Dad & Duterte

Dearest Papa,

I sincerely understand how one will feel impatient and frustrated, that the Philippines is not dramatically improving with regards to the crime rate, traffic, corruption and poverty.

Yet we must continue to have faith in our people.

Each of us must individually find the courage to realise we are powerful agents with the abilities and resources to do what is right, in order to make our present and future more fulfilling than the past of yesterdays.

This big CHANGE, is not the task of one man or woman, but many; all of us are responsible. Moreover, evolution takes time.

Collectively, with our diversity, we really can tackle the problems we face by contributing in small multiplied miraculous ways.

It is also important to be aware, that this is not a Filipino crisis, but a global one. We are not alone in our outcry for justice and urgent renewal of the social contract. You will find the same demands for transformation in the US, the UK and beyond. The world is populated with communities and citizens that have been, and remain, overwhelmingly disappointed and betrayed by their governments.

In your irritated mood, you disparagingly called me an ‘idealist’. Surely we must uphold a standard that represents the better, if not best versions of a society that we want? Reality is already plagued with numerous demons from Pandora’s box. We must have hope, and brace our sturdy hearts to accept hardships as the pathway to peace.

Many years ago, you persisted in instructing me with a quote by Viktor Frankl, that if we are to be the light, we must endure the burning.

That is all I want to remind you, with regards to the political hysteria that is happening right now.

We must not allow ourselves, in times of despair and desperation, to be seduced by drastic means for drastic ends.

“Darkness cannot drive out darkness. Only light can do that.”

You prayed for something radical to happen, to alleviate the degraded state of these islands. Am I not here? Did I not leave the comforts of London so that I might be of service and help in whatever way I can?

Stand with me, in the choice and spiritual battle, to fight for the humanity that we value, one that is entrenched in having compassion, respecting life in all its forms, and in charitable giving.

Fear is our enemy. Love always wins.
Together we will make the difference that we both seek.

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Same Same, But Different

 

The Huangster and I became friends thanks to working on Direct Line insurance at M&C Saatchi way back in 2005. One of our regular urban rituals is having dim sum with a motley of internationals. This afternoon, for a thematic send-off back to Asia, we gathered at our usual haunt in Chinatown – our combined ethnicities very much the united colours of Benetton, covering the UK, France, Taiwan, Zimbabwe, Sri Lanka, the US, and of course the Philippines.

This City is what it is because our citizens are what they are.” So says Plato… which in Tagalog is the word for a dish, and I am so grateful that I have a lot on my plate. So much for me to see and do, whether I am here, or there, depending on where I am.

In Mandarin, the characters 点 (dim) and 心 (sum) also have a literal meaning when placed together: ‘touching the heart’ – and my cardio is most certainly in a state of bliss, thanks to the generous variety that the universe provides. Very eat pray love indeed.

And so I travel through time and space once again, to another small island. See you at the tropical lair – for more of the same Maslow hierarchy of needs, but in a different context. Continued world domination adventures await where the sky is blue and the grass is green. Just as it is here, so it is there too. Land ahoy!

xx

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PS.
The other doppelgänger in the picture is a new friend in Manila named The Fonz.

#LOVEMALL

An artsy marketing initiative called “Art to HeART” is currently taking place in Ayala-owned shopping centres all over the Philippines, with events surrounding installations very much like the Hearts of San Francisco.

Perhaps malls aren’t ideal venues for ‘authentic’ romance, but hey, Kevin Smith thought it good enough for the 1995 movie Mallrats… Whatever your opinion about Valentines and its commercialisation, it is a universal truth that humans are all suckers for love. I’m choosing to share some material that I find personally useful for this designated occasion.

LOVING OTHERS

F WORDS

FFS
If you want an unconventional exploration, experiment with Sex God.

“It’s easy to take off your clothes and have sex. People do it all the time.  But opening up your soul to someone, letting them into your spirit, thoughts, fears, future, hopes, dreams… that is being naked.”

FORGIVENESS
Because hurt people hurt people.
Rob Bell’s The Forgiving Flow series is very approachable.
Start with Part 1 of 5, or sample The Dog and Its Vomit and Sending It Away

FOMO
For those fretting or saddened about what they currently don’t have in their life:
READ To anyone who thinks they are falling behind.

“Let’s just say that whatever you want, you want it enough. So much so that you’re making yourself miserable in order to achieve it. What about chilling out?

Going thru old comics today & found this timely reminder from Yumi Sakugawa! Mission accomplished I guess

A post shared by Lucianne Walkowicz (@shaka_lulu) on

How’s your Love Life?

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On 4th May 2000, an e-mail bearing the title I LOVE YOU began popping up in computers in Asia. It contained an attachment that when opened destroyed graphics and other files, whilst the message replicated by sending itself to all other addresses in a computer’s database. Within hours, it spread across Europe and the US, with the news headlines: Love bug virus creates worldwide chaos.

The creator, was a hacker from the Philippines, where every one loves love stories – from telenovelas to karaoke songs, and more recently, the social media phenomenon called AlDub.

Having returned to Manila, friends have begun introducing me as someone from London, additionally tagging “she’s single”. Why bother with dating apps when you have pinoys pimp-peddling your status eh? Since Valentine’s Day is just round the corner, I might as well follow the theme and write about my cardiovascular condition.

It was my birthday yesterday, and of course one’s Facebook timeline was where celebratory greetings were exchanged. It was wonderful to receive numerous messages of affection and well wishes, and can confirm happily, that I am absolutely loving life, right here, right now.

The national anthem of the Philippines contains the following lyrics:
Alab ng puso, sa dibdib mo’y buhay” – This translates to ‘flaming heart, in your chest is alive’, and it’s definitely my emoticon of the year. I am ON FIRE!

To clarify, being in this blissful state, is not simply because I’m on some ‘vacation’ mode and beach hopping around. I chose some time ago, to unsubscribe from the industrial templates of working bloody hard most of the time, then only holidaying when we’re fatigued.

There is a beautiful expression for employment in Tagalog – hanap buhay – which literally means ‘search for life’. Unfortunately, due to urban programming, its magic has been neglected, as people single-mindedly pursue salary-paying jobs. [I recommend reading Life’s Work]

My decision to leave The Big Smoke, was to go free-range and work on achieving Sustainable Lunacy. Thus far, I have found appointment with a company called TrainStation. I’ve also been learning how to play guitar starting with chords for George Michael’s ‘Last Christmas’, and heartily throwing myself into various adventures – such as rock climbing and Kundalini yoga!

As for whether there is a ‘love interest’, I’ll go with the joke that I’m on a long-distance relationship, because my partner-in-crime is still time travelling in the future. Clyde knows where to find Bonnie.

Meanwhile, I am bursting with gratitude for everything that has been, and the surprises yet to come. Plus, there’s exciting world domination plans to tend to:

Finally, because it’s Lent, how about not quitting anything, but instead giving 40acts of kindness and generosity?

 

Durka Burka

Over a beach holiday, my friend Tarik and I played a lot of competitive shithead… and one evening we agreed to forfeit a Facebook status if we lost three games of cards in a row. This resulted in two different creed-based updates:

I’m tired of being in the closet. The religious one I mean. People here are so sincere and incredible about their faith that I’ve decided to finally admit I believe in God. – T

And

How does one go about converting to Islam? It’s been on my mind for a while now. Any Muslims out there want to give me some guidance? – R

Reception to both was very different and revealing. Turns out it’s acceptable enough to discuss believing in a deity, but more controversial if you’re contemplating conversion.

Whilst Tarik’s friends liked away, probably recognising his status was most likely a prank, responses to mine were stronger and raised more serious concerns. Specifically, there was the notion that my mind would be restricted by a mostly male-controlled dogma, and that I would have to accept being a 2nd class citizen. Some friends reached out via private messages and offered to discuss the matter with me. It was a most curious situation.

My stance about the whole religion quagmire remains this – I care about humanity and believe in a thing called Love.

In any case, I recommend listening to Islam and the Future of Tolerance: A Dialogue and checking out this very intriguing Kickstarter for a game called Dujanah.

There’s also the trusty xkcd.

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The controversial ‘C’ word

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No spoilers, except for the revealing title.

The Force Awakens.
Everyone excited like kids on a festive yuletide day.
This Star phenomenon is trending globally, while the human species is at wars with itself, and the planet on a climatic T-minus countdown, spiralling into doomed destruction.

The future dystopia of the movies we love to watch is our world today.
Not exactly according to script, though just as fubar, if not worse because it’s real.

We look to colonising Mars.
We gaze at launches into space.
A beauty pageant appointing temporary queens still hits our radar – perhaps an out-dated ritual, yet a viral reminder of how far we have yet to universally achieve when Earthlings are still happily selfie-absorbed with vanity metrics.

Younglings are dying, the result of fleeing imperial airstrikes and war-games of thrones. Isis is not an Egyptian goddess, but a black flag worshipped by armed rebels willing to die and sacrifice sinful innocents for their cause. Have you got the fear?

For each a road
For every man, a religion
Face everybody and rule

We’re all pagan creeds and corrupt republics.
Take my money, merchandise.
Masks and costumes worn, heroes and villains adorn.
Light-sabres wielded for geek points, but who will be bearers of light against despair?

That boy is our last hope?
No. There is another.

With compassion and courage, may each one of us change the miseries of the human condition, through the joy, strength, vitality and love within all of us.

There are stories about what happened.
It’s true. All of it.
If you believe in all things seen and unseen…

Hark! Hear ye, the gospel according to Luke.
The Christmas Radiance at Night.

May the true spirit of this designated season* be with you, always.

*Disclaimer:
The reason of the season is goodwill to all mankind. This was written to draw parallels with regards to fanaticism of ‘forces’ that cannot be seen, but felt. Of enduring myths/legends we embrace, because it pushes our humanity, that gives us hope. The power of a story, and not the franchise or corporate institution.

(Image sourced from this tweet)

You’re My Foreignoy

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You are categorically a foreigner, i.e. any other nationality but Filipino.
No Filipino blood, lineage or prior history whatsoever.
You fall madly in love with the Philippines, after an encounter through education, holiday, business – actually, it doesn’t matter how, what is important, is that you are smitten beyond tourism.

Here’s an example – meet David Finig.
We met online after being introduced by Tassos Stevens as collaborators for the Coney project London-Manila Messaging Service.

He’s an Australian theatre activist, and right now he really diehard wants to be a contestant for this game segment in the popular noontime television show EAT Bulaga! (Lunchtime Surprise).

This is his audition video:

I’ll be joining him this evening for the annual lantern parade at the University of the Philippines.

Regardless of my feelings about being called a ‘balikbayan’, apparently this is what I am now, like some prodigal daughter who has returned to The Motherland. Truth be told, on the twelfth day of being back, I’m still feeling more of a foreignoy.

Fresh off the boat

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The Conquistadores

It is commonly taught and known that Ferdinand Magellan (Fernão de Magalhães), a Portugese explorer who rendered his services to the Holy Roman Emperor Charles V, discovered an archipelago of islands in 1521. This voyage to the South Pacific encouraged further expeditions.

In 1544 Ruy López de Villalobos and his fleet from Mexico made their way to Samar and Leyte, which he named Las Islas Filipinas to honour the emperor’s son Philip, then Prince of Asturias, who later became Philip II King of Spain and England, through his marriage to Queen Mary Tudor.

In 1565 a different Spanish expedition led by Miguel López de Legazpi officially established a colony in Cebu, though Manila was eventually designated the capital of the Spanish East Indies, as it was more strategic for what became the Manila-Acapulco Galleon trade.

The Immigrants

My maternal great-grandmother Florence Maud Whitehead Mills, half Native American and born in California, went to the UK as a nurse during WW1. She married a military Englishman named Henry Marshall. Their Londoner son, Geoffrey Howard, was born in Woolwich Arsenal, and after serving God and country during WW2, left for the Philippines to work as a textiles factory manager. He married provincial songstress Medina Masbad aka ‘Betty’, who was from a farming family of caretakers for the sugar estate Hacienda Tinang in Tarlac, owned by the oligarch Aquino dynasty.

My paternal great-grandfather Hermenigildo Atienza, was a WW2 guerrilla leader and appointed Military Mayor of Manila by the US General Douglas McArthur. He was also one of the founders of the Liberal Party in 1946. His brother Rigoberto was a survivor of the Bataan Death March, and a 4-star general Chief of Staff of the Philippine Armed Forces in the 1960s during the presidency of Diosdado Macapagal. He is buried in the Libingan ng mga Bayani (Cemetery for Heroes). Supposedly, the roots of our surname originated from the Spanish town in the province of Guadalajara, and that our ancestor Francisco Atienza was sent to the Philippines on a Jesuit expedition in 1639.

The Balikbayan (Returnee)

I was born in a Mandaluyong hospital on EDSA. My early years were spent in Angeles City, near the American Clark Air Base. I was raised mostly in the gated community in Makati called Magallanes Village. At fourteen, I moved to the UK and lived in council house accommodation, Church End Estate in Northwest London. Now back in Manila, I find myself residing in an industrial neighbourhood in Pasig.

This is the beginning of a journey I’ve decided to call Fillipination, and since it’s the 21st century, of course there’s an Instagram account. I promise to not post hotdog legs or selfies (unless it’s with Manny Pacquiao).