Thursday, July 21, 2016

I will honor Paris agreement even if the President doesn’t

“You should not burn wastes”, says my 9 year old friend Brie.  “It will emit carbon in the air and it will damage our climate.”

I couldn’t quite understand carbon footprint and this simple explanation suits me well.

“Plants eat carbon but less plants mean more carbon in the atmosphere which is bad for the earth.”, she continues to lecture.

To further my studies, I consulted youtube.  This is the simplest explanation I got as explained by yet another child.

video from rappler

If you watched the video, the narrator mentioned that leaders of different nations will meet and decide on the future of our home.  This was the Conference of Parties which was held in Paris, more commonly know as COP21.

It was monumental because for the first time in the 21 times the leaders have been meeting they have finally come into an agreement.  Each of the 195 nations which attended the conference pledged to reduce carbon emission.  US promised to reduce carbon emission by 26% (based on the 2005 level), the European Union will cut emission by 40% and China will invest heavily in clean energy and will attempt to decrease carbon emission in 2030.  The goal is to keep the average temperature increase below 2 degrees Celsius.

video from youtube

“This could be the best chance we have to save the one planet we have.”, said US President Obama in his COP21 speech.

On the other hand, Philippine President Rody opts not to honor the Paris agreement arguing that it will stifle the country’s growth.

Obama in the same COP21 speech reported that in 2014 the global economy grew while global carbon emissions stayed neutral.  He pointed out that this indicates that “strong economic growth and a safer environment no longer have to conflict with one another”.

Still, I respect my President’s decision.  He does have valid reasons.  However, I have my own mind and I will go with my own voice of reason.

The Philippines ranked fourth in the countries most hit by disasters according to the United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNISDR).  Asia and the Pacific faced 90 storms last year, 48 of which was attributed to rising sea levels and sea surface temperatures.

If nothing is done to address the issue of climate change, the losses we might incur as a result of it may far outweigh the gains of industrialization.

Having written all of that, I raise my last bottled water and say yes to the Paris agreement even if my President refuses to honor it.

Malcolm Gladwell says in his book The Tipping Point that “a small but precisely targeted push” can create big change.  Can you join me and give your own pledge?  Will you help save the world?

                         graphics by Mark Gosingtian

Thursday, June 30, 2016

Save the cheerleader, Save the world

I’ve always been haunted by that line from the tv series “Heroes”.

“Is it possible for an ordinary person to really change the world?”, I often ask myself.

BK Jayanti Kirpalani, UE-Middle East Director of Brahma Kumaris explains in this interview at COP21, Paris that it is indeed possible.

video from Climate Home

She asserts that everything starts with the individual.  She links what’s happening in the world to an internal dissonance in human beings.  

At the moment, the consumerism we are seeing even in the developing world sometimes is really as if there’s hundreds of planets that we can take from and we can’t- there’s a limit.  And so when you turn inwards and connect with the happiness and joy that’s within,  then your lifestyle becomes a very simple one and so you don’t need so much from outside but there’s a spirit of generosity and care which you share with others.

The interviewer, surprise with Kirpalani’s stand asks, “Is that the message that you bring to COP21 which is actually a negotiation between governments of states. So, you are trying to give a novel message which is more about personal evolution right?"

Definitely, because we believe that everything starts with the individual and if even a minority group has a powerful voice then they are able to impact the leaders and the majority and so there can then be worldwide change.

"You are speaking about the personal development and the personal action on our self.  In just one sentence, what would you recommend to any human being on earth?"

“Make a conscious choice knowing that your decision about what you buy, what you eat, what you wear, what you do is going to have an impact on your carbon footprint and is going to set a trend and an example for others to follow also.”     

If you want to hear more from BK Jayanti, you are warmly invited to this event.

Thursday, June 23, 2016

Are you ready for The Big One?

Kobe, Japan- January 17, 1995, Amidst the rubble, the Indian community huddled together in an evacuation center.  They were thirsty, hungry and afraid.

The Situation

At 5:46 in the morning,  a 7.2 magnitude earthquake hit the city. Kobe was in shambles- 150,000 buildings were ruined, 1 km of the Hanshin Expressway collapsed, 120 of the 150 quays in the port were destroyed, and fires raged.  It was difficult for help to come in immediately because of the massive destruction.  (In fact, the 45 minute car ride to Kobe from Osaka became a 12 hour journey.)

Moreover, there were no electricity and drinking water.  Every hour, aftershocks could be felt.  Every aftershock, there were loud screaming, dogs barking and people running out from their makeshift shelter to the devasted streets covered in their quilts and blankets.  The whole day, the people of Kobe froze in the middle of winter- uncertain of their fate.

Calm amidst the quake

Inside the evacuation center, there was an Indian lady in white sari who kept her calm in the midst of the turbulence.  Rajni Daulatram, Brahma Kumaris coordinator for Philippines and Japan was simply observing the situation and meditating.

"Why are you so calm?", asked some people in the community.

"My consciousness is I am an eternal soul. The soul doesn't die. If anything happens- only this body dies.", she answered.

"How can you be so stable?", they prodded.

"I have been practicing meditation everyday for 20 years.  I have trained my mind to be calm."

"What is meditation?", they continued to query.

"Meditation is the practice of being the king of the mind.  It also allows one to declutter all the wastes so the mind can think clearly. Like right now, it is not necessary to worry or question why this is happening.  Of what use is that?"

"Can you teach us how to meditate?", they asked.

"I've been inviting you to come to our center for years and it's only now that you want to learn?  Meditation is not a pill that you can take which will instantly make you feel good.  It requires practice.", she gently explained.

"Please teach us", they pleaded.

So, she did.

How to meditate

"First, stop complaining in your mind.  Put a halt to all your questions."

"Then, remember who you are. I am a peaceful soul and experience that peace."

"Finally, send good wishes to nature because nature helped us survive this calamity."

So, on that fateday day of January 17,1995 the Indian lady in white sari taught meditation to the community in the middle of the rubble and the aftershocks.

The Invitation

Manila, Philippines- June 2016, 21 years after the Kobe earthquake, amidst preparations for an impending earthquake in Manila, Daulatram invites the public to learn and experience meditation on July 20, Wednesday, 2:30-5:00pm at SMX Convention Center, SM Aura.

She advises,  "It is good that the Philippine government released earthquake safety tips and reminded the citizens to be prepared.  However, preparation for such a calamity must be two-fold: spiritual and physical."

She explains, "Earthquakes happen unexpectedly, you only have some few seconds to respond.  If you are not spritually prepared, you will be scared and confused.  However, if you can keep your mind calm and alert, you will be able to do what is necessary at the right time."

"A daily meditation practice allows one to accumulate peaceful energy which is very useful in times of crisis", she stressed. 

Do you want to learn how to be spiritually prepared?

*This is a repost from this blog.


Tuesday, June 14, 2016

I have 3 questions for you

Does facebook send you notifications?

Do your friends tell you to check your e-mail?
image from

Do you get out of the busyness of the city once in awhile?

If you answer no to any of the questions above, I would like to invite you to unplug for awhile and join me and renowned journalist Emmie Velarde to "Silent Conversations with the One" on June 16, Thursday 6:30 p.m. at the Brahma Kumaris Makati Center.

It will be an evening of guided meditations and quiet reflection.

P.S.  This event is especially for social media practitioners (like you and me) who acknowledge the need to take a break from technology and get in touch with their inner selves.

P.S.S. Please disregard the questions above, just wanna know if there are 'antisocial' social media practitioners out there (like me). Hope to see you there!  For other events around the globe, please check this link.

Tuesday, June 7, 2016


image from jenniferalyce

The secret of 
The happiness
Of doing nothing
Has alluded me- of late

Until I encountered Yin (yoga)
And never mind the complexities”
My teacher says

“Just relax
Let go of any tension
Simply stay grounded” 
Another teacher admonishes

And as we assume another asana (pose)
She gently reminds
“Sometimes it’s tough
Just breathe through it”

On the day of the full moon
Almost all my patients launched a protest 
And screamed their lungs out
Hour after each hour

“Breathe and never mind the complexities”
I remind myself

Then, I need to put a project to a halt
In the meantime at least
Until I finish the paper works 
And more volunteers show up

“Relax and let go of any tensions”, I chant
“Stay grounded and things will flow”

A plan needs to be rescheduled
Out of nowhere 
Something unexpected pops up
Everything is now in disarray

“Sometimes, it’s tough
Breathe through it”, I told myself

When I decided to be gentle 
With myself and with life
The teachers showed up
Saying the same thing in oh-so-different-ways 

“Just focus on the breathing
Focus on your energy and never mind the rest”

P.S.  Special thanks to my yin yoga teachers Roxanne & Bea for being great in what they do and for gently coaching me towards yin. 

Monday, May 23, 2016

I haven’t gone to the dark side

image from

Please don’t get me wrong.  

Although my two previous posts weren’t about shanti (peace) at all, I still believe in the power of om (soul). 

I feel though that it is important to embrace both my light and dark sides if I am to move forward in the spiritual path.  

Then, I can face my inner monsters squarely and banish them into oblivion.

I am reminded of a recent class of Sister Denise Lawrence, the first raja yoga  student outside of India.

“There are demons inside...We do a lot of finger wagging. I think we shouldn’t do that.”

“We also do a lot of waste thoughts like “This is wrong with me.”, “That is wrong with you.”

"Focusing on defects that way, I’m not in favor of....We have to fight our inner demons.”

“How can we be heroes if we don’t play out the work of facing our inner demons?”

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

How to break the glass ceiling

image from

I figured it out!

At dawn, when I sat down for meditation, I felt a big boulder over my chest and I felt very heavy.

My glass ceiling had finally revealed itself.

And, it is ugly.  

In fact, it is the ugliest monster I’ve seen so far.

It is a black sink hole of self-doubt.  

“You are not good enough!”, it screams.

I thought I’ve slayed this monster a long time ago.  Apparently, I only made it sleep.

Now, it hangs like a huge eclipse over my heart.

I took my swords of knowledge and yoga out and began to fight.

As of writing, I am still fighting the beast.

Worry not, looks like I will survive this.

How about you, do you know what stops you?

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

On hitting the glasss ceiling

image from

I’ve always considered myself to be brave.  I’m stubborn as hell (sorry for the term, I cannot find anything more apt) if I really want to make something happen and  I am willing to die for something I believe in- literally.  

Of late, I find it hard to move forward in my spiritual journey and in life in general.  It’s as though there’s an invisible force field blocking my path.  Even though, I take steps forward, I bump this invisible wall and I feel stuck.  I move forward again and I bounce right back where I started.  

I couldn’t figure out what’s wrong until I attended a retreat in Tagaytay

“There was a point in my journey when I hit a glass ceiling and I have to break free from it.”, shared Bro. Neville from London.

“There was this dependency in my subconscious which I couldn’t see... I was suppressing it...For a long while I deluded myself into thinking I’m ok.”, he opened up.

It took him years to identify his glass ceiling because he was sweeping his feelings under the rug.

“I didn’t know I was grieving inside because I lost a certain identity I held too tightly on.“

When he finally faced his monster, he vividly saw it as a black mass with intersecting tendrils over his brain and he had to painstakingly remove it in tapasya (deep yoga).

From his experience, I learned that the key is to identify that thing which stops me and only then can I work on freeing myself from the glass ceiling.

Thursday, May 12, 2016

Follow Your Heart

We've seen each other during retreats and meditation classes, but we've never really sat down and talked.  We've only exchanged smiles--- until this day.

We had lunch together at the meditation center in Tagaytay.  As usual, she came in sans make-up and the celebrity status.  "I'm really a quiet person", she opened up.  I wanted to retort back, "I am too. So, bye I'll leave you with your thoughts".

The Interview

But something held me back, instead I asked a question then another and another until I got to know her story.

"I always hear sing from the soul. I don't really know what that means until I learn to meditate.  Before, when I sing it's only the body which sings but now every fabric of my being sings", she shared.

You see, in raja yoga meditation, the first concept taught is that of  "om" (I am a soul).  I am a being of peace, power, purity, love and bliss.  I am here in this world to simply express and experience these qualities. However, as we go through life's journey we forget who we really are.  Meditation teaches us to simply go back to who I really am (a soul).

She then related that pursuing what she loves was a difficult process.  "I was raised and trained to be a business person.  I finished business school.  Afterwards, I worked in the corporate world for five years.  But, it was not a world I want to be in.  In my heart, I am an artist."

The Move

How did you move from corporate to showbiz?, I queried.

"There was a year when I withdrew from everything.  I didn't speak at all and would only use sign language to communicate.  I kept on working on the family business but in my head I was planning my career.  I was dreaming and building everything in my mind."

Anthea Church, author of Inner Space had a similar experience.  She called it digesting time.  She wrote, "It cleared my mind so that when my moment came, I could hear clearly"

The same moment came to Timmy Cruz when she clearly knew that she had to follow her passion.  She had to run away from home though.  Without her family's support,  little savings and fierce determination she carved a name for herself in only a year and a half.

It was not easy though.  To make sure that she survives until the next gig she would only spend P50 a day on herself and save everything else.  She would eat at the event where she is performing so she saves on food.  And, she never revealed her age.  In an industry which worships youth, admitting that she was 26 years old when she started her career is suicide.

The Secret

How did you make it?, I asked.  I really wanted to know her route- step by step (just so i know but trust me I'm not planning on being a celebrity)  

"I simply followed my heart",
 was her short reply.

I guess, it is true what they say that when the why is big enough the how is easy.

P.S. This is a repost from my blog last August 11, 2014. 

P.S.S. If you want to learn from this yogi, you are invited to a one day retreat this Saturday in Quezon City.  For similar events happening in different parts of the globe, please click here.

Sunday, May 8, 2016

“What is the essence of being a woman?”

screenshot from Release Your Wings

That question was asked during the Miss Universe pageant circa 1994.  

22 years later, her answer still rings true.  

Indeed,  it is very natural for a woman to nurture and take care of another person- whether that one is her child or not.

It is very easy to put another person first before her needs.

She does not find it demeaning to serve the other person.

This ability to bend to the other (and often to many others) like the bamboo tree flexes no matter how high it is, is the greatness of a mother.

In it lies her strength too.   

To everyone who has mothered another soul... 

whether you are male or female

whether you’ve given birth to a child or not

whether you think that beauty pageants make women conform to a superficial standard of beauty (hear! hear!)

Happy Mother’s Day! 


Thursday, May 5, 2016

Be brave little one

“If you only do what you can do
You can never be more than what you are now”
Says Shifu to Po

I cannot agree more
But it’s so much easier to stay 
In the comfort of the familiar

You can navigate around
Even with closed eyes
You always have a lifeline to call

And it is hard to go
To the unknown
Brave unchartered territories

What if I fizzle out in the sun
What if dangers lie beyond
What if I fail

But what if you meet your best self
What if the grass is greener on the other side
What if the experience will expand you

They say the next worst thing to failing
Is not even trying
Won’t you at least try

P.S.  I talk to myself- a lot.  This is one of those instances.

 image from thewastedwanderer

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

3 Things I learned when I travelled solo

Unlike Eponine of Les Miserables, I wasn't singing "On My Own" in utter despair and hopelessness when I embarked on my first solo trip of late.    

The song which played in my head was "I feel good!(tananananananan...)".  

Here are the top things I learned: 

image from

1.  It’s not that scary

Well, I went to a place I’m really comfortable with to begin with- India!  I had been there five other times and the local students of the meditation center I go to always pick me up to and fro the airport and arrange the other transfers.  Since I would go there annually, it feels like home and there are always local people I can call if necessary.

*  Be alert.  When riding public transportation or while moving about, be on the look out for restless people- those who are pacing back and forth or with eyes darting from left to right.  Often, they are checking the field and are on the look out for policemen to see whether or not they can pursue their evil plan.  Go down the vehicle, move away from them or go near enforcers if ever you come across them. 

* Be simple.  Dress conservatively. Leave your bling blings at home.  Try not to attract attention to yourself.  This is the best prevention against the bad guys.

2.  I can talk to strangers

Contrary to my mother's advice, I learned that it’s ok to talk to strangers.  Some strangers I sat adjacent to in airplanes have very interesting stories.  Strangers I met in Mount Abu during my annual retreats eventually became close friends.

* Be discerning.  Use your detective skills to know if it’s safe to talk to a particular person or if they want to converse with you.  Trust your intuition.
*  Never leave your drinks with a stranger, accept food from them, or ride in their car- for precaution.

3.  I love my company

Travelling on my own allowed me to simply be with myself.  There was no need to consider other people’s preference or accommodate their needs.  It simplified a lot of things.  It also gave me a chance to sit down with myself and clear certain things.  I really enjoyed the silence, too.

* Give yourself me-times.  Practice being comfortable with your own company  before travelling solo.
* Enjoy the journey.  If you catch yourself thinking, “I wish this loved one is with me”- stop.  Remember, this trip is really for you and relish every bit of it.

I will definitely travel on my own again!  

P.S.  This is my last post on my retreat to India.  Unlike the short but myriad anecdotes I usually share with you before, my reflection on this recent trip is unfolding into one long story.  It looks like it will take a while for me to finish it.    

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

I love take offs

It reminds me of what it takes to fly.

First, the plane has to run non-stop at a fast speed on the runway. Then, it goes off the ground.  Finally, it flies up up and away to the sky.  

Once you’re rubbing elbows with the clouds, when you look down, everything as in every thing down under is so miniscule- even the tallest of mountains.

image from

That is what my journey looks like this time around when I went to Mount Abu, India for my annual retreat.

At first, along with 900 foreigners from 50 countries, I was running to get up at 3:30am daily for the dawn meditation (30 minutes earlier than my usual schedule), running to attend the early meditation class at 6:30am after queueing up for my turn in the bathroom (I was sharing a big room with 6 other people initially) and running to get to the bus station on time so I can attend the morning and afternoon classes with senior yogis in the main campus  (I was billetted in the oldest campus, ~15 minutes away from the main campus).

Then, after a while, everything moves like clockwork.  I wake up even before my alarm rings (often hours before).  Suddenly, there’s no need to queue up in the bathroom.  And, I show up at the bus station 10 minutes prior its scheduled departure. (I was usually the last one running and waving for them to wait up.)

After putting in consistent effort for spiritual study, I felt that the soul is flying- high above my gigantic concerns at work, volunteer work 
and home.  

From that space, even the biggest of obstacles seem like an ant I can pinch (though I don’t kill ants or any living thing for that matter)  

The challenge now is to continue flying as I face the mundane.



Wednesday, March 16, 2016

I looked at depression in the eye

It is ugly 
I tell you
It can make an energizer bunny
Into a zombie

It is a thief
It steals the spark 
In the eyes of its victims 
And leaves them in the dark

It is like a quicksand
It draws them deep 
Into the mud of what ifs and what could haves
Of whys and how comes

It is a predator
It kills its prey
Leaves them lifeless
And in coma

I tried to shake her out of it
I shouted as loud as I can so she would wake up
I begged her to see the bright side
I gave her the best advice I can find in my toolbox

But she was in so deep
Nothing could bring her back to life
Not even the man in white suit
Or the potions he recommends

“It cannot happen to her!”
I protested
I never thought I am capable of anger
Until that moment

For a time
I kept my distance
I could not stand being in the same space
I refused to see her deteriorate before my eyes

It hurts
Because she is the best among us
She can rule the world
If she wants to

I cry
Because she’s so close to me
I know her lofty dreams and ambitions
And I believe in her with all my heart

After a long while
I’ve learned 
To be present when I’m needed
And move away when she needs space

I remind myself to keep mum
When she complains
And just listen
Even when I have a long speech prepared

I try
To understand her instead
She looks well
But deep inside she’s broken 

I saw once
How love heals
I will try that again
Along with faith that she will come back to life

P.S.  If you are also going through something or if you simply want to take a retreat, this might help.  You may register online at 


Thursday, February 25, 2016

Are you really free?

image from

I hate my life!, she mutttered exasperatedly while she typed.

I was sitting right next to her.  We were talking about her woes earlier.

Can you relax first before you finish that transaction?, I gently reminded her.

But what I really want to say is this.

Sometimes, pounding on something really hard never works.

You get tired.

Then, you lose your enthusiasm.

And, you forget there are other nails worth pounding.

You become the carpenter who works eight days a week and forgets that he is also a dancer who loves to salsa, a friend who enjoys hanging out with his crew or a traveler who enjoys adventure.

Your view becomes limited as you fixate on that one thing.

And the longer you don’t get it, the higher your anxiety rises.

They say, Good things come to those who wait.

I say, Good things come to those who are ready for that good thing.

How can an opportunity swing by if you have closed your door by thinking of all the wrong things which happened, questioning why you haven't gotten what you wanted or by grinding your teeth in anticipation because it’s taking so long.

One has to open the door to allow good things to happen.  That entails acceptance of what is, looking at the brightside and trusting that whatever will happen is for the best.

Set what you are holding too tightly free.

If it's your right, it will come to you.  In the meantime, can you please wait happily? 

P.S.  Please know that when I say you, I'm addressing myself too.  More often than not, I write about the lessons I need to learn, as well.

Thursday, February 18, 2016

The bitter truth about chocolate

I’ve never researched any article (for this blog) so thoroughly as this one.  It strikes so many chords-  chocolate, children, slavery, farming and ethical eating.

“When people eat chocolate, 
they are eating my flesh.”
says Drissa a recently freed slave in a cacao plantation. (1)

image from

It was reported that children 12-16 years old are being trafficked daily in West Africa, producer of 70% of the world’s cocoa. Some journalists saw children as young as 5.  They were forced to work in cacao plantations: wielding machetes to clear the field, climbing trees to pick the fruit, hacking the cacao pods, and carrying 100 pounds of sacks for 80 to 100 hours a week. (2) (3)

Documentaries exposed that children were beaten when they work too slowly or tried to escape.  They were billeted in a room with no windows and restrooms and locked at night.  They would wake up at 6am to work until evening with only bananas and bean paste to sustain them. (4) (5)

In 2001, a protocol was signed by chocolate manufacturers, NGOs and Ivory Coast government to end child labor by 2010.  On the deadline set, Miki Mistrati and U Roberto Romano did a behind-the-scenes investigation to see if changes were made. The filmed revealed prevalence of child slavery even after a decade since the protocol. (6)

In 2015, Tulane University’s reported in their research that 2.26 million children worked in cocoa plantation in the Ivory Coast and Ghana during 2013/2014 harvest season, a 21% increase from 2008/2009. (7)

The bitter truth about chocolate is children’s blood sustain this industry (around 70%). (8)

Know that I am not opposing chocolate production.  

I am not asking you to boycott chocolate or choose ethically manufactured ones.  

I just want to let you know that you might be funding slavery inadvertently. (9)

video from Release Your Wings











Sunday, February 14, 2016

I’ve never liked Valentine’s Day

image from

It was probably because I was brainwashed in college that it was simply a capitalist move to increase sales after a low season post-Christmas.

It could also be because I couldn’t enjoy chocolate as much now after learning that there might be blood in what I’m eating. I watched this documentary which revealed modern day slavery in the cacao farms.  It wrecked my heart so much I haven’t bought a bar since I saw it.

Or I might have been Saint Valentine in my past life, the priest who was executed because he defied Roman Emperor Claudius II and secretly married off the soldiers and their brides at the height of war.

Well to be honest, I think it’s because I find it silly that some people would whine, rant or mope that they don’t have someone to spend Valentine's Day with.  Also, I think the idea that one has to have a partner to be complete is ridiculous.

I enjoy romantic comedies and plots like all the other gals but I don’t believe it.  The knight in shining armor who will whisk you off happily-ever-after is a tall tale. 

Instead, I believe in making myself complete.

I believe in taking responsibility for my actions and helping myself move up.  I do not need someone to save me.

I believe happily-ever-after is a destination one can travel solo as well.

I have nothing against love, relationship 
or marriage. I do have a case on dependency, attachment and 
damsel-in-distress drama though.

I just think that two complete people will have a better chance at sustaining a good relationship versus two people looking for their missing halves. 

I totally respect it if you think otherwise.  Just saying my two cents worth.

meditation from Release Your Wings