Closure is a myth so, no to a Marcos Burial at LNMB

There is no such thing as closure. 
Closure is a myth. The objective of the grief journey is to find a way to reconcile the loss into your life, and only then can you begin to live your new normal. 
Reconciliation begins with honoring pain, by listening to it, acknowledging it, and leaning in to it. The impact of a tragic loss reverberates through many generations. It often manifests through illnesses — both mental, and physical. The effects of a traumatic death transcends many generations. 
If the government is truly serious about healing the nation then it must begin with honoring the pain of the thousands who were incarcerated, those who were raped, tortured, and died during the dark days of martial law. You don’t do that by burying a man of dubious honor into sacred ground meant for heroes. When you do that, you trample on, and desecrate the memory of all who died through that horrific period in time. 
Closure is a myth. Moving on, getting over are useless phrases. People died. Those who survived are forever changed by the losses they experienced. Some have managed to heal themselves but many others continue to live with the scars from that period. You open those wounds again, and in the process, re-traumatize people when you dishonor the memory of those who gave up their lives so that we could all live in freedom. 


An Open Letter to General Bato 

Dear General Bato, 
What is happening to our country? Last Monday evening, 24 year old Em-J Pavia who was a model student, son, friend, and teacher was mercilessly gunned down a mere five minutes away from his home. Yesterday, it was 27 year old Lauren Rosales, soft-spoken, caring, loved by everyone she worked with. 

She too was shot in cold blood while riding a Jeepney on her way to work. 
Sir, these two young adults are probably the same age as your own children. Felled by bullets, young adults with a whole life waiting for them.
Can we please now turn our eyes on these ruthless, senseless killings as well, sir? We are supposed to feel safe on our streets, are we not? Wasn’t that the promise? May we ask you to please put your full resources in catching the killers of these two young people? 
I know you will do what is right, because you said so yourself that these killings have to stop, please, resolve these cases in the fastest possible time, but through due process. I pray that when you look into your children’s eyes, you will see an Em-J, and a Lauren, and that it ignites something in you to relentlessly pursue those who took their lives away. Please, help us find justice for them.

A Beautiful Life

At some other point in my life, waking up to a day that’s gray would make me feel blue. Today, I’m just grateful that those days are over. Maybe they’ll pop up occasionally, which is expected. But in general, I’ve learned to take the beauty of each day, and each moment as it comes. Embracing each day’s uniqueness, always choosing to find the good. After all, it’s always a choice. And every brand new day we are given is a gift we must hold with gratefulness in our hearts.
Perhaps it also comes with growing older and coming to terms with one’s mortality, and realizing that one only has an x number of years to go. When you wake up each day with the view of a thousand white crosses, you have a constant reminder of the brevity of life ☺️ and so you learn to live mindfully, and purposefully. Last night, for my bedtime reading, I came across this piece by best-selling author, Brene Brown…
”I think midlife is when the universe gently places her hands upon your shoulders, pulls you close, and whispers in your ear:

I’m not screwing around. It’s time. All of this pretending and performing – these coping mechanisms that you’ve developed to protect yourself from feeling inadequate and getting hurt – has to go.
Your armor is preventing you from growing into your gifts. I understand that you needed these protections when you were small. I understand that you believed your armor could help you secure all of the things you needed to feel worthy of love and belonging, but you’re still searching and you’re more lost than ever.
Time is growing short. There are unexplored adventures ahead of you. You can’t live the rest of your life worried about what other people think. You were born worthy of love and belonging. Courage and daring are coursing through you. You were made to live and love with your whole heart. It’s time to show up and be seen.”
What are you waiting for?!? Step into each day with your whole heart. There is no other way. Have a beautiful, wonderful weekend. ❤️

Encounter in the Skies 

I had not flown out of the Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) in over a decade, but on this trip home with the kids, I did. 
The moment we arrived at LAX, I began to regret it, and made a mental note not to, as much as I can, fly out of there again next time. It was sheer bedlam! I have to hand it to the PAL staff who face this crowd everyday, two times a day. Patience in action! At the counter, there were some issues with our baggage, as expected, and the flight was seriously overbooked. Plus, the plane had been downgraded to an Airbus. 
The blessing came in the form of an upgrade to business class which of course made me very happy. I was so looking forward to stretching out and sleeping most of the way home. “I hope I get an interesting seat mate,” I told the kids before we went our separate ways. 
Be careful what you wish or pray for…
My seat mate, a tall, dark fellow in his late 40s was seated in my seat, but he graciously moved back to his window seat when I arrived. Seeing that I was struggling with my carry-on, he offered to put it up in the bin. I said thank you, and we sat quietly for a while. 
I could sense that he was sad, and although I was tired, I was really grateful for my upgrade, so I decided to chat him up. 
Me: Are you from here or returning to Manila? 

Seat mate: I’m just visiting. 

Me : Oh. How long since you were last home? 

Seat mate : 15 years

Me: Wow. 

Seat mate : My sister died yesterday. 

Me: I’m so sorry…

Seat mate : She got tired of life, so…

Me: I’m very sorry to hear that. How old was she? 

Seat mate : 51

Me : Oh my God, that’s my age. (at this point I was starting to think about how there aren’t any coincidences in life, and when he realizes that I’m his sister’s age, his face lights up)

Seat mate : Wow, no accidents really. 

Me: You know I’m a grief coach, and I only got upgraded that’s why I’m siting here. 

Seat mate : Me too! My ticket was so expensive because I bought it yesterday only, so I guess naawa sila. 
And from there the ice was broken, and for the next two hours, he told me about his life, and his sister’s life. How he was the last person she sent an email to, timing it so that he would read it after she was gone. He spoke about his regrets, and all the missed years. “I was the brother closest to her,” he said, “and the only one who supported her this last year.” So I told him that no matter how painful it was, he had done his very best for her. 
Then he started to tell me about his son and how he worried that he might have clinical depression too. So I gave him the name and address of a psychiatrist friend whose practice was only 30 minutes away from where he lived. 
The words of the poet Hafiz reverberated in my heart as I listened to his story, “The place where you are right now, God circled on a map for you.” Whatever chaos surrounds us, there is nothing really to fret or fear about for all things, baggage issues and bedlam, work together for the good for those who love Him. I now know I was meant to fly out of LAX that day. 
Please say a prayer for my new friend, JB, and his family. It’s been a long journey home for him. We shook hands at the end of the flight and wished him well on his journey to his home province. 
My encounter with him at the tail-end of a long and beautiful vacation, only reaffirmed, and rekindled my passion to continue doing what I do. It’s been a good break, and I thank God for bringing us all home safely. 
See you all again soon. 

Moon over Eastlake, Chula Vista, CA June 2016

Travels with my children 

How wonderful it is to be able to travel with your adult children. To give them a glimpse of the world, and to see the world through their eyes. Today, my heart fills with gratitude for all these days I have with them both. Investing in memories that each one of us will carry, and look back on — the kind of wealth that can never be taken away from us. 
Today I’m reminded of Kahlil Gibran’s thoughts on children : 

“Your children are not your children.

They are the sons and daughters of Life’s longing for itself.

They come through you but not from you,

And though they are with you, yet they belong not to you.

You may give them your love but not your thoughts.

For they have their own thoughts.

You may house their bodies but not their souls,

For their souls dwell in the house of tomorrow,

which you cannot visit, not even in your dreams.

You may strive to be like them, but seek not to make them like you.

For life goes not backward nor tarries with yesterday.”

Choose to invest in memories over things. The return on investment is immeasurable. Love, that is multiplied many times over, and dividends that will last for generations, long after you or I are gone.
Warner Brothers Studio 48, 
Burbank, CA  15 June 2016

Places in the Heart

Windows. Doors. They never fail to fascinate me. I love walking around new neighborhoods, wondering about the stories that lie behind the doors and windows that I see. Perhaps that’s the storyteller in me. Always conjuring up scenes and dialogue in my head. 
I love this neighborhood where the children and I recently spent some time in. Some places grab your heart in an instant, they feel just like home. This was one of them. Steinbeck wrote, “People don’t take trips, trips take people.” 

I believe that now, one hundred percent.  
And places where your heart feels most at home, are places you return to, time and again, to ground yourself, to find yourself, and to fall in love once more. 
Photo: W 113th Street, New York City, NY

The Intentional Traveler

  Had a great time bonding and sharing stories with other women travelers at The Intentional Traveler workshop of my friend Tessa who blogs over at Viajera Filipina

Picked up a lot of new ideas from my PDI colleague and good friend Pam Pastor who blogs over at 

I spoke about how travel refreshes the soul, how it takes us out of our comfort zones, and teaches us to be brave. 

Travel is personal and there are many reasons why we travel. I took off from this favorite quote by Pico Iyer : “We travel, initially, to lose ourselves; and we travel, next to find ourselves. We travel to open our hearts and eyes and learn more about the world than our newspapers will accommodate. We travel to bring what little we can, in our ignorance and knowledge, to those parts of the globe whose riches are differently dispersed. And we travel, in essence, to become young fools again- to slow time down and get taken in, and fall in love once more.” 

I travel to fall in love. 

To fall in love with new places, sights, and experiences. 

To fall in love with the undiscovered parts of the self. 

To fall in love and reconnect with much/needed solitude. 

To fall in love all over again with my children, or friends, or the people I meet along the way. 

To fall in love, again and again with the familiar, and the new. 

One is never too old to travel, but if you can do it while you are still young, strong, and able, then do it now. Get on a plane, a bus, a boat, a car. Go. You won’t regret it.