Finding it to lose it

Sunday, August 26, 2007

I recently watched an excellent documentary called The Rise and Fall of the People’s Church about the charismatic leader Jim Jones and his followers who, from out of nowhere, built a large, powerful socio-political-religious organization in California, and a few years later, committed mass suicide in Guyana.

The documentary showed how the gifted Jim Jones easily connected with people and made so many want to follow him anywhere he went. This man had the ability to get people to devote their every waking hour to him and to turn over not just their time and talent but their riches and wealth as well to the People’s Church that he founded.

As I watched Jim Jones as a young, vibrant leader and listened to testimonies given by ex-members of the cult about how they were so easily drawn to him, I could not help but think that at one point, this man must have come from a good, pure place in his heart. He may have really wanted to help and liberate people. But as the documentary unfolded, it became clear that all the adulation and awe directed at him by his adoring congregation engulfed every good intention he may have had, and enticed the megalomaniac inside him to take over his charismatic personality.

And, horror of horrors, even as his followers testified that they had begun to see cracks in the wall, so to speak — such as inappropriate sexual relations with followers, extreme dogmatism, staged healings, drug use, paranoia, his penchant for maintaining control by making people feel guilty, and his insatiable need to address his followers almost 24 hours a day — no one stood up and hollered. Such was the power of this man. He could make his followers surrender their will to him in exchange for any attention he would throw in their direction.

I think I know some of the feelings Jim Jones went through. In a very small way, I have gone through some of the highs that powerful people such as politicians and preachers experience. And even on a miniscule scale, it can be quite heady — and also destructive and instructive. In 38 years of showbiz, doing concerts and being part of big TV shows and huge rallies, I could often sense the pulse of the masses before me as my own. With the magic wand of celebrity, I found that if I wanted to, I could make them scream, applaud, jump, laugh, cry, stand, wave, give money, risk their lives, and a whole lot more.

It was intoxicating. I remember when I was younger, not being able to sleep usually after doing big concerts. I was just too high and I couldn’t rest or sleep, no matter how I tried. I marinated in the feeling of being loved, adored, worshipped and admired until morning when it wore off. Such was the effect on me of all that attention. I suppose this is a common experience of many public personalities.

I was in my early 40s when I had a memorable awakening in my spiritual journey. I was standing on stage at the Ultra before an adoring standing-room-only crowd that gave the APO a standing ovation. Amid the cheers, I stood there, with Danny and Boboy soaking it all in even though, strangely enough, I was starting to feel great dissatisfaction with the whole thing. I remember telling myself that I had to be totally out of my mind to depend on more of this as the sole key to my happiness. Sure, it was/is/will always be a great feeling to be admired by thousands of people — no question about that. But if my validation as a human being has to come from a source exclusively outside of myself, then I could be setting myself up for deep dissatisfaction and great unhappiness in a frantic and needy life.

It was at this time that I began to be more introspective, trying to know myself outside of how the world identified me — as a singer, a songwriter, an APO member, an Atenean, a Filipino, a married man, a father, writer, environmentalist, etc. It was unnerving to awaken and realize that all I knew of myself were layers of labels that had come to define me. Before all this internal questioning, I had thought and accepted all along that what the world thought I was actually did define me. But when I consciously stepped out of the participation mystique of my showbiz world and other public areas of my life, I caught a glimpse of what I could be.

I saw a free spirit, creative and expanding, with fire and breath coming from itself. It was a “me” that was self-sustaining and not needing anything or anyone. It was extremely intriguing, and wondrous and powerful at the same time.

We tend to live in denial of who we really are, and sadly, sometimes we cannot help it. The idea that we are what the world has defined us to be is so prevalent. The forces of outside expectations, commerce, and our own lack of self-awareness make us depend on the world for our own identity and worth. Thus, every day we are defined by how white our shirt should be, the brand of deodorant we use or the soda we drink, our citizenship, our gender, our earning power, our status in the community. We are constantly “Coked,” “Jollibeed,” “Rexona-ed,” “Red Horsed” into submission to an identity that is shallow and bogus.

Jim Jones, who may have started with good intentions, may have, at a certain point, committed the mistake of “conditioning” his self-worth on the adulation which he constantly sought. When that could no longer cut it for him, he turned to other “kicks” such as drugs, sex, and other highs, and his followers did the same. They had no identity other than what was validated by Jim Jones over and over again. They completely denied what was inside them, and looked for self-worth outside.

For a long time, I could not understand the line from the famous song that went, “Learning to love yourself is the greatest love of all…” Isn’t love all about sacrifice and suffering, of losing oneself for others? I thought it was the height of selfishness to love one’s self until I awakened to the truth that the first given in being alive should be to be who we really are.

To be defined by who we love is to be validated from the outside. We need to be simply, unconditionally, who we are. And, as to losing ourselves for others as the highest expression of love, we must bear in mind that we cannot lose what we have not found.

Guitar name, Melbourne, spiders and something stirring!

I finally succumbed!

It’s been awhile since I last bought myself a guitar—something like 20 years ago. I first saw this Admira Deluxe Arlequin Spanish guitar around 5 months ago on a visit to F. Payton and Son, a music company in Sydney where my friend Toti Bautista works. I thought I had found a really nice guitar but alas, I was not psychologically ready to spend a sum which seemed like an extravagance then. The Ilocano in me kicked in, I guess. Ha HA.

When Toti informed me a few days ago that there was one he put on reserve in case I wanted it, all it took was a one look, one nice, long touch and I bought it complete with a nice solid case. I just love the way it feels, sounds and looks. I can’t believe I have a quality Spanish guitar.

I feel like giving it a name. Any suggestions? I figure it must be a woman’s name. Feel free to throw in your ideas.


I am all set for my workshop in Melbourne. I am flying on Friday to be up early and ready by August 25, Saturday at 8AM. I am excited and raring to run TAPPING THE CREATIVE UNIVERSE for the first time there.

If you are in Melboune and reading this, here’s a chance for you to see what 34 other batches of TCU graduates and 5 classes of Ateneo Communication students have undergone and loved and benefited from. Don’t wait. It won’t happen there quite often. I guarantee that you will enjoy the workshop, at the very least.

TCU Workshop (The Full Day Run)

WHEN: August 25, 2007
WHAT TIME: 8AM to 6:30-7:00PM

WHERE: Philippine Australian Multipurpose Centre, 93 Cowper Street, Footscray VIC.

If you are interested in attending a life-changing workshop, here are the contact details:


Emmy and Nestor – 0438 849 788 or email
George 0411 566 885 or email

I’ve been shopping online lately and have gotten really great bargains. Whoever invented Ebay is quite a visionary. It’s like being able to shop all over the world right in your living room. I bought a few things at a fraction of their regular price. All brand new!! I LOVE Ebay!

I also brought home a DVD from Manila that plays all regions including pirated DVDs. It’s great to be able to play our DVDs from Manila. We’ve had three DVD players here in Sydney and they break so easily. Nothing like the trusty German brand one can buy at Makro.

The preparations for APEC here in Sydney are something else. Because of you-know-who (the one who declared that Iraq has WMDs), Sydneysiders are paying something like 350 million dollars to have a ‘safe’ APEC that conforms to the neurotic standards of the President of the most powerful nation on earth.

In the process, there will be no work in many parts of Sydney, no private transportation, and no access to cell phones to lessen the possibility of triggering bombs and the like. There will be spot checks on anyone, and no placards or protests will be aloud near the area. They also put up a big fence to seal off the area for added protection.

If I were Dubya, I still won’t feel secure since there is still the not-too-remote possibility of a deadly spider hiding under a toilet seat scenario. Someone should check under the commode every few minutes especially right before he sits down. Wouldn’t that be the craziest thing if one of Australia’s deadliest creepy crawlies from the bush crept up past the secret service and the security people to bite the president where the sun doesn’t shine? I can see the headlines: A bite from the bush in the bush of Bush! Ouch!

–Lastly, I received my first royalty check from, the publisher of my fourth book entitled As Is Where Is yesterday. I also got a message from 10, that my declaration or wish which I put on the site a few months ago was featured yesterday as the main story. All of a sudden, something that seemed dormant is stirring. I hope it means more interest in my book.

Lessons I learned from my ex-girlfriends

Sunday, August 19, 2007

If I took all the girls I knew when I was single

And brought them all together for one night

I know they’d never match my sweet little imagination

‘Cause everything looks worse in black and white. — Paul Simon, Kodachrome

I had been sitting before my computer for two hours, thinking and staring and turning my chair around and around, truly stumped about what to write for today’s column. At the same time, I was chatting via the Internet with my wife Lydia, who is in another continent. When I asked her to give me some ideas, she suggested I write something personal since, she said, my most-appreciated articles have been those that I wrote about our marriage, our children, my parents and siblings, our household help, and our friends.

But I felt I had exhausted that topic, and there was nothing more I could think of that would be of interest to my readers.

I could hardly believe what came next. She actually suggested that I write about lessons I have learned from my ex-girlfriends. When I told her, only half-jokingly, that I could not believe the suggestion was coming from her, she laughed.

I am guessing that she feels comfortable with it since she has benefited from whatever positive lessons I have learned from the women who came before her. And, of course, I have by now learned infinitely more from her than from all of them put together. But I will save those lessons for another column.

I have four sisters, and growing up with them was a learning experience. They taught me a lot about what women are like and how they should be treated. But it was far more interesting learning those same lessons from girlfriends, since even just getting close to members of the opposite sex was much more exciting than being with family members.

Pursuing girls and getting them to be my girlfriends was very educational, to say the least. They not only taught me many things about women, romance, courtship, passion, and control, they also affirmed me as a man and as a human being many times over by just being with them.

One of my more memorable “teachers” was a beautiful fashion model who traveled extensively and was no stranger to the glamorous life in the capitals of the world. During one of her shows abroad, before we even met, their group was billeted in the same hotel as a world-famous pop band that was also on tour. One of the lead members took a fancy to her and gave her a gold Dunhill lighter as a souvenir. She told me this story with great excitement, so I knew how much she treasured that gift. And she brought it everywhere. Like most everyone else, we were smokers then; the link between death and cigarettes had not yet been established.

She was great to be with. We hung out for a few months — enough time to establish a meaningful relationship. But, sooner than we expected, she had to leave for one of her travels. The prospect of losing her, even only for a while, broke my heart. It was a big bad world out there, and there was no telling what would happen to us.

The night before she left, we had dinner, and amid a lot of romantic sentimentality and copious tears, she took out the lighter and, looking into my tear-filled eyes, she said, “Here, have this.” I was floored. I refused her gift, knowing she really was attached to it. But she said that it was precisely because it meant so much to her that she was giving it to me. If it was not valuable, what was the value in giving it away?

I was astounded. With that single, simple act, she taught me something about giving, and if only for this alone, I continue to treasure having met her.

I met a girl in college who was quite precocious compared to her peers. While many girls her age, though very attractive, seemed childishly cute and girlish, she exuded a mysterious womanly demeanor. She didn’t try to attract guys by wearing short skirts or heavy makeup. She was quietly beautiful, but though her beauty was unspectacular, she had a feminine mystique that could lure her prey. If she could corner you for even 20 minutes, you were a goner! And that’s how it all began.

I had met her before, but we never went beyond saying “hi” to each other. I never thought I could be attracted to her until that 20-minute window one night when there were hardly any people left at a party we were attending. It was 1 a.m., and she was waiting for her car to pick her up. I casually sat down beside her to keep her company, and we struck a conversation. I realized that she liked to talk about stuff that was different from other girls’ usual conversations, which enhanced her mystery. She was interested in Siddhartha and artsy movies! And she answered questions with just the right amount of coyness and charm to make you want to see her again. In other words, she could seduce you without you even knowing it.

Prior to meeting her, I thought I knew women. And from what I considered to be my vast experience in my previous relationships, I assumed that I belonged to the stronger, more dominant sex. To my surprise, when I started going out with this girl, it was almost always the other way around. She could have her way with me without my knowing it, and even when I did, I allowed her to, with my full consent! She defined what “cool” was in music, clothes, books, and lifestyle, and I readily followed.

Our relationship was powered mostly by her agenda. In many ways, she stretched my limits and introduced me to primal aspects of myself that I never suspected could ever matter to me. She could arouse jealousy, and awaken a sense of “sexist ownership,” which I did not know I was capable of.

We did not date for very long. I felt she was changing me too much, maybe into a person I did not want to be. But she did teach me an important lesson: that women can be very powerful — indeed, more powerful than men.

One of the longest relationships I had in my youth was with someone I met in senior high school. We went together for six years, and our relationship went through the gamut of teenage angst, “attitude” and discovery amid the backdrop of “flower power” from the late ’60s to the early ’70s. I describe those times as the Wonder Years of the heart.

To this day, when I hear certain songs, I remember the purity of the experience of post-adolescent joys and aches. Its Il Postino-like magic was both wonderful and devastatingly painful… or so it seemed then to the tender teen that I was. Perhaps it was because we were novices in matters of love and relationships that our experience was instinctive and instructive.

We fought a lot, which was painful, but we invariably reconciled, which was always exhilarating. At such a young age, feelings are oceanic and can totally engulf one’s being. We were young and we were foolish. It was probably the kind of relationship that inspired Shakespeare to write, centuries earlier: “Love is blind and lovers cannot see the petty follies that they themselves commit.”

Young love is truly unforgettable. But thank God, it is possible to get over it. Like everything else, the feelings pass, and you can get on with your life. What I learned from that relationship was that the taming of young love itself is necessary if one is to grow up. All that intensity is simply not sustainable. The fire can become a conflagration that consumes everything in its path. One eventually learns that the hearth of lasting love burns more slowly and surely.

We eventually broke up, and she left to study abroad. I went to see her when she returned for a brief visit home a year later. I remember an embarrassing but hilarious moment when she mistakenly called me by the name of her current boyfriend. This prompted her wise old dad, who was sitting with us in the living room, to drop the magazine he was reading, and tell her, with a wink, to call everyone “angel,” so she would never make the same mistake again!

We continue to be friends and get in touch occasionally via e-mail during birthdays, Christmas, and other special occasions.

I had other relationships with accompanying lessons, but all these happened so long ago, and the memories, though pleasant, are now far removed from my present reality. What remains relevant is what I learned from these women about women. As teachers go, girlfriends are the best source of learning for men about women.

I am forever grateful to all the women I’ve gone with for being the “angels” that they were, who taught me, each in her own way, how to understand women and how to love the one I am spending the rest of my life with better.

The 33rd, 34th, 38th and the youngest!

“tcu_escape velocity batch”

The 33rd run TCU creativity workshop finished last monday night at 11:30 PM. I am exhausted. I slept really well when I got home and woke up refreshed in the morning. Once again, magic and synchronicity appeared in abundance. Once again, I saw people seeing the beauty that they are and I feel privileged to be part of this journey of awakening of 19 intrepid souls who did the workshop. Go and be all of the best you can , guys!

After a deep involvement like a TCU run, all I want to do is just lie around and do nothing, relax, or perhaps just go somewhere and take pictures or just have a nice time with friends. I need downtime.

But I know that in two weeks, I will be fully recharged to do TCU 34 in Melbourne. It’s a new place for me and it’s the first time I will be doing the TAPPING THE CREATIVE UNIVERSE worksshop there so it will be special.

If you are from Melbourne or nearby, read below:

TCU Workshop (The Full Day Run)

WHEN: August 25, 2007
WHAT TIME: 8AM to 6:30-7:00PM

WHERE: Philippine Australian Multipurpose Centre, 93 Cowper Street, Footscray VIC.

If you are interested in attending a life-changing workshop, here are the contact details:


Emmy and Nestor – 0438 849 788 or email
George 0411 566 885 or email

APO’s 38th anniversary show at the PICC last Friday was something else. Even for us who have been performing this long, it has to be a night to remember. Not a single seat among the 3500 was unoccupied. We had an opening act in the person of Bituin Escalante who is a world-class performer. We also had our band that is so good they are to die for. Great lights and sound, a full audience, great musicians. What more could we ask for?

The best band in the world!

Danny, Boboy and I spent the whole week just building up to the show with rehearsals. They weren’t frantic, tiring rehearsals but pleasant ones where we ran the songs and reminded ourselves of nuances that we must pay attention to and execute. But more than that, we attuned ourselves to each other, and reminisced on our 38 year history and came out with the right goods for the show–killer spiels, smart gimmicks, great songs and humor, the senti moments, the messages.


People often ask us how we rehearse the spiels. The truth is, we first conceptualize them and make a loose frame work. We just know how to begin and end them. A lot of what happens does because we are fully present to each other and our audience. We enter ‘the zone’ so to speak and magic happens. Inside ‘the zone’, there is a collective consciousness at work that is more than the sum of what three heads can do. It;s like 3 Clark Kents becoming a super group. And it loves to play and manifest its capacity to wow. We surprise and delight not just the audience but ourselves as well.

It’s an indescribable feeling to be up on stage before a full adoring crowd. You can really feel showered with love and adulation and it’s like walking on air with a magic wand. There’s this large energy in the darkness before you that applauds, laughs, screams in approval and does pretty much whatever you want. It makes one feel powerful, highly appealing and lovable, and totally expanded. You feel you are the center of an abundant universe and the whole totality of it is right there in the venue. You laugh and the whole world laughs. You sing and everyone is singing. If that doesn’t get you high, I don’t know what can. I imagine it’s like a shot of heroin.

During the earlier years in our career, I would always have sleepless nights after great performances. I would get too worked up, too high to slowdown, rest and sleep. I would still be speeding because of all that adrenalin rushing even way after I’ve walked off the stage. Years of doing shows had tempered that and I can wind down easier now after shows. Or so I thought. Last Friday, I found myself tossing and turning in bed and could not get any rest at all. I finally fell asleep after reading for about an hour and a half. I felt like a start-up again. ha ha. It’s a good feeling actually. One thing I hope we never become are jaded performers who merely do the motions just to fulfill a contract.

Always fresh, always new like a beginner on the make. That’s how it should always be. Always present and on the draw. Ready to maim, kill and slaughter with wit, humor and music!

Guess who made it to the front page of Philippine Star last Sunday? Who else but my one and only granddaughter Dadadee! She has got to be the youngest Paredes to ever hit the banner headline pics. Picture to follow tomorrow!

lolo love

Sunday, August 12, 2007

These days, I am marinating in a special type of love. I am experiencing a facet of love that is both unique and wonderful. More than a facet, it can be better described as a flavor. I am speaking about my love, adoration, delight and fascination for Ananda, my one and only grandchild whom I call many names — Ananda, Dada, Dadadee, anak, palangga, darling and many other terms of endearment that I find myself spontaneously and unabashedly using. I call her by many names, not because I am becoming forgetful the way grandfathers are supposed to, but because she elicits so many shades of wonderful feelings from me.

I have lived over half a century and I can say that I have known enough about love and its many flavors. I have showered love and have received it — from my own parents and caregivers, friends, girlfriends, my wife, three children, relatives, peers, colleagues, people I have met and interacted with, fans, and the general love of humanity and life. To be sure, I continue to learn and enjoy love, and be grateful for it.

But let me tell you that right now, none gives me such joy as seeing Ananda’s gaze, hearing the pitter-patter of her tiny feet and her gleeful laughter, and feeling the embrace and affection of my little apo who can oh-so-easily charm her way into my heart and claim it.

Lolo love, to my amazement, can be so easily awakened, enticed and seduced to surrender and pamper its love object.

When Dada calls, I find myself dropping everything. When I hear her going down the stairs, I run to assist her or remind her to be careful. When she asks me to read her something, I readily do so. When she wants me to sit beside her and pretend to drink tea she has prepared from her tiny tea set, I do so with relish. This kid has me wrapped around her little finger!

Grandparents tend to love their own children differently from their grandchildren. When we love our kids, we commit to the pains and pleasures, the duties and obligations, the time and patience needed in raising them to be good, upright people who will do good in the world and do the world some good. It is therefore not surprising that such a task as parenthood can throw us in a tailspin of conflicting emotions at different stages of our children’s growing years. We feel pride and guilt, empathy and anger, joy and suffering, love and fear as we try to do our best in raising them to adulthood.

With grandchildren, it is different. Not only can we do everything parents do, we can do even more — and less! We get to enjoy our grandchildren, love them, play with them, teach them, and even spoil them and feel no guilt or worry about it. Why should we? They are not our responsibility — at least not in the same way that we were responsible when we raised our own kids. We can have as much fun with our grandchildren as we want to and when they begin to get cranky, needy and difficult the way children tend to be when they are spent, we have the luxury of simply sending them back to their parents! I can’t think of anything neater! No wonder a pundit once said that grandparents exact revenge on their children through their grandchildren!

I used to have occasional problems with my mother-in-law when my kids were growing up. The kids loved their Lola because she loved to pamper them. I used to worry that she was “spoiling my kids rotten,” at least in my view as a young, eager and inexperienced father. I worried because she would buy them toys for no reason. She also had a cabinet filled with forbidden goodies, which must have seemed like Aladdin’s cave to her grandchildren. She would make sure to store it regularly for her grandchildren to discover and indulge themselves. She would allow them to have as much candy and chocolate as they wished, even if Lydia and I banned them from eating all the cavity-causing stuff at home. When I think of how rigid Lydia and I were in the early years of our marriage, arguing with Mom about bringing up the kids, I can only shake my head and smile since I now very often catch Lydia doing the exact same things her mother used to do, like giving Dada chocolates, candies, junk food, and other goodies

Neale Donald Walsch in Conversations with God, Book 2 posits the idea that grandparents should be raising children in place of their parents. Why? Because they are more experienced and are a whole lot calmer, and yes, wiser. If not for the added responsibility on my part, I would agree with Walsch. I remember how easily and expertly my Mom would give my infant kids their baths right in the kitchen sink. She would handle them with such confidence and with nary a fuss from my little babies.

These days, as a grandpa, I find myself knowing what to do in many situations. I know intuitively how to calm Dada down when she is agitated without having to turn to the pages of our old baby and child-care bible by Dr. Benjamin Spock. And Lola Lydia can do it infinitely better than I can.

People my age who aren’t yet grandparents ask me what it is like being one. I explain it in a rather long-winded way, like this:

When a man marries, he feels he is settling into a territory that is new, radical and bold. Its landscape is varied and contoured and suitable for building a house with both heavenly and hellish rooms for its occupants. Marriage is the task of converting this house into a home where more angels reside than demons.

When he has children, a man knows that his decision to occupy this same house has now become more permanent. And it’s not just the house but even the garden seems to bear his mark more and more. He has begun to notice that some seeds he has planted have not only sprouted but continue to grow. And with the tender growth, he is filled with dreams and hopes that they will grow mightily and bear fruit.

With the arrival of a grandchild, the picture becomes more lush. The landscape begins to take the shape of something infinitely larger in potential. It is not just a garden with a few trees but a real budding, promising orchard with second growth trees. He feels the unraveling of an enterprise that has much greater rewards. All of a sudden, a man and his life are not just one small story of a moment in time. He may wither and die but his story is sure to continue as part of a grander one that could last forever.

As I write, little Dada plays with her tea set and Lego blocks oblivious to the musings of her Lolo Jim about her. In her little world, all is fine. And in my big world, all is wonderful because of her.

* * *

More practical wisdom

Philippine Star
Sunday, August 5, 2007

In an earlier column titled “Practical Wisdom,” I posted simple but profound and very helpful advice and observations from relatives, friends and acquaintances. I got a lot of responses and so I thought I should share some more.

This batch includes precious wisdom I remember from books, from my readers, and from friends in my mailing list. Some of them are quite unique. Here’s more practical wisdom:

• When Mommy is not happy, no one is happy.

I got this from my brother Jake who simply adores his wife. In many homes, Mom is the center of the universe, and her comfort or happiness index is the true barometer of peace and warmth in the house. I know some readers may feel that such a guideline would tend to “baby” wives and mothers too much, but I sense most husbands and sons would appreciate the wisdom in keeping their wives and mothers happy. The center, after all, has to hold.

To the women who are reading this, consider yourselves lucky if your spouses adhere to such wisdom. And appreciate him since he is a man who knows how to appreciate you, and how to keep the peace!

• A person who is aroused has no conscience.

Actually, my high school friend Kenny’s father put it more crudely than that. After struggling with an attempt to explain the birds and the bees to his precocious son, hemming and hawing as he tried to sound dispassionately scientific, he simply blurted it all out in a simple sentence. Succinctly but with great clarity, and while wiping off his heavy perspiration, he advised Kenny: “Son, remember this. An aroused prick has no conscience.”

• You can’t plant a tree in the morning and expect it to bear fruit the next day.

I first heard this from a teacher who chided us, his students, for cramming for exams only on the night before. More than any other metaphor, this drove home completely for me the idea that you cannot have access to all the knowledge and the wisdom you should have been working to acquire the entire semester and expect to have it all at your fingertips by studying furiously overnight.

• Leave a tender moment alone.

Thank Billy Joel for this one.

Sometimes, it’s good to be distant, or at least to know when not to react in the usual way. Not everything needs to be said, or explained. There are many situations in life when the best response is a subtle, or even a quiet one. Restraint is a virtue.

I think of moments when all I wanted and needed was someone to just listen to me unburden, not to give me advice or tell me what was good or bad for me. Sometimes, withholding the need to advise or preach may be the most appropriate response. But it is one of the hardest things to do.

Silence itself says so much more about compassion, appreciation and understanding of what’s going on than a smart riposte. In fact, to comment at all may be intrusive and could violate the unfolding tenderness or fragility of the moment.

• To be good at something, you must be willing to be bad at it.

This I got from Julia Cameron who wrote The Artist’s Way, and I fully subscribe to it.

I know people who won’t try anything new — a sport, a hobby, a new skill or a new job — unless they are assured of success. And because of this, they end up not trying anything at all. They are too afraid to fail and too fearful of anything outside their comfort zone. They dread the uncertainty that learning new things invites.

But there’s the rub. You will never know if you are good at anything unless you try it. And the best way to try it is to be unconditional about the initial outcome. I say do it for curiosity, or because you’ve always wanted to. Give it your best shot, even if only to find out that it may not be for you.

• Sometimes it is better to be sorry than safe.

The author of this is an executive of MTV who had to explain to his board of directors in New York why he almost lost the rights of MTV to broadcast in a Scandinavian country. In hindsight, he explained that he had proceeded too quickly and his decisions were too bold for comfort and so he earned the ire of some officials.

While I generally believe in the wisdom of caution, I believe that if one always takes the safe route, he or she will not grow to full potential. There are times when we must seize the moment and courageously leap into the unknown. From our mistakes, we can at least learn something. Repetition and safe thinking are really just more of the same.

• Wanna feel abundance with just 10 dollars? Give it away!

I heard this from Neale Donald Walsch, author of the world-famous Conversations with God books, when he gave a talk in Manila a few years ago. He was underlining the point that one who can share what he possesses freely and spontaneously is rich and abundant regardless of how much he has. On the other hand, a person who is miserly and will not share anything despite owning millions or billions has a mindset mired in poverty and will never experience abundance. Amid his wealth, he feels only deprivation.

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I am inviting everyone to join the 33rd run of my walk-the-edge workshop entitled “Tapping the Creative Universe.” TCU is a workshop where participants can uncover, face and overcome the issues that block their productivity, creativity and joy. This highly acclaimed workshop will awaken you to who you really are and make you creative for life.

Join this six-night workshop on August 6, 7, 8, 9, 11 and 13, 7 to 9 p.m. at 31 M. Jocson St. Loyola Heights, QC. The cost of the sessions is P5,000.

To reserve a slot in this life-altering workshop, or request a syllabus, call 0916-8554303 and ask for Ollie, call 426-5375 or write Jim at

Adobo, books, APO and my aus studes

Tomorrow I leave for Manila for a few shows and a workshop. I have not been home to answer phone call inquiries about the workshop but I have been responding to info requests via email. As of now, I don’t know how many or how few participants I will have. A lot of them usually confirm by Sunday. We will see.

I learned a lot on this last stay in OZ especially about kitchen and cuisine matters. I learned to fend for myself by cooking and, if I may so, rather well! We had a friend Nannette de la Cruz who had dinner here the other night and she complimented me on my pork adobo. Ha ha. Nannette, you are a real friend. Here is a photo as proof that she ate it and survived!!

A few weeks back, I also got a picture from a visitor of my blogs on multiply and here at the pansitan. His name is Steiner from Canada and he asked his wife to buy my books in Manila while she was there. He even ordered my new book As Is Where Is from For all this, I thank you Steiner. I hope you enjoyed them. To all those who have ordered my book on the net, I thank you too and if the spirit moves you, feel free to leave a review and a rating. If you are too shy, then just send it to me and I will read it privately, or post it for you if you wish.

To those in Aus and NZ, I have copies of my three books Humming In My Universe, Between Blinks, Writing On Water which I can mail to you or you can pick up if you are near my area. Write me at for details.

To those watching the APO show at the PICC, I want you to know that the three of us are quite excited about the show. We are meeting this Sunday and will be preparing during the week for this. What fun!! I can’t wait to be with my friends again.

Thank you Josel Catindoy for this great shot!

I am quite happy that with or without my friends, I can find some comfort and ease wherever I am. I spent all this time in OZ with just Mio and Lydia, and at a certain point I was alone for around a week in winter. I expected to feel displaced, lost and lonely but I did not. That surprised me actually.

I also enjoyed my sessions with my guitar and voice students. They seem to be picking up and learning quite fast. I feel so good seeing many of them come out of their cocoon and learn to flap their wings. They will be flying soon. See you guys again soon. Keep practicing so you don’t lose what you’ve gained. I’ll be back very soon.