“ADVENTURING AGAIN AT ANGEL LIGHT BOOKS” in this week’s issue of the MANILA MAIL (Nov. 19-25, 2014)

Pilipinasblitz Forever
A column by Bles Carmona
For the week of Nov. 19-25, 2014
ADVENTURING AGAIN AT ANGEL LIGHT BOOKS

It was the third Sunday of November. Per Angel Light Books and Gifts Store tradition, the third Sunday of the month is when the Angel Light Metaphysical Fair is held. The Angel Light Store, located in Berkeley, is “your one stop store for all your Metaphysical needs,” like their business card states. I would have to agree. The Angellightstore.com business card has a color picture of the Archangel Chamuel (the archangel of peaceful relationships/love), as well as the important data like the address: 3347 MLK Jr. Way, Berkeley, CA 94703; the phone number: (510) 985-1600; and the email: info@angellightstore.com. I think that when you read further, at one point you will feel the urge to at least check out their online store, or maybe even the Angel Light School of Metaphysics which offers certifications and courses in the psychic and healing arts in-house or online. If you’re curious, please check it out: http://www.angellightschool.com

I already wrote a column about this book store in the May 28-June 3, 2014 issue of the Manila Mail, but here’s an update. Let’s go back to the Angel Light Metaphysical Fair to which I recently went and which regularly happens on the third Sunday of the month. There were a couple of readers present: Ms. Eloise Hill and Ms. Helena Mazzariello, as well as a Reiki Master, Ms. Catherine Walters who gives free Reiki sessions. During these fairs, a 15-minute reading only costs $20 which I think is very reasonable considering that these effective and experienced professionals charge a much higher price during regular individual sessions with them. You can check out all their offerings on their respective websites: Candle Stone Tarot (www.eloisehill.net), http://www.spiritinjoy.com (Ms. Helena Mazzariello), and http://www.guidedchange.com (Ms. Catherine Walters).

This is my first time to go to one of this store’s fairs and I guess I was a bit overwhelmed. There were times during the sessions that I felt I’ve spaced out and missed hearing some important points that these readers wanted to get across to me, but as Ms. Cathy told me later, “It doesn’t matter. What your conscious mind may miss, your subconscious mind retains.”

My first 15-minute session was with Ms. Eloise Hill. She is a writer, psychic (clairaudient/clairvoyant/clairsentient), and tarot reader. She was an acute-care nurse for a number of years before deciding to write and nurture her more intuitive side. She is the author of a couple of the Eileen McGrath Tarot Series of mystery books, “Eight of Pentacles” and “The Queen of the Barley Moon,” now available at Amazon. She also teaches individual classes and courses on Thoth Tarot 101, Divination 101 (rune-casting, tea-leaf reading, and palm reading), Wicca 101, Chakras 101, and Astral Projection. She hosts the Psychic/Tarot Faire at Angel Light every first Saturday of the month. For my reading, I chose for her to do a tarot reading for me. Ms. Eloise uses the Thoth deck so I’m not quite familiar with the imagery since I work with the traditional Rider-Waite deck myself. But hey, I was there with a mindset to learn new things and expand my grasp of the metaphysical, after all. The points I would like to share with you from Ms. Eloise’s sessions are: 1. It looks like the next 3-6 years would be more favorable for me. 2. I must learn not to “over-give,” but to balance giving and receiving. 3. I will be reconnecting with my strengths, and will have the strength to let go of habits or mindsets that do not serve me anymore. (Quitting smoking, anyone? More exercise and less food intake, maybe? Charging for my readings instead of giving them away for free most of the time?)

Next, I had a psychic reading and aura cleansing with Ms. Helena Mazzariello. She is an artist, clairvoyant, healer, and teacher. Among the readings she offers are: clairvoyant, past life, aura/chakra, Ascended Master, pet, house healings, Akashic records, plus female energy tune-ups, substance addiction healings and deprogrammings. She told me that the aura around me is a distinct shade of blue (she didn’t know it was my favorite color) with a bit of red thrown in, which is good for action and assertiveness. She taught me how to ground myself from the very top of my head (crown chakra), down to my feet, and way, way down below the earth where I must let go of these certain brown-colored “depressed” energy that’s not even my own. Upon reflection, I do admit that in the course of my listening with compassion to other people like my tarot clients or my friends, sometimes I tend to feel their pain too much and end up feeling depleted and sad myself. Now Ms. Helena tells me that there is a way to shield ourselves from other people’s energy, to establish some boundaries, and to ground ourselves. She asked me, “Do you meditate?” I answered honestly: no. Ever the optimistic one, she told me of one very simple and effective type of meditation: the shower meditation. Yes, take a shower! The water sluices down from the top of your head and the water, carrying all the negative energy, goes down the drain and deep into the earth. Cleanse your aura, take a showah, right? (Grin.)

Finally, I sampled the free Reiki session offered by Ms. Catherine Walters. Ms. Cathy, aside from being a Reiki Master, is also a clinical hypnotherapist. She began the session by giving me an orientation about what Reiki is, especially what it means: “rei” means universal, and “ki” means energy (also called “chi”). In effect, Reiki is the universal energy all around us, and Ms. Cathy is quick to qualify that she is just the conduit. During the actual session itself, I was seated in a swivel chair with Ms. Cathy standing behind me with her hands on my shoulders, explaining that although the hands can be placed anywhere, she chose the shoulders for their proximity to the heart. She began to speak about energy and healing while her hands were on my shoulders. Later on, I told her honestly that at some point I must have spaced out because although I was hearing her voice, I couldn’t understand what was being said. That prompted her remark about our subconscious catching it anyway if our conscious mind ever missed anything. We discussed gratitude and appreciation (there is a difference, she said) and how to make my crown chakra (masculine) work with my throat and heart chakras (feminine). They must work together, not just one or the other, and she said that I would reach a lot of like-minded people through the written word.

As for the owner of Angel Light, Ms. Valencia Chan, here’s her bio from the Instructors tab of the School website: “Valencia has owned and operated Angel Light Books and Gifts since 1989. An avid metaphysician, she has studied in depth topics including astrology, tarot, crystals, and feng shui. She received her certification in astrology in 1987 from Experience Astrology in San Francisco and for Feng Shui in 1996 from Feng Shui Design in Grass Valley. Being Chinese, feng shui has always been an integral part of her culture. Her knowledge of crystals includes attending workshops from various teachers, studying from an extensive library of books and most of all from her personal experience of selling and giving away thousands of stones over the years. “I’m always amazed at how the perfect stone will find its way to the person who would most benefit from its power.” Valencia teaches How to Read the Rider Waite Tarot Cards, Astrology 101, Feng Shui 101, Crystal Awareness, Stones Awareness, and Chakra Awareness.” There are more classes, fairs, and special events scheduled in the near future. The store’s website is quite updated so please check it out for the details, and the gracious Ms. Valencia is always just a phone call away. I definitely had a great time at the Fair and will come again one of these days! (pilipinasblitz@gmail.com)

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“Revisiting Those Homecoming Blues” in this week’s issue of the MANILA MAIL (Oct. 22-28, 2014)

Pilipinasblitz Forever
A column by Bles Carmona
For the week of October 22-28, 2014
REVISITING THOSE HOMECOMING BLUES

I wrote the following essay way back in 1997. It was published under the “Youngblood” column that welcomes contributions from the twentysomething or below in the Philippine Daily Inquirer. My piece appeared on the same day that Batch 1987 had its 10th year reunion on Dec. 27, 1997 in our alma mater, the Manila Science High School. Since October is MaSci’s foundation month, please allow me to share this essay with all of you as I remember how my special science high school education shaped me in a lot of ways. Now imagine me ten years out of high school, 27 years old and full of nostalgic angst, hunkering down to write this all those years ago. Has anything really changed since then? ***********************************

HOMECOMING BLUES
By Blesilda I. R. Carmona

It’s been 10 years since our batch graduated from the Manila Science High School. I don’t know what will happen on our alumni homecoming, but I do know that the prospect of meeting my batchmates has filled me with some apprehensions these last few days. It’s been 10 years, and what have I got to show for it?

If our batch had compiled a short list of the most likely to succeed, I certainly would have been on it. I was a popular campus figure. I graduated first honorable mention, copped the excellence award in English, and received the Gerry Roxas leadership award. I still have the slumbook where some batchmates wrote their mushy dedications predicting a rosy future for me. Most wrote that they’d never forget me and hope I won’t forget them, too.

Would I ever? My batchmates are always on my mind these days. They’re supposed to be the standard against which I should measure myself. But after 10 years, I have been anything but a smashing success.
It depends on how one defines success, you say. But let’s assume the “usual” criteria: career going great guns, improved financial status and standard of living, a happy marriage and home life, and possibly some contributions to Philippine society. When you come right down to it, I fail on every count.

Career going great guns? I have barely started mine while my high school batchmates have already ascended to middle management level. I botched my attempt at a medical course at UP-PGH, decided to shift to a film course in UP Diliman campus, and up to now I haven’t done my thesis-on-video yet. I’ve been in college for a decade now, but I haven’t been able to finish anything. (I do have a BS Basic Medical Sciences degree after finishing two years of pre-med and two years of medicine proper under UP’s Intarmed program. I dropped out in the middle of fourth year proper.)

Earlier this year, I botched my first job. My supervisor at a film company fired me for frequent tardiness and absences, which was entirely my fault. However, I prayed to God to help me land another job so I could redeem myself in my own eyes, and He answered my prayer by giving me my current job as a writer/PR coordinator for a publicity firm. So far I have been late only once, and I am turning out good copy, after countless notes from bosses and clients. While my batchmates have already gone on study leaves from their prestigious jobs to get their MBAs and PhDs, here I am a mass com undergrad with an entry-level job whose ultimate joy consists of achieving a near-perfect attendance record. Since I’m still new, I can’t even assess my so-called performance. But what the heck, I’ve finally started a sort of career path. Talk about a late bloomer in the corporate jungle.

What about improved financial status or standard of living as a success indicator? My current income doesn’t guarantee me total financial independence from my California-based parents. The eldest of four children, I still live in the original Carmona home in Guadalupe Bliss with my sister and her husband, a male cousin and a female helper, while my high school batchmates already have houses and cars of their own (throw in a beeper, cell phone, laptop, Internet subscription). My ultimate joy in this area consists of being able to give the proper tithe to our church, buy basic personal needs, pay for my lunch at the office and bus fare, and occasionally contribute to the marketing budget at home. Oh, and I almost forgot: I’m assigned to pay for the household’s subscription to the Inquirer.

What about a happy married or home life? Oh, I’ve had my share of serious and non-serious affairs in my teens up to my early 20s but I’ve been unattached since four years ago. My theme song now is Karen Carpenter’s “I Know I Need to be in Love,” which goes on to say: “I know I’ve wasted too much time/I know I’ve asked perfection from a quite imperfect world/and fool enough to think that’s what I’ll find.” I’ve got a pocketful of good intentions but none of them will keep me warm tonight.

While some of my high school batchmates are already married and with children, others are engaged and still others are seriously dating, my ultimate joy as far as this thing goes is (at the risk of sounding like sourgraping) at least being able to come and go anywhere I please, whether it be the mall, art gallery, secondhand bookstore, movie house, Olongapo, Bayombong, Enchanted Kingdom – everywhere! I savor and appreciate my voluntary solitude. Long-term commitment? I guess I’m still not mature enough to handle one, despite my previous passions.

Let’s not even dwell on my so-called contributions to Philippine society because I’ve never had one which would merit mention on the front-page or at least the lifestyle section. Meanwhile, one female batchmate has topped the dentistry board exams (as in No. 1!), another female classmate is now chief editor of a leading business publication, and my best friend is a supervisor at a topnotch accounting firm. I know at least three guys who are already doctors, one guy who is a lawyer at the Supreme Court, and another guy (our valedictorian) who has taken a study leave from his managerial position at a big bank to pursue another degree in a famous American university. (I know he already has an MBA, so this is now his third degree – pardon the pun.)

So it’s been 10 years, and what have I got to show for it?

In a word, nothing. At least not by the usual standards we use to measure a person’s success.

I must have been the quietest person around during the couple of meetings I attended as a member of the homecoming organizing committee. I have in my possession all of my co-members’ impressive calling cards. I can feel the aura of self-confidence and wisdom emanating from their previously clueless high school selves. I quietly revel in their radiance while feeling proud of their achievements. Vicariously I feel I have also succeeded through them.

It’s been a decade, guys, so I’ll be seeing you at the Manila Science auditorium today. If plans don’t change, I’ll be playing sparkling host tonight. All I can offer you is a slightly improved version of the Bless Carmona you knew (and even the descriptive “improved” is open to question in my case, needing several qualifiers). Well, you be the judge.

I may not have much to show for all those years we’ve been apart, but I won’t be ashamed to attend our homecoming because I want to see for myself the way you’ve all turned out. Success indicators or no, I’ll always be proud to be one of you, my bright and beautiful Manila Science High School batchmates.
So you bet your souvenir coffee mug I’ll be there – if only to bask in all that reflected glory.
And of course, to dance to all that new wave music.

***********
Find advisor Blesilda44 at KEEN.com, 1-800-ASK-KEEN (1-800-275-5336), extension 05226567 either by phone or chat: Mon-Fri 7-10 pm, Sat-Sun 7-11 pm Pacific. I speak English, Tagalog, and some Spanish. For personal readings, email me here: pilipinasblitz@gmail.com

“Visiting the California School of the Deaf in Fremont” in this week’s issue of the MANILA MAIL (Oct. 1-7, 2014)

Pilipinasblitz Forever
A column by Bles Carmona
For the week of October 1-7, 2014

VISITING THE CALIFORNIA SCHOOL OF THE DEAF IN FREMONT

Almost a year ago, I went to the open house of the California School of the Deaf (CSD) in Fremont, CA. It was one of the requirements for one of my classes at Chabot College at that time, American Sign Language (ASL) 64, the most basic level. The following was the reaction paper I wrote after my visit.

“I am writing this on Nov. 11, 2013 (Monday, Veterans Day), the same day that I attended the CSD Open House in the Fremont campus. I wanted to put it down on paper at once, while the experience is still fresh in my mind, and before I get deluged by other requirements from my other subjects towards the end of the semester.

The first thing I did was just to circle the grounds, looking at the numbered buildings, trying to get a sense of the size of the campus. Except for speaking people here and there, it was mostly quiet, which at first disoriented me. From similar previous events that I’ve attended, my experience had been that loud music would be blaring, and that speaking people would almost be shouting at each other to be heard above the other noises in the gathering. I could see a lot of people confidently signing away. Man, they sign sooo fast! I’m just watching from the sidelines but it’s hard for me to keep up with what’s being said. I was especially touched when I observed some children who already have the ability to express themselves in sign language. I tried to put myself in their shoes, but I failed miserably because I couldn’t imagine myself without the power of hearing and speech from a young age. As I observed these children, my admiration for them grew in proportion to what I perceive to be the “difficulties” of being deaf in a mostly hearing and speaking world. It’s a good thing, therefore, that there are schools like CSD that serve these students, instilling confidence and life skills so that they can navigate the world around them.

After circling the perimeters of the campus, I decided to buy some hot chocolate from the Early Childhood Education stand. Since I forgot how to sign “hot chocolate,” I just pointed at their written signboard. When the lady signed “hot chocolate,” I quickly imitated her and nodded my head. When she handed me my cup, I was able to sign: “Toilet, where?” (That much I remembered.) She answered me with hand gestures which I understood.

Next, I went to the library where there was a book fair and art exhibit going on. I took a couple of photos of artworks that I liked. One photo shows “It’s Raining Audists Outside” by student Yordi Morales which strongly resembles a specific series of paintings by my favorite Surrealist, the Belgian-born René Magritte. Another photo shows “Deaf Identity Shattered” by Jasmine Sanchez on the left and “a World of Language is in Our Hands” by LiAn Jackson on the right. Apparently there is an art movement called DeVIA art (Deaf View/Image Art) which expresses Deaf perspectives, experience, and insights. Art teacher David Call is a well-known DeVIA artist. From an early age, I have always appreciated various forms of art, so I am glad that the students of CSD have a venue for self-expression. I did notice that hands and eyes seem to figure a lot in many of the works of art that I saw in the exhibit. I assume that this is logical, since the Deaf and hard of hearing do use their hands and eyes/facial expressions in their regular communications. I also assume that these young artists felt compelled to depict hands and eyes since these are within the realm of their everyday experiences. In the same way that aspiring writers are advised to “write from what they know,” I would think that these gifted artists were given a similar advice in what to portray in their artworks. Based on what I saw in the exhibit, the student-artists of CSD are a very talented group indeed!

Then from 11:45 am to 12:10 pm, I decided to join the Campus Life Tour which started at the High School Activity Center #15. There was a man who gave an orientation in ASL and a woman who interpreted via speech for him. At the same time, there was another man who interpreted in Spanish for a Latina student in the group. I must confess that had it not been due to the lady interpreter, I would not have caught up with what the man was signing. Then our big group was split into two and we toured a couple of cottages, one for boys and another for girls, which are part of their Independent Living Skills (ILS) program, a stay-in high school program with provision for after-school activities, counseling, and training in ILS.

Finally, I went over to the gym where CSD is having its Deaf Services Faire. There were a lot of vendors, from those selling their handmade arts and crafts to a couple of booths offering mobile communication options for the Deaf, like the “ntouch Mobile” with the SVRS* smart phone app (*Sorenson Video Relay Service). But the one that drew my attention most was the Bay Area Asian Deaf Association (BAADA) booth. I greeted the lady and wrote on a piece of paper: “Do you have Filipino members?” She wrote back: “Yes, our BAADA President is from the Philippines.” Then she showed me one of their organization’s newsletters and pointed out the photo of the current Filipina president, Ms. Maria Tanya Guzman-Viera. Then I asked her in ASL what her name was, and she signed: “Michelle Y.” When I got home, I took a look at their website (www.baada.us) and learned that I was actually talking to Ms. Michelle Yook who is a Board Member of BAADA.

In summary, my experience of attending the CSD Open House has been very enriching. It gave me a glimpse of a different world. I did not feel nervous about communicating and I was glad to use the basic ASL that I knew to ask questions and sustain mini-conversations. Personally, I have always been a seeker of solitude and silence, but the Deaf community takes silence to a whole new level. I could never totally say that I know what a Deaf person goes through, although now I have a better idea. From what I have seen today, there is a strong Deaf community around us which is very supportive in encouraging the education, self-expression, and independence of its members.”

***********

Find advisor Blesilda44 at KEEN.com, 1-800-ASK-KEEN (1-800-275-5336), extension 05226567 either by phone or chat: Mon-Fri 7-10 pm, Sat-Sun 7-11 pm Pacific. I speak English, Tagalog, and some Spanish. For personal readings, email me here: pilipinasblitz@gmail.com