Archive for August 2007

Mandala and Soul Gifts

August 30, 2007

SOULs and SAINTs holidays have been part of our culture since the we could remember. This week everyone is going home to honor and pray for loved ones who crossed over. Am rewriting a brief blog on soul rites since I started making mandalas in 2000.

I remember our special tribute to Thor, our Danish friend who died in Greece while on vacation. I made a flower mandala in the garden of the Education for Life,Quezon City. Since then,Ii have made many mandalas and the most recent are for Boy Morales and Veekee Penano which i hang in our garden.

A mandala, as I studied ancient words, is a term for an ancient Malay space for meeting people, for organizing a network or community in the pre-colonial Philippine communities. In Tibet, monks make a sand mandala with four poles (north,south,east west) and they meditate as they stand on each pole.

In my  soul rites practice,Ii found the mandala as a sacred portal to connect with people across the seas and beyond. It gave me access, clarity and serenity to receive messages from beyond.

I feel the mandala is relevant now as it was in the ancient past. The mandala tribute we gave Thor started with singing Children of the Earth ( Klaus Frederiksen’s composition) and entering the mandala circle. Each one of us in the circle shared stories of Thor, how we met him, what we felt in his company,what we learned from him and why we love him. Then we gave him our send-off gifts – fragrant herbs, sea stones, origami cranes and lighted candles for his journey. All these gifts were placed in an urn with Thor’s photo smiling and we sang a lovesong Walang Hanggang Paalam (Never Ending Goodbye). As the smoke rose to the starry night,we prayed and let the candles burn the whole night.

I belong to the community of Filipinos who believe in a life beyond. Since 2000, I have assisted friends and relatives receive “bilins” or messages from their loved ones beyond this life. I sought mentors to enhance my gift of sensing and interpret with clarity the messages.

There are indigenous communities who believe that earthfolks and skyfolks exchange gifts. Please read The Soul Book of Zialcita, Demetrio and Cordero-Fernando (GCF 1991) and you will learn how the precolonial Filipinos perceived souls. The Ilocanos have two souls, the Tagbanuas have six souls and the Bukidnon lumads have seven! The Bagobos also believed that animals have souls,too.

There is a value in the belief of having souls . This belief can enhance a compassion and spiritual modality to help people care for loved ones  in pain or   assist them to cross beyond to the afterlife. When the grieving is at its most painful state, soul conversations is  a gift of loving and healing.


Zen Ed

August 29, 2007

Zen Ed
ZenEd. Now that Ed is sixty-four, he has Zenzest for life. People tell me how lucky I am for having Ed as partner, para daw nananalo ako sa lotto,like winning in the lottery .Of course I reward them with a balato – smile and then segue way into how I came to be the secret twinkle in Ed’s eye. There is a story that I share Ed with three other women :Inay, his mother; Yen, his sister and Ayen, his daughter. All three carry the family surname dela Torre. I am the only one with my father’s name Villariba and rarely addressed as Mrs. Dela Torre. Ed has agreed to live by this arrangement and am quite pleased.

What is a day like with Zen Ed? When you wake up with a man who sees beyond the natural order of things, you have to prepare yourself for a wide range of choices and chores. Ed wakes up with sms as his first order, then cheese and crackers, and sips his coffee while cuddling his cellphone and reading the news. He is never without his cellfone, day and night and carries it like another wallet. I begin conversation with “Tatay, what is your schedule like today?”Ed smiles at me and then enumerates meetings with all kinds of people. When Ayen was four years old, she observed how meetings formed the core of Ed’s daily routines and came up with the line” Si Tatay , di mabubuhay kung walang meeting ( Father cannot live without meetings).”

This perception is so descriptive of Ed. Ed works to meet and talk with people. According to the Secret Language of Birthdays, a person born on July 11 is a person “who gives unsolicited advice.” He likes to learn about people and is always generous with his thoughts and ideas. But there are people who do not agree with his ‘advice’ and found Ed confusing after the Edsa dos and tres events. He gave several conjunctural analyses on Edsa 86 and accepted a job in government, in TESDA in 1998, then became a community-based technical and vocational education advocate. He discovered alternative learning systems (ALS) and decided to train people to build ALS as a parallel system of education to the formal system. From being a Fr.Ed, he became a Pop Ed and then a E-Net Ed. From sunrise to sunset, Ed is in the midst of all kinds of people. I have to decide whether I will go learn with him or do my own errands because he meets interesting people in the power grid. When he comes home late,he will go to his computer and surf the net. He will blog, read his email and finish the evening with a new idea from a new website. Zen moments are quite profound with Ed. I don’t know if he has reached kensho but there is that part of Ed that makes me feel zenful even when we are in the midst of dangerous times. In sixty-four years, Ed and I have sailed through perilous waters and have reached safe harbours. We are secure with anchoring ourselves in a shared life of compassion and courage. As for Ayen, Ed is the man who gives his best so that we have a “marangal at maalwang buhay, an honorable, simple and comfortable life.”



Praying and Crossing Beyond

August 28, 2007

This week I got sad news that our friend Thor Vestergaard died in Greece last July 29. Thor was a very bright Danish youth leader with whom we learned many things about politics in Denmark. I still remember him preparing for our classes in democracy and how eager he was to impart what he was passionate about. Ayen ,our daughter, said that he was very helpful and that politics was his grand passion. I decided to review all our photos and texted friends to pay a tribute to Thor. When I look back at all our shared experiences, I realized that Thor and all the Danish friends were born in the 80’s, that Ed and I are three generations ahead and yet we learned so much from them! This means that lifelong and lifewide learning is the accelerated mode of learning. Whenever I think of Thor, I see him as,friend,as mentor, as companion in the education for life.

We surely will miss Thor. But then again, when I look back at the celestial crossings that people found themselves going to, I pray that Thor will find a richer place for learning and that his crossing beyond will be full of light and love.

Let me then share an excerpt in what I feel is relevant in understanding death and crossings. It is part of my interview by Fe Mangahas on helping people know the babaylan and her role in helping people cross beyond.

Excerpts from Centennial Crossings, Interview with Fe Mangahas

Question: How did you discover your babaylan mission and fulfill it?
Answer: Let me start with an experience when I was six years old. My mother, Flotilda, was taken ill and rushed to the hospital late in the night. I was worried she would die. Then I saw a woman floating into our room, and she told me to pray. She said that my mother would need my prayers. Everyone was already sleeping, so I prayed with her. When I finished praying, the woman disappeared. After a week, my mother came home. She had an appendectomy. There was a portrait of a woman in my mother’s bedroom and I told her I saw the woman in the portrait. My mother said it was my grandmother who passed away in 1943.

Q: You did not know that was your grandmother?

I was young then and I never asked my mother who was the woman on the portrait until that evening she came. I did not even know I was named after my maternal grandmother, Beatriz, until I was in grade six. I was always called “Girlie”.
Q: Did that vision help you see people who passed away?
A: It was my first initiation. My formation, though not yet conscious, was continued by another lola, Lola Maria, who lived in Liliw, Laguna. I would accompany my lola on her prayer calls. She was a devout Catholic and prayer was her gift. I tagged along because of the snacks offered in the homes and watched the women conduct rites for the newly-born, for the sick, and the dying. I observed the lifework of religious women like my lola, then my mother. Later I learned how my mother conducted the rites of “ pagpaHesus.” (calling on Jesus). I became fascinated with the work that connected her life to various networks, from the normal to the supra normal and from this present life to a life beyond, a metalife.

Q: What does pagpaHesus mean?

A : It is preparing the dying to cross over to God by praying. My mother would start by calling on Jesus, Mary and Joseph. Then she would ask the dying person to say the following prayer:

“I love you Jesus, I love you Mar,y and I love you Joseph. Jesus, Mary, Joseph, save souls. Jesus, Mary, Joseph forgive me. Jesus, Mary, Joseph assist me every moment of my life, especially now.” Then when the dying person sees the person/persons who are fetching her/him, my mother would then call out their names to bring the dying person to the next life.

She taught me to pray the rosary if the dying person is still conscious but if the person is no longer conscious, I should say the lines until the person crosses over. I was amazed at how calm the dying person departs after the pagpaHesus.

Q : How did your mother learn pagpapaHesus?

My mother Flotilda learned it from her mother Beatriz who learned it from my great grandmother Cayetana. She started when she was sixteen years old and conducted pagpaHesus when my Lola Beatriz was dying.
Q : Did you learn the word “pagtatawid” from your mother or grandmother ?
At first I learned the use of the word “pagtatawid”, which is literally means crossing from grassroots women in Bay, Laguna who described the role of parents and elders in guiding the young to make the journey from birth to womb, from infancy to adulthood, from life to death. Pagtatawid has three stages : guiding a baby, as a parent, to become a human being, “maging tao”; guiding a person to be a good person , “maging mabuting tao” and assisting the person to complete one’s journey on this life to the next life, paglalakbay tungo sa kabilang buhay.
Q: Do you practice pagtatawid ?
A: Yes, but it took all of 50 years to learn, understand and do it ! I will describe recent experiences in pagtatawid with faith, hope and love.
My formation categories are informed by the roles of pre-colonial settlements, when the Philippines was not yet a state. These are the roles of Babaylan, Datu, Panday at Kawal-Bayani.[1] As my experiences deepened, I realized that the babaylan had to develop the attitudes and skills of a datu, panday and kawal-bayani especially when they had to practice pag-uugnay and pagtatawid.
Learning from my grandmother Maria and mother Flotilda how to prepare family and kin during birthing to dying was a key to my discovery of pagtatawid. Then I became a feminist in the early 70s with three of my classmates in Ateneo graduate school tutoring me on what it meant to be a woman, sensuous and erotic. I read all kinds of literature on philosophy, religion, sociology, history and observed rural and urban families. I took a special course on paranormal psychology and trained under Fr. Jaime Bulatao, SJ, in Ateneo. He showed me how exorcism was done.
Q: Did your feminism help in becoming a babaylan?
For three decades from the early 70’s to the 90’s, I worked on my feminism. I believed in developing the wholeness of women, the pagkatao (being human) at pagkababae (being woman ) and liberating women from oppressive power relations, the pagpapalaya. But the feminist discourse was largely informed by radical and liberal Western ideas and it took me time to discover the indigenous, nonpatriarchal paradigm of Filipinos – kapwa-tao, the concepts of loob at labas na tao. The feminist debates I got involved with did not initially articulate spirituality. I was part of the nationalist movement and the discourse was mainly Marxist, Maoist, and secular. I could not articulate the sacred coherently because I did not belong to a community who could affirm and validate my spirituality, a community with an epistemological authority. It was only when I conducted regular women’s education in the early 80’s that I realized the time was ripe for women to be openly spiritual. I found friends like Sr. Mary John Mananzan, Sr. Lydia Lascano and Sr. Rosario Battung who shared mystical experiences . When I turned 50 years old in 2000, there was enough epistemological evidence to pursue “babaylanship.” Women in my solidarity circles were already conversant with babaylan work.
When Ed and I lived in Europe in the late 80s ,I started my journals so that I could distill the lessons.
I observed women and men who were migrant datu, panday, kawal and babaylan across races and ethnicities. I explored the approach of reading people as living books. I developed active meditation. I practised shibashi, chi qong and much recently, tetada kalimasada – eastern disciplines of cultivating inner energy.

Q: Can you elaborate ?

A: The practice of pag-uugnay/ pagtatawid (connecting and crossing) is a sacred task.
Pagtatawid starts with pag-uugnay because the babaylan must first be conscious of the Divine Presence. It demands mindfulness and considerable energy. It is like studying geography, learning navigation, and organizing enough resources to get to where another life is and returning safely. If one were to sail beyond this world, you need a sacred seaworthy boat, become a one-person crew with a mastery of the currents, a good sense of direction, passion and faith to complete the trip. It is the babaylan who does the connecting where she dances her way into a divine web and when the Divine Artist-Creator gives her a sacred line, she prepares and assists the person to reach the crossing.

I was trained as a psychologist and learned to frame my insights based on Sikolohiyang Pilipino (SP)[2 started by Virgilio Enriquez to help understand the Filipino psyche and humanity.

But after fifty years, I realize that being loving and discerning help in communicating with those who live beyond and that unconditional love is the energy that keeps people connected. Praying is a powerful energy and that people can continue to send their love to those who have crossed.

[1] Zeus A.Salazar, Ang Babaylan sa Kasaysayan ng Pilipinas, Bagong Kasaysayan,Blg.4,Unibersidad ng Pilipinas,1999.

[2] Virgilio G.Enriquez, From Colonial to Liberation Psychology,The Philippine Experience, DeLaSalle University Press, Manila1994.

For Loving Someone whose love was conditional

August 22, 2007

For my friends who loved unconditionally men whose love are conditional:

Our lovelife has many elements. In making a love counts, a Filipino woman called Pinay will go for the whole deal. Even in building a relationship, a Pinay will give her one hundred per cent. Only when she feels that she cannot give more, that she has given everything and not one breath more, will she ask what is she receiving ? But then there is the paradox, we dream of becoming whole with another person. We wish for a love that sustains us, for the joy of being loved unconditionally.

So what happens when we do not get unconditional love? When someone breaks love into transactional units, each affection traded for a bigger sacrifice? Do we then become smarter and calculate what love can negotiate ?

Pinays have a wide and deep kalooban. The kalooban defines our self-perception, the core of our being. We fill this kalooban with breath, with ginhawa, with the energy that keeps growing with various human endeavours.

When our kalooban feels heavy,tight and unbearable,we explode into pieces. The crisis of severing ties, of divorcing is one situation where a Pinay needs to regain her personhood. This crisis magnifies how she became whole and divided – the paradox of loving and not loving herself. There is the deep pain of never having been loved unconditionally. Then one’s life  after the loving ends decomposes. a woman feels lost and her own love  dries up.

How to move into another whole? The sense of being One, the sense of being an AKO , I, is achieved in many ways, and time is just a platform. The hard part is forgiving oneself for having drained one’s kalooban, inner self, for letting it dry up, for not reaching out to many others who stood by her. The best part is making the lessons greater than the sacrifice and moving out of the sense of being small, broken up. Pagbubuo , rebuilding one’s whole self, becomes a gift to oneself. Buo and matibay, whole and strong like the bamboo. wholeness is created when one lives again, building a self by loving. searching for someone to love begins but this time, the Loob is Buo. “i am complete, i can love another.”

marking time and energy

August 19, 2007

i am fascinated with time and energy. everyday i mark time and expand my mind with a quasar. a quasar is a powerful galaxy and marks the beginning of our universes. it is eternity, it is the ancient cosmic story having reached the earth by travelling in billions of lightyears with an energy matching the energy of 100 normal galaxies! that means that the origins of the universe is being broadcast by radio waves, spanning long cosmic periods.

now what does a quasar mean for us here on earth? are we the only species that can mark time and the energy of quasars? i have faith and love for GAIA. if science is already proving that our galaxy is one of billions of galaxies, then i think we are not alone. i am not an avid follower of alien sightings nor am i competent to write about space and astrology.what i focus on are the evolutionary insights and the compassionate psychology that goes with having a deep appreciation and firm discipline for respecting life. there are many debates and raging up to now among believers and nonbelievers. if we cull all the evidences for a belief in a Divine Force, i will cite quasars as one basis for my faith in a Divine Law, marking time and the energy that came for us to discover it.

Oratio Imperata

August 19, 2007

the rains came continuously after a prayer call in Latin was issued by Archbishop Rosales last week. it sounded urgent to God because we got rain, lightning and thunder for almost a week. if i were given the attention that God gave to the pluviam plea or prayer for rain,

i will ask for three things : Oratio Imperata Petendam Humus, Ventus and Pluviam

which will be a Godly Osculum. according to my Latin mentor, edicio, that is a plea for soil,wind and rain. i want a grand kiss from God. and if God grants it, it will be great since we have to worry no more about floods, tsunamis and tornados . we can savour every moment that God blesses our land,water and air. we can sing “a kiss is a kiss. a sigh is a sigh. as time goes by,” we can be blest….”

no more garbage, no more toxins, no more pollution.

but do we deserve such a kiss?

multiplying scientists and knowledge workers

August 18, 2007

today, i read that the Philippines has only 155 scientists and engineers per a million citizens. the Unesco standard is 380, which means that we are short of 225 knowledge workers. how appalling when i thought that Filipinos have so many scientists and engineers!

to make myself feel better, i made an inventory of our clan educational profiles. i have 12 blood siblings and 11 siblings by marriage. there are 75 household members in my clan .we have 7 educators, 7 entreprenuers, a doctor, 2 nurses, 4 engineers, a lawyer, a government auditor, 6 artists, 2 chemists, a mathematician, a communications officer, a hospital administrator ,4 management/finance and 39 students in the three levels. pretty impressive for a middle class clan.

but if we look at the education completion of our learners and the employability of our graduates, it is dismal, noting that we have close to a million unemployed graduates annually. so what can we do to address this crisis?

i will start with my 75 member- clan. i can gather them online and brainstorm how we can generate enthusiasm in creating venues for graduates to become knowledge workers. Pinoys call work as earning a living, hanapbuhay and the focus will be LIVING, not just making money to afford the cost of being a citizen.

having brought the idea to the clan that what matters is to help others make a living by becoming knowledge workers, let me bring use the platform of lifelong, lifewide learning. we will package our ideas into useful items – that an idea is a tool to earning a living. making meaning, makes money.knowledge matters when you use it to serve others.

for today, let me use the idea of the rule of five, from Jack Clancey’s tip on successful marketing.

we will choose five ideas each day, talk to five persons who can act on all the ideas and produce five tools for earning a living. i will guide you with a blog until we have embedded the rule of 5 into our habit of daily routine.

here are my five idea tools : 1st, scan the Pinoy food web ;2nd choose what is a nutritious vegetable that grows in a week ; 3rd, get a container and plant (seed,stem) ;4th visualize its growth and send your energy to the plant; 5th, pray and give thanks. Mark the date and put your plant in the garden that has morning sun. with this plant, visualize a gardener in your heart and whisper, this plant is the answer to my first request for a good job. food webs are a good starting point for earning a life. learn more from the study of food webs by agriculturists and nutrition specialists. that will help you use your food to cook up an idea for self-employment. trust your gut.

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