Synchronicity and Epiphany, My Thoughts Exactly

Two days ago, my low-maintenance kamuning plant was all leaves. It has not bloomed for quite some time, so I was pleasantly surprised to see radiant bursts of white where only green used to be. Kamuning (Murraya paniculata) is also known as orange jasmine. Today I learned why the name is ironic. Kamuning is not actually related to the jasmine plant species but is more closely related to oranges. That explains the citrusy sweet smell of its flowers. The word ‘orange’ in its name has nothing to do with color either, because the flowers are all white.

Whatever I have in pots do not constitute a garden; and unfortunately for me, I don’t have a green thumb. The last time a plant surprised me with blooms was seven years ago. It held so much significance with my state of being then, that it merited a blog post. Please click here to read about it.

Remembering that experience, I had to put some meaning into what I regard as another instance of synchronicity. I found online sources that say orange jasmine flowers symbolize good luck and optimism, which is why they are an ideal gift for someone who needs support and motivation in life. Thank you, Universe, for that gift!

My search also led me to a site dedicated to Sri Aurobindo and The Mother. Aurobindo was an Indian philosopher, yogi, and poet, among other things. He developed a practice called Integral Yoga and along with his spiritual collaborator Mirra Alfassa (whom he referred to as “The Mother”) founded the Sri Aurobindo Ashram.

The site has a section on the spiritual significance of flowers. The entry on the significance of orange jasmine has this interesting reference to the flower as “Peace in the vital.”

My understanding of the message:

  • Peace is a state of quietude where no disturbance can come.
  • Vital refers to our life force and has four aspects: (1) mental, which is expressed in thoughts, speech, emotions, desires, and other movements of the physical being; (2) emotional, which is the seat of various feelings; (3) central, which seats our stronger longings such as ambition, pride, fear, love of fame, attractions and repulsions, desires, passions and many vital energies; and (4) the lower vital, which deals with small desires and feelings we have in daily life, such as food, comfort, vanity, sexual desires, recognition, anger, blame, etc.
  • Behind all the vital nature in man lies a “true” vital. Unlike the four aspects previously mentioned, which are all seated on the surface and therefore limited and transient, this true vital is immobile, all powerful, all knowledgeable, and limitless. It represents the Divine Warrior in each one of us – without ego, pure, and perfect.
  • Peace can be attained not through circumstances surrounding us, but through inner contact with a higher consciousness. All our vitals are necessary to make us whole, but they are of value only if they have been purified and guided by the spiritual light and power. Peace in the vital depends not on circumstances or surroundings but on the inner contact with a higher consciousness. If we have peace in our lives, then cleaning the vitals becomes easy.
  • Put the Peace, feel the Peace, live the Peace, know the Peace.

Wishing everyone a blessed Feast of the Epiphany!

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Christmas in Paradise, Part 3

FIRE

Nightlife in Boracay won’t be complete without fire dancers. Combining dance moves and fire twirling requires long training and seamless execution. While highly fascinating to spectators, it can also be dangerous. The expression ‘playing with fire’ reminds us not to mess around with something really dangerous, as we could get burned.

Fire dancing has an interesting history that traces its origin to the Polynesians who used the practice as a tribal wartime ritual.  Swinging the poi or “ball on a string” developed wrist strength and flexibility needed in handling weapons. As it spread to different parts of the world, fire dancing was used for other purposes, including storytelling, festive celebrations, art, and even healing.  

Fire symbolizes many things to different people and cultures. On one end it represents passion, creativity, and desire; on the other end it stands for consuming heat and destruction. In the spiritual aspect, fire is used to symbolize hope, rebirth, and infinity as in “eternal flame.”

Whatever stage of life we are in, passion and compassion should never leave us. But just like the fire that glows brightest at night, it is in those darkest moments (and yes, our senior years) that we need to keep our inner fire burning.

Let’s seek what lights our fire. And whatever it is, may it be with the intent to make not just our own lives, but also those of others, better. Let’s be with those who fan our flames. Let’s feed our passion and remember to share our creative gifts with others.

Christmas in Paradise, Part 2

WIND

The weather started to act up in the evening of our Day 1. On the second day, we had to cross to the opposite wing of the hotel for breakfast, since the dining area on our side was full. Before breakfast was over, the hotel staff were reminding guests to stay far from the glass windows for their own safety.

Outside, the winds were gaining strength. While no one was looking, I pulled the drapes a little to the side and took shots of how things were outside. Within a short span, I saw how the trees by the pool swayed to the tune of the winds.

One minute the tune was soft and low.

The next minute it became louder as if to issue a warning; and not too long after, the loud whistle became a serious howl.

While waiting for the temporary lull before the storm takes a counter turn to unleash more power, I thought about some people, like hotel staff, who go about their assigned tasks even during holidays, to make sure that hotel guests remain safe and sound. 

There are many others out there who take on holiday shifts, bad weather and all, away from their families, in the service of others. Think of security personnel, airport staff, health and rescue workers. They sacrifice their own welfare to keep us out of harm’s way. Perhaps we can help them fulfill their mandates better by not taking risks and minding the odds. Best, let’s be nice to them and give them the respect and admiration they deserve as everyday heroes.

There are current studies being made in search of ways to lower wind speeds during storms and to reduce their destructive potential. Until that technology is in place, distance yourself from characters who claim they can control natural forces [remember the Mindanao Earthquake (B)ender?] by simply commanding the elements to ‘Stop!’ 🙂

(Up next, “Christmas in Paradise, Part 3”)

Christmas in Paradise (!?)

Wouldn’t it be nice to spend Christmas in paradise? At least that was the intent when, months before the holidays, my son booked a 3D2N family getaway in Boracay.

Smell the sea, feel the breeze, hear the ocean, be at ease.

It’s now common knowledge how typhoon Ursula’s wicked sense of timing ruined Christmas festivities for everyone in that part of the country. With torrential rains bringing floods, and raging winds downing all communication lines, including internet and cable TV connection, what else was there to do but sleep it out in the safety of our hotel room? Such expensive slumbers, and we couldn’t even bring those beds home. 😒

Yet that’s not everything that can be said about our dream holiday gone bad. Allow me to share my Christmas reflections in three parts: (1) Earth, (2) Wind, and (3) Fire.

EARTH

One cannot be on a beach without meaning to pick up some seashells on the seashore as souvenirs. I know, I know… this is illegal in many places, and especially in Boracay which has a municipal ordinance banning the collection of sand, pebbles, and seashells from its beaches. On Day 1 on the island, I spent about a couple of hours strolling on the beach before it got dark, hoping to spot some pieces of sea glass at least (since collecting shells was a no-no).

Was I on the wrong side of Boracay? Could it be because we were at the traditionally busiest Station in that part of paradise, where the surge of tourists may have adversely affected the abundance of seashells? I had no intention to break the law, and I was not tempted to do that either, because there was NOT one piece of shell to pick up in the first place. I would really like to know why there are no seashells on the shores of Station 2 in Boracay.

Why are Boracay beaches so white?

As far as my eyes could see, it was a long stretch of pearly white sand, and I couldn’t help asking why Boracay is so blessed. Please click here for an explanation.

There and then I dismissed the idea of finding what I was meaning to see. Instead I strolled barefoot and enjoyed the feel of powdery sand against my soles. That simple exercise now tells me that sometimes we need to hit the road not necessarily to make memories or collect souvenirs, but to simply be in the moment. And in that moment, for me, it was to connect with earth, my personal element — something I have not done in a long while. The sand felt so good as it yielded to my every step, while I imagined whatever undue fears and worries I had being sloughed off along with dead, callused skin. The best foot massage ever.

Thank you, Universe, for that wonderful grounding moment.

(Google-sourced photo)

(Continue to “Christmas in Paradise, Part 2”)

Is your animal sign lucky or unlucky in 2020?

Trust international feng shui master Marites Allen to raise the bar on knowledge sharing and excitement in her annual Feng Shui Convention. In the 15th staging of the event at Novotel Manila Araneta City last November 24, participants got interesting insights to new ways of attracting good fortune in the Year of the Metal Rat.

One segment of the presentation was devoted to a discussion of how vision boards, affirmations, and miracle mornings help increase our chances of manifesting our life goals. A wealth vase, which she put together with the help of co-host King of Talk, Dr. Boy Abunda, was raffled off later to a lucky delegate.

The merchandise area also offered a visual feast of fresh ideas to capture auspicious luck. Rows upon rows of colorful displays which, even for those who don’t practice feng shui, will be fascinating conversation pieces when placed in different sectors of the home or office.

But let’s cut to the chase and talk about which animal signs will be lucky or unlucky next year.  The Feng Shui Queen ranked the 12 animal signs based on their luck potential for 2020. And yes, I am absolutely pleased with her choices, which were clearly based on the Flying Stars Chart for the Year of the Metal Rat.

Here’s why: She ranked Ox, Tiger, Rooster, and Dog as the Top Four in the hierarchy of lucky animal signs for next year.

Why am I so stoked? My youngest son and I are both Ox-born. My husband is a Tiger. My eldest son is a Rooster, and my second son was born in the year of the Dog. So, it’s a big GO for my Team!

The Ox is the secret friend of the Rat, the ruling animal sign of 2020. The Northeast sector, which is the direction of the Ox and Tiger, hosts the Victory Star No. 1. New opportunities and financial gains await the Ox and the prospects may be enhanced by symbols of the Victory Horse, Golden Dragon and Horse, Wealth Vase, and many more wish-fulfilling accessories.

The Tiger shares the Victory Star with the Ox and is advised to display the Bejewelled Arowana, Wealth Ship, Laughing Buddha, and Ruyi in the NE direction. Tigers will also get a lot of help by wearing luck-enhancing amulets.

The Rooster enjoys the blessings of the Magnifying Star No. 9, which symbolizes future expansion, fame, and prosperity. This energy has flown to the West sector and may be boosted by placing images of the Prosperity Rooster and Monkey on Horse in this direction.  Wearing or carrying personal accessories, such as the Lucky 9 mantra charms and Victory Banner with Mantra, will be effective luck-boosters.

The Dog (and the Boar)  benefit from the Wealth and Success Star No. 8 located in the Northwest. To help manifest this type of luck, Dog- and Boar- born people are advised to display water fountains and infinity figures in their lucky sector and to always wear their wealth and success medallion.

The Dragon and Snake share the fortune brought by the Heaven Luck Star in the Southeast. This type of energy brings potential windfall and overall good fortune. They can also count on the help of influential people next year. Their must-have luck enhancers include the Endurance mantra and their Allies and Friends amulets.

The Sheep and Monkey are blessed with the Romance, Education, and Travel Luck in the Southwest. This star governs love relationships, travel, and self-development. To boost their luck potential for the year, these animal signs must display the Bejewelled Mystic Knot or Lotus, especially if they want to expand their family, or wear Peony-inspired accessories to boost their chances of finding their life partner.

The not-so-lucky Horse, Rat, and Rabbit, however, may have to face certain challenges in 2020.

The Horse faces health risks brought by the Illness Star No. 2 in the South. To counter the negative effects of this energy, the Horse-born must have anti-illness charms and Wu Lou-inspired amulets for health and longevity.

The Rat is seen to face the effects of the Conflict Star No. 3 in the North. If not controlled, this type of energy will manifest in arguments, betrayals, and even legal problems. To subdue these negativities, The Rat-born should carry Tai Sui protection and other peace and harmony accessories.

The Rabbit may be troubled by the afflicted energies in the East. The most dreaded Misfortune Star No. 5 brings risks to health, relationships, wealth and career. The best protection for these possible afflictions are the 5-element Pagoda (either as placement or personal amulets), Rhino and Elephant Plaque, and Allies and Friends symbols (Rabbit, Sheep, and Boar).

Fair warning to all animal signs: The Violence and Robbery Star has flown to the Center sector in 2020. The negative influence of this energy may cause loss of material things and good reputation, possible break-ins, betrayal of trust, and possible lawsuits. Everyone must have the proper feng shui cures, especially the Rhino and Elephant symbol in the Center. Wearing anti-robbery accessories, such as special medallions with mantra and the ultimate mantra protection ring will also help shield you from negativities.

All told, the Year of the Metal Rat may bring favorable and not so favorable prospects for each animal sign next year. Having been presented with the forecasts, the task is upon us to boost our chances for success and to address potential challenges where they appear.

For a more comprehensive reading of your luck prospects for the Year of the Metal Rat, check out the 2020 Marites Allen horoscope books, Feng Shui Planner, and Almanac at your nearest Frigga shop:   SM North Edsa: (+632 442 0113), SM Mall of Asia: (+63922- 4241219), SM Mega Mall: (+632 470-7661), SM Cebu: (0907-8198993 / 032 343-2062) or shop online at www.frigga.com.ph

As always, I take this proactive mindset at the start of every Lunar New Year:

Some things may be written in the stars,

but we have the power to reconfigure our own destiny.

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Gone but not forgotten (A tribute to Lea Ramos-Hiraishi)

(As published in Diyaryo Pinoy Bahrain Edition, July 25 – 31, 2019)

A couple of weeks after the article titled “When Hank Met Lea” was published in this newspaper, our dear friend Lea Ramos-Hiraishi breathed her last in the afternoon of July 18th. She passed on exactly 10 days after her 38th birthday, and 39 days short of what would have been her first wedding anniversary with the love of her life, Hank.

We were hoping and praying for a miracle, but God had better plans for her.

And so we grieve because she’s gone. She left a void so deep and very difficult to fill. But even in death, Lea – our sunshine girl, our poster girl for Hope and Courage – taught us precious lessons about life.

Thank you, dear friend, for showing us how to appreciate the gift of time. Indeed, life is short and should not be wasted on things that do not add value to its beauty.

Thank you for reminding us to make as many wonderful memories as possible with the people we love.

Thank you for making our lives brighter – with your radiant smile, your inner strength and positive outlook, your devotion to family and friends, your God-loving ways.

You will be missed; but your memory lives on in the hearts of those who love you deeply just as much as you cared for them.

Hank Hiraishi (Lea’s loving husband)

Thank you Lord for all your blessings and the opportunity to spend some time with my dear wife, Lea. Now she is with you O’ Lord. She will be an amazing angel for you in Heaven. Even though she is not with us, she still touches people’s hearts and lives. I know your purpose for me is not done yet and you will guide me on my path, Dear Lord. To my sweet Lea, you will always be in my heart, my love. You are finally in Heaven and watching over everyone you loved on this earth. Mahal na mahal kita and maraming salamat. Like what I used to say: “See you later, alligator!” I am going to miss you and your usual reply, “Alright, crocodile!” Babush, Babe!

Winwin Ramos

Tita Lea was a very strong person. She had stood as my mom ever since I was small. Siya yung isa sa tumanggap nang buong buo kung sino ako. Sabi pa niya, “kahit bakla ka, prove to them na talented ka at may mararating ka sa buhay.” Lagi niyang sinasabi sa aming mag-pipinsan na mag pray kay God at unahin lagi ang family. Always spread the Love to everyone around you. Siya nagsabi na kahit mahirap tayo, ipursige nyo na makatapos ng pag-aaral kasi yan ang mag aahon sa inyo sa kahirapan. I remember the time na sabi niya sa akin “Win, mag aral ka mag make-up, para ikaw na lagi mag papaganda sa akin.” And that time nag aral na ako mag make-up by my own and she’s very happy nung natuto na ako. I’ve become her stylist and her make-up artist. She’s my number one fan. I always remember those times na lagi kami nag-uusap ni tita about her problems, na ako lang daw nasasabihan niya kasi napaka-matured ko raw mag isip at marunong daw ako mag advise and make her laugh. Sobra kong mamimiss yung time na lagi ko siya kasama sa PCSO, Makati Med, at kahit saan siya magpunta. Sobra ako natatawa nung wedding niya kasi hindi pa raw nag-uumpisa, umiiyak na ako. Sobra ko po kasing mahal na mahal si Tita, eh. Napakarami niyang tinuro sa akin. She’s my Tita, Mom, and Best friend.

Jenny de Jesus Febrer

Lea Ramos is kind, generous, lovable and jolly. Kahit bago pa siya ikasal kay Hank at single pa siya when I met her in Carewell, at ako na may asawa’t anak, every time I share with her my situation she would always listen and give me advice. She would even send me stuff through Grab! Lea is a genuine friend, no wonder love siya ng maraming tao. I never heard her complain nor see her crying kahit alam ko na yung sakit nya was getting worse. Alam ko yung pakiramdam na yun dahil may cancer din ako pero pag-kausap or ka-chat ko sya, sya pa taga cheer up at taga encourage sa akin. She really is a treasure kaya mahirap tanggapin na wala na siya, marami siyang tinanim na kabutihan na mananatili sa puso at sa isip ko. Maraming salamat sa Diyos at naging malaking parte si Lea ng buhay ko at ng maraming tao. I will miss her so much.

Lhanie Destua

It pains me to say goodbye to a very strong and inspiring woman. There were times when she was obviously in pain, but she would still smile and say she was okay. Even on her last days when I tried to comfort her and urge her not to give up, she still managed to tell me to always enjoy life, with a smile on her face. She was truly one of a kind. Thank you so much, Lea, for inspiring me and many others. I will treasure all the good memories we’ve shared.

Marie Ganir

Last year, I gladly accepted when Lea asked me, along with other elder members of Carewell, to be a principal sponsor at her wedding. At Carewell, she exuded warmth and positivity, which we found amazing because she was able to cheer us up during those days when the cause of our sadness was her medical condition. When we found out that her cancer had metastasized, she didn’t want us to feel sad so as soon as she entered the center, she would be her cheerful self, always telling us that she was fine. She would assure us that she was fighting, and would fight while she could. She did her best to obtain those treatments through PCSO and other charitable organizations that help people in need of medical assistance. I was so glad that she met Hank. True enough, Hank did everything to make her comfortable until the end. We will miss her, our brave, sunshine girl. You will be in our hearts forever. God bless your beautiful soul.

Swanie Peralta

Lea is the epitome of courage and cheerfulness.  She taught us that we should never allow the thought of having cancer steal the enjoyment of happiness and other forms of wonderful blessings in our life. I feel blessed to have been close to Lea and experienced her extraordinary kind of friendship and company.

Gloria Robles

Lea touched my heart in so many ways – as my friend, Carewell sister, and goddaughter. She was a breadwinner at a very young age, which should be an inspiration to the young ones these days. She accepted her cancer with all valor – a truly admirable trait for someone so frail-looking. Lea is someone I truly consider a blessing in my life because she taught me the virtue of being kind to the unkind, forgiving to the unforgivable, loving to the unlovable and most of all, having a stronger faith in God’s unconditional mercy and promises. Her passing will never be a goodbye…it will just be a reason now to look forward to our own time to meet God when our mission here on earth is done.

Lea Flores

I met Lea through a cancer foundation, ICanServe, then she introduced me to a cancer support group, Carewell Community…that’s when we became very close. When my cancer recurred a year after Lea’s, I was so depressed that I didn’t want to go out anymore. But seeing her positivity despite her numerous metastasis, I asked myself who am I to feel so low? Lea’s jolly disposition is very contagious. We share the same faith (both Christians) and we both believe that our God is bigger than our cancer. We prayed together and she was a great inspiration and influence. She touched many people’s lives and her memories will live forever. My dear sweet Lea, I miss you so much but will be content with remembering our treasured memories together. I love you my friend, sister, and inaanak.

Lea’s Facebook posts about keeping love, hope, and faith in the time of cancer
Lea (rightmost) with some family members celebrating her mom’s birthday
With other Carewell members who actively supported the passing of the National Integrated Cancer Control Act

Aloha, sweet Lea

Barely two weeks after I posted my piece titled “When Hank Met Lea,” our good friend Lea Ramos-Hiraishi breathed her last in the afternoon of July 18th.

Exactly 10 days after her 38th birthday, and 39 days short of what would have been her first wedding anniversary with the love of her life, Hank.

We hoped and prayed for a miracle, but God had better plans for her.

And so we grieve because she’s gone. She left a void so deep and very difficult to fill. But even in death, Lea – our sunshine girl, our poster girl for Hope and Courage – taught us many lessons about life.

  • Thank you, dear friend, for showing us how to appreciate the gift of time. True, life is too short and should not be wasted on things that do not add value to its beauty.
With other Carewell members who advocated for the passing of RA No. 11215 or the National Integrated Cancer Control Act
A jubilant Lea on the cover of Carewell magazine, holding a copy of RA No. 11215 approved in February this year.


  • Thank you for reminding us to make as many wonderful memories as possible with the people we love.


  • Thank you for making our lives brighter – with your smile, your inner strength, your devotion to family and friends, your strong faith, and God-loving ways.

You will be missed; but your memory lives on.

The day God called you home

God looked around his garden
And He found an empty place.
He then looked down upon this earth,
And saw your tired face.

He put his arms around you
And lifted you to rest.
God’s garden must be beautiful
He always takes the best.

He knew that you were suffering
He knew you were in pain
He knew that you would never
Get well on earth again.

He saw that the road was getting rough.
And the hills are hard to climb,
So He closed your weary eyelids
And whispered “Peace be thine”.

It broke our hearts to lose you
But you didn’t go alone
For part of us went with you
That day that God called you home

(Author unknown)