Archive for September 2008

Birth, Illness and Death musings

September 27, 2008

this week from September 19 to 27, all our mobil fones were buzzing to serve the newly born, the ill, the dying and the families of  BID (twin babies, ill friend, a dead parent ).it was a revelation that cell fones were the mode for communicating to all, inside and outside our community.

minette and yeyi  dela torre welcomed their twins on september 19. they named the twins Edric Raziel and Yohan  Zuriel after archangels. ed, ayen and i had a joyful time trying to remember the names. ayen downloaded the twins’ photos as our cpu screen image and we see them everytime we open ed’s cpu. they looked very much like yeyi. “our chinese heritage is showing in their faces” remarked ayen.

on sept.23, tuesday, i went with gerry and sally bulatao to vsist oca francisco in makati medical. oca was  trying very hard to receive us, walk and sat with great effort beside us.he had been in dialysis for three months and being away from all what he loved – political and economic work – made him very miserable. we talked but he could only nod and i told him to ” arouse, mobilise, organ-ise his kidneys and organs to recovery.” i didnt tell oca what ed said in his recent blog about holding a tribute when he dies. that was pancho lara, another friend who visited oca after us, and pancho was quoting conrad de quiros  who was asking pancho to  write in his column about oca.  after the visit, i asked pancho to help and we are now texting people to participate in an auction fundraising on october 3 in bantayog ng mga bayani for oca’s kidney transplant.

then on sept.25, the dapilagas’ mother, agang dapilaga ,crossed over and everyone in my extended family was in grief. agang  died of complications from breast cancer. the dapilagas are our extended family : judy, josita , jovy, jocelyn, jose jr. and rio dapilaga have been with us, one by one ( not all together) since we came home in the early 90s. judy, their eldest sister, had been our housekeeper during martial law in 1975 and she got married only when i left for europe in the 1980s. when ed and i came back with ayen in 1991, judy brought jovy, then jocelyn to help us settle in quezon city. jocelyn became ayen’s second mother and she has served us for 17 years now. when one would get married, they saw to it that we had always a housekeeper and that ayen was never left alone in the house when ed and i would travel overseas.

reflecting on the three decades of being served by six dapilagas, they really are our second family. now that their mother is dead, all of them are going home to dumarao, capiz  to bury her.  the remarkable thing is the way they all communicated with each other, sibling to sibling  via mobile phones. agang also would listen whenever they called her.. when she died, all the children felt it and they started grieving which we call “ luksa at lupasay“, crying loudly and physically trashing themselves on the ground.

agang’s bilins were not directly logged with her children, she chose three women, two  who not blood relatives, to carry out her final wishes. jocelyn is getting the bilins one after another by sms and this will entail her going over the pillows that was agang’s time deposit accounts. it was agang who saved up for her funeral and she color coded the pillows. the black pillow contains the funds for her funeral, according to janet, another yaya that jocelyn brought to us in 2000 when our household needed two women to run. janet  became an OFW later, then got married  and went home to capiz again. agang chose janet to execute some of her bilins. each day, janet watches over the box where she put all of agang’s pillows, waiting for the dapilaga women to return from quezon city to open the pillows. jocelyn estimate that those pillows contained all her savings since the 90s. i hope it runs to at least a tidy sum for the dapilagas since just their fares will cost P20,000 ( roro fares P2500 plus). bless agang for her foresight. i will blog about the pillows when they are opened soon.

so what can i say to close this blog? am blest with all these birthing, getting friends to recover, and final crossing. i look at what my life’s lessons are.  i know that death is the remarkable event all of us have to face. when my father got sick two weeks ago, i told my siblings to pray for more time for him. i myself pray for more time for my parents, Iba, Flotie and Adang. as a parent, i know they have fulfilled many of their mission but time with them is valuable to us. they give us a perspective on life.  they point to us a legacy larger than our present while the newlyborn challenges us to expand our dreams.

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God and our brains

September 15, 2008

finally i found a neuroscientist who is studying divine grace ! he is dr. v.s. ramachandran and he has been treating many people with brain injuries. but what i needed to understand is why people experience divine or mystical phenomena ?  let me quote him first ” if religious beliefs are merely the combined result of wishful thinking and a longing for immortality, how do you explain the flights of intense religious ecstasy experienced by patients with temporal lobe seizures or claim that God speaks directly to them? Many a patient has told me of a ‘divine light that illuminates all things or of an ultimate truth that lies completely beyond the reach of ordinary minds who are too immersed in the hustle and bustle of daily life to notice the beauty and grandeur of it all. ” ramachandran poses the question ” why do hallucinations occur mainly when the temporal lobes are involved? even more puzzling, why do they take this religious form? why dont these patients hallucinate pigs or donkeys? ”

ramachandran explains ” My goal as a scientist is to discover how and why religious sentiments originate in the brain , but this has no bearing one way or the other on whether God really exists or not. ‘ in many of his experiments and therapies, ramachandran has come up with hypothesis that had been presented by alfred russel wallace during the victorian era.  wallace was a colleague of charles darwin and he posed the idea that ” an instrument has been developed in advance of the needs of its possessor.” simply state, it means that there is a set of latent abilities in the prehistoric brain that have been realized in the last one thousand years – what can be called potential intelligence that only God can give, evolution with foreknowledge. this departs from charles darwin’s evolutionary theory.

since this is still a new science for me , i  find it difficult to explain everything in neuroscience .i will refer you to the book of ramachandran  and sandra blakeslees: Phantoms In the Brain, 2005. go to chapter  9 “God and the Limbic System” and you will be learning with him the cases he cited to understand why we have religious beliefs and experiences, why we have idiot savants and the difference between general and potential intelligences.  he cites the case of the indian mathematician genius ramanujan who works on flawless theorems even if he never trained in mathematics and  whose theorems were discovered as remarkable by cambridge mathematicians. now ramanujan is called ” a genius of the highest caliber”. when asked how he calculated the equations, he answered ‘ The Goddess Namagiri appeared in my dreams and that’s where and when i do do my math.”

i found ramachandran’s questions very exciting even if  the available answers from evolutionary  psychology are still wanting.  i want to study more of my own mystical communication ( why i receive message from people who have died ) and why i now know i am not hallucinating when i sense  messages and feelings beyond this life.

ramachandran quotes albert einstein ” It is very difficult to elucidate this ( cosmic religious) feeling to anyone who is entirely without it.. The religious genuises of all ages have been distinguished by this kind of religious feelings, which knows no dogma.. In my view, it is the most important function of art and science to awaken this feeling and keep it alive in those who are receptive ot it. “

our philippines is a heaven but an endangered one

September 13, 2008

ed is the new chair of the foundation for philippine environment (FPE) this year. he started his stint with a set of questions : has FPE brought the discourse on biodiversity to the development discourse? has FPE communicated to many citizens the role of the Philippines as one of the most important countries for conserving diversity of life on earth ? are we developing the strongest movement for conservation ?

i read the Final report on Philippine Biodiversity Conservation Policies 2002. i was excited ! now we can tell everyone why we should be proud PINOYS. our archipelago , all 7100 islands have the THE Mega diversity sign. we are one of two countries that harbors more diverse life per hectare in the world. the other is Madagascar. literally we are sitiing in heaven and when you count all the 52177 species ( known as of now), more than half is in our country and nowhere else in the world.

when you go to the key conservation centers of USA , AUStralia , SOUTH aMERICAo r the environmental heritages in our planet- amazon river or the pacific deep, the megadiversity of life in such places cannot match our own country ! we are the principal haven of all known species. this is the GOOD news.

the BAD NEWS is – our people and govrnment is failing to conserve this megadiversity and we are now the number one HOTSPOT. we are so endangered that every parcel of land converted, cultivated into modern habitats eg. condos, malls, golf clubs, etc. translates into the loss of unique life forms.

what shall we do ? as a start, we should get in touch with N4N, the Network for NATURE and set into motion priorities for conserving our natural heritage. we should tell our LGUs, our churches, our schools, all the community leaders to study and inform our families about the RED LIST, all the species that are found endangered. we should spend more time learning about the islands, our lakes, our forests, our valleys, our watersheds – all the things that make up our natural heaven. our schools should hold each year a festival of conservation, from the species in our garden, farms, parks, seas shores, in every ecotourism spot we know of.

also we should engage the business sector and make conservation a core value. every business that makes money in conserving heaven ( that is tagging megadiversity for people to pay attention), we shall support. any business that adds to the hotspot, endangers angels of the earth ( tags for (our endemic species) and kills the web of life, we shall stop.

we should elect candidates who have good environmental records – have been able to lead conservation in her/his province, district i sland, town, city. if she or he has been part of the logging business, has developed mining interests, have been polluting the air, sea and or land, then we shall not give her/him our vote. we should tell her/him why and how it can be redressed.

each day we can breath clean air, drink clean water and smell the roses, let’s thank our angels for such blessings. may the earth beneath our feet, the skies above and the wind around us keep us alive and well. amen.

studying in MIT and meeting neuroscientists

September 10, 2008

this month i discovered that i can access MIT’s entire curriculum online and study without paying and sending all my educational credentials. when you log on to http://ocw.mit.edu , you will be given access to the university portal and can download all their readings and course assignments. what a resource this  Open CourseWare (OCW)  is for someone who is hungry for learning ! i have navigated the academe for such a portal but couldnt afford its tuition and didnt have the academic energies to travel and study overseas. the only policy is that you cite MIT for all the knowledge you gain and that you cannot access faculty time nor get a formal certification that you earned your degree in MIT. so i told everyone who needed to learn to go visit this website and inform their universities  that such a global knowledge resource is available. i told ed to inform his peers.  when meth jimenez came to the house for the sagip pasig institute, we told her to inform PUP to use the site and certifiy their own environmental science majors. i surfed MIT courses and found the site for civil and environmental engineering which could be useful for saving pasig river and its tributaries. now, we hope to assist other students who want to design ecoprograms for their environmental advocacies by referring them to this portal.

the second blessing is finding the neuroscientists who can help us become effective lifelong learners. ed had brough three books on neuroplasticity and i wrote all the names of those whom i want to learn from. they have websites and when i found these scientists blog, i linked them to this website. they are drs. dean radin, michael merzenich,john medina and the barbara arrowsmith school. i am particularly keen on learning about brain mapping and rewiring to help learning in life.  i went searching in the web for contacts. i  wrote the Scientific Learning  Institute of Dr. Merzenich  in the US and they directed me to the I-Thinkers, the filipino teachers who are certified to use their program. so i went to see their clinic in Makati. I met one of the four teachers,  teacher Miko Dacanay Rivera, and she demonstrated the Fast ForWord program for correcting learning difficulties. i had a long conversation with Miko and found her very amiable. we discussed various learning experiences and what she has been doing since she graduated from college. we kept talking even after closing the clinic and i asked to ride with her back to quezon city . she  brought me to my house in diliman  and promised to get in touch. i do feel good meeting her and will want to see her again for collaborative work prospects in the lifelong learning communities. i felt good meeting a new friend.

now that there is so much good work on the ground, from the Zambales Aytas folkschool to the Go Organics that PRRM-ELF-La Liga  et al will develop with the Dept. of Agriculture, i have to speed up the course development on EcoLiteracy, Biodiversity and NeuroLiteracy. what do all these words mean? abangan!

ps. i need help on reading all the journals on these themes and translate into popular language for the grassroots. please  volunteer :  paging mila maramot, neng sancho , virginia pasalo, all the women who read well into the future.


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