Archive for July 2008

soilmates,healthy angels and good food

July 22, 2008

this morning while ed is painting, i went to my worm beds and check how my angels are doing. the worms were all over the bed, jumping and looking for food. i realized that they have been wallowing in their own shit and wanted to feed so i started checking underneath. oh my god, they were all fat and thick and i couldnt touch them. i am not brave enough to handle them directly so i got a trowel and scoop everything . in an hour, i had three styrofoam boxes full of their vermicast! i told ed that we should have new beds for them but ed is not ready to take care of them. he is afraid of snakes and wont go near the worms. so i had towork on them myself. i told all the worms that i would have to put them first in holding boxes until their new beds are ready. i felt funny talking to them but after a while, when all the sweat were streaming in my hair, i told ed that i smell like healthy soil. he was in a rush to go to NEA and laughed but kissed me ” Yan na ang mga bulate ni Girlie”. “Hah i will learn to energize the modules for the teachers in La Mesa Eco Academy and Park.”I excitedly told Ed. “The significant learnings i had with vermiculture is healthy soil, why worms and their angelwork are putting healthy food in our tables.” “That will make them think and discover for themselves.” I emphasize.

I went back to the worms and told them,”you are our soilmates, thank you for growing healthy.” then i thought of all the children and parents who will benefit when they learn that the soil in our backyards and neighborhoods can become sites for edible gardening.  tony told us that when the soil is healthy, any plant can grow. ut how do we make the soil healthy? by bringing in the worms and producing their shit – this shit as i blogged earlier is black gold – they renew the soil’s ph and bring in the good bacteria.

imagine all the idle lands in our street start smelling of herbs and edible leaves.  when that happens, am sure people will ask who, why and how they can plant in their gardens. this is what beth and tony de castro did in miranila. they transformed the parking lot near their home into an edible garden. now everyday, people knock on their gate to buy their vegies, herbs and ask how they do edible gardening. even schools have asked beth and tony to teach them vermiculture. now the la mesa dam team has invited beth and tony officially to develop the la mesa dam eco academy. we were invited by beth and tony to join the team. next week, we will sign the terms of reference for the la mesa dam eco academy. ed and i are excited. from our folkschool, we now have an eco academy and it is la mesa dam! so near and so valuable. the worms are really angels and we look forward to healthy food gardens all over la mesa dam.

bless our soilmates. may their species multiply .may our urban sites blossomed with food. wait for october 16-20 and we will hold a world food day festival in la mesa dam eco academy. come and learn with us.

happy birthday ed

July 12, 2008

ed is on his way to london now and the birthday gifts i could give was to pack his luggage, get his clothes and shoes ready, call for an airport cab and then do the first layer of colors on ed’s paintings. this is a rare episode – ed and i are not together for his birthday. since 1986, ed and i celebrate our birthdays, his and mine together. the global campaign for education has become a priority with ed and the GCE board chose to meet in london on his birthday. i cannot complain nor can ed request for another schedule. i would have wanted to fly to london with ed and celebrate his birthday walking in Hyde Park or in Covent garden but we couldnt afford it.

i love london , its parks, its libraries, its museums especially the British Museum where i spent many days just studying its artifacts and rare treasures. when ed and i were living in london, we used to go to the bookstores and spend our time reading the books for free. wherever we went, we would find good selections and sit near the shelves where the newest books were. no one would bother us and that was fine with us. in those days when we didnt have mobile phones, i knew where to find ed, i would just go to colette’s bookstore and surely find ed. i miss our friends in london – jamie oakes,maggie burns, ao halpin – people who were pioneers in the support work for OFWs ( they were called OFCWs). in the early 80’s, many filipinos would escape from abusive Arab employers and find their way to a parish in london. there ed and i learned about the plight of OFWs and volunteered to help out. we made many friends among the OFWs, the british and irish volunteers, and the resident filipinos. ed and i marvelled at the resilience of the OFWs and no work was too small or too demanding for them. i saw them restore abandoned or boarded up buildings in the inner city and organize a housing cooperative for migrants. i even stayed in one of the units they refurbished and found the quarters comfortable. i dont know if such a cooperative is still operating but am sure the migrant filipinos in UK have made strides in alleviating poverty.

i hope ed will find the time to see old friends and visit the places where we worked as volunteers. happy birthday ed, give my regards to jamie tapales ,emma,maggie burns, margaret o grady and lani maestro.

the audacity to believe a black pearl can be made

July 9, 2008

now i have the audacity to believe i can make a black pearl out of philhealth services. i am sure my family will wonder what pearls i am referring when i cannot dive and search for pearls. the black pearl is my methaphor of my goal now – getting philhealth create a special fund for the the families of the missing and dead in the MV Princess of the Seas tragedy last june.

since last june i was persuading philhealth to re-issue a check in favor of a fund for victims. i decided to do something for seafaring victims. my story is similar to that of the free lance writer who needed to get a TIN , (tax identification number ) and his efforts to get it brought him all kinds of experiences, some funny, some frustrating, but on the whole shows how difficult it is to get the service done when dealing with the philippine government. i have a similar experience but it is a case of getting my honorarium from philhealth . the service was a talk on the web of life with overseas filipino workers in la union. i was invited by a board trustee of philhealth, tess de venecia, and i accepted to do it gratis et amore. tess decided i should get a token honorarium together with two speakers. so the philheath people started requesting for a contract signed (even when the service had been rendered a month earlier), my biodata , the module i gave, my legal data – tin, home address and contact numbers. i told them i could email all the information they needed except my signature because i cannot go to their office. a staff was assigned to collect my signature and they did. finally. after processing my case, a check was issued and it was a token amount. i was informed by sms that in case i cannot collect it, a family member, husband,child, sibling can go and collect it for me, bring a letter and two ids. since i was busy with a book, the 60th weddiing anniversary and isis work, i felt the check didnt merit my effort in travelling all the way to philhealth office in shaw and wait for two hours to collect it (dr. glo itchon’s husband had to wait for two hours to collect her honorarium and would have waited for more had he not called glo to call someone she knew in philhealth) .

after another month had passed , i asked my brother to collect it. philhealth would only issue it if i send a notarized special power of attorney. my brother explained that it was just a token honorarium and that i rendered the service pro bono but since philhealth wanted to thank me, i would still accept the token, though i cannot personally get it. philhealth refused to give it to my brother. the incident irritated me. i wrote to the philhealth staff that i did not want to collect my check and they can have it. they started calling me. i also got a response from the board director Tess that she would personally attend to it. i told Tess that i prefer to donate the check to the mv princess victims and that is my final decision. but all their explanations pointed that it cannot be done ! that i have to collect the check and sign the endorsement to another body who can give it to the victims. philhealth does not have the authority to re-issue a check unless i get it first. but i became adamant. which surprise me also. this is where i had to think deeply why i became agitated . life would be simpler if i went to philhealth. i tried but somehow i didnt get to the office in shaw blvd. something was moving me in another direction. something was irritating me to irritate the staff calling me.

the agitation increased every time a philhealth staff would call me to collect the check. they kept telling me that it is not in their policy, that it is not their office that can provide aid to sea faring victims and that it would take a long time to create a special fund. meantime, the check will go stale by the time people are convinced a special fund is necessary. the staff assigned to me, agnes, pleaded to get me to collect the check because she didnt want it on her conscience. i told her that it is like an irritation that creates the black pearl. that i believe a pearl of an idea is being born and that i will move all the seawaves to get that pearl to the victims. what audacity! poor agnes, she could only listen to my extemporaneous speeches, from visions to insights on how philhealth can tap the philantrophy spirit of OFWs once they create a diaspora philantrophy office and allow overseas people to donate to a special fund . i kept on urging agnes, poor agnes, whom i told she would be guided by st.agnes of bohemia ( another audacious input ) if she tried talking to the person who can move the pearl making process. now i have convinced myself that i will use that check to move the sea energies for traumatized families. i keep going to the edge of this story.

now i am really agitated and this blog is part of that pearlmaking audacity..i really believe the process of making a black pearl out of philhealth will help the seafaring victims. so st.agnes help. Amen.

woman as artist

July 8, 2008

i am sitting with my hands full of paint. i look at the three canvasses i made last night and they are still in the process of becoming paintings. i now know why it is hard to be a woman artist. before i can paint, i have to clean my bedroom, dust the tables, check breakfast ,wake up ayen,sweep the garden and answer my emails. i am thankful i have two women companions judy and jocelyn who wash, clean, cook, buy supplies and keep the house safe for the family. otherwise, i will be a starving artist. or a lousy wife. whichever, ed would find life with me anarchic. so why do i still want to be an artist?

ed said that it is a good thing to be an artist even when one is starving. “You may be starving but it makes no impact if you are a starving person.” he continues ” an artist , to be called an artist, makes a lot of difference.” “so if you are both, starving and an artist, that makes a story !” ‘but i dont want to starve at this stage,” i complained,”i want to enjoy some good food and be stress-free when painting.” ‘”well then, paint and paint till someone decides to buy your painting.” ed replied with a gesture of his brushes.

how does a woman become an artist ? i read may dautin’s and patrick flores’ Women Imaging Women 1999 where they documented the lives of artists from vietnam, indonesia ,thailand and philippines. the women shared how difficult it was for them to meet the standards set by high art which was dominated by men. the artist phaptawan from thailand told me when we met her while i was Isis director ( we were supporting may datuin in her art research) ” i learned to paint as an apprentice for my father who did the murals for temples. i had to paint 10,000 gold leaf in one mural. ” there are artists whose fathers taught them well and were able to make a name for themselves but it is rare for women who have no family tutors to carve a space for their art. in the art scene are images of women painted as objects perceived by male eyes. frida cahlo painted herself to distingush her art from those of the muralist diego rivera.

this is my challenge – how to paint in synch with ed’s art. i have started learning to be a colorist. and ohh it is hard! the paints dont always come out the way you want them. cooking is kinder because you can change the flavors by adding ingredients and you can smell how your food is going. you can rely on your senses for the food to be what you imagine you want it to be. but with painting, you have your eyes and hands to rely on. one cannot eat nor drink the paint and use the canvass for a plate. consuming paint needs more than your hands pressing the paint on the canvas. it is with my whole body, aching arm muscles and carpal nerve sensitive fingers that i make the colors come alive.

now i bow to all the artists, especially women, who make great works of art! it is more than work. it is being alive in the most passionate level and expressing it. it is spiritual. art demands everything from oneself. an artist gives and gives and gives.

love and weddings,part one

July 7, 2008

love, music and tears flow daily. we are a family-driven nation, energized by  family rites and romanced by the music of weddings. today, i woke up feeling ready to tell all my friends and families – KEEP LOVING. this is the best way to live healthy,t o learn well and  to enjoy one’s legacy-building.

we just had my parents wedding and we kept crying as my mother and father walked  to the altar surrounded by all the grandchildren, children and friends. i saw corcor crying, i saw my sisters blinking their eyes and i closed my eyes as the tears fell. i could feel my heart thumping and my knees shaking. ahhh, to be married and be wedded on the 60th year, what could i ask for? we are all alive, 13 children, 42 grandchildren with their 2 partners, 5 great grandchildren,three beloved family members, 200 friends and all the  carmelite nuns, a bishop and 4 priests celebrating mass with us. we all prepared for this for a year, a very rare event even for Lucena City. but nothing can match the event unfolding and sweeping us to a dreamlovers’s mt.everest , reaching the wedding zenith at 60th year.

 the carmelite  church was bathed by heidi, my sister, in  white aromatic flowers-  tube roses, milflores, roses,gerberas, lilies, and orchids . the flowers with their aroma of love made us feel heady and heartfull. i told ed the wedding  rites and the music, provided by MSEUF chorale made feel soo in love. as Our Father was being sang in three octaves, my hands kept pressing Ed’s hand. i felt being wedded all over again. all the grandchildren were in their prettiest white dresses and  happy smiles. i am so proud that we were all there for our parents. i am so happy that Ed and I, plus all my 12 siblings with their families werre present. a real wedding present for my parents.

as we went through the whole  church rites, i found the 60 butterflies flying to greet my parents the sweetest gift. my sister said maybe they are our grandparents, tatay’s siblings who went ahead and all the families who are in heaven, greeting us all with their wings clapping.

how did the community respond to such a taste of  lifelong love? my ninangs and aunts cried. later they said they felt happy for Nanay and Tatay but sad for they will never experienced such joy because their partners are in the afterlife. they all gave cash gifts for the villariba scholarship fund ,so that my parents can continue sending people to school. we read each card and found so much respect and gratitude for having been part of the event, becoming witnesses to a love that delights old and young lovers.


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