28 Weeks Later…

imagesWhat? Leave London?!
Shock.
Horror.
Tired of London, Tired of Life they say…
Just like Vizzini from Princess Bride, I used to think and say that it was “Inconceivable!” too.

Well that actor Wallace Shawn is also in the film My Dinner with Andre, which is an eye-opener. There’s a specific scene where the city is viewed as a new type of concentration camp, its residents like prisoners, who having taken pride in the thing they built, are unable to leave it. So as much as I am a diehard dweller of L-town, I decided to progress to M-town. I dare say, the supposed capital of the world, was just not enough.

>> I know it’s out of fashion, and a trifle uncool.
But I can’t help it, I’m a romantic fool.
… on Echo beach, I watch the sun go down. <<

I’ve hardly escaped the concrete jungle though. The current home base is the district of Pasig, north of the river (which is somewhat comforting). Not quite living on the beach yet, but I have more frequent access to it, plus it’s always sunny anyway (mostly).

It’s a third world banana republic where red tape truly is dreadfully diabolical. As expected, the bureaucracy and government agencies are a nightmare. I yearn for a better public transport system (Oh TFL) and am starved of more convenient urban green spaces that aren’t private golf courses. Nevertheless, discussing what’s better/worse is a futile exercise.

Relocating was never about replacing one city for another. The choice was to explore unplayed options and expand my world further. Instead of paying for immersive entertainment, I’m lucidly living my own Thrilla in Manila. It’s an exciting game-changing endeavour, as I poke around the landscape to discover treasures and gain new victory points from challenges.

There are many images on Instagram for visual pixels, but here are some happy highlights thus far:

JANUARY
A surprising and spectacular start to the year, filled with beach travel and sunsets from La Union to PagudpudPalawan, Zambales and Batangas. A lyric in the Philippine national anthem that best expressed the state of my soul is ‘Alab ng puso sa diddib mo’y buhay’ [flaming/blazing heart, in your chest is alive]. That’s my default emoji alright. A popular term is also ‘hugot’ [drawn from a deep place, a tugging of the heartstrings] associated with any statements or declarations of honesty and #feels.

As for a soundtrack, “Be it for reason, be it for love, I won’t take the easy road.”

FEBRUARY
Mostly spent meeting people and making new friends, notably the amazing company TrainStation, which is personally serendipitous on so many levels. Several lessons and classes feature – guitar, kundalini yoga, outdoor rock climbing, surfing. In Tagalog the encouragement is ‘Go lang ng Go!’, similar to ‘carry on’ with more playful tones.

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#confetti

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MARCH
A brief sojourn back to London for a wedding, quality time with family/friends, and consolidating development cards. Was introduced to the IO Collective – a community project focused on re-inventing how we live, work and learn in the 21st century. Definitely my cup of tea. Wrote Same Same But Different.


APRIL

Took an intensive training course to qualify for Neuro-Linguistic-Programming. This allows me to be a certified life coach. I passed my exam, and now I just need to practice with clients and run some workshops.


MAY

Had a blast watching paint dry, for Art BGC’s 2nd Mural Festival with Lebasse Projects.
Made some headway on secret plans for a real estate company. The new life also demanded a new hair cut! Oh, and the country elects a controversial new President. #ChangeIsComing

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Three Men and a Wall. @aschoultz #artbgc2016

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JUNE

Hanging out with the fantastically talented people of Karnabal, produced by the wonderful Sipat Lawin Ensemble. I popped my spoken word cherry, by joining an open mic night called Strange Pilgrims. Lots of werk werk werk werk werk. Am a social engineer for a CSR initiative called Change Station. Will collaborate on projects with La Union Soul Community, events with Make It Blissful and other schemes around the den of subcultures that is Cubao Expo.

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#bunting #mural #engekiquest

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>> Next up – JULY

Bought the ticket, and will take the ride for Rental Car Rally in LA.

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#america #fuckyeah

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Do you have a flag?
Until the next update, Happy (PH) Independence Day!
Here’s to the free-range life.

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.

William_Blake_003

Same Same, But Different

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A Familiar Foreign Friendly Face.

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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?

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)