About Me

tk-prrm-copy.jpgI was born in the fifties, right after World War II and my parents were war survivors.My father is handsome and my mother is beautiful. Both were orphaned early and sought to build a big family.They produced thirteen offsprings and I am the eldest daughter. My father was sent to New York in 1950 as a scholar in Columbia University and earned a doctorate in education. When he came home with an American doctorate, our upbringing was partly influenced by American values and standards.

I went early to see Hollywood movies at the age of five and amused myself with fantasy films. My first fascination was with stars like Doris Day, Rock Hudson, Audrey Hepburn and Sandra Dee. I copied their fashion and manner of thinking .My body image was based on what they wore and how they use it to marry their millionaire husbands. Alas, I was Malay looking – small, brown, had uneven teeth and pimples . Comparing myself to the fashionable women featured in elite society pages, I felt downright ugly. Nevertheless I had a rich imagination and a persevering attitude. I made many friends and continued enriching my mind and body. I joined dancing troupes and learned all the folk dances and latest dance craze. I could dance nimbly on a wooden bench, on clapping bamboo poles, even do the limbo rock. I asked my mother if she could afford to send me to ballet school. But having thirteen (13) kids was quite a heavy responsibility and ballet school for small town lasses was out of the budget. So I just danced with my fantasies, inviting kids in my neighborhood to watch my dance compositions.

At 16, I got accepted in the UP ,the state university. My journey into body beautiful was difficult. I had gorgeous classmates, straight from elite finishing schools. The sorority girls were the cream de la cream. I wanted to belong but did not have the reputation of coming from Buena Familia, meaning old, rich and beautiful families. So I focused on psychology and discovered Filipino psychology.I no longer craved for a Hollywood image. I was mujer indigena! A native woman coming of age. By the time I finished college in the early 70’s, the peace movement and the hippie generation were on the rise. I went straight into youth activism and joined activist groups.


In the years of dictatorship, 1972-1986, so many women were drawn to activism and became a force in the social movement. Within this period, I became a feminist, looking at myself as an advocate of humanist feminist philosophy that valued women for who they are and why they are women. I discovered the babaylanes and the heroic women of the colonial struggles. I debated with various groups of men and women, taking a pluralist democratic stance. I sought beautiful images but the standards were based on indigenous and Asian norms. I went ethnic in dressing and was proud of my Malay bearings.

I am drawn to the spirit of women who rise above suffering and whose strength and courage enable them to get justice. In the course of studying violence, I have come across spiritual practices that spawn nonviolence and overcame obstacles to ‘enlightenment’.

One such indigenous practice is the Eastern inner energy cultivation and therapy. It is a 500 -year old discipline developed by the Sufis and Islamic masters . One such school is the Tetada Kalimasada started by Eddie Surohadi family in Surabaya, Indonesia. The Indonesians studied various meditation practices , martial arts and traditional healing. In all these, they realized how powerful the breath is when in harmony with a Higher Mind and sought to develop it. It is called tenaga by the Indonesians, prana by the Indians and chi by the Chinese.

In my meditation research, I have found breathing during meditation the most powerful element especially when infused with loving kindness. The specific triangular diaphragmatic breathing techniques I learned in Tetada Kalimasada allows me to feel the energy and direct it to any part of the body. It is the image of spiritual women masters – powerful women whose mindful breath can lift objects, whose breath can heal wounds, whose breath can sense both positive and negative thoughts that I am drawn to. There are such women and they are very alive.


In my daily practise of Tetada Kalimasada, I start the process by acknowledging there is a powerful source of life, God. I call God and I offer every breath I take from God. As I do my breathing, it is organized into inhaling for 15 counts, holding and pressing for 33 counts and exhaling for 15 counts. This is called triangular diaphragmatic breathing and activates the human bio-electric generator. Such breathing increases the hemoglobin level, reduces the destruction of cells, massages the abdominal cavity and activates the parasympathetic nervous system.

This breathing technique is combined with alpha concentration (where the brain is relaxed with 7-14 hertz) and relaxes one’s consciousness. The whole practice is a system, complete with synchronized movements and progressive relaxation.I will write about the discipline in my blogs. It is sufficient to say that there are cultures in the East that have created ways of being, of championing peaceful and loving disciplines which can enable women and men to gain power over violence and suffering.





One Comment on “About Me”

  1. pinky Says:

    Hi! I’ve been having touches of nostalgia lately and I remembered Gilda Cordero Fernando’s Tempest in a Teacup. I found your blog when I googled the column.

    Hope you can help me … do you recall the name of the magazine that carried the column? I remember an issue they came out with that featured Pinoy fairy tales … it had a story about these lips … do you know that story?

    looking forward to hearing from you.


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