When people ask me to define love, I say, "Love is like handing someone a gun, having them point it at your heart, and trusting them to never pull the trigger." (Sponge Bob)

When they ask me why I laugh at my mistakes and even write them with pride in my blogs, I say, "I'm not crazy. I just don't give a damn!" (Daffy Duck)

When one time I was conducting a group activity, a student asked what road sign I love the most, I said, "I like dead end signs. I think they're kind. They at least have the decency to let you know you're going nowhere…" (Bugs Bunny)

And when for the nth time a friend would ask me what do I get from writing, I'm not even sure if there are good old souls out there visiting my site, I just smile and say, "Kung gusto mong maging manunulat, eh di magsulat ka. Simple." (Bob Ong)

And last night when Eva said she wants to quit from her work because nobody believes in her, her boss got mad at her, she doesn't even have friends at her agency, and she's crying like hell, I said, "Either you stay to prove your worth or you quit and just show them you're a loser, you have to strive for your happiness." (MY original)

My CHOICES: I remained believing in love. I continued spicing up my mistakes and rewriting my life, accepting failure but keep on dreaming until words would fade into thin air.

Apr 16, 2008


She had overcome her minor defects only to be defeated by matters of fundamental importance. She had managed to appear utterly independent when she was, in fact, desperately in need of company. When she entered a room, everyone would turn to look at her, but she almost always ended the night alone, in the convent, watching a TV that she hadn’t even bothered to have properly tuned. She gave all her friends the impression that she was a woman to be envied, and she expended most of her energy in trying to behave in accordance with the image she had created of herself.”

- Veronika Decides to Die by Paulo Coelho

Book smashed right on top of my table – a pile of paper flown all over my cubicle. I saw a woman’s silhouette in the book’s cover. I knew the book by heart. I don’t need to look at the woman who threw the book neither, almost hitting my face, and complain over her attitude because like the silhouette, she too is in tremendous confusion.

I groaned.

And looked at her. All I saw was her back, twenty feet away. I can almost hear her sobbing.

Nine years ago, we were both new in the institution. We got along well. Very well. She would spend the night in my place. My family was hers. And so was I to her family.

After three years in the graduate school, she earned her Master’s Degree while I was still struggling to finish a research proposal.

Another three years, she finished her Doctorate program with the highest academic citation. I graduated with her, too, but with my MA.

Our friendship blossomed despite her moving in to another school – this time as an administrator. Because of her compromised schedule, we seldom had the time to be together. Lesser and lesser time. Shorter and shorter conversations. At the restaurant. Over the phone.

One day, she dashed through my office.

“I filed a tentative leave from work. Lend me a dozen of your books.”

Without question, I gave her what she needed. Then she left.

That was how we were. One waits for the other to open, giving the other ample time to ventilate on her own, the way she wants to. The other would just accept. Listen later.

And that was the last time I saw her. And heard from her, before this.

I arranged the papers back into their order. The intercom rang. Outside call.

“Jo, I’m in our favorite cafeteria.” She hanged.

Her words meant one thing. She was asking me to go. Since it was summer, it was a bit easy for me to leave my piled up work. But it was easier for me to decide to go to her because I sensed she badly needed someone to talk to by the chill in her voice.

“Give me a tall Latte, please.”

The waiter served my order. The rich smooth espresso softened by frothy steamed milk relaxed my senses. I was hoping her Sumatra did the same.

“Did you re-read the lines I marked with my highlighter?”

“Yes, I did.”, was my short reply.

“Damn you! Did you intentionally give me that book?”

“No, I did not.”

“Did you think I will buy that crap?”


“I’m entering the convent.”

Her statement was more like a declarative. So I opted to keep my silence. She wasn’t asking for my opinion anyway. I only stared blank at her.

“Damn you! Why are you giving me that kind of stare? Aren’t you saying anything? Tell me I’m stupid! Tell me I’m crazy!”

“Why should I? You know better than I. you have decided. Am I in the position to disagree with your decisions?”


“I mean… wouldn’t you ask why.”


“I’m not happy.”

“Would your entering the congregation make you happy?”

“Well at least I’m making something out of my stupid life.”

“Why the lines from the book?”

“They speak so much of the kind of life I lived.”

Silence. (Well, counselors like me always use silence at our advantage.)

“I graduated as class valedictorian. I finished college as magna cum laude. I earned highest academic citations in graduate college. At thirty, I am an academic administrator. I learned to play the piano. Played the violin well. I’m a black-belter. I’m a chess master. I don’t have a husband. No kids to cuddle. All I have are the degrees I earned. Certificates lined all over my wall. No pictures of me smiling or my family or my kids running about. I am alone in my three-storey house. I drive my car myself. My phone rings and it is my superior calling for a meeting. Some papers to be signed. Beating the deadline. Nobody’s telling me to take care. Eat my meals on time. or asking me what time I’ll be home. I wear my clothes, always with appropriate code. Put on my accessories. Not to please the eyes of a man but to look respectable in the eyes of my colleagues. I go to bed at night. Close my eyes. And that’s it.”


The rest of our conversation I will keep.

While writing this, she’s sleeping at the other room with my daughter. Tomorrow, I shall take her to the bus terminal – board the bus that will bring her to her destination – for the meantime, that is. While sadness still embraces her soul.

Indeed, many of us are like Maya, wearing our grandest mask by day, sleeping over our tears at night. Tears that seem to end our story. We complain. We ask ourselves whether our decisions had lead us to what and where we really would like to be. And we end up unhappy. Not contented. To some, they find their lives miserable. Useless. No direction. They stagnate. Until one day, they would wake up all torn. No other place to go.

Sometime in my life, I am Maya. So much “what ifs”. At times I am lured to do the inappropriate to give myself a chance for happiness. But most of the time, I just do what norms dictate. If happiness means not hurting other people, following by word the rules of the land, accomplishing assigned tasks on time, then I think I am happy.

But if happiness means doing what you want to do with your life, being true to yourself, getting to your dreams with lesser effort, screaming if you feel like it, then I have to get back to myself once again and start re-writing my life to be really truly happy.


floating, freedom to be
loving the water that cleanses what is physical
purifying it in return
the science of co-existing
and the essence of living

More of Life's Simple Pleasures @ Life in Stanzas

Apr 10, 2008

Spirulina: Nature's Gift

Spirulina is a blue-green algae. It is a simple, one-celled form of algae that thrives in warm, alkaline fresh-water bodies. The name "spirulina" is derived from the Latin word for "helix" or "spiral"; denoting the physical configuration of the organism when it forms swirling, microscopic strands.

Spirulina is being developed as the "food of the future" because of its amazing ability to synthesize high-quality concentrated food more efficiently than any other algae. Most notably, Spirulina is 65 to 71 percent complete protein, with all essential amino acids in perfect balance. In comparison, beef is only 22 percent protein.

Spirulina has a photosynthetic conversion rate of 8 to 10 percent, compared to only 3 percent in such land-growing plants as soybeans.

In addition, Spirulina is one of the few plant sources of vitamin B12, usually found only in animal tissues. A teaspoon of Spirulina supplies 21/2 times the Recommended Daily Allowance of vitamin B12 and contains over twice the amount of this vitamin found in an equivalent serving of liver.

Spirulina also provides high concentrations of many other nutrients - amino acids, chelated minerals, pigmentations, rhamnose sugars (complex natural plant sugars), trace elements, enzymes - that are in an easily assimilable form.

Even though it is single-celled, Spirulina is relatively large, attaining sizes of 0.5 millimeters in length. This is about 100 times the size of most other algae, which makes some individual Spirulina cells visible to the naked eye. Furthermore, the prolific reproductive capacity of the cells and their proclivity to adhere in colonies makes Spirulina a large and easily gathered plant mass.

The algae are differentiated according to predominating colorations, and are divided into blue-green, green, red and brown. Spirulina is one of the blue-green algae due to the presence of both chlorophyll (green) and phycocyanin (blue) pigments in its cellular structure.
Even though Spirulina is distantly related to the kelp algae, it is not a sea plant. However, the fresh-water ponds and lakes it favors are notably more saline - in the range of 8 to 11 pH than ordinary lakes and cannot sustain any other forms of microorganisms. In addition, Spirulina thrives in very warm waters of 32 to 45 degrees C (approximately 85 to 112 degrees F), and has even survived in temperatures of 60 degrees C (140 degrees F).

Certain desert-adapted species will survive when their pond habitats evaporate in the intense sun, drying to a dormant state on rocks as hot as 70 degrees Centigrade (160 degrees F). In this dormant condition, the naturally blue-green algae turns a frosted white and develops a sweet flavor as its 71 percent protein structure is transformed into polysaccharide sugars by the heat.

Some scientists speculate that the "manna" of the wandering Israelites, which appeared miraculously on rocks following a devastating dry spell and was described as tasting "like wafers made with hone " may have been a form of dried, dormant Spirulina.

This ability of Spirulina to grow in hot and alkaline environments ensures its hygienic status, as no other organisms can survive to pollute the waters in which this algae thrives. Unlike the stereotypical association of microorganisms with "germs" and "scum", Spirulina is in fact one of the cleanest, most naturally sterile foods found in nature.

Its adaptation to heat also assures that Spirulina retains its nutritional value when subject to high temperatures during processing and shelf storage, unlike many plant foods that rapidly deteriorate at high temperatures.

Spirulina is also unusual among algae because it is a "nuclear plant" meaning it is on the developmental cusp between plants and animals. It is considered somewhat above plants because it does not have the hard cellulose membranes characteristic of plant cells, nor does it have a well-defined nucleus. Yet its metabolic system is based on photosynthesis, a process of direct food energy production utilizing sunlight and chlorophyll, which is typical of plant life forms.

In essence, Spirulina straddles that fork in evolutionary development when the plant and animal kingdoms differentiated. Thus it embodies the simplest form of life. In contrast, other algae such as Chlorella have developed the hard indigestible walls characteristic of plants.

The information provided above is intended for educational purposes only. It is not meant to either directly or indirectly give medical advice or prescribe treatment. Unless specifically referenced, the information has not been scientifically validated or approved by any government or regulatory agency. Please consult with your physician or other licensed health care professional for medical diagnosis, prescription, and treatment

The pictures below are actual shots of harvesting spirulina from a basin at GEO Farm, Bayambang, Pangasinan. I had the chance to see personally this algae with wonderful gifts to man yesterday during our educational trip in preparation for all CKC personnel in our thrust of saving Mother Earth by starting an Eco Park in our school.

And this is one of the many gifts of spirulina to man -- especially to aging women.

Hope even without its contribution to beauty as an anti-aging agent, you'll exert some effort to learn more about spirulina and try it yourself. This is not just going back to the basics, but this is more being in communion with nature and living harmoniously with it -- eradicating harmful toxic chemicals in your body.

As Mr. Guevarra said yesterday, "It is only in going back to nature that nature would come back to us."

By the way, this was our lunch yesterday -- red rice, roasted tilapia, "ginataang pakak", fresh salad (leaves and petals with olive oil and mint) served in banana bark, top water and lemon grass tea with muscovado sugar, menthol and vanilla -- all fresh from the farm, no preservatives. Take note: mangoes and other fruits should not serve as your dessert, it has to be eaten before the meal.

Apr 4, 2008

The Prize of Parenting

Anastine Beatrice was first in St. John The Baptist Learning Center's Kinder 1 class of SY 2007-2008. She received a gold medal from the Diocese of La Union and six proficiency awards in Math, Science, Reading, Language, Filipino and as first honors. That makes us proud parents.

My family.

This is the prize of parenting. Kids who grow under your wings, for the meantime, that is. For when they soon would learn the art of flying and muster the wisdom of the universe, they shall explore on their own. You will just be there, savoring the fruits of your labor, from conception to child birth, from diapering to seeing their first steps and say those first words to sending them to school. It's easy to be called parents, but it takes much love and patience and understanding and a whole lot more to stand by the word: PARENTS!