Monday, July 15, 2019


Our teacher leads us into the three cycles representing the full moon and lunar eclipse. It is a dance, one fluid sequence with seemingly no beginning and no end. And in the middle I am brought to a place where I am 8 years old in a ballet studio. It is my first ballet class. My father is there and stays through the entire class. I walk up to him right after and ask him how I was. He says, "Gusto kaayo ka ug naay mutudlo nimo." "You seem to want the teacher to always guide you,"he says in halting Bisaya and English. At the time I understood it to be that I wasn't a born dancer like the others who could very well flex their bodies on their own. But he said it in a way that was gentle, kind and compassionate, the only way he knew how to be with me. Even as I recall the memory now, I am brought to a kind of sensation of falling on a pillow to cushion from gravity, from the otherwise glaring reality.

As our teacher leads us further into the sequence, I find myself doing the movements with ease surprisingly and knowing at the same time how much I am inherently capable. How I am this vessel of possibilities if I just open my heart. If the cycles of the moon are the songs of the universe, then I am her notes, moving this way and that easily, expansively, confidently. Beads of liquid drop as a waterfall from my scalp to the tips of my hair to my lower back. My insides warmly pulsate. Water on my skin, blood coursing through my veins in a delicate dance of two elements joining as one. My body know how to flex by itself, move by itself.

Our teacher says this lunar eclipse and full moon is a time of letting go of what does not serve us. A purging of some kind. Of beliefs, of emotions, of karma.

The dance continues, my body does its bidding, follows every word and action our teacher says and does. We stop momentarily from time to time to reflect but even this is a fluid pausing. No beginning and no end. I do not want it to end. And I want it to. My desire is turning fluid as well. And in the impermanence, my heart speaks.

I hear again the voice of my father, " You need a teacher."

As the moon comes in full force and shadows part of the earth, I let go of beliefs that no longer serve me.

I may not have been born a dancer but my heart is an open vessel and because it is, the teacher comes to me. And I welcome her. I embrace who I am. Into the vessel that is open. Into who I truly am."

July 16th 2019
Durga Temple
Lotus Shores Siargao

Friday, July 12, 2019

Dear Amanda

Dear Amanda,

     In so many ways you have become an important part of my life. From our similar interests in spoken word poetry, to our ukulele playing, to books and stories that change our individual universes to our heart to heart conversations about life. I’ve learned so much from you more than you’ll ever know. I marvel at your wit and insight. I am in awe of your quickness to learn anything you set your sights on. But one thing that I am so honored to have witnessed is the strength of your spirit as you face opposing forces that challenge your belief head on. It is not just your brows that furrow. It is not just the adamant tone of your voice. It is your indignation that compels me to bring out my own against any injustice that may have just occurred. That my dear girl is passion. That my dear Amanda is the one thing that you hold on to when everything around you seems to be falling apart. The strength to fight for your beliefs and often times, your life.

This letter is supposed to be a blog post of the gift you created for me. And it is. So I began this piece with expressing what you have essentially gifted me with. This morning, I picked up my bag that you hand painted. What you created is a magnificent work of art. As it hangs now underneath my surf board, I cannot help but feel the cosmos uncovering my life as I know it in the beautiful painting you made on my purse. A lovely sunset in the form of a mandala, the ocean that is the hair of a woman, sailboats floating on the waves, and a woman’s face underneath it all. The moment I saw your work, my chest tightened. My heart, oh my heart became light and full all at the same time. I remember everything that ever brought me to this place, to the blessing of your presence. I remember it very clearly now. But that memory is another story to tell. I will tell you this—that the very idea of you birthing the concept of the art you just made tells me how very deeply you feel, how very connected you are to your soul. You would not have made this had you not listened to your heart. After everything is said and done, what is invisible to the eye is most precious. When you listen to the beat of your heart, you will never be lost. You will always find your way home. And all in life is a coming home.

I am grateful for what you have made for me, Amanda. And for me, this isn’t just an art painted on a piece of leather. It is the thousand different ways I have been blessed by who you are. It is in the countless ways I have gathered lessons from listening to the brilliant language of your mind. It is in the strength of your character that you have dared show me and of which in the process I found my own. What you created for me isn’t just art on a piece of designer bag. What you created for me is a part of yourself. And who you are is a masterpiece of soul and grace.  How tremendously blessed I am to have been gifted with such masterpiece.

And since you absolutely refused to let me pay for your artistry, this poem is for you. If you remember, I wrote this back in May of 2016 where we were on our way to watch Sarah Kay and Phil Kaye’s show at the CAP Theater in Cebu. It has evolved as you have. So here it is.

Amanda Therese.
She belongs
right where she is.
Her hair a wisp of quick wit
Uniquely unkempt
Her fingers deft
As she holds a pen
To write a thousand words
A million even
In her lifetime
Her hands smeared
With rainbow
As she colors her world
And those around her
Her mouth speaks
A universe of stories
But beneath it all
Her heart, oh her heart
Is open, spacious, strong
Enough to carry
And change
The world.

Love always,

 Tita Bea

Wednesday, July 10, 2019

Library Hour, A Saving Grace

As a child I would look forward to Library hour. Because it meant that I would have another chance to go into a universe of wonder, imagination and exploration where there were no grades to be worried about and no anxieties whether I had to stand in class to participate. In the library, there was only me, my book positioned perfectly on a book stand, the words spread out before me weaving stories of dragons, castles, adventures and mysteries. Of course the 1 hour that was always too short. The love of reading has led me to be creative in so many ways. It certainly has led me to a path of storytelling in written and spoken mediums through the various roles I play in my own life—mother, wife, teacher, guidance counselor, mentor, writer.  But most importantly, I remember all too well how reading had been my place of refuge in the stress of childhood and adolescence that I certainly had no control over. Reading became my saving grace. It is where I first learned compassion, first knew of the nature of friendships—their comings and goings. It is where I first experienced the pain of heartbreak, Where I first grappled with the idea of loss, where I first immersed in the possibilities of redemption from any form of transgression. Obviously at the time I did not use these big words yet. But in retrospect, I feel that I was able to ease myself into understanding the magnanimity of such words. Call it reading comprehension or analysis. I simply call it reflection. The ability to pause, think, consider and mull over and to contemplate the joys and vicissitudes of reality.

And so in this day and age of technology where reading a full story is replaced by instant gratification games, I wonder how our children find solace. I am curious how they find the necessary quiet where they can hear themselves think. I am worried how they find the space between the noise and stress to decompress and just be themselves without fear or anxiety. I ponder on how they might be reflecting on their daily lives.

But then again I have learned over the years of spending valuable time with children as a guidance counselor and teacher that it is not up to me. I certainly have no control over what they do when they leave the school grounds as the bell rings. I do acknowledge however that too often school has been a second home for many. Maybe even their true home. The place where they feel the safest. So we teachers and school staff do our best to give them the place they need. And the library may yet be one of the best spaces to give them the much needed comfort and respite. The same way that it has been for me. And perhaps for many who has ever been to a library at least once or twice in their life.

The wooden bookstands we ordered from an independent manufacturer Sandig Artikulo arrived today. Tomorrow the children will come and enter a world of wonder, imagination and exploration. It will be just them, their chosen stories, beautifully spread out on these wooden bookstands, words interspersing to weave adventures, mysteries and boatloads of life lessons. And hopefully, as I did when I was a child, they will realize that time will always be too short with a good book as company. I hope too that they will find in the times that call for joy and celebration, they learn, through the stories they read, to pause, reflect and be tremendously grateful for the life they have at this very moment. And most importantly, in the trying times of their young lives, I hope in my heart that they find stories that will be their saving grace.