Sunday, June 21, 2015

My Tatang the Healer

In elementary school I told everyone that my Tatang is a pharmacist. He was the one who attended to us when we were sick. He knew exactly what to do: what oils to use - camphor or aciete de manzanilla or coconut oil - to massage our aches and pains away. He knew what leaves or roots to boil to make poultices or to mix with our bath water. Culantro for chicken pox, guava leaves for wounds, etc. We ever rarely went to see Dr. Tioleco or Dr. Munoz. Our Tatang was our healer.

In high school, I was told that my Dad was not a pharmacist; not a college graduate. In fact, he only had a fourth grade education. But how could he have known so many things? In my young mind, I couldn't yet apprehend his passion and will to learn; he read voraciously! I couldn't yet apprehend his passion to serve God and serve community, his adherence to John Wesley's teachings, his obedience and faith in the Methodist God.

As a teenager, I preferred hearing the story of how he almost became a movie star alongside Rogelio de la Rosa. He was after all a very good looking man. Street children used to call him Rock Hudson! I thought that if he had chosen to become a movie star, we'll be rich and I'll be happier. I would have preferred telling my friends that my Dad is a pharmacist or that my Dad is a movie star rather than saying "My Dad sells Bibles."

Notice the shift from Tatang to Dad? That's how I was in my teens. I wanted to be hip like the other kids who spoke English and called their father "Dad" instead of "Tatang".

In hindsight, I realize that my Tatang is a Healer. No wonder we had a constant stream of visitors at home. People were always wanting to talk to him about their problems: from how to raise pigs and chickens or how to solve church politics or how to mediate between parties in disagreement. He prayed for them or quoted Bible passages, or offered a mini-sermon.  Later on he also became a lover of birds and orchids, fruit trees and whatever plants he could grow in his small piece of land.

Tang already knew about sustainability even before it became a buzzword. He was into recycling and composting before everyone else was. He hated wasting water or wasting anything for that matter. Ever the disciplinarian and prudent one, I learned my habits of thrift and neatness from him.

His busy-ness in helping other people became a source of tension later on between him and my Mom. As each of the kids flew the coop, he became busier in tending to the people that came to our house for his counsel while my Mom felt lonelier without us kids. She longed for his attention and affection.

As I think of my Tang today, I see a Wounded Healer. His father died when he was only seven years old. Thanks to my courageous and strong Apu Sinang, her sons learned how to fend for themselves at an early age. The boys learned how to shine shoes and sell cigarettes on the street.

I am grateful now that he became a serious Methodist later on and lived a life of faith and service to the God he came to know through the lens of his American-patterned education. I am grateful that he chose this life rather than the movie star life. It is the straight and narrow life that served his family well. It is what he knew best.

Even though I came to eventually decolonize this history and how it came to shape my own life, I am coming full circle yet again. This time with Grief and Praise, I honor my Dad's life and legacy.

In his woundedness, I saw mine. And I can see how important it is now to share these stories about him from the place of Praise and Love because Grief has brought us healing.

May all that we Remember and Re-member bless us.

Sunday, June 14, 2015

Ahhh, it's been a long time since I've visited my own blog.
I'm glad that this is still a place for keeping Memories of:

-- the recently concluded CfBS symposium in Ohio
-- meeting Stuart Schlegel, author of Wisdom from the Rainforest.  About twenty years ago when I was just starting out in my grad studies, I refused to read anything written by white male anthropologists about my people. I mentioned this to Stu recently and he said he understands perfectly. So I am quite a belated reader/admirer of his book...which also took him almost 40years to write after his stay with the Teduray. This is good because he writes it from the longer perspective of a wisened, deepened, and transformed man. As an ally, I embrace him now.
-- SIPA one-day retreat to strengthen the organization's orientation towards KAPWA values
-- Grief retreat at Westminster Woods with Francis Weller. Grieving for Gaia retreat.
-- Retirement date: May 22, 2015. FERP program in the Fall.
-- Workshop with Jurgen at Birthkeeper Summit.

Monday, April 6, 2015


In Local Nomad this week.

The erosion of desire flows towards the ocean of Nothing. From hereon she can feel the grief–no, not really–of release from the encumbrances of ego that fed a good life and carved out a niche sprinkled with perks and privilege. It all seemed so important and impressive for someone like her―-once a ‘fresh off the boat’ immigrant. But now having been hulled out of all things of the mind, she longs only for the quietude and the solidity of Unchanging Being. Nothingness, all of a sudden, is an angle of repose one could trust and lie down with.

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Interview with Molly Arthur

Molly Arthur of ECO-BIRTH/Birthkeepers conducted this interview in September. I met Molly at a Bioneers' Cultivating WOmen's Leadership Retreat.

Friday, December 12, 2014

a deep and dazzling darkness

i am borrowing the words of David Whyte because mine are still marinating in the silence and darkness of winter.

when i close my eyes and listen i only hear the sound of crickets, the faint ambient music from the other room, the tapping of keys on my laptop, the croaking of frogs in a faraway creek.

i am grateful for the silence. for the space of reverie. for this time of waiting for who- knows-what's-next?

all i know is that i am learning to let go of being in control.

i have done enough of it now.

i want to mellow out.

to go softer.



Sunday, October 26, 2014

This post is for Reverie

You don't hear this word often these days. REVERIE. But I've been mostly relishing this pleasure recently. In Tagalog we say "holy tunganga" - a time of gestation, a going within, a deep silence, a solitude.  But why? And why not?

Last night I was reviewing my journal and noted that in early 2013 I was taking down notes on the books I was reading about myths, about dwelling in place, about the importance of ritual and ceremony. In between my note-taking, I was making lists of the projects on my plate at that time. And then this:

how to recover the writing hand that has lost its ability to think fluidly with pen in hand? what is this world going to be about when technology seems to be transforming everything: from the process of sharing knowledge to creating movement and action that is visionary. Memes abound. Social media is saturated with pundits and all kinds of information. is it knowledge?

i wrote (and published) during the early stages of listserves, blogs, yahoogroups when people had sustained conversations over time in these modules. i wrote because i needed to find my way into freedom of Being. being immersed in identity politics for a time was necessary.

at what point did identity politics become narrow and limiting?

when did i start longing for experiences that weren't always about transcending something? when did i start longing for immanence? and how can we experience immanence unless we already believe in the sacredness of this Now? this Earth? 

these days i feel the need to write for Noah. for the future. for seven generations hence. the world will be different but maybe the wisdom of the ancients will be eternally true. 

in this multiverse cosmos, radical participation and presence is the work of the healer/shaman.

i will have to live with this koan for a while.