Sunday, 22 November 2009


i've been living on blue-green algae, caffeine, and protein bars.
hardly the breakfast of champions.
eh, but, very low carb...

i take walks everyday outside (or try to) to remind myself of what the air feels like on my cheeks.
i like to see the trees.
the cars and the noise i can do without.

i catch up on phone calls when i walk.
i even have a jawbone bluetooth thingy so i can talk 'hands-free.'

i remember the Philippines when i take these walks.
i remember walking in the rice fields.
and to the palengke.
and to the church.
and to the tiangge on Mondays.

i remember walking to Rowell's house.
and fetching water from the pump.
i remember falling asleep to crickets and the whirring fan at night.

those things really happened, i tell myself, lest i forget.

here, my to-do list never seems to diminish.
here, so many things are 'time-sensitive.'
here, the weather is crisp and cold.
here, it's harder to feel Kapwa.
here, things move a lot faster.
here, it feels harder to catch up.
here, i feel out of place, "too emotional."

here, is Home, too.

i tell myself, it will get better.
i tell myself, to just keep swimming.
i tell myself, i'm sorry it's so hard.
i tell myself, that i must be my own Witness.

i tell myself:
there is purpose to this pain.
there is purpose to this pain.
there is purpose to this pain.

Monday, 9 November 2009

another level

my heart feels heavy.
with grief.

unmet expectations really suck.
unexpected challenges do too, if you ask me.

it is one thing to know that a situation isn't impossible.
it is another to feel like it utterly is.

i remember my meta-choice.
it helps me stay on track.

i never imagined it would be so hard to stay on track.

this is another level of learning.
my Freedom is around here somewhere.

if i just let go of my psoas muscles...
if i just let this lump in my throat dissolve...
if i just trust that there is purpose to this pain...

i've been distracted and distant.
i'm getting weary.
this isn't what i expected.

okay, dear Me.

grieve it.
grieve it fully.
it was a beautiful dream.

and then, get up again.
and meet what's actually here.

some losses we don't ever get over.
we just learn how to manage our lives despite them.

i wonder if this is that kind of loss.
time will tell.

Saturday, 17 October 2009

fallen to the earth...

i can't yet write about it myself--about my transition back.
i'm still wide-eyed and in it.

soon tho.
soon, i hope.

here's a blog entry written by my friend, Leny.
she often has words that describe the indescribable.
especially when it comes to decolonization and journeys Home.

Len, maraming, maraming salamat.
thank you for your exquisite Witness, in this, and in all things...


Friday, October 16, 2009
This blog is for my friends, Muki and Grace, who have recently returned from their long sojourns in the homeland and processing the return to this place that is also home.

My Buddhist friend, Gail, used to remind me to slow down and take my time after returning from my trips to Pampanga. She saw my weepiness, my homesickness, my blank stares, my struggle to return to my life. Sometimes this processing would last longer than the two-week jet lag. I often expressed my fear to her that I might not emerge from this fog and that I would be sad forever. I needed Gail as a witness and she was a very good witness. She held me gently and honored what I was going through. No attempt to rush or analyze. Just a gentle presence.

I think of her now and I wish to be that kind of witness for my friends. But we are not in the same city. Would facebook chat do? Would email suffice? Would a phone call be enough?

I am re-reading "The Woman Who Watches Over the World" again. And this time, I noticed passages that escaped me the last time. Linda writes that, in retrospect, her days of falling down to the earth when she was too drunk to walk upright, was her body's attempt to fall to the earth. Literally. Her body's need to reconnect and hear the calling of the earth. The earth calling her back, inviting her to rest and be healed in the earth's bosom.

This is a very poignant passage to me. As I think about how the body carries history and how this history has been a wound for indigenous peoples, it is comforting to think that we can fall to the earth and be healed.

This is such a difficult concept to think about when I think of the devastation from the recent typhoons in the Philippines and the people, animals, trees, rocks that were all displaced. My first sympathies always lie in human suffering. This is my conditioning. But I am also learning how to enlarge my sympathies to the rest of creation. Where does it lead but to the feeling of awe and respect for processes that my mind cannot contain or that language cannot articulate?Time stretches and space expands until the contours of a cosmology begin to manifest and becomes a source of calm and peace. Yet the suffering is real, the losses are real. My body feels this.
Dear Muki and Grace, I imagine the struggle to be present in the body even as the mind pulls us away to our beloved archipelago. The body longs for the comfort and the feeling of knowing that it belongs to the land and kapwa over there. The body longs for the humidity that saturates the skin. It longs for the sounds - both natural and man made. It longs for the smells, taste, sights. It longs for the familiar. It is October and our ears ring with carols as we know that Christmas starts in the 'Ber' months over there. We long for the fluidity of life over there that makes people open and available to each other's hospitality and generosity. We long for the sense of kapwa. We long to belong to the earth and over there it feels a little easier to do so.

We long for these feelings and wish to recreate them here. But how? It is even hard to find people to talk to who would know what this struggle is about. Even our loved ones are impatient and they want to see us move on already. They want answers from us. Our ambiguity is unsettling to them. What are we mirroring? And can we create those conversations?

I think of you as I write this. I am thinking that I could have picked up the phone and called you instead. I am thinking that you might not be available. I am thinking that I think too much.

But I will talk to you soon and commune with you soon. Love to you.

posted by Leny @ 2:19 PM

Sunday, 13 September 2009


i've been back 5 days, and it already feels like a month.
i blink and a whole Universe opens up.
i blink again, and it's gone.

i've been sleeping 3-4 hours a night.
things at the Center are familiar and unfamiliar.
it's cold.

we have our big fundraiser on Saturday.

i'm emotional.
and lonely.
and devastated.

and okay.
then, not okay.

sounds like grief, doesn't it?
i don't even know what i'm grieving.

i just know it's deep.
and heartbreaking.
and will eventually unfold in bits.
and one day, blindside me.

i feel desperate for a Witness.
there is none.
i'll just have to be my own.

who else knows what this feels like?

Thursday, 3 September 2009

the perfume of packing

i’m burning the copal that Miguel gave me over 2 years ago before i left.
we were carpooling home together from the ‘Loin, and we stopped in that one shop whose name i always forget on Valencia down the street from Osento in the Mission.

he bought copal.
i bought a set of cards.

the resin bubbles as the fire catches.
i was always afraid to burn it before.
afraid i didn’t have the proper vessel.
or didn’t know how to do it ‘right.’

unafraid, i light it now.
(and keep lighting it; it keeps burning out.)
it smells like the incense they burn at church.
i place it on one of the pink plates that Uma and Mitra brought back from Japan.
the woodsy fragrance fills my nostrils, as i watch a fat ribbon of black smoke writhe and slither up into the air.
i feel the heat, let the flame singe the hairs on my knuckle, almost burning my skin.
a flood of memories come back.

i remember my first fire ceremony.
the smell of the land in the Santa Cruz mountains.
i remember the burden that ‘Bino bears.
that when he is Called, he must come.
i remember my Teacher calling him…for us.
i remember basking in the reflected light between these two Great Friends.
i remember Jr. and how everyone swooned.
i remember the dark.
and Thuy hyperventilating, then shrieking.
i remember feeling curious.
and open.
i remember feeling like my lips, nostrils, and eyelids were on fire.
i remember seeing green sparks.
i remember putting my cheek to the earth to find coolness.

i remember the second fire ceremony, the following year.
i was not allowed inside.
my moon had just finished and i was still too powerful and potent to enter.
everyone else was inside.
i waited outside and sang songs softly to myself and the trees.
and thought about the Philippines.
and watched as, one by one, they emerged from the fire’s womb, gulping the cool air and afternoon sun, glistening and sweating.

when i was helping prepare the space, i found a red diamond shaped rock.
it was so rough and light.
it stayed in my pocket for years after that.
i remember finding it again when i was wandering the cordilleras.
pleased to rub it between my fingers again, feeling it snag my skin.

let the fire change you, Muki.

that’s what i heard this morning, as i lit another candle for Ligaya’s Papa.
that’s why i lit the copal, i guess.
that’s why i will light incense all day and fill my little place with warmth and light.

outside, it’s grey and cool.
and sprinkling.
the sky is crying tears that i’m not.
i’ve cried so much already.

the lights were flickering on and off this morning.
the fan’s motor whirring on and off, sputtering.
i’m amidst boxes and stuff.
copious amounts of stuff.

i had been hoping to go to baguio, as my last trip before i return to the States.
i realize it was another kind of distraction, procrastination.
i won’t go.
i need to fully unpack so that i can pack.

it’s painful this process.
i don’t want to do it.
people have offered to help me.
pero, paano?

i go through each thing…remembering.
with each thing, i decide if it goes or stays.
weighing it, literally, figuratively, emotionally.
it is an alone process.

two came yesterday and lingered.
i sent them away.
i want to be alone in this.

i made arrangements for a van to bring me to the airport on Tuesday.
i’ll go early.
i’ll have excess baggage fees to pay.
this will be the last time that i pay for that.
no more excess baggage for me.
even when i go home, i know there are boxes of things yet at my parents’ house and Center to go thru and release.
no more holding onto things that are not useful, no longer needed.
after Sit For Change, there will be a great releasing.

i found pockets of things that i never unpacked from the clinic.
a stash of incense, sweet cedar, and sage.
green rocks and pebbles from the beach and alien windmills in ilocos norte.
i assemble a makeshift incense holder from a ceramic cup and those pebbles, and i will burn it all today.

i gave all of my agnihotra supplies to Bahay Ginhawa.
i will buy a new pyramid when i am settled in Berkeley.
it will be my welcome Home present to myself.

i’m sitting at my dining table, underneath the window.
the raindrops splash off the slats of glass and microdrops wet my shoulders.
i’m itchy and rub alcohol on my neck and back to cool.

tiny red ants have taken refuge in this messy house of mine.
i find them everywhere.
in bed.
in my ears.
in the toaster oven.

i’m still wearing eyeliner from going out last night.
mac: shit still looks good, even the morning after.
that’s come in handy a couple 3-4 times.
pampanga friends took me out to fancy dinner last night.
i didn’t even have to drive.
it was hard to sleep alone last night, after all the merriment.

today is my power moon day.
the moon and planets will be in the same position tonight that they were 35 years ago on my birth day. tonight, i will have a dream that will offer me a glimpse into what the year has in store for me. i remember the one i had last year…
an added bonus: last day of my moon today.
this must be some kind of triple whammy.

my house smells like rain, sweet cedar, and sage.
my skin smells like rubbing alcohol, sweat, and tears.
this is the new perfume of packing.

Tuesday, 18 August 2009

a tiger in the Lion City

i’m on another plane.
this time from Singapore to Clark.
good to be going home.
(did park and fly; hope Pipsy starts.)
tho, i’ll only be home for a day.
(pray for sunshine; i have laundry to do…)
and then i turn around and fly to davao to visit betsy in makilala.
don bosco, Dra. Moon’s clinic, paradise island, aldevinco, marang, and mangosteen… here i come.

i enjoyed my stay in Singapore.
with new friends.
friends who, quite literally, i only met a couple of weeks ago.
we met in palawan at Pi and Lisette’s healing space.
we were slipping around on red mud; riding down bumpy, dusty roads in jeeps and trikes; riding boats in dark caves and on underground rivers, pumping water out of the ground; eating our food off of banana leaves with our hands; cooking, laughing; playing guitar; meditating; dancing; healing; drumming…

in Singapore, i stayed in their swanky pad.
10th floor.
fine art, from both established and emerging Filipino painters and sculptors.
leather chaises.
clean lines.
fendi throw pillows.
remote controlled air conditioners, in every room.

i’m acutely aware of my ability to move in and out of these two kinds of worlds equally well.
i’m grateful for that particular straddle ability.

i’ll be taking outdoor showers at the farm of Betsy soon.
i am grateful for that.
even if there are yellow frogs stuck to the shower curtain.
(reminds me that i have to get batteries for my flashlight…)

my friend Dane, a fellow Fil-Am, played Singapore tour guide extraordinaire for 5 glorious days.

i went to all kinds of malls in Singapore.
it most certainly is a concrete jungle.
a strangely sedate one.
and an extremely clean one.

nicest and cleanest public toilets.
well stocked with a plethora of toilet paper.
and even toilet seat liquid antiseptic cleanser dispensers in each stall.
automatic flush that didn’t rush you or splash back.

i think my favorite part of the public toilets were the squat toilets.
i like those the best.
i wish they had those in the states.
i’m not sure why.
just seems natural to go like that.

there were free public hand sanitizer dispensers everywhere.

i was so curious about the prayer rooms i would see around.
there were separate ones for women and men.
i really wanted to peek into one; i didn’t tho.

i can’t even name all things that i ate.
i visited umpteen hawker centers and food courts.

eating and shopping are the national pastimes, and they take each one rather seriously.
nicest public library i’ve ever been in.
apparently, Singapore is one of the richest countries in asia.
no deficit, according to Dane.

i somehow managed to attend a lecture/workshop on essential oils and their therapeutic uses. also went to Malaysia for a couple of hours. right hand drive was funny. i kept looking the wrong way before crossing the street. played the lotto. i even went to ikea.
i liked how all the public signs were in 4 different languages. halal food everywhere.
mass transit easy and smooth. parang may konting konti gulo talaga.

i just realized how tired i feel.
all this zipping around.
someone asked me when i will rest.
i told them that the plane ride home to the states is 12+ hours…
malapit na.

Sunday, 16 August 2009

for good

in the last 2 weeks:

next 2 weeks:

september 1:
turn 35
birthday/despedida party

september 8:
climb on a plane in manila
and twelve hours later (or so),
land in san francisco
drive across the bay bridge
to berkeley
back to Center
to begin again.