Photographs and Memories

There are at least 7,001 islands in the Philippines during low tide. The number might go down during high tide. That’s the on going joke. I was born in Davao far away from the mainland, Manila. The cheapest way to transport a family of 13 is by ship. Being on the ship is my first recollection of travelling. It took a week by sea voyage to get to Manila. My mother must have moved us two or three times. Was it fun? For a child, it was for me.

My nephew living the dream in False Creek.

My grandfather was a captain of a ship and he owned one of the islands, Stanlake. It’s a good place to live off grid with no electricity and running water. It now belongs to the Santa Cruz family but my mother made a wise decision to forfeit her rights. My cousin started a blog about it here.

Airplane was my next memory of major travelling moving to Canada. There were eight of us. My mother and seven siblings still dependent to her. A move running away from a country under martial law and dictatorship of Marcos. We never looked back.

Celebration of Life for Jim.
Canadian Airlines Model Plane

Recently, we finally celebrated my sister’s husband’s life, Jim, after two years of lockdown. He was a flight attendant for Canadian Airlines. Sometimes, I get a good deal in travelling as a standby tapping into his privileges. The only stipulation is that I have to “dress up” since I represent my brother-in-law and just in case I will be placed in first class.

When I was leaving Switzerland for DC, the flight was fully booked and there was no room in economy. I was placed in first class. Imagine being served champagne. Such a luxury. What a thrill that lasted briefly for another passenger was willing to pay for my free seat. I have to vacate the seat. Heh!

Four-wheels motorcycle

When I grow up, the next wheels I want to own is a red bike similar to this. My first car was a red four-door Ford eight cylinder sedan. It was heavyweight and powerful. I was the first one to own a car in the family. Needless to say, I became the chauffeur. This car was so solid that it protected me from a hit and run driver. The driver was caught and his car was more of a wreck. My car’s engine is still in good condition but the insurance company won’t pay for repair. Hence, I bought a used car this time, my sister’s Honda. That was my second and last car.

The Station

It was during Expo 86 when the Skytrain was introduced in Vancouver. I must say, the train changed my means of transportation. By year 2000, I no longer need the Honda to go to work. It was a major undertaking for the City to build a better mode of people mover from Skytrain (Canada, Expo and Millennium Lines) SeaBus, AquaBus, B-Lines, and West Coast Express. Many have utilized these means, became popular and now travelling within the city is packed!

I love train travelling and just watch the scenery as it zooms away. European and British trains provided me with the luxury to sit back and relax. In India, train ride was an experience that one has to have mettle.

“Man is only a pilgrim on earth.”

Vancouver Sun

By royal decree, my sister, proclaimed that another month will be added called “Beachember.” She is a sun lover.

When we were growing up back in the Philippines, Mother used to send us out from 7 to 10 am to sun bathe. During this time, the heat of the sun is soft and we get our vitamin D.

As we grow older and wiser, instead of sunbathing, we prefer forest bathing. I introduced my sisters what I learned from a psychiatrist who provided group walks in MeetUp. We even signed up a UBC study group to help grad students for their thesis. The first session that we were supposed to attend, there was a warning of bear on the loose. Needless to say, that’s the end of our study group in this area.

As for me, I did gorilla gardening, with invitation. My neighbour has been watching me putter around at The Manor and asked me for help in having a floral garden instead of vegetable patch. It was fun transforming her front yard and moving some of my plants at her yard. I even made a small area of salad garden just for her.

Sun season is so short. When it’s out, here we come!

Photographs and Memories

My feet carry me in different parts of the world to understand the divinity of Mother Earth.  I am grateful what Mother Earth provides beneath our feet.

Along the way, we encounter a bridge and calm water that create a perfect reflection of what is above the still water, ‘as above, so below.’

Passing a bridge walking along Santiago de Compostela

Passing a bridge walking along Santiago de Compostela

Pilgrimage takes me to sacred sites where I deepen my faith and understand other’s devotion. The road beneath our feet can be a rocky terrain. There are others that will go up hiking barefooted to feel more connected with the Earth.

Stony path hiking to the top of Medjugorje

A flat paved surface is a pleasure to walk along the groves of olive trees as we pray the rosary and meditate on the passion of Jesus Christ.

Flat surface at Fatima

For more adventure, climbing Mt. Sinai requires the help of a guide or a camel ride in the dark. At Mt. Sinai, we meditated about Moses’ encounter with the burning bush and talking to his God. At the top of the mountain, we welcome the rising of the sun. With the sun’s glorious light, a new day dawning and darkness dispelled, the walk down is more treacherous. A rock beneath your feet, one could take a tumble on a slippery slope.

Rugged terrain at Mt. Sinai

Walking a Sacred Labyrinth in tuned with every step and every breath we take quietens the mind. There is no right or wrong way to walk. There is no time limit. Meditating or staying prayerful as we step one foot forward, stop and pause as long as we want, then take the next step. One could never get lost going in the center with an open mind and heart . We walk out of the circle feeling rejuvenated and centered.

Labyrinth at Naramata

According Hermes Emerald Tablet ‘as above, so below’, I can only translate this according to my Catholic faith.

“Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.” ~ Jesus Prayer

Church Cemetery at Oberammergau

As a pilgrim, I keep walking, passing through these places. In the end of it all, I will be the one lying beneath His feet.

Photographs and Memories

“The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeing new landscapes, but in having new eyes.” ~ Marcel Proust

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Youngest cousin surrounded by older (Instamatic Camera)

Memories:  This is one of the very few prints I kept using simple instamatic disposable cameras. I can’t even remember who the baby was, for we had so many of them — looking at this photo brought back memories of me when I was maybe four or five. My brother was just born, the youngest in our family. My siblings and I were at the foot of the bed, watching the baby in awe. A fluid was dripping from my nose, stuck out my tongue to like it. 

It’s strange how my brain conjured this memory. Maybe my brain is telling me that what I see in my mind is essential versus what I see.

A lady bird landed on my arm. (Canon camera)

Symbolism and Meaning:  A ladybug landed on my arm when I was on one of my pilgrim walks. The other pilgrim said it’s a sign of luck that Mother Mary came to visit This belief is based on Christianity. One thing I know for sure, when I see a ladybug, it brings out the happiness in me.

The other day, I was watching “The Dig” on Netflix. It’s a true story that happened in 1939 that changed England’s history where they dug up a burial site of an elaborate ship filled with treasures. One of the items they found is a well preserved yellow ladybird. What’s fascinating is the treasures were carbon-dated during the early Anglo-Saxon period around 410 to 1055. 

I wonder what made them carry this object. Is it for divine protection for the afterlife?

Medjugorje Christ Statue (instamatic camera)

Pilgrimage:   Returning from spiritual travel, folks always ask for a photo to support stories I tell them. They want to see pictures of churches, masses, the incorruptible, and miracles such as a dancing sun or an apparition. Really!?! Maybe, I can photoshop some of my pictures. But I don’t. What you see is what you get.  

When I was at Medjugorje, an imposing larger than life, Christ Risen bronze statue stood at the square. I noticed a man wiping the knee of the sculpture. When he was gone, I went to inspect what he did. The statue is solid to the touch but hollow inside. Touching the knee, I cannot determine what the man saw. I just stood there baffled, and then I saw a trickle of water dripping down. Interesting. Where is this condensation coming from, I thought. I even checked if there’s a water valve attached to the statue to fill the hollow part. Nothing. So I wiped the water off with my hand. It has no smell. I looked at the knee with great intent and saw water forming like a tear. I wiped it again, checked if there is a hole on the knee. Nothing. The tear-life liquid leaks again. I was mystified. 

Did I take a photo of the liquid? Unfortunately not. I’m not a photographer equipped with all the proper camera. All I have is a story.

For those who believe no miracle is enough, for those who believe no miracle is necessary.”

Apparently, a liter of liquid comes out of the statue daily.  There are oral testimonies that it is can cure illness.  On the scientific level performed, it’s 99% water with traces of calcium, copper, iron, potassium, magnesium, sodium, sulfur and zinc.  The Church does not comment on the phenomenon.

Stay With Me

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I never knew the name of the song, so I titled it `Leave all your blues in your shoes at the door.

I am a man without envy
No roof, no walls to defend me
Hoping someday you’ll be friendly
And take my troubles away.

Walk with me, talk with me
Tell me all the good things you’ve done
Stay with me, pray with me
Leave all your blues in your shoes at the door.

With the power of the internet, my post reached other parts of the world. I received a comment from “chrisrushlau” on  about the song on YouTube:

Thank you, Chris.

 

via Leave all your blues in your shoes at the door.

The nature of Emerald Isle

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“It’s the one place on earth heaven had kissed with melody, mirth, and meadow and mist.  ~ Irish Proverb.” Never have I seen so many shades of green in this rolling hills of Dingle Peninsula. According to the song Johnny … Continue reading

Love is a complicated matter

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Recently I saw a photo that made me recall bits and pieces of my childhood years. From this memory, I remember a poem I kept about love that a child does not understand. The Memory: I couldn’t help it but … Continue reading

Serene and ephemeral as a little smiling sunshine

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As quietly as the hummingbird came to visit for a drink, the fog slowly rolled in and transformed the view into mysterious scenery. Soon the fog enveloped the whole city and only the reflection of the sun is glistening from … Continue reading

With Open Arms

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A simple invitation I sent out to different organizations offering my services as a volunteer. To my surprise, Aids Baby Centre (ABC) accepted my invitation. On May 8, I arrived at Chiangmai from Vancouver, BC, Canada. I received a warm … Continue reading

Dreaming my Dreams

I am a dreamer of dreams
Wandering around from the periphery
Quiet to remain unnoticed.

Dream Trout lake

Here I feel safe
Safe in the hands of a lifeguard
Guarding  precious lives.
Dream Lifeguard

Along the winding path
Willows weep as I pass by
Or maybe bowing to pay respect.
Dream Weeping Willow

The boardwalk will take me away
Into secluded area where tall grasses grow
Fairies and dragonflies will stop out of curiosity.
Dream Dragonfly

A bench is waiting at the end
As I can see it’s already taken
By someone dreaming my dreams.
Dream Dog

Courage to come back: Joie de vivre rather than c’est la vie.

April 1

The birthday of my nephew who turned 25 years old this month of October and the demise of his friend took me back 23 years ago on Easter. This is a photo of my nephews and nieces I keep close to my heart as a reminder how far I have gone along in my journey of “mental” illness. We had more children added to this group since then.

Being released from the hospital on Easter, it was a great celebration but short-lived, I relapsed quickly. My family admitted me back to the hospital and stayed for a long time to make sure I get better. It was April fools and the joke was on me.

Some people are cruel that they are hasty calling me crazy. My response to this is “you have no idea” followed by a sinister laugh and facial expression similar to “one flew over the cuckoo’s nest” that I mastered to scare the living bejesus out of them for labelling me.

When they are too quick to judge, I fire back with a retort “take a hard look at yourself!” A statement that gives them something to think about.

Stigma? That is not in my vocabulary and I refuse to feel victimized.

Crazy as I may sound, I think being afflicted with this “mental illness” is a “blessing”.

I am blessed because I learned humility, compassion, love, kindness, tolerance, respect, perseverance, understanding, recovery, patience, hopeful, peace, joy, live at the moment and enjoying the in-between.

I learned to become thick skin and have broad shoulder. I used this “illness” to my advantage. I am aware that I will have this for the rest of my life, a part of me but it does not define me.

I am lucky that the medical professions that treated me are more knowledgeable about this illness. Even the school industry is educating the children and employers are actively promoting wellness in the work environment.

I simplified my life, focus on the ordinary, and make them extraordinary.

I can educate and advocate for young ones in my family and people in the community that no one has to live alone with a disease that is hereditary or caused by adversity in life.

With care, love and prayers of family, friends and community. I have the courage to come back and live a normal life.

Should I have succeeded on dying, I will not experience the joy of watching these children grow up, get married and have their own children. To hear Baby James call me Miss Pretty is music to my ears and the best medicine to provide relief to sadness.

Do I sound arrogant? That is not my intention. It’s pointless to wallow on self-pity and negativity. There’s plenty of that going around and it’s more contagious than a common cold.

There is a positive point of view in every situation. One can maintain a joie de vivre rather than resign to c’est la vie.