International Yoga Day

“I’m going back to my roots, to my original mission and dream…to teach people how to be their own teachers, so they don’t need me anymore. My job is to equip them with the tools they need, in order to (as Waylon described) practice in their bedrooms, or on a business trip, or wherever and whenever they want to, without my guidance because I’ve taught them well enough to be their own guide.”

Today, I thank my yoga teachers–you must have taught me very well. Om.

Quote taken from this article.


My Mantra

image grabbed from the internet

image grabbed from the internet


Adding to this…”and be amazed at how God/the Universe/Allah can do much more through you than you can ever imagine.” It is not the instrument that makes beautiful music; it is the instrument in the hands of the Maestro.



Aparigraha Defined and Then Some

My six-year-old niece: I tried not to sleep all night, waiting for the tooth fairy to come. I did not see the fairy. But when I woke up in the morning, I got money and a toy from the tooth fairy!

Me: Why did you want money?

Niece: No. I did not want money. I wanted the toy and I did not even realize that it was possible for the tooth fairy to give toys!

Let us all repeat after her: I DID NOT WANT MONEY.

Say it again. And again….


Niece (reading aloud a text from her religion class): We are God’s masterpiece. (To her mom) What is “masterpiece”?

Her mom/my sister: It means it is the best. We are the best of God’s creation.

Niece: Why? Everything that God created is the best!

Only the ego would say that we are above the animals, above the plants, above other race or class or _____ (name whatever kind of divide you can think of).

Let us all repeat after her: EVERYTHING THAT GOD CREATED IS THE BEST.

Say it again. And again….



Reflections in Leyte

Last January, the NGO that obliged to my doing a study on them, asked me if I could do the same study in their Leyte branches. I was not enthusiastic about the idea, as the sample did not fit in my study, but more than that, I feared going to the dead town after Haiyan washed the whole place in November last year. I did not know what to expect and if I could stand the place, emotionally and physically. With eyes closed, I said yes to the NGO. Quid pro quo.

Few weeks before my flight, some concerned souls gave me tips on survival and warned me about mosquitoes, funky-smelling water, stench, power failure, and security issues. Thus, I went there ready for the worst, riding motorcycles included (and I have been swearing I’d ban these vehicles if I become the president of this country). So off I went to Palo and Tacloban in Leyte last Thursday.


Murphy’s law. The first motorcycle I rode got a flat tire, it rained on my first day of field work, and the generator that powered the branch office that hosted me did not run that day. Lost a data sheet and some pictures from my camera were deleted (and I am sure I did not do it accidentally). Until today, I am trying to let go and convince myself NOT to get pissed with the people whom I suspect were responsible for these incidents. Om.


Four months after Haiyan hit the country, the main roads are congested with buses, private vehicles, delivery trucks, tricycles, shuttle SUVs, and motorcycles. Public market is alive with fish, meat, and fresh produce. The fields are green, promising a good harvest a couple of months more. Business is back. Flowers are in bloom. Toes are pedicured. Everything looks normal, save for the sight of abandoned houses and leafless trees. No indication of presence of international aid agencies either, except for the tarpaulins that bore their logos and now have become part of temporary abodes, and some Caucasians walking around the city. 




People are different and so are their survival strategies. Cash abounded the place after Haiyan. Various foundations gave away money to the residents from as low as Php2,500 to as much as Php20,000. What did people do with their money? As soon as water subsided, some bought goods from places less affected by the typhoon and sold them in the city at double or triple the normal prices, just so they could get back to business right away. Some admitted to looting the biggest supermarket in town so they had something to sell, while others admitted to buying from looters so they had something to resell. On the other hand, some would lie about how much carpenters are paid, jacking up the rates.

Others rebuilt their homes. Still others spent their money on food and clothes. Some stopped working while being sustained by their children who are either working or are forced to work outside the province after Haiyan, never mind if they are still minors.  

When asked what they still need, they also gave different responses. While some asked for houses (and the insensitive me could not help but ask what they did with their Php15,000-Php20,000 supposedly for rebuilding their homes), other asked that help and relief be sent to them continuously. I am most proud of the people who were grateful and said that what others have done is enough already for them to start their lives anew, as well as with people who are still generous with others while they themselves struggle getting back on their feet.  


My trip to Leyte was a humbling experience. I brought nothing to Leyte but I came back home with data, seeds for planting (from the lady who grew the flowers in the photo above), a spirit renewed by greenery and scenic views, a better understanding of human nature, and freedom from fear of riding motorcycles (in fact, I have learned to enjoy it). 


Reflections in Bohol

Our family trip was finalized way before the 7.0+ earthquake hit Bohol. Should we push through with our vacation, especially given the post-Haiyan condition (someone’s guilt-tripping here)? We had second thoughts, but we decided that the best way to help the people there was first, to be not afraid to go there, and second, to keep their economy active. I thought I would help transform their economy (wow, big words, huh?!) even just a bit but I ended up being transformed by the experience instead.



After our trip, I really want to know more about Bohol’s history. They said that the central municipalities of the province were never conquered by the Spaniards and hence, were never redistributed to the conquistedores, thanks to Dagohoy. The Spanish colonies were restricted only in the coastal areas. As a consequence, feudalism did not thrive; Filipinos remained the landowners.  Now I wonder, does this part of history have anything to do with the Boholanos’ genuine yet gentle spirit, as they did not have to fight for their lands all their lives? Is history the reason why people in general have a strong sense of empowerment, because they were never a slave to anybody?

Why do I say this? I had the impression that people in general are honest. For example, they would tell you if the fruits you are getting are no good, when you really could not/too challenged to tell the difference. In a normal market economy, heck, go buy it–it would mean profit for the seller sans the guilt (if at all) since the buyer chooses the goods anyway. The places we went to were also green–impressively lush forests and healthy mangroves–something unthinkable in this age when everything is/could be turned into profit. Sure, Bohol is one of the poorest provinces with almost half of the population is considered poor, income poor that is. However, only less than 1% of the people do not eat sufficiently. This means, many do not have money, but almost everyone gets to eat three times a day–so they must be doing something right, right?

The people I encountered also tried to find solutions for as long as they could–for me, this is a clear indication of empowerment. Bringing the service vehicle closer to the airport gate because my mom had difficulty walking is not usually done (or allowed). And yes, they drove my mom to the sandy beach–first time ever I and mom had experienced (and I hope it doesn’t hurt the shores). Whenever my family wanted something not in the menu, the waiter right away said they could do it without even asking their boss or the chef, and they indeed delivered. Too warm in the morning? The waiter served us breakfast in the conference room, again, without asking the boss. Yes, people at the first level of the corporate hierarchy are confident to make decisions that go beyond the set policies.

At the airport on our way home, I was amazed at how a simple staff could stand up for what she thought was fair. You see, Tagbilaran airport was not as spacious as NAIA such that passengers could only get in the waiting area according to their flight schedule. In our case, we had to wait for our turn until the flight ahead of us leaves and a lady was in charge of ensuring orderly operations. Then, a heated discussion between this lady and the aviation officers got my attention. Since I could understand their local language, I had to inquire later what was going on. The impassioned lady explained that a group of police officers (from Manila, I bet, haha!) forced their way into the departure area when they should be waiting with the rest of us. She said that if rules would not be followed consistently, then they should not be applied to anyone at all–hence, she let everyone else enter the departure area, us included. I may not agree with her solution (as it would lead to chaos) but I am so impressed with her sense of fairness and rule of law, more so with her confidence to actually raise her concern to the aviation officers and make a decision (to let us all in).

Come boarding time, when everyone rushed to the gate to embark, the crew stood her ground (pun intended) and say “no, the lady in wheelchair (my mom) will go in first.” Then came a lady with a grand entrance and two bodyguards (a member of the political elite?). She said the same thing to the her, not a bit intimidated. And yes, nobody was allowed inside the plane until mom was comfortably seated.


People in Bohol are empowered but not combative (like me). People try to do the right things while maintaining their gentleness and peace. As I told my sister later that day, “Ako lang ang masungit sa Tagbilaran airport.” Maybe if I live there for months, their gentleness would rub off on me. Maybe if I surround myself with honest, trustworthy, simple-hearted people who respect and protect other people and their natural environment… if I surround myself with nature and (almost) everything natural… someday… one day….

Now it’s confirmed–I am attracted to peace and gentleness. Opposites attract, you know. 😉


The kindness and confidence of Boholanos reminded me so much of the natives of Palawan. Good thing I blogged about my Palawan trip more than four years ago (link to my post here) and now I have to do the same with Bohol so I won’t forget. If given a chance, I would love to study these provinces from economic and social anthropology perspectives.


I witnessed how life could change in minutes (even seconds perhaps).

Taken at 5:33pm

Taken at 5:33pm


Taken at 5:36pm




Yoga 4 Yolanda

Karma yoga this time. Reposting here Yoga Manila’s message. Everyone is welcome!

Hello Yoga family,

Yoga Manila is doing relief work at the ABS-CBN, Sagip Kapamilya headquarters. Join us help our countrymen who have been devastated by Typhoon Yolanda. The little we do counts for a lot.

Where :        Pinoy Big Brother Basketball Court
            E Lopez Drive corner Mother Ignacia Avenue, Quezon City
            (right next to the Pinoy Big Brother House)

When :        Saturday, November 16

Time :        1 – 6pm

Parking :        Streetside parking will be difficult. Best to park at the ELJ Center which is across the street – there is paid basement parking, just tell guard you are a volunteer for Sagip Kapamilya

Hope to see you there. Please forward to friends and family who may be interested in joining us in the spirit of kapit bisig!

🙂 Berta