November 21, 2013

Yes, that’s quite a leap from my last entry. Since then, I’ve been to the Philippines twice. During my last visit, Oct 17-Nov 15, the Philippines suffered from one intense earthquake and a super typhoon. It’s hard for me to write about these now—haven’t completely processed my experiences yet—so here are a few images that I would like to remember.

Adverbum retreat sandflowerAdverbum retreat sand1

SAND ART BY NATURE: Aborlan, West Palawan (first one by tiny hermit crabs digging holes)

siargao boardwalk - Version 2Tagbato boardwalk1


BOARDWALKS: Cloud 9 in Siargao, small fishing barrio Palawan


April 2, 2013

It’s perfectly possible to sprain your wrist while swimming in a pool.

Of course, I’m particularly vulnerable to water injuries that happen to nobody else. For example, I have been heavily bruised climbing onto a banca (outrigger boat) that had no ladder, suffered a shoulder burn from an ill-fitting life vest (required when snorkeling in Honda Bay, Palawan).

This is why I stay away from dangerous water activities, like fish hunting with a harpoon or swimming with crocodiles (even though the Philippine crocodile is vegetarian, or so Arvin—the same guy below who said I would see nocturnal animals in Siargao–says. (Yes, Arvin, I’m still mad at you.) You can watch this award-winning herpetologist on “Born to be Wild,” if you care about such things. I do.


March 29, 2013

Yes, it’s been that long. Nothing like Good Friday (Biernes Santo) to remind us of our mortality and obligation to leave our mark behind.  I’ve chosen to write (“my words shall live on…” and so forth) so here’s a tiny slice of my life.

I’ve had quite an adventure the past 3 months in the Philippines.  I was there Dec 3, 2012 until March 2, 2013 (seems much longer with the years put in). To summarize, these are the things I did while I was there, in no specific order: received the Presidential Award (the President was busy reading text messages during the ceremony but hey, a typhoon was raging); launched The Fire Beneath (during an inglorious Pacquiao defeat); listened to 80s music at Strumm’s; had a Christmas reunion with Maryknoll HS classmates (the entire Ateneo Glee Club showed up to sing carols); went to Puerto Galera once; went to Puerto Princesa four times; did not surf or swim at Cloud 9 in Siargao (did not see promised nocturnal animals either; Arvin, I’m still mad at you) but learned how to balance on a habal-habal (motorbike) without touching the driver (logged probably 10 hours total riding time); climbed hills and mountains in Palawan looking for property; spent an utterly blissful time on the water in El Nido (note “water” because land experience was utterly different); helped out at a medical mission in Roxas City, Palawan (and cursed some tourists because well, they deserved it); spoke at a Diaspora summit organized by the Commission on Filipinos Overseas; joined the EDSA Salubungan (People Power Commemoration), which made me tearful and not because it was dusty and yellow confetti was swirling around me; ate countless delicious meals and barely ate at a few carinderias (that was what part of the animal?); stayed at a simple cottage at a marine protected area, guarded by 3 barangay tanods and one diver; saw a relic of a saint during a town fiesta; attended the exuberant Dinagyang Festival in Iloilo; visited a Trappist monastery; made friends with a retired sea captain who promised to build me a house on the water with a retractable bridge (for when I wanted to be solitary); went snorkeling everywhere; saw the most starry night ever and missed a few shooting stars; met a backpacker from Oxford who said I inspired him; took a shortcut to avoid rough seas riding a banca (outrigger boat) over a sandbar; was interviewed twice on radio and once on television; met with fellow writers (aren’t we such dreamers?); handed over  funds for a marine preservation study to the College of Fisheries and Ocean Sciences, University of the Philippines Visayas in Iloilo; attended the birthday bash of the mayor of a small town where everybody–and I mean, everybody—was invited (they ate in batches while I and my friends sheepishly sat at the head table).

More to come after I review my pictures.




April 2, 2012.

What to write about? The yellow daffodils in front of my house, and the promise of sweet-scented lily of the valley a few weeks after.  My daughter turning 17 last Saturday and looking unbearably lovely today.  Isis, our intrepid Australian shepherd stepping in some “mud” and sheepishly submitting to a wash in the tub.  The remembrance of the Fall of Bataan, 70 years ago.

If a thought goes unrecorded, does it remain buried somewhere in our consciousness?


April 29, 2012

I watched the dramatic play, Freud’s Last Session, by Mark St. Germain, suggested by The Question of God by Dr. Armand m. Nicholi, Jr. Today was the last playdate of the original New York cast at Mercury Theater in Chicago. The entire 90 minutes was an imagined dialogue between Freud (an atheist) and the Christian writer C.S. Lewis on life, death, sex, and religion. The most poignant moment for me was when the air raid siren sounded (the setting was London during WWII) and both Freud (who was contemplating suicide because of an incurable and painful mouth cancer) and C.S. Lewis (who fervently believed in God and heaven) both panicked at the possibility of being bombed.  I guess the greater fear is not of death itself, but of an unplanned exit.

I bought an autographed script, and following is one of my favorite exchanges, almost at the end of the play.

 My idea of God, it constantly changes. He shatters it, time and time again. Still, I feel the world is crowded with                       Him…The real struggle is to keep trying. To come awake. Then stay awake.

One of us is a fool. If you are right, you’ll be able to tell me so. But if I am right, neither of us will ever know. Death is as unfair as life.


But it is spring, and soon my lily-of-the-valley will be in bloom. The sweetest pleasures are the simplest ones.