Archive for October 2009

Communicating For and From the Dying

October 28, 2009

Last night, my dentist texted me about the state of her mother who had been diagnosed by her doctor to be in a state of dying, which my father describes as ” the final boarding phase.” She needed my help to know what her mother wanted which we call bilin since her mother could no longer talk.  It was already late  evening and I could not go to her place.  I replied yes and  gave her instructions on how I can help her communicate from a distance. In all the years that I have been helping family and friends with preparations for  final departures, I have found  several principles and approaches useful. First, I request that permission is given by the “departee”. My name is whispered to the person and if she gives a  positive sign  like a nod, a smile, a hand or finger movement, then the next step is to pray with the family requesting  for divine guidance. I  prefer to wait and pray afar from the requesting family so that I can focus my energies on the request. Last night, when my friend texted she saw her mother smile and open her mouth after she gave my name, I started praying. The bilins came into my mind and I began sending them as sms. I  asked  her mother mentally several times and would send her response both  in the form of questions and tasks. After an hour of texting, I asked my friend to act on what I had communicated and promised her I would see her mother the next day.

The next morning, I did my  bodytalk and then prayed. I went about my work for ELF and even  spent  sometime to enjoy the plants in Manila Seedlings. I was waiting for the proper moment to see my friend and her mother. I also had a good massage to tone my senses and build confidence. I am most mindful when all my senses are relaxed. Around 4 pm, I was ready to see my friend and her mother.

The service I did that afternoon ranged from sensing if her mother  is still in a communicating mode.   When I sensed she wanted to communicate, I did the tapping of her cortices and started  interpreting what chores she wants   completed , naming  family members to call and whose presence she wants, and whether there are family members who have departed but are already present . I did the rite of  pagpapahesus, a form of  praying which I learned from my mother who learned it from my grandmother. I assured my friend that her mother still had time and  that she would wait till everyone she loves have arrived. After the pagpapahesus in her mother’s bedroom, I asked my friend to go to church with me. There we prayed for her mother and I told her what other messages I got that afternoon for  her and the family, in terms of what they  will be doing until the final departure.

Once the bilins had been communicated, I withdrew from the scene and hugged my friend.  Then I brought her home but I did not close the channel because I  keep an open heart for any other message from the departee. In my experience, the departee  has many  moments of soul talk  and these moments are occasions for profound learning and for receiving grace.

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Living on a Green Budget

October 23, 2009

There are five green things I do for making our  future  greener and  healthier.

After three weeks of cleaning the house and retrieving our  wet documents and books, Ed and I realized that we had accumulated so many books and papers. I counted the books that Ed had bought in the last 20 years since we came home. One fourth  has  been read and used for lectures, one half has been read but  gathering dust and molds, and the rest, has been unread and unused. Then I made a note which books I can still keep in the house and which ones  we will have to donate to libraries and resource centers. But it is difficult to let go, mind and heart since Ed and I love books. Half of our surplus money is spent on books.  So the  green act  is to choose  a book, a file, a document  one feels valuable but  is  growing  moldy, take it and  feed to the worms. Educate the vermi.

Second green move, go to the pantry or kitchen  and make a note of what you  eat. Usually we spend about P6000 a month on groceries and food  but we now buy what we need for three days. We planted  some vegies and herbs in the vacant lot beside our house and would pick leaves for tea, salads and soups. After Ondoy and Pepeng, we noticed that our garden was full of  balanoy, mint, chives, serpentina, talinum, tarragon, sambong and alugbati. I was so happy to note that  the floods didnt drown them so in gratitude, I started  giving edible bouquets to friends such as Gilda Cordero Fernando for her opening  art exhibit, to the young feminists in JAZZ and exchange saplings for cakes with Pi. Everyday that we prune the herb and vegetable vines and bushes, they keep growing  abundantly.  My  friends, make edible gardens now.

Third green item was to use vinegar for most of the cleaning of the drawers and cabinets that became moldy with the floods. One spoon for every liter of water in a  spray bottle and sprayed them inside drawers and cabinets. The I put them out to dry under the sun. Wow, they all looked clean and gone was the foul smell. next week, I will dry pandan leaves and put them in the cabinets to rid them of cockroaches.

Fourth green act is to take all the fake wood furniture  ( those desks and chairs  that got warped from the flood) and give them to others who can use them for firewood. We found our house cleaner and bigger after giving away four damaged desks. We are thinking of bamboo papags when we can get them cheaper in the provinces.

Fifth green resolution is to re design our clothes. Since we dont really follow fashion trends, we can pare down our clothes to the season’s challenge –  water repellant, climate change suitable  and shrink free clothes. Ayen is telling me to go shop at 168 for new clothes but until I know they sell the most comfortable, the lightest rain-thunder-lightning pants and shirts, I will stick to my old attire and paint it with slogans

”  I will make my Yearning greener than my past”.

or “Make your questions greener than your answers.” Amen

resilience and renewal of spirituality

October 11, 2009

ed and i had a full week this week, flying to london and oxford in a week,then back to quezon city. after a nap, i decided to blog what remains of my insights during the flood and what filipinos do in the face of crises, to be grateful for filipinos’ resilience and a sense of renewed spirituality.

while the flood was raging, all our attention was on what we could save inside our home. when the waters claimed most of our documents,books and desks with laptaps,we felt some loss but were not overwhelmed. we were grateful all were safe and that we could rebuild what was destroyed. as we got our television working again, we saw how much havoc ondong did but what got me was the news of many people saving and helping each other. ayen was saying she would go to relief work and ed and i told her to be home before dark. all our household members were eager to help and we divided work among ourselves to help others while trying to make life bearable at home.

 i organized our tasks so that we could have some space and energy for inner reflection. we all felt that life would never be the same. while on flight to london, many of the passengers were filipinos who were also talking of the floods.it seemed that many were affected,either directly or  indirectly by relatives who lost their homes to the flood.

when we saw friends in london, they were all happy to see ed and i have not changed after 20 years, perhaps a little older but still what they remember us when we lived there in the late 80s. we saw jamie  tapales oakes first and walked around leicester square together to reminisce the good old days. ‘jamie, do you remember all the filipinos whom you fed and housed in the 80s?  sheila coronel, marites vitug, boy morales, sr. mary john mananzan? ” . jamie added a long list of names ,eg. odette alcantara, mc canlas, arnel de guzman, pepe alcantara, beth protacio (now de castro) etc.  as we ate dimsum in chinatown. we told jamie of odette’s passing and she felt very sad about it.

jamie had survived her cancer and many crises with the filipino community. she told us that the filipinos and british who volunteered in the philippine resource center in kilburn have  been successful  in their chosen careers. jamie did  many pro bono work for the charities and filipino ngos in the philippines but she remained under the radar and lived a simple life. when i asked her” how are you able to live in london? it is so expensive now and ed and i wonder how we could afford it then.” jamie replied ” hardly,very tough.” this succinct state of affairs made me think of the filipinos in marikina, tanay,cainta and quezon city which will never become normal after the floods. yes, everywhere, even in london, i met friends who are resilient and have become more mindful of life’s challenges.

when ed gave his talk that night on the role of faith communities in conflict and poverty eradication in the tonyblair faith foundation, everyone was listening. i was seated between  jane linden and paul valentin, both were impressed with ed’s presentation and i could sense that many in the audience were taken by his insights and questions. i did expect that response  since i know ed prepared well for his talk but didnt quite anticipate the warmer response by the young staff of tonyblair faith foundation. ed was ushered to a smaller room after his talk and there were many young people who wanted to shake his hand and talk to him. it took some effort to get ed to join us in another venue for dinner.

“what did you find interesting in ed’s talk?” i asked jane linden. ” ed gave me something to think about, the lines about making one’s future bigger than one’s past.” jane and ian linden were our hosts in the late 80s, when ed was  not able to go home during the series of coups in the philippines. ‘Yes, do you ever think you could look at  making your future in a  bigger frame at this stage of your life? ” i queried. this question brought us to a long discussion of the work she and ian did with the ANC, the african solidarity movement. ‘After looking at what Mugabe of  Zimbabwe is  doing now, am not sure Ian and i could do something bigger than what we did in the past.” this got me talking to her and the young staff of what ed and went through during the martial law years and how it led us to nurture a strong sense of resilience and spirituality.

on my part, i do think there is no other path,  after the long road to freedom, after the crises of democracy, and now after the floods, for us to build a bigger future than our past. am banking on people’s resilience and spirituality to get us there.


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