Your Horoscope for the week of Oct. 14-20, 2015 (page B6 of the Manila Mail)


For the week of Oct. 14-20, 2015

ARIES (Mar 21-Apr 19) You may be in a quandary, wondering what to do next. Have you thought of simply asking for guidance, from within you and from the angels? Weekly mantra: All I have to do is ask.
TAURUS (Apr 20-May 20) You feel that you have a great idea, but before running away with it, make sure you’ve done your research. If you have, then this idea looks like a winner. Weekly mantra: I am thankful for the inspiration.
GEMINI (May 21-June 20) If you’re feeling stretched thin from stress, now is the week to recharge and honor your sense of playfulness. Just remember that there’s a difference between childlike and childish. Weekly mantra: I am grateful for feeling young again.
CANCER (June 21-July 22) By a sense of comfort and familiarity, you may recognize someone as the new partner you’re meant to have. Don’t overlook casual meetings which may lead to deeper friendships. Weekly mantra: I am open to new experiences.
LEO (July 23-Aug 22) Be courageous in following the new direction that life seems to take you on. If you feel a bit overwhelmed, then arm yourself with knowledge through training and other means of education. Weekly mantra: Deep within, I know that I am already prepared for this.
VIRGO (Aug 23-Sept 22) Make sure that you know which side you’re on. If you know in your heart that you’re a force for goodness and love, then making decisions based on that knowing should be easy, not hard. Weekly mantra: I am a positive person.
LIBRA (Sept 23-Oct 22) Until when will you work for someone else? If you’re called to be an entrepreneur of a product or service, then go for it. Weekly mantra: I am going to let my light shine.
SCORPIO (Oct 23-Nov 21) Ah, to be young at heart and in love again! These feelings are actually making you more joyful and genuine now. Weekly mantra: I am no longer afraid to love.
SAGITTARIUS (Nov 22-Dec 21) Angels are all around you. If you have a burden right now, in your heart or mind, then give it up to them so they can lighten your load. Weekly mantra: I thank my angels for helping me.
CAPRICORN (Dec 22-Jan 19) Stuck in the here and now? Well, good for you, you’re finally being grounded in the present instead of worrying about the future. Find better uses for your time and furrowed brow. Weekly mantra: I fully thrive in the here and now.
AQUARIUS (Jan 20-Feb 18) What do you really want? When you decide what these are, then set an intention and manifest your desires. See them come true! Weekly mantra: I am ready and deserving of these blessings.
PISCES (Feb 19-Mar 20) Your life purpose is actually to enter a field where you can give joy both to yourself and others. Almost a no-brainer, huh? The key is first to serve a purpose, and then the purpose serves you. Weekly mantra: I am clear about my life purpose (or if not, then a visit to a consultant may be in order).

“The astrology of choosing a wedding date” in this week’s issue of the Manila Mail (Oct. 7-13, 2015; page A5)

Pilipinasblitz Forever
A column by Bles Carmona
For the week of Oct. 7-13, 2015

The astrology of choosing a wedding date

Every now and then, you have read my writings about metaphysical topics like astrology. Did you know that aside from helping us gain a deeper understanding of ourselves and the people in our lives, astrology can also pinpoint an ideal date for important events like a major surgery, buying a house, or – wait for it – getting married?

You know, as astrologers, we often get asked: “Why should we even bother to find this ideal marriage date and time that you’re talking about? One day is the same as another, as long as both parties are serious and mature in their intent to marry.”

Ummm, yes and no. While it’s true that to those who pay no mind about the art of astrology seem to rise and fall with the fortunes and fates all their own, those who do honor astrological help just want an extra insurance from the Universe that this major event in their life that they are planning is “favored” by the signs which can be clearly seen in the event chart. Every event has a definite beginning, like a child’s birth or the founding of a business, which, with a competent astrologer interpreting the signs in the chart, leads to enlightenment, guidance, and a glimpse into some trends for the future. The same can be said of a marriage. Its event chart stands for its beginning, and this could be made as positive and auspicious as possible by consciously choosing the date, time, and place of the ceremony.

By the way, the process is called a “wedding election.” The astrologer, along with the prospective couple, put their heads together to “elect” the date and time of the marriage, which is technically defined as the moment the couple say their “I do’s.”

It starts when the couple approaches the astrologer to help them determine the most auspicious date and time out of all the possibilities they are considering. For example, the bride may say, “I want to wait for my Auntie Evelyn to come back from her vacation, so it must be sometime after August…” or something like that. The couple lays out their conditions, requirements, and limitations. The astrologer of course has the obligation to state at the outset that there is no one “perfect” date and time. What is most important during an appointment for a wedding election is the couple’s willingness to compromise between themselves and with the astrologer, who of course may have some “strong” ideas of her own based on the astrological principles she knows. But don’t worry. At this point the astrologer is doing some internal compromising of her own, too. Out of, let’s say, oh, maybe 15 or 16 “electional rules for marriage,” it’s very, very rare that all of the heavenly conditions being “required” are satisfied by the resulting event chart.

For instance, you’ve heard about Mercury retrograde, right? Three times a year for 21-25 days each time, this planet, as seen from our Earthly vantage point, appears to be going backward on its path. Aside from Mercury’s symbolic association with communication (Mercury the fleet-footed and winged messenger), electronics, technology, and transportation, Mercury also rules contracts, which marriage obviously is. Well, one of the electional rules for marriage is to avoid a wedding date when the said planet is retrograde, since there is said to be a tendency “to go back on the contract” later on. Even more important is to find a date when the planet Venus is not retrograde. As the significator of marriage, marital harmony, and yes, love itself, Venus should be going direct in the event chart. It’s easy enough to avoid Venus Rx since it’s only retrograde for six weeks for every 20 months or 40 days every two years, depending on the Venus cycle.

And what about the role of the Sun and the Moon? The great astrologer Marion March, to whose work, “Electional Rules for Marriage,” we will be referring, states, “Try to have the Sun and Moon (portraying the groom and bride) in good aspect to each other.” What are the good aspects? A conjunction (0-8 degrees), sextile (60 degrees), or a trine (120 degrees), which describe the distance between two planets by right ascension. It’s easy enough to see these aspects in a natal or event chart, but for now I urge you to use your imagination. For instance, in the event chart of a couple I know who wanted to wed by the end of February 2016, it had the Sun in Pisces and the Moon in Scorpio, and they are trine each other or 120 degrees apart. Taking into account the other “rules,” the Moon in Scorpio is actually to be avoided since the Moon is in its fall in Scorpio. Here is Ms. Marion March again: “Avoid the Moon in Scorpio where it is in its fall and where it can be secretive and possessive, not exactly conducive to a happy relationship. A Libra Moon, on the other hand, works well in a marriage electional chart since it seeks harmony and balance. Strong and well matched couples seem to do well with the Moon in Leo.” Contemporary astrologer Ms. April Elliott Kent of Big Sky Astrology has this to say: “Avoid Moon in Aries, Scorpio, or Capricorn, unless very well-aspected.” The couple in question may just have to live with this since they specified that they need to be married by the last week of February 2016, and the chosen date harmonizes with their individual charts – the guy has his birth Moon in Scorpio, which echoes the event chart’s Moon placement, and the girl has natal Moon in Pisces, which conjuncts the Sun in Pisces of the event chart. Going back to the Venus placement in this couple’s event chart, its location is right at the Midheaven, right out there for everyone to see, which may be a comment on the “public” quality of their union, as if they would be a benevolent “example” of some sort. Furthermore, Venus has some favorable aspects in the event chart like Venus sextile Uranus (the facility to love and surprise each other), and Venus sextile Saturn (love, teaching/learning, karma). As for the Ascendant or Rising Sign of the event chart (the sign at the cusp of the first house), it is preferable that it be one of the Fixed signs (Taurus, Leo, Scorpio, or Aquarius), and the number of degrees no fewer than 3 or no more than 27 degrees rising. Our couple in question has 24 degrees rising in the sign of Taurus, a pretty solid, persevering, and stable sign.

Like I said, there are no 100% ideal charts, but within the constraints presented for consideration in a consultation, it is still an art to determine the final event chart for a couple who approaches an astrologer for this purpose. I wrote about this topic to give interested individuals and couples a choice. You are making an important decision in your lifetime. Provided that you are not being coerced into marriage, then you have a choice about when and where you want this symbol of marital union to commence. At this point, I would like to thank my astrology mentor, Ms. Linea Van Horn, for teaching me the rudiments of determining wedding electional charts in her usual competent, animated, and insightful manner. It has always been a joy to exchange ideas with Ms. Linea because she listens and understands so well. Maraming salamat po!

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Your Horoscope for the week of Oct. 7-13, 2015 (page B6 of the Manila Mail)


For the week of Oct. 7-13, 2015

ARIES (Mar 21-Apr 19) Because of your newfound openness to higher love and guidance, you are protected despite the changes happening in your life right now. Expect good outcomes. Weekly mantra: I have faith in Divine guidance.
TAURUS (Apr 20-May 20) Whether in a business or personal capacity, someone new will make themselves detectable by your radar soon. Be prepared to either welcome – or take cover. Weekly mantra: I will recognize my new partner.
GEMINI (May 21-June 20) How do you attract, balance, or heal an earthly relationship? Spirit says that you must cultivate your connection with the Divine first. Weekly mantra: I feel safe and loved.
CANCER (June 21-July 22) You are good at holding on, but sometimes you need to let go. Try to give as well as receive, for the sake of your health, balance, and energy. Weekly mantra: I am in tune with the rhythm of the universe.
LEO (July 23-Aug 22) Your current reaction to stress needs a makeover. Instead of overeating, for example, please find more life-affirming ways of dealing with your worries. Ask the angels for guidance. Weekly mantra: I will cleanse and detoxify my body.
VIRGO (Aug 23-Sept 22) Find a way to express your innate artistry. When was the last time you really lost yourself in doing something creative? Weekly mantra: I will start, continue, and finish that creative task.
LIBRA (Sept 23-Oct 22) The past is gone. Why do you continue to hold on to it? Extract the lessons and the love, but otherwise please leave that burden behind. Weekly mantra: I am focused on the present.
SCORPIO (Oct 23-Nov 21) Address the issue of children: those around you and the child within you. Remember that these young ones (including the one within you) need love, attention, and nurture. Weekly mantra: I open my heart to love and care for the children who need me.
SAGITTARIUS (Nov 22-Dec 21) What absolute joy to finally meet one, maybe two, real friends who are tuned in to your wavelength. Consider yourself blessed and be a good friend to them as well. Weekly mantra: I thank Divine Spirit for my real friends.
CAPRICORN (Dec 22-Jan 19) You have received guidance about a matter you’ve been thinking about. Trust this and your instincts to lead you to a satisfactory resolution of the matter at hand. Weekly mantra: My prayers have been answered.
AQUARIUS (Jan 20-Feb 18) You’ve been detaching from the Earth in pursuit of spiritual things. There is a balance between spiritual and material that you know you can master. Resolve to be more grounded. Weekly mantra: My attention and work are grounded here on Earth.
PISCES (Feb 19-Mar 20) You know how it is to feel less confident or secure than others. Having overcome those feelings yourself, you are now a fount of acceptance and love for other lost souls. Help them without losing yourself in the process. Weekly mantra: I love and heal myself and others.

“Showing our appreciation on World Teachers’ Day” in this week’s issue of the Manila Mail (Sept. 30-Oct. 6, 2015; page A5)

Pilipinasblitz Forever
A column by Bles Carmona

For the week of Sept 30-Oct 6, 2015

Showing our appreciation on World Teachers’ Day

Happy World Teachers’ Day! According to the Holiday Insights website, this special day is always celebrated on the 5th of October. If you could believe it, October 5 is also Do Something Nice Day. Yes! What an inspired pair of special days, huh? Doing something nice for someone else or for several persons almost always evokes a pleasant response: at the very least a smile and a “thanks” directed at you, and at the most you could inspire that person to do something nice for someone else, too. Watch what happens when you do something nice on October 5, but you get double the points if you do something nice for somebody every day, and triple the rewards when the recipient of your “nice” deed pays it forward to another person. Being “naughty” may give you a rakish image and temperament, but being “nice” is the goodness of heart that drives humanity to achieve its greatest feats of altruism and kindness.

Well, for my part in Do Something Nice Day, I decided that I will go back through my long-term memory files and recall the many teachers and mentors in my life. Before I get lost in memory lane later on, I would just like to say at the outset that I thank each of them for their guidance and inspiration. First off, there’s my kindergarten teacher at the Philippine Normal University (PNU), Mrs. Felisa Gamboa Tan, circa 1975-76. Because Mrs. Tan asked me from time to time to lead the class in singing or to make a list of the “noisy pupils” in class, at five years old I got of taste of how it was to lead. Through her tutelage, I felt the bursting elation of being able to read and write for the first time. Because we had recess (our favorite subject, what else?) and play time on the grounds, my classmates and I learned the rudiments of getting along with each other. I also remember Ms. Leonora Oriondo of III-Narra because she had faith in me even when I was a bit slow on the uptake in Math, which is what she happens to be teaching in third grade. Because she was willing to tutor me, I went on to become the Most Outstanding Student of the Math Club, of which she was the adviser.

After fourth grade at PNU, our family made a move to San Pedro, Laguna and so I had to transfer to San Pedro Elementary School (SPES), or what they called “Central.” My fifth grade teacher was Ms. Gloria Austria (now Mrs. Mendoza), an Aquarius who had very high standards in academics, behavior, and life in general. It became a challenge for me to impress her with what I can do. I was the academic #1 student who was also taking my turn selling Nutri-Buns, becoming assigned cleaner along with my group once a week, and winning a drawing or essay-writing contest or two. During my sixth and last grade (no, we didn’t have K-12 yet back then), my teacher was the equally “mataray” Mrs. Juliana Almeida, a Scorpio whose bark is worse than her bite and has a marshmallow heart underneath her temper and voice of steel. When I last visited SPES in 2008 – surprise! Mrs. Almeida is still there, faithfully teaching which is what she does best. She even told me that she read my Youngblood essay in the Philippine Daily Inquirer which is circa Dec. 1997 so she’s sort of updated at that time about my comings and goings thus far.

At the Manila Science High School, I can name some of my teachers and recall why it was pleasurable to learn from them. From my I-Lavoisier days, our class adviser Ms. Hermelinda Rodriguez teaches General Science. I presented my report on the phases of the Moon in class, and she asked me to share that paper with another section. That experience probably had something to do with my growing fascination for the astronomical and astrological facets of the Universe. In II-Dalton, our class adviser was Mrs. Ester Garcia who taught Statistics and Probability. She was so sweet and even-tempered. Another math teacher I had in 2nd year that I liked was Mrs. Juana “Jane” Geronimo, who showed me how math and words in the form of proof can make these abstract concepts more understandable. During 3rd year in III-Bohr, our class adviser was another sweet-tempered lady, Mrs. Libertad “Libby” Javier. She taught Pilipino, and we tackled Dr. Jose P. Rizal’s “Noli Me Tangere.” On the English subject side, our section’s teacher was Ms. Nilda Cas, whose penmanship was so remarkably arty. Ms. Cas asked us to break into groups, write a one-act play, and then stage it. Our group created the play “Chiaroscuro,” which further developed my interest in theater arts and writing. Ms. Mirasol De Silva, our adviser in IV-Copernicus, was my idea of a “dalagang Pilipina:” soft-spoken yet righteous in her manner and demeanor. We thought she would remain a “matandang dalaga” but we heard later on that she got married. She took us through a journey of mores via the Rizal novel “El Filibusterismo.”

In college at the University of the Philippines-Manila, one of our first teachers was Mrs. Tayag who was somehow related to Nilo Tayag from the ‘70s First Quarter Storm. We didn’t have the usual history textbook written by Gregorio Zaide. Instead we worked through the textbooks written by Renato Constantino, who had a leftist view of Philippine history. With our Humanities teacher of two years, Mr. Victorino “Ino” Manalo, the memory that stayed with me was our final exam-presentation. For our group, we had to dramatize the legend of the Holon volcano in T’boli, South Cotabato. I composed the lyrics and melody which, as I sang at the back of the room while playing my guitar, served as the narrative while my group mates did the acting onstage. After our number, there was spontaneous applause from our classmates and then Mr. Manalo focused everybody’s attention to me, and even now I could still remember the warmth I felt inside when my classmates looked at me and my guitar at the back of the room and then gave me a thunderous ovation. Another teacher I couldn’t forget was Marita Reyes, MD who at the time was the Dean of the University of the Philippines College of Medicine (UPCM). She was so approachable and down-to-earth, and during an interview with her for a forgotten class activity or project, “Tita Maritz” peopled my imagination with real stories of her dramatic encounters with patients, colleagues, and – get this – her first “medical” love, which turned out to be Biochemistry. She told me that the first time she heard a biochem lecture, her heart started palpitating with excitement, and right then and there, she decided that after she receives her medical degree, she will be a biochem teacher. She made good on her promise to herself and inspired my generation of medical students, circa late ‘80s.

I didn’t get to finish my medical degree, but I got a practical education along the way. I belong to a family of teachers, to all of whom I continue to be thankful. When I got to California in late 2004, another chapter opened up in my life as an astrologer and tarot card reader. Whenever I am giving a tarot reading, for example, THAT sends my heart pumping with joy and excitement because of the privilege I’m being given of helping another human being. To this end, I also would like to acknowledge two of my teachers in astrology: Ms. Jeanne Russo of Arizona, who tutored me as I took the Math correspondence course of the American Federation of Astrology (AFA) from 2005-07; and Ms. Linea Van Horn, who gave me an introduction to intermediate astrology and is one of my fairy godmothers in the San Francisco Bay Area. To all of you, my teachers, please accept my no-expiration thanks and appreciation!


Your Horoscope for the week of Sept. 30-Oct. 6, 2015 (page B6 of the Manila Mail)


For the week of Sept. 30-Oct. 6, 2015

ARIES (Mar 21-Apr 19) Ask Divine Spirit to help you take care of your material needs (money to pay the bills, or for food and shelter). Your mind would then be free to seek your spiritual path. Weekly mantra: I follow the way of work and prayer.
TAURUS (Apr 20-May 20) You are the co-creator of your reality. Therefore it’s very important that you think only positive thoughts, as these are manifesting as quickly as you can think of them. Weekly mantra: I am a positive thinker.
GEMINI (May 21-June 20) Keep your heart and mind lifted up despite the apparent confusion all around you. Your quick thinking and ability to multi-task will save the day. Weekly mantra: I am moved by the spirit behind the mundane.
CANCER (June 21-July 22) It’s not easy to go against the popular views, but if you want to remain true to yourself, then do the research to back up your claim. Weekly mantra: I am deep.
LEO (July 23-Aug 22) Your thoughts are becoming instant reality right before your eyes. Realize your power so that you follow up opportunity with action. Weekly mantra: I am wired for success.
VIRGO (Aug 23-Sept 22) Now you can appreciate the many viewpoints that exist to tantalize you with their possibilities. Be brave and experiment with what works best for you. Weekly mantra: I am a discerning seeker.
LIBRA (Sept 23-Oct 22) Serendipity is the rule of the month while the Sun is in your sign. You will indeed discover remarkable things by accident, and be the better person for it. Weekly mantra: I maintain my ability to be pleasantly surprised.
SCORPIO (Oct 23-Nov 21) One thing you know at this point is that you’ve had it with drama and drama queens/kings. Aim to simplify your life by minimizing contact with these energy drainers. Weekly mantra: I declare myself free.
SAGITTARIUS (Nov 22-Dec 21) From Napoleon Hill: “What the mind can conceive and believe, the mind can achieve.” This could very well be your rallying cry as you challenge yourself to greater heights. Weekly mantra: I will just do it.
CAPRICORN (Dec 22-Jan 19) Forgiveness is a two-way transaction. Surely the blame can’t be only upon one side. Sit down and talk it out. Let love win in the end. Weekly mantra: I am compassionate.
AQUARIUS (Jan 20-Feb 18) Whatever you perceive with your senses may be illusory. Look beyond that to the real spiritual situation and respond accordingly. Weekly mantra: I am holding on to my faith.
PISCES (Feb 19-Mar 20) In a world full of questions, you may panic because you don’t know all the answers. However, you have always been good at sensing the question behind the question. Build on that. Weekly mantra: I am sensitive to nuances so that I can be helpful.

“Once upon a sacred animal totem class” in this week’s issue of the Manila Mail (Sept. 23-29, 2015; page A5)

Pilipinasblitz Forever
A column by Bles Carmona
For the week of Sept. 23-29, 2015

Once upon a sacred animal totem class

The setting: Angel Light Books in Berkeley one Saturday afternoon. The topic: sacred animal totems. The instructor: Ms. Evelyn Mazza, When we speak about animal totems, we also need to speak about the shaman. A shaman is a healer who traverses the spiritual path in an elevated state of consciousness. The shaman can cure people, drive away evil spirits, and generally perform spiritual or “priest-like” functions for the community to which she/he belongs.

Ms. Evelyn comes from a Filipino family whose maternal lineage has the gift of being able to do “readings.” She started having prophetic dreams when she was about 8-10 years old, but she was too busy leading her life that she really didn’t pay these dreams any mind. Later on, already in the USA, she took her Bachelor’s degree and graduate courses in Family Counseling, and the changes in her life led her to the spiritual path. Here is how the Angel Light Metaphysical School website describes her: “Evelyn is an advocate for spiritual development, earth magic, and higher consciousness. As a practicing psychic medium, psychometry reader, healer, angel card reader, she conducts classes every 3rd Saturday of the month at Angel Light Bookstore. She offers mini psychic/past life readings on the 1st Saturday of the month as well as private phone and house readings. Evelyn teaches the Fairy Magic Class, Animal Totem Class, and the Mediumship Course.”

Sacred animal totems, the topic of the class, are part of an approach called Earth-Centered Spirituality. Usually associated with Native American spiritual practices, these animals are our spirit guides, flanking us from the “nine” directions, which are: North, South, East, West, above, below, right, left, and center. Here are a couple of Navajo prayers that the class started with while the room was being smudged with sage:

“I honor the East, Spirit of Swan, power of honesty.
I honor the South, Spirit of Cougar, power of service.
I honor the West, Spirit of Michael, power of courage.
I honor the North, Spirit of Deer, power of compassion.”
(Cowan, T. “Shamanism as a Spiritual Practice for Daily Life,” 1996)

“Beauty behind me, with it I wander
Beauty below me, with it I wander
Beauty above me, with it I wander
Beauty all around me, with it I wander
In old age traveling, with it I wander
I am on the beautiful trail, with it I wander.”
(Holtzin, R.K. “Beauty Lost: Glen Canyon Before Lake Powell,” 2015)

Animal spirit guides are with us in our unique shamanic journey, representing patterns of energy within us, our talents, and potentials. By knowing our power animals, their qualities flow more positively within our energy fields. Ms. Evelyn asked me about the animal I feel an affinity with, so I said “dog,” and she said that loyalty and intelligence is important to me, as well as a sense of playfulness. During the guided meditation, for which I had to relax, take deep breaths, and be still, Ms. Evelyn asked me what I saw.

Bles: I see the color brown.
Evelyn: Brown… that’s very grounding. Do you see any animal wanting to communicate with you?
Bles: I see a “maya” (a sparrow)…
Evelyn: And what is the maya’s message to you?
Bles: It wants me to be lighthearted.
Evelyn: Yes, it wants you to soar. To be free. What else do you see?
Bles: I see a brown bear.

Ms. Evelyn said that the brown bear stands for groundedness, strength against adversity, and being in touch with the cycles of the Earth and of nature. In my mind I was remembering an intriguing novel about bear-worship I once read called “Shardik” by Richard Adams, author of my other favorite novel, “Watership Down” which in turn is about hares. I didn’t know that turtles are also emblematic of groundedness and slowing down one’s pace in life, or that snakes are powerfully connected to the life force and primal energy. When I think of snakes, I am imagining the green snake in the fictional novel “Marie Laveau” by Francine Prose, the book that started me on the road to metaphysics when I read it at 13 years old. All of these thoughts and memories were evoked during the guided meditation and now as I write this afterwards. Being a firm believer that everything is connected and that there are meaningful coincidences, I think that my spirit animals are urging me to re-establish my connection to the Source so that the mundane complexities of life do not overwhelm me or make me afraid. Like Ms. Evelyn advised me, “You just need to prioritize.”

Ms. Evelyn Mazza has raised readings to an art form. She does the following: Aura, Spirit Guide, House, and Past Life Readings. Next up is her “Psychic Development for Beginners” class, a three-Friday class (Sept. 25, Oct. 2, and Oct. 9) to be held from 7-9 PM at Angel Light Books. In this class you will learn basic grounding, shielding, and protection techniques. There will be guided meditations to connect with your spirit guides. You will also begin to develop your clairvoyant (clear-seeing), clairaudient (clear-hearing), clairsentient (clear-feeling), and claircognizant (clear-knowing) skills. You will also exchange readings with each other. If any of these is striking a resonant chord in you, you can email Ms. Evelyn Mazza at for inquiries about this upcoming Psychic Development for Beginners class.

But for now, because of the class, I know what my sacred animal totems are. I will be the woman who runs with the dog, lumbers with the bear, and soars with the sparrow.

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Your Horoscope for the week of Sept. 23-29, 2015 (page B6 of the Manila Mail)


For the week of Sept. 23-29, 2015

ARIES (Mar 21-Apr 19) What is work to you? Find out what inspires you about it, so that when stressors appear, and they will, you can always go back to your unique reasons for working. Weekly mantra: I am called to a higher purpose through my work.
TAURUS (Apr 20-May 20) Be generous with your compliments if you like the way people do their work. One of these days, your spirits may need uplifting and the ones you praised will literally return the compliment. Weekly mantra: I am an encourager.
GEMINI (May 21-June 20) This is a time for rejoicing and networking. This is not the time for bitterness or regret. You’ll realize that the past is truly behind you. Weekly mantra: I exult in the present.
CANCER (June 21-July 22) You will realize who your friends are because they tell you the truth yet with a loving attitude. To the others who may hurt you, exercise maximum tolerance. Weekly mantra: I am forgiving.
LEO (July 23-Aug 22) Normally you feel that you deserve certain things in life, but this week, you feel you can do with less than your fair share. Boost your self-confidence by reminding yourself of your gifts and capabilities. Weekly mantra: I am assertive.
VIRGO (Aug 23-Sept 22) At this time, you are open to subliminal influences, visions, and dreams. Pay attention to them because they are keys to navigating your waking life well. Weekly mantra: I am open to the promptings of my subconscious.
LIBRA (Sept 23-Oct 22) Sometimes an array of choices confuses you. Maybe you can limit your selection to the top three, and then choose which option is immediately useful. Weekly mantra: I make well-thought out choices.
SCORPIO (Oct 23-Nov 21) Take the necessary precautions regarding your health and safety. Check your house, vehicle, medical supplies, and other necessities for completeness and currency. Weekly mantra: I am proactive with my wellbeing.
SAGITTARIUS (Nov 22-Dec 21) You need to reach out if you feel you need more emotional support from family and friends. There’s no sense bearing your burdens alone when you realize you’re a part of one big caring network. Weekly mantra: I reach out for help in my time of need.
CAPRICORN (Dec 22-Jan 19) Always the hard worker, you may find the value of rest overrated. It isn’t. Even the best minds pause every now and then to recharge before resuming productive activities. Weekly mantra: I balance action with rest.
AQUARIUS (Jan 20-Feb 18) You realize how blessed you are that you are in the field that you truly want to be. Not everyone is equally as lucky. Consider that when interacting with colleagues. Weekly mantra: I am compassionate toward my co-workers.
PISCES (Feb 19-Mar 20) You are sensitive to the people and environment you are in. Now if you yourself are planning to make an impression, then unleash your creativity and give it your best, even outrageous, shot. Weekly mantra: I am bold and inspired.

“Thankfulness and National Grandparents’ Day” in this week’s issue of the MANILA MAIL (Sept. 9-15, 2015; page A5)

Pilipinasblitz Forever
A column by Bles Carmona
For the week of Sept. 9-15, 2015

Thankfulness and National Grandparents’ Day

We have so much to be thankful for! First, I am thankful because the column I wrote a month ago, “Pistahan notes: Bataan Legacy, our history (vol. 26 no. 32; Aug. 12-18, 2015, page A5),” encouraged three readers to write me, and so I forwarded their emails to Ms. Cecilia I. Gaerlan, the founder of the Bataan Legacy Historical Society. I want to help Tita Cecilia by drumming up support for the upcoming opening of an important exhibit at the Main San Francisco Public Library (SFPL) this coming Sept. 12, called “World War II in the Philippines: The Legacy of Two Nations,” An Exhibition and Conference. For this reason, allow me to clear this writing space for Ms. Gaerlan who wrote the following press release:

“In commemoration of the 70th anniversary of the end of World War II, Bataan Legacy Historical Society, Memorare Manila 1945, the San Francisco Public Library and the Philippine Consulate General present “World War II in the Philippines – The Legacy of Two Nations,” an exhibition and a conference. The four-month exhibition will open on Saturday, September 12, 2015 at 10:30AM at the San Francisco Main Public Library (Third Floor) located at 100 Larkin St., San Francisco, CA. The Conference will take place on Saturday, October 24, 2015 at 10AM at the Koret Auditorium of the San Francisco Main Public Library. Both events are open to the public. Admission is Free but Registration through Eventbrite (Bataan Legacy) is recommended for the Conference. The Exhibition from September 12, 2015 to January 9, 2016 will depict the story of World War II in the Philippines, a seminal piece of history that has been mostly forgotten. The exhibition will present a compelling story of the sacrifices of Filipino, American and Allied soldiers and civilians. One million civilians perished in the Philippines during WWII and its capital Manila became the second most devastated city in the world after Warsaw. It will depict the Bataan Death March, one of the most horrific events during WWII. Keynote speaker will be Vice Admiral Charles W. Ray, U.S. Coast Guard Commander of the Pacific Area and Defense Force West. The Conference on October 24 will feature speakers from different perspectives of the war. WWII veterans Chief Johnny Johnson of the USS San Francisco, the most decorated carrier during WWII and Maj. General Richard Keith of the 511th Parachute Infantry will be among the speakers. Veterans and survivors of the war will also act as panelists. State Superintendent Tom Torlakson of the California Department of Education will give the opening keynote speech while Congressman Mike Honda will give recognition to the WWII veterans. For further information, please visit our website at”

Like I said at the start, we have so much to be thankful for. Did you know that in 1978, then President Jimmy Carter declared the Sunday after Labor Day as National Grandparents’ Day? So this year, we’re celebrating this special day on Sept. 13 (Sunday), which is just a day after the opening of the World War II exhibit at the main SFPL sponsored by the Bataan Legacy Historical Society. For a couple of weeks now, we’ve been talking about gratitude, thankfulness, “pagtanaw ng utang na loob” (paying back a debt of gratitude). Nothing exemplifies these concepts more fully than the way we love and respect our elders. I hope you make sure that you spend quality time with your grandparents in the next couple of days. Actually, the ideal scenario is that it should be Grandparents’ day every day. Why? Because most of them (I’m saying most of them) are fun to be around, oozing with gravity yet not above bribing you with a sweet or a cookie. And even if your grandpa or grandma is a little bit feisty or forgetful or a terror, you still cannot deny the fact that without them, your parents wouldn’t have been alive and you wouldn’t even have been born. So this life that you’ve been taking for granted is actually rooted in years of shared and valuable family history, securing your place firmly on earth and under the skies to continue the legacy of your blessings. Many people spend a lot of money tracing their ancestry, but you and I can actually hold and embrace our grandpa and grandma right here and now, if they’re still living. What’s keeping us from doing so?

Here’s my mini-tribute to my grandparents. My Mom’s father, Prudente Ragasa, was a law student who became a high-ranking guerilla officer in the boondocks of Santa Catalina, Ilocos Sur. Lolo Puding was killed in action so my Mom didn’t even grow up with a father. My Lola Remedios (Meding) Lazam-Ragasa, my Mom’s mother, was a brave and enterprising Aries woman who raised my Uncle Jess and my Mom Aida by teaching grade school and making clothes through her Singer sewing machine which is “de-padyak.” Lola Meding remarried, and it was to Lolo Juan (Johnny) Santos, a good-looking Virgo teacher-administrator who was so generous to us kids with presents and coins. Imagine, this was in the early 1970s, and he would give me 25 centavos per single white hair that I plucked from his head! With Lolo Johnny, my Lola Meding Santos had three more children, my two aunts and only uncle– all of whom later had their respective partners and children. Lola Meding had a younger sister, Lola Tomasa (Chata) Lazam, who in turn had a BFF, my Lola Candelaria (Andie) Manarang. Lola Chata has passed on; Lola Andie is still alive. They are my grand-aunts.

On my father Ron’s side, I have another “Lolo Johnny,” my Dad’s dad, Juan Carmona, a solid Taurus who worked as a city engineer for Gattaran, Cagayan, and actually has a small bridge named after him in the area. My Lolo Johnny was a US WWII veteran, having served in the USAFFE. My Lola Margarita (Margie) Sumabat-Carmona, or Lola Mamang for short, is a bubbly Gemini who made a home for my Lolo Johnny, Dad, and his brothers and sisters. Lola Margie likes reading suspense novels and dancing. Of my immediate grandparents, only Lola Mamang is still alive today, and we cherish her as our family treasure. Lola Mamang, at 88 years old, still has the sharp wit, the wisdom, and that wonderful quality of being appreciative of the people who are helping her now.

So segue upon segue upon segue… are we really surprised that gratitude, thankfulness, World War II, the Bataan Death March, and (this week’s) National Grandparents’ Day are all somehow interconnected?! So here are the takeaways from this week’s column:
1. On Sept. 12 (Sat.), please attend the opening of the exhibit: “World War II in the Philippines” at the San Francisco Main Public Library.
2. On Sept. 13 (Sun.), honor your grandparents, grand-aunts, and grand-uncles. Respect.
3. From last week’s column, heed a prayer by St. Thomas Aquinas: “Give us, O Lord, thankful hearts which never forget Your goodness to us. Give us, O Lord, grateful hearts, which do not waste time complaining.”

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Your Horoscope for the week of Sept. 9-15, 2015 (page B6 of the MANILA MAIL)


For the week of Sept. 9-15, 2015

ARIES (Mar 21-Apr 19) Work further on your health and vitality. They are your allies in living the life you’ve always wanted. What use is wealth if you don’t have the health? Weekly mantra: I am getting better each day.
TAURUS (Apr 20-May 20) For a little while, you’ll find yourself lucky in life and love. However, you know that these streaks don’t last. It’s a good thing you know how to work smart for what you want. Weekly mantra: I am training my eyes on the goal.
GEMINI (May 21-June 20) Suddenly you become thankful for the way you were brought up, being gracious and polite. Doing so actually shows your respect for the other person, not just to show off your breeding. Weekly mantra: I am grateful for my family who raised me.
CANCER (June 21-July 22) So your siblings irritate you. You know, even before you set foot on earth, you and they have already made an agreement to belong to the same family. Learn from each other and love one another. Weekly mantra: I am fostering peace and understanding within my circle.
LEO (July 23-Aug 22) For now, stick to working for the things that you need, but set boundaries with your superiors. Tell them that you prioritize family over work. Weekly mantra: I am keeping clear-cut priorities.
VIRGO (Aug 23-Sept 22) You are to be commended for maintaining your health and youthful energy. The positive affirmations and consistent exercise are working their magic on your aura. The next challenge: Can you inspire others, too? Weekly mantra: I am vibrant and inspirational.
LIBRA (Sept 23-Oct 22) Expect your dreams to be vivid, so keep a dream journal handy. If you can’t recall the dream, then at least document how it made you react (sad, joyful, afraid, etc.) and honor what you felt. Weekly mantra: I am closely following my subconscious.
SCORPIO (Oct 23-Nov 21) You share with your fellow humans the components of stars and galaxies. Refuse, then, to be so petty and judgmental. That is so unlike you, who under ordinary circumstances go straight to the root and find all things intensely beautiful there. Weekly mantra: I am moving away from mediocrity.
SAGITTARIUS (Nov 22-Dec 21) Oh, you with your schemes: you’re always looking skyward, aiming your bow and arrow at one lofty ambition or another. Just don’t forget that you can’t do it all alone. Come down to earth and engage your family and friends. Weekly mantra: I am living in the ‘here and now’.
CAPRICORN (Dec 22-Jan 19) Normally you’re perfectly satisfied with your philosophy in life, since it has brought you safe thus far. However, you’re finding out that there are as many people as there are values. Don’t be threatened by this: use it to enhance your interpersonal relations. Weekly mantra: I am flexible in my relationships.
AQUARIUS (Jan 20-Feb 18) There’s a part of your life that is solely devoted to managing resources that are not yours alone. Prove yourself faithful in your duties and the blessings will be a thousand fold, with enough left over for sharing with others. Weekly mantra: I am steadfast and hardworking.
PISCES (Feb 19-Mar 20) Romance has been highlighted last month, but now it’s time for the serious relationship-building stuff. Remove your blinders and see your partner for who he/she really is. Hopefully you’ll still find the view enchanting just the same. Love love love! Weekly mantra: I am on fire with love.

“Gratitude, V-J Day, and the elusive AB 199,” in this week’s issue of the MANILA MAIL (Sept. 2-8, 2015; page A5)

Pilipinasblitz Forever
A column by Bles Carmona
For the week of Sept. 2-8, 2015

Gratitude, V-J Day, and the elusive AB 199

Among other things, we shall be talking about “pagtanaw ng utang na loob” or owing a debt of gratitude. For what shall we be grateful? To whom shall we be thankful? A prayer by Saint Thomas Aquinas (1225-1274) goes: “Give us, O Lord, thankful hearts which never forget Your goodness to us. Give us, O Lord, grateful hearts, which do not waste time complaining.”

If we just focus on being grateful, we wouldn’t even have time to complain. So let’s start acknowledging our debt of gratitude, although it may be overwhelming just to start thinking about where to begin. A useful system I learned from social studies long ago was the macro-mezzo-micro division, from the widest society levels down to the group and then personal levels, all working in tandem to present a holistic view of society according to the ecological systems theory. So when we say that we are grateful for the macro or the most general facets that affect us all, we can say (if we want to) that we are thankful for public policy, media, development of regulations, or food pricing, for instance. What about being thankful for the men and women who perished in World War II for their sacrifices so we can enjoy the rights and freedoms we do now?
September 2, 2015 marks the 70th anniversary of V-J Day or “Victory over Japan Day.” According to Holiday Insights, “the U.S. government, anxious about ending World War II, dropped the atomic bomb on Hiroshima on Aug. 6, 1945 with the objective of forcing the Japanese to make an unconditional surrender. Instead, the Japanese government debated on what to do, so the U.S. dropped the second bomb on Nagasaki on Aug. 9, 1945. On August 14, 1945, Japanese Emperor Hirohito cabled the U.S. to surrender, and agreed to the terms of the Potsdam Declaration. On August 15, 1945, news of the surrender was announced to the world. World War II was finally over. Hostilities ended. On September 2, 1945, the Japanese formally surrendered aboard the U.S. battleship USS Missouri in Tokyo Bay. President Truman declared this to be V-J Day.”

Related to this remembrance, the Bataan Legacy Historical Society ( is sponsoring an exhibit and a conference from September onwards at the San Francisco Public Library’s Main branch on Larkin and Grove. Let’s take it from “At the Library,” Sept. 2015 (vol. 49 no.6), SFPL’s newsletter: “World War II in the Philippines – A look at the dramatic and horrific story of the Philippines during World War II, including the infamous Bataan Death March, the guerrilla liberation movement, and the Battle of Manila, where 100,000 civilians died in a month’s time. When President Franklin D. Roosevelt declared war against the Empire of Japan after the bombing of Pearl Harbor the ravages of war did not come to the continental United States. Instead, the war was fought in the Philippines, a U.S. colony from 1898 to 1946. Filipinos made up seven-eighths of the main line of resistance of the U.S. Army Forces of the Far East (USAFFE). Manila became the second most devastated city after Warsaw, Poland. By the end of the war, approximately 1 million civilians had perished. For more information about the exhibition and the conference, please visit Main Library, International Center (3rd Floor). Sept. 12, 2015–Jan. 9, 2016. Related Programs: Opening Program: Sept. 12, 10 a.m.–12 p.m., Latino/Hispanic Meeting Room. Conference: Oct. 24, 10 a.m.–5 p.m., Koret and Latino/Hispanic Meeting Room.

Since we’re still in the macro level in our discussion, let’s also mention Assembly Bill 199 (AB 199), which was signed into law in California way back in 2011 but had never been implemented. Re: AB 199, according to the legislative counsel’s digest, “This bill would encourage instruction in social sciences for grades 7 to 12, inclusive, to include instruction on World War II and the role of Filipinos in that war, and would encourage that instruction to include a component drawn from personal testimony, as provided.” As the Bataan Legacy Historical Society remains at the forefront in the fight to implement AB 199, you and I could do our part in making sure that our grateful voices are heard, too. You see, there will be a vote on Oct. 8-9 in Sacramento related to this Bill which is basically about curriculum revision, and the California Department of Education will have a say in it. We are hoping that before the Bataan Legacy SFPL conference on Oct. 24, some form of good news can already be shared with the attendees about the fate of AB 199, considering that State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson will be one of the main speakers. Here’s hoping that our gratitude mixed with civic action will lead to positive results!

Going to the mezzo level now, we can choose to be grateful for the groups and associations to which we belong. We can give thanks for work, school, ease of access to resources (like what has been made possible by the Americans with Disabilities Act), social support, and culture. On the micro or intrapersonal level, we can be thankful for our preferences, knowledge, skills, abilities, perceptions, motivations, health and socioeconomic status, among others. A spirit that’s thankful for what it already has, uncomplaining and not craving for things it doesn’t have, is actually happier than the ego that keeps overreaching for things it thinks it needs. And the mystery is, the more thankful you are, the more the blessings keep coming! (Anecdotal evidence available: ask any grateful person that you know.) They do say that gratitude is the great multiplier (Rhonda Byrne, “The Power”). Related to this, they also say that what you focus on expands.

I would like to make a special case about the special people in our lives right now who have been in this world far longer than we have. I am talking about our great-grandparents, grandparents, and parents. Once upon a time, we were helpless babies and they were at the peak of strength, providing us with all our needs, including tuition and allowance for approximately 20 years of schooling. Oh, getting a college education is SO important to the Filipino-American family! And now it’s 20 years later, you’re working, you’re busy, you have your own family – hey, you couldn’t even reflect one bit about the goodness and nurture you got from your Mommy and Daddy? Is your memory suddenly short-circuiting every time it attempts to look back at the past? If our memories are colored by hatred, can’t we find it in our hearts to forgive? How much do we owe the ones that came before?

We owe them our very lives. And you’re right: one can never totally repay one’s debt of gratitude to them. You know what, I won’t even try. Let me spend the rest of my life looking back and thanking my forebears for their instrumental roles in my life. Now I’m doing my share to make sure they get cared for. I could only hope that when it’s my turn to be weak of body and mind on account of age, young people in my family would step up and care for me. This presupposes, of course, that I have been an example to them of caring for the seniors in our family during my time. And why am I doing this again? Oh yes – because I’m grateful.