fit in. In the Philippines, we are in our own universe. We don’t even have to speak English. We just go with the flow.

Living in an adopted land where you have to do everything yourself because no one else will can be very stressful. But in the Philippines, there is not much you have to do. You can simply just be who you are! How cool is that?

basking in some glory. pagbigyan niyo ako!

OK, you may call it blatant self-promo, and I plead guilty. But allow me to bask in some glory. Here are two reviews of my latest book As Is Where Is. One was posted here, and the other was posted right on Lulu.com. Here goes:

“Only those who have awakened know that they were sleeping.”

From: As is Where is – by Jim Paredes.

When the silence is golden, it is just silence. There is no obligation, no pressure to do something or to have something.

People who realize this will seek silence for its authenticity. They know that silence is the source of enlightened consciousness for everyone.

“This is the silence that is open and free”, says Jim Paredes in his new book As is Where is. “This is the truth of simply being, the silence that has no requirements.”

It is his third book, after Humming in My Universe, Between Blinks, and Writing on Water. Jim discovered silence through years of living consciously in the way of Zen, and has released his creative genius in ways that inspire many people to follow a similar path.

When I joined Jim’s creativity class more than three years ago, he asked us to release ourselves from media influence for two weeks (radio, tv, music, books). The result was immediate for all who complied with his request, as our creativity blossomed.

Jim writes about always being ready to experience life as it is. “The way to the unknown is the unknown”, he says, advising us to “throw away your old map. Only a new road will get you to a new destination.”

If there is anything constant in our lives, it is change. Yet we tend to believe that our spiritual journey is based on constant truths. Until we discover that our appreciation of truth also evolves as we grow in our experience. For one, we realize that we attract what we need to grow, including unexpected encounters with life’s paradoxes.

In the introduction to his new book, Jim writes about noticing a different feel to the topography of his own spiritual journey. Leaving the green and lush behind, he encounters “dried patches of a new, arid landscape”. He shares how it spurred his sense of being challenged to “explore new territories where God is hard to find, or is unlikely to be, but is in fact present.”

Jim keeps challenging us to live forward and let go of things that supported us yesterday. “It’s as if we are flipping a switch”, he says, “from sleep to full awakening.” Seeking out silence is an essential part of that daily journey.

As I write this, I feel encouraged to be awake. In fact, this Sunday morning feels to me like no other. Peace is here as I allow myself to enter its realm of silence. I feel better connected. Thank you, Jim!’

And thank you Wouter. Here’s the second review!

13 Apr 2007 (updated 14 Apr 2007)
by magisch50

…..a thousand sassa in the field of arts, J.P. is indeed a very insightful person, knowledgeable and a courageous one. reading this book, one gets to know a fraction of his personality. he speaks freely of his personal feelings, unfearful of what others may say or whatever the consequences may be. thus, freeing himself of every bondage connected to social norms. he dares himself to be a-typical, non-conformist or even un-usual.

his thoughts illuminates one’s mind, realizing that life can still be beautiful in spite of the ugliness that may come along. he inspires his readers to LIVE rather than exist; challenges them to goddamn DARE, to know the unknown!

i enjoyed reading it, savoured every word beautifully woven, love the cover & the title.

“as is where is”…..it is!!!

Wala lang! Proud lang ako.