Archive for December 2007

5 delightful but dangerous lessons for family

December 30, 2007

the earth is at the edge of chaos and peril. but is also poised to provide hope and joy in our lives. we are partly responsible for what may happen if unprepared for danger so i decided that my family should learn five lessons that bring delight and danger.

but first, what gives me the power to decide the five dangerous and delightful life lessons? i love, believe, hope, act and reflect – these verbs empower me to do so.

first lesson : teach everyone to honor the fire element inside us and around us. we get fire all the time and burning has always fascinated me. as a child, i often looked for the matches that my mother used and i wanted to see what i could burn. i would lit a candle and create shadow plays under our house. our house never got burned with my experiments because i always had water ready for dousing the fire i built under the house. as i grew older, i saw that people would burn their establishments when business was bad in our town, lucena. there were many times when we would leave our house because the fire was swallowing our neighbourhood. one christmas time in the late 1950s, the delight in creating fire became a traumatic experience for me and my siblings. but i also learned to cope with disaster as more fires hit lucena.

when i became an adult, i discovered another fire – the fire in my belly. the fire in my belly brought me to act on national issues and i became an activist. honoring the fire element in my belly taught me many things . i met many people including my soulmate edicio. the fires in our bellies kept getting hotter, bringing both delight and danger to our lives.

the second lesson is knowing the water element in us. water brings life. water challenges us to live well. the first contact is the water within our mother’s womb. we become a human being by swimming inside our mother. i often wondered why people say “oh her waterbag broke!” when my mother Nene was about to give birth. i understood it better when our fifth sibling jojie was born in our home. i saw my mother give birth and was i awed by her power! she gave birth to 13 children and that i cannot match.

the precious lesson that every woman carries is to have her baby swim in love. i gave laraine all the love while she was inside me. men have their sperms swim inside women but all of us take water from our mothers. no other human being can match the power of our mother’s womb. the secret mantra of all life’s joys is found in a woman’s pelvic temple and its springs. honor thy mother and thy spouse.

third lesson is the ability to fly. we dream, we inspire,we fly. children are the first to note this when they jump from the bed. we should spread our wings and let all our imagination soar. i remember the thrill of climbing a tree and jumping from a branch. as a girl, i wanted to go up the fiesta pole to get the prize money but only boys were allowed. besides they would grease the bamboo pole and made it difficult to climb to the top. so i dreamt of the skies and discovering new things. when i saw the movie ” around the world in 80 days”, i dreamt of flying around the world and i did! thanks to my husband edicio who brought me to rome in 1980 and started my globe flying life. i can never thank him enough for all the flying we do. what multiple delights i have when soaring.

fourth but nonetheless dangerous is the ability to unlearn what is not useful, what is harmful, what is irrelevant. on my list are habits that waste human lives and common resources. we buy things that demand energy and waste precious resources, examples are the luxurious cars that celebrities flaunt. but of all the human made items, the weapons that harm people is at the top. the weapons economy has been with us for many centuries and has monstrous impact, eg. wars raging in every era and culture. but for me, the attitude that wars are necessary and fighting in these wars is courageous is harmful. it can be unlearned. it is not too late to imbibe peace as the way to honor life and build the family of nations.

fifth but not the final lesson (all five are linked) is to swim like a fish, fly as a bird and learn to be both fish and bird. i credit my husband for this metaphor and many of his paintings dramatize this lesson. the story is simple : as birds fly in formation, they see where they can go and they fly in unison. they brave the currents and know what the seasons demand of them. birds do not waste time and energy. they live, they fly, they mate and worry for the fish, they also live as schools and explore the deepest of oceans. fishes thrive in the most difficult of terrains but they also developed sophisticated biological radars for avoiding danger.

as a woman of this century i hope my daughter laraine will see the wisdom in being bird and fish. the bird provides a perspective that we share and the fish allows us to explore the breath and depth of living delightfully and dangerously.

i pray that laraine’s future will have fire, water and lots of flying. that she will learn for herself what it means to honor the fire and water in her life. to breath like the bird and the fish is poetry in motion.


greet the new year 2008 so it may bring peace and love

December 28, 2007

my best girl-friend delia unson wrote to greet me a happy birthday. i should have greeted her too except i was so focused on blogging in four sites that i did not open my email box until this week and read many of her email messages only today.

she wrote to me about her meditation retreat with the buddhist Thay and wanted me to help translate an Ancestor’s prayer in tagalog. i replied that i would do it in this blog.

i have learned many things from delia ever since i met her in 1973 when i enrolled in ateneo de manila for a master’s degree in psychology. we have been close friends for 34 years now. delia and her husband chuck have been doing healing work as psychotherapists for three decades in the USA. i thank her and her family for all the support and love i get from them,especially the lessons in loving and healing.

the following prayer speaks about our roots and rivers and is relevant for the new year and so am sharing it now: Dear Ancestors

“As the year begins, we recognize that trees have roots and rivers have sources: you are our roots and our source. we know that you are in us. we vow to receive, to maintain and to develop the cultural and spiritual heritages you have handed down to us. we also vow to realize what you entrusted to us to realize, especially to transform the seeds of suffering that remain and to open the door for future generations to enjoy a life that is not too busy, a life where one does not consume too much and work too hard, so that one will have the time to be with nature, to enjoy and protect nature, to take care of each other and to offer each other smiles and happiness. we vow not to keep resentment towards each other, to learn to be compassionate, to accept and to love. we know this is the best way we could express to you our ancestors our own gratitude on the New Year Day.”

our Filipino version : “Mahal naming mga ninuno, sa pagpasok ng bagong taon, kinikilala naming kayo ang ugat ng aming mga puno at bukal ng aming mga ilog.

batid at dama naming nasa kaibuturan ng aming puso ang diwa ninyo.

ipinangangako naming pagyayamanin at isusulong ang kalinangan at kamalayang ipinunla at ipinamana ninyo sa amin.

sisikapin naming isabuhay ang mga pangarap ninyo para sa lahat. aming lilinangin ang lupang dinilig ng dugo at pagdurusa upang makapag-ani ang mga susunod na lahi ng isang buhay na maginhawa, ng isang buhay na bukas at masiglang maki-isa sa kalikasan, at hindi nalululong sa paghahabol ng mga bagay na walang saysay.

aarugain namin ang kaloobang mapagkalinga sa kapwa at kalikasan. iwawaksi namin ang anumang galit at inggit. matututo kaming magmalasakit at matututong tumanggap at mag-alay ng pagmamahal. sasalubungin namin ang bagong panahon nang may ngiti at kasiyahan.

ang aming mga panatang ito ay pagtanaw namin ng utang na loob sa inyo, aming mga ninuno. haharapin namin ang bagong taon taglay ang inyong mga tagubilin at pangarap para sa lahat.

may we all say this prayer as the new year 2008 comes. happy new year delia, chuck and all our loved ones.


how to make christmas relaxing

December 21, 2007


my gift to all – a relaxing pasko! its a winwin solution for people who want the holidays to be fun and relaxing. max your gift wisdom, not your credit cards.

first, sleep as long as you want. be happy. dont think of all the chores you need to finish. it’s just the end of the year, not the end of your life. second, take a long shower and go through the day as if there is no urgent work. after all it is the start of the holidays. this is a season to be merry. when you feel relaxed, your brain, especially the right one gets a whole picture. once you feel good, list down all the gifts you want for yourself. then go shopping . if you want to craft your own gifts, proceed to the third step.write all the thank you’s in little foto albums. get all the good fotos of your family, friends and colleagues, scan them and upload them on social networks. if you are into cut and paste, put all the fotos in multiply, facebook, ringo, all the free websites that accept fotos. make as many foto tags for all the if you are not web savvy, just go to the kitchen. have an inventory of all your favorite food. cook a dish and ask your friends to have lunch or have them pick up the dish. tell them your kitchen is now open for customers and free meals are available from 12 noon to 2 pm.if you are not an excellent cook and people will not brave the traffic to rush to your house, then go your garden and pick your favorite plants. savour their presence and whisper all the wishes for each loving family and friend for the new year. prepare little cuttings, tie a red ribbon around these cuttings and label them with mini- fotos for family and friends. call each member and tell them to pick it and plant it in any garden and watch your wish for them grow the year round. if they do not plant it, the wish will fade. but no worry. your energy will embrace them because you gave the universe the list. it’s up to cosmic forces to know what’s up and what’s due.

please feed the senses. go to your wardrobe or aparador, get your fabulous clothes and accessories. wear the special dress you forgot has never been worn. wear this dress and an old perfume and go to the office. if there is a xmas party, have all the fotos with friends. you will remember being the prettiest in 2007. so many xmases have passed without even remembering how you look then.

now what to do with all the parents, parents in law (if you are married), siblings, godchildren who demand your generosity? just smile and make a five minute love slideshow. again, if you are not into digital productions, ask a friend or a niece or nephew to do it. pay her/him and compose a storyline. the slideshow should tell them how you see, hear and feel having them in your life. use a favorite song as background. burn enough copies and give them to all the families who have computers and dvds. upload it in YOUTUBE for the overseas members. in 5 minutes you will get the feedback you want from people who care for you.

be happy. merry christmas. maligayang pasko.manigong bagong taon.

Edit this entry.

delicious lucena feast

December 10, 2007

come to my lucena birthday party. am going to be 57 xmases and i feel great.. i have designed half of my party because my right brain is rising as host to this birthday feast. am inviting my families and friends from all over, from san francisco to new york, from scotland to singapore to come to my five-seven lucena birthday party. how shall i celebrate my party ?

as appetizers, i am serving gratitude pica pica to the people who made my two decades fun: my playmates mayette herrera-sunga, connie nava-tolentino, atet raya and charlie vicuna (who will have his feast in heaven). my gratitude pica and pica will consists of sweet things we ate in lucena as children – snowball in watermelon bowls , cotton candy bouquets in hostia wafers, budin and espasol wrapped in mam-in leaves.

all my 1950’s and 1960’s maryknoll and luzonian classmates will have steaming purple sinaludsod and pilipit dipped in hot chocolate. all these food will stimulate good memories.
while the appetizers disappear into waistlines, i will ask people to sip gumamela water with a hint of mango rhum. that will move people to talk and share stories.

after the apperitif, the first dish of chami with quail eggs and chitcharon on banana trunks will make its round. there will be five kinds of chami, using the various chinese lomi, bihon, egg noodles, buco noodles and sotanghon . five is a lucky number and whoever eats all five chami will get a dreamtrip to my favorite place in the philippines – siargao, surigao.

there will be seven seafood : pinais freshwater shrimps, sexy baliwis with garlic, oysters dressed in herbs and kesong puti, lips to lips scallops with ginger breath, walang hanggang dulong cakes, sugpong hilo sa lambanog and sili, and kiringkireng tinapa flakes on pako salad.

since am health conscious, i will serve lots of vegetables – laing and pinangat nursed in spicy coconut milk, okra and talong lovers’ delight, lumpiang burlesque and pickled pajo.

people want some lechon, so i will serve herbaboy , the only vegetarian pig which is a paradox’s delight and only two friends raise them ( emma alday in tiaong and angge & manny lahoz in zambales). surely, people will be happy digesting sizzling pig’s brain and genitals.

as for dessert, there will be a whole table laden with good news and laughter. am going to ask everyone to tell a story in any of five decades and sip lime. maybe even chew betel so that people can relax. or smell tsampaca, my favorite flower.

i will prepare a list of people i need to show gratitude and offer prayers for this lifelong celebration. the list will include all the teachers who gave me a window to the 20th century and a door to the 21st century. ever since i reached fifty, i celebrate my feast day with gratitude. that is a right-brain direction and i keep its energies flowing. my prayers will take the form of mandalas and peace cranes.


lucena, the city of two minds

December 9, 2007

ed and i are excited with new discoveries about the brain. for us the study of the mind is like a glocal city – locally producing knowledge and emotions, globally learning in social networks .

our earlier blogs have been about lifelong learning and education for all. now is a good time to get my lucena friends and colleagues to join us in designing lucena as a city of two minds.

our brain has two hemispheres, right and left. the left is for logical linear thinking and the right is for creative thinking. lets broaden our collective brain and use it in lucena. why ? lucena city has two minds : first , a learning city with a sustained flow of eminent citizens to and from southern tagalog. the other mind, a city that has a greater future for the nation when it gets its whole brainers, here and overseas, working together.

the first mind is based on its oldest schools in the region with big student populations : Jesus Sacred Heart College founded by Fausta Labrador in 1884 ; Quezon National High School (formerly Tayabas HS) by the Thomasites in 1902; ; Tongho Institute by the Filipino-Chinese and Maryhill Colleges ( formerly Maryknoll Academy) by the Maryknoll Sisters in 1938 ; Manuel S. Enverga University by the Enverga family in 1947 . More than eight educational institutions collectively produced a million graduates for the country and overseas( simple formula of 10,000 graduates year x 100 years,1907-2007). lucena sustained its educational role throughout the spanish colonization, american colonization, japanese war and martial law era. lucena stands firmly on its achievements of a hundred years. the growth of the city’s mind is a product of its citizen’s struggles and the collective legacy of these institutions. this is a public invitation to write lucena’s past, present, and future.

the second mind is based on the growth of its overseas lucenahin communities. am stressing the partnership role of overseas citizens, especially the alumnae associations in North America, eg. Maryknoll batches, Enverga alumnae,QHNS alumnae, because they have the capacity to generate innovation and help lucena face its current challenges. with the web, our citizens can work on various governance issues. am already part of the lucena historical committee and have already gotten good feedback in posting 1900 fotos of lucena.  thru the web, am able to gather stories of mothers who braved bringing up 11 children singlehandedly and raise them as compassionate citizens . willie pagsuyuin wrote about his mother raising his 11 brood; more of it when i get the pagsuyuin’s permission for stories). there are a thousand doctors and nurses from lucena featured in many websites. according to jimmy tan’s study on health professionals migration, we have the exodus of doctors and nurses for the western countries while our rural hospitals are in dire need of their services. lucena has many nursing schools and hospitals. my relatives and classmates in maryknoll and enverga are health professionals who have migrated to the USA and europe but they are helping lucena regularly. with the health and education situation nearing crisis levels, we call on our overseas lucena kababayans : villanuevas, marquez-barcelon, bonus, valderas, lopez, herrera-sunga, macabuag, raya, habito, chionglo-franco, serrano-juco, nava-tolentino, vicuna, pascua, pagsuyuin, etc (please expand the list and join me in imagining a compassionate lucena ).

this xmas 2007 and beyond, we are joining hands and hearts. this is our concrete contribution to making lucena’s growth as a glocal city with two minds, a local heritage and a compassionate future that serves a global community.

Civics :what a Filipino citizen must know

December 7, 2007

the whole week my friends have been sending me funny texts on the trillanes incident, from a menu of pinasosang manok to tinirgas na baka; 7 reasons why trillanes should have gone to victoria court instead of manila pen ” dami wet towels for use against tear gas”…. after trillanes, i decided to write about civic action or what our citizens need to know about love of country.

since history is a better source of learning , i picked up the 1919 book of george malcolm and maximo kalaw on PHILIPPINE CIVICS, printed in the US and used widely when the Americans took over the archipelago. this book is part of the rare book collection of lucena citizens and belonged to marides villariba family (my sister in law is a granddaughter of the queblar-olivera clan). this book is part of  governance advocacy and citizen’s education. the americans laid down many rules and laws that influenced our leaders and our parents.

in the book introduction, george malcolm, justice of the supreme court of the philippines, stated his purpose as ” arousing love of country. he dedicated this book ” for the Philippines”. he wrote it with maximo kalaw, dean of UP college of liberal arts. the chapters covered various agenda that malcolm thought was necessary for filipinos to serve the country. it defined what is a government and then described its functions : community welfare, education, health, public welfare, protection of life and property, law and justice, agriculture and natural resources, commerce, communications, finance, elections, municipalities , the judicial power, external relations, the philippine citizen rights and obligations, great filipinos and philippine ideals. it is a slim book on government as constructed by the americans, 290 pages with fotos and illustrations. i read the pages trying to find any discussion on women’s rights and obligations. during the american term, a citizen was defined as ” a man” and women are to be protected, cannot vote nor be elected. as a feminist, i recommend this book as a source why women struggled to win the right to vote in 1935.

what did i find interesting that is relevant in our current crisis? the power of government during those times with a special chapter on Mindanao and Sulu. already the americans knew the value of mindanao and sulu. they wanted to explore its “unsurpassed” resources. they had the Bates Treaty signed by the Sultan of Sulu and put all of mindanao and sulu under military rule. it took two decades of military rule before the americans put a civil government in the Moro Province. there was a department of Mindanao and Sulu and then later in 1920, seven provinces were put under the Bureau of Non-Christian Tribes.

fast forward to the current government, maybe wecan get all our mindanao leaders and military officers reviving this Bureau and name it Bureau of Non-Corrupt Tribes or Anti-Dynasty Department of Moro Republic, whatever will suit the citizens who want to be free of imperial Manila and prevent more plunder of its resources.

maybe i will send some of the chapters to the 50 representative groupies that pgma brought to spain and england; also to the politicians eating in Manila peninsula. first is the vocabulary. the word “government” comes from the Latin gubernaculum, a rudder for stirring a ship. then the twelve (12) civic virtues that a citizen should nurture ( with an ! in every word) : obedience ! cleanliness! orderliness! courtesy! helpfulness! punctuality! thoroughness! honesty! courage! perseverance! thrift ! THRIFT! is defined by the US Treasury Department as ” the good management of the business of living”.  how many of the richest families in the country observe thrift? especially in terms of carbon spending? di ba yun frugal use of earth resouces so that filipinos conserve, rather than waste?

and the final virtue – patriotism… now how many of our senators, congressmen and women, governors and mayors have these 12 civic virtues ?

before i close this blog, one should read its appendix, the Jones Law and what the Treaty of Paris contained. we must remember that Spain sold us to the US for $20 million dollars. the story is that this $20 million dollars is the exact amount needed to pay the creditors of Spain for the war bonds it floated; that it was the Vatican State that negotiated the Spanish debt payment thereby protecting properties of the Catholic Church and retaining it as a sole properties are exempted from taxes and duties. there is a line in the Jones law that specified excluding friar land bonds. could these be the terms that the Catholic church negotiated with the Americans ? the Catholic church properties in the Philippines have been the most productive and contentious of all. maybe i should interview our eminent lawyers and check what sole corporation means. social development actors can surely learn the merits of sole corporations and save souls. after all, the Roman Catholic church has been with us for two thousand years. it is the best school for business administration. Tagging the institute for social entreprenuership in their trinity of goals : social, environmental and financial profits, “Please study how business has become the religious corporations’ core competence”.

lucena, la moda elegante

December 6, 2007


I woke up early this morning of the 6th of December. As the morning sun had been blanketed by the rain, i walked around my garden and felt good to blog about Lucena. I took the Quezon telephone directory of 1929-1931 compiled by Monico Songco, Quezon provincial cashier of that period. The telephone directory of 1929-1931 contained various vignettes and gives you an avuncular look of the history of a city. As I was leafing through the advertisements , many interesting stories popped up. I got the title of this blog from a fashion store – La Moda Elegante, whose advertisement in lucena was patriotic.

I quote its tagalog text ( it had Spanish and Tagalong texts) :

LA MODA ELEGANTE 93 Quezon Avenue, Lucena,Tayabas
Tumangkilik sa kapuwa ay hindi masama. Kayat bumili kayo sa amin.
Sa bawat isang sentimo na inyong maibili sa amin ay ang katumbas ay isang libong tagumpay ng ating lahi.
Samantalang kung sa iba ay libo libong pako ang nakalaan sa bawat Filipino upang huwag makaalis sa pag ka alipin. Primitivo Macalalad e hijos (May ari, owner). La Moda Elegante listed what it sold : ternos bordados (Ilo-ilo), camisones bordados,trajes de boda, s trajes de cristiarar, vestidos para nonos y ninas,tapis de aplication,batas especial perfumes,sombrebors, cuellos,curbatas, pajamas ,camisadentros, zapatos , etc. (I have photos of the elegant citizens of Lucena and Quezon but will use another webpage for these photos).


Advertisement on Education

Sacred Heart College, the oldest Catholic institution for men and women in Quezon Province, was founded on April 27, 1884. The school had its roots in the vision of a saintly woman named Hermana Fausta Labrador (originally San Agustin y Zarsadias ) who, at the age of 26, opened a Charity school to form the youth according to the ideals of the Catholic faith. Sor Fausta began teaching with sisters Fe and Felisa, cousins Marcela and Edeltruda started teaching in April 1884 in a house donated by Don Gregorio Merchan. It’s English text advert I quote in full with all its emphasis:

“The only school where all of our prominent Citizens have had their first training. The Alma Mater of a great many of our promising young doctors, lawyers , businessmen.etc. SACRED HEART of JESUS ACADEMY

Lucena’s pride and the only successful private school that Lucena can boast which has “carried on for twenty nine years” despite the insurmountable hardships it encountered.

Keeping in March with progress, you can be sure, for it has the Primary, Intermediate and First and Second Year Departments RECOGNIZED by the Government.

We are fit to educate and guide along your children – send them to us, for we have proven our worth.

Last but not the least the greatest worry that parents have is the safeguarding of their daughters from the pitfalls and snares of this modern world…we have a DORMITORY too where we care for them. ” Fausta Labrador, Directress


Fast forward to its 2007 website and see how far it has articulated its mission and goals. I quote a line from its goals :

The promotion of the pedagogical principles which will lead to the formation of well integrated personalities (maka-Diyos, maka-buhay, maka-tao, maka-dukha, maka-baya, maka-kalikasan) committed to evangelization and social transformation.

YES! all you who went through its portals, including my nephews and nieces, we call you to breathe and model all six Filipino traits now that our nation needs you most.

Advert on READING the Future

Bazar Mohamed Alam

13 Quezon Avenue – Tapat ng Simbahan,Lucena ,Tayabas

Manghuhula sa lahat ng Kapalaran

Walang bayad basta bumili sa kanya ng paninda

Matatapgpuan ninyo ang lahat ng kailangan ng moda

Pinakamura sa lahat sa boong lalawigan ng Tayabas ! Pasok at Subukin ninyo!

Many customers took its free service by a man whose name was ALAM ( know) . This era was the roaring twenties where our grandparents danced to american, spanish and european influences but expressed its altruism in being elegant Filipinos.

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