Monday, June 17, 2013

Cebu Round Two

My bunk is on the lower left hand side.
A sink and locker were included in this room too!

The Mandarin Sky Cafe on my ferry from Manila to Cebu
So, after three different posts on my three months in the Cordillera Mountains, I have finally descended. I stayed in Manila for a night, and hopped a 26-hour ferry to Cebu City. The ferry was brand new and gorgeous! It was more like a cruise ship than a third-world people-mover. There was a piano in the lobby, and even the cheapest accomodations were spacious, comfortable, and included free meals. The only ticket I could get was the second-cheapest option, and the meat-veg-rice meals were pretty good for Filipino food.

I spent most of my time talking to the only other foreigner I saw. He stood out more than me! He was a planet-sized black guy with lots to say regarding ancient wisdom and energy healing. When a magnet intensifies like my spiritual magnet had, it attracts more like spirits more often. No matter where I go in the Philippines, I can't escape requests to take out Josephine and play a few tunes. Filipinos love music like green eggs and ham - in a car, on a boat,  under the stars, or with a goat, over here or over there, anytime, anywhere.

Lobby on my floor
Playground on the deck
No Filipino ferry would ever be without a prayer room.
To sail without would beg for disaster!
Heaps of guitars and my Josephine in the hands of a skilled helper
One of the first things I did was to go to the man who had given birth to my guitar, Josephine, and get her fixed up. She needed a better bridge, and since I was anticipating more performances the way I had ended up playing in Manila, I wanted her to have a pickup on her so I could plug her into an amp at a venue. Plus, I never got to take pictures of this guy's shop! Well, wouldn't you know, this guy had upgraded! He'd moved a few doors down to a bigger more central space and was looking pretty good! He even had hired help. I was happy for him, and he seemed happier too.

My friend Sarah in front and the owner in back
Roselynne's Pad
By the time I'd arrived in Cebu City, I was not only eating 100% raw foods but I was eating mostly coconuts. Coming from a place of clean air, chirping birds, and deep love, the city energy was intense to begin with. Since I was on raw foods, my heightened senses magnified the intensity 10x. Waves of happiness and sadness, manic energy and full days sleeping were the status quo for the first two weeks.

I was staying at Roselynne's again, but this time, things had changed. She was in the US visiting friends and family, and her relationship with Karen wasn't going well. I landed in ground zero and tried to shuffle my butt into the tiny space available. In addition, there were other guests in the three-bedroom apartment. Karen's 5-year-old son, River, was now living at the house, as well as 4 volunteers from abroad who were there to help with the deaf community. I slept on the floor in Red's living room play area.

Beautiful Karen
The air was thick with tension, and it took a while to realize it was coming from Roselynne even though she was on the other side of the planet. You could literally touch the atmosphere and feel it ripple. Karen was in a state of emotional and spiritual exhaustion without any interest of improving until Roselynne returned. The frosting on the drama cake was one of the volunteers - Mike.

Mike was from the UK, 22 years old and attempting to chase away his insecurities by having sex with a different woman every night. He was funny sometimes and sincere other times, but most of the time his mind was an insecure mess. Since he was inept at sexual approach or respect, he only ever slept with prostitutes and begged approval from the rest of us by enumerating as many details of the last night's forays as loudly as possible.

One time, Mike brought home a woman only to find out there was some extra baggage between the legs. Apparently he was surprised but figured, 'Well, I've gone this far'. Sometimes you just can't tell with lady-boys! Many of them look so much like women you can't even tell they're men. Lady-boys are a crossdressing fad in the Philippines, but I think that most of them really are gay. They're all over the TV because Filipinos love how outrageous they are, and it's been a fad long enough to catch fire with the younger generations. According to Karen, lady-boy prostitutes are also notoriously sneaky, dirty, and potentially dangerous. In my experiences, every lady-boy I interacted with was genuinely kind and bright, with a whip-smart wit and raging hormones. When they single you out, be prepared to blush because they come on hard.

Mike shattered the tension hanging over the house by bringing a lady-boy home to the apartment. I remembered opening the door for him but crashing back in bed - I was at rock bottom of a minor energy dip. I didn't remember anyone else with him. By morning, we all knew someone new was in the house. They hadn't agreed on a price before they came home, the lady-boy had taken his phone in order to get an extra 200 pesos from Mike (hardly more than 3 Euros) and Mike wouldn't give him the money he asked for. It was comically sad to me, Karen felt threatened, and Roselynne exploded.

To her, even though she was close to destroying her relationship with Karen and Red, they were her family. She owned them, and she reacted like a Southern Plantation owner would to a threat - shotgun to the temple. She wanted Mike out on the streets with 2,000 less Euros in his pockets (he'd have gone into negatives). I tried to smooth things over a little by talking with Mike about his insecurities, empathizing with his life experiences, and giving advice for how to approach the situation now that he was neck-deep.

I'm not even sure how it ended up, but Mike's time was up as a volunteer anyway, so he was gone soon enough. I was close to Roselynne and American so Karen opened up a lot to me about her relationship with Roselynne. I tried to support her because I saw how much she was hurting, but I ended up getting looped up into all of the drama. In the end, after lots of bad timing and endless miscommunication, I couldn't stay there anymore. The energy between Roselynne and I had soured. I was invited to stay with another friend, Tony, so I gathered my things and left, not sure what I could have done to make things better beyond what I'd already tried.

In the midst of all of that drama, I was busy every day in the city. I always walk wherever I go, so I walked from place to place learning from and supporting other healers. I got involved with the permaculture people, with raw foodists, with Ananda Marga. I found the Inner Dance circle and learned a few other healing forms from them. And I started learning Tetada Kalimasada twice a week.

The oft-hiding door to the portal
In Sagada, Maui had told me about an Indonesian energy-harnessing form called Tetada Kalimasada, and I wanted to see what it was about. Teaching sessions took place at a Hare Krishna temple in the center of downtown Cebu, near Pari-an Statue, but you'd never guess that anything at all existed there. It was like a portal to another world that went unnoticed to untrained eyes. There was a rickety gate next to an internet cafe. Even if you knew it was there you mithg miss it, as if Harry Potter put a masking spell on it. Then there was a long passageway between two tall buildings, hardly wide enough for two people to pass each other. Bats chirped and ricocheted off the walls and into the building on the left, which was apparently a tank-making factory during World War II. Energetically, it felt like getting squeezed through a tube. On the other side was another world - banana and coconut trees, exotic birds, frogs and chickens floating everywhere, beautiful bonsai trees, and in the middle was a humble pagoda (the temple).

Lito, the teacher, is like a guru, but totally not. He was over 70 years old, and he was a trip and a half. He told the craziest stories and details about energy from his life and others that continue like a never-ending line of dominoes until suddenly he finishes talking and you wonder what went wrong in the world for him to stop talking. Then you realize he stopped at the exact time to shift to the evening's exercises.

The portal itself
He told stories of being offered millions of pesos to find gold in the ground for mining companies, or partnerships with the Philippines' most powerful people, or developers who want him to design major building complexes, only to turn them down. He showed me how to make dentures, soap, and synthetic turquoise. He told stories of hunting bare-handed in the mountains with his father. They would work as a team to catch an animal and then use their teeth and hands to open up the animal, drink its blood, and eat its flesh. Apparently the energetic and sensory strength that comes after a week of such a diet is astounding, let alone months. Now he's a devout, vegetarian Krishna.

Tetada Kalimasada is the Filipino version of Pemusatan Kalimasada, and it's basically the cleaning of energy centers and harnessing of spiritual energy in such a way that it can be stored and utilized. Because people wear black pants and white tops, sometimes make martial arts-looking movements, and act practice as a group similar to Karate or something, people think it's a martial arts form too. It's not at all. To be sure, more advanced Kalimasadas do spar with energy, which involves deeper potential dangers than physical injuries in Ju Jutsu or Kung Fu. Lots of energetic cleaning has to happen afterwards. Now, it's sort of a healing form, but its uses are far beyond that.

There are 48 packets of levels, each packet containing a various numbers of levels. It takes more than 10 lifetimes to finish all 48 packets, at which point it's possible to become a grand master. There are three grand masters in the world now, and one of the ways to say thank you to the grand masters for raising your energy after you complete a level is to experiment with energy and pass on what you'd learned to the masters so they can teach it to others. At the end of packet one, you can stand on three sheets of news paper and be lifted by another person. At the end of packet three, you can levitate yourself and other objects. Again, there are 48 packets, and I have no idea what lies at the end of the later packets. You move on to the next levels by passing energy tests such as cleansing a light bulb and using it to break tiles. I practiced for more than a month, and it was interesting but too masculine for me. It lacked heart and intuition, but I still practice it from time to time when I need an extra energy boost.

I got involved with a doctor named Paredes who'd simplified his methods over and over again until his prescription pads were almost always the same: "Walk barefoot, eat fruits and vegetables, hug a tree, laugh/sing, and drink water." Very practical and potent remedies for health issues faced by Filipinos. He did use colonics, massage therapists/chiropractors, and a select few herbal supplements he prescribed, but for him those were the adjunctive medicines to nature and a simple, healthy lifestyle.

Daisy Ba-ad
The strongest Inner Dance circle in the world is there in Cebu, strong because of the depth of their love and because of the situations that united them as a group. When they welcomed me with open arms, they were beginning to amp up their support for a woman in the circle in her battle with a very rare and aggressive form of sarcoma (the soft tissue variety), which happened to be on her chest. At the time, my friend and mentor, Sarah Queblatin, was also experiencing death. She was home in Cebu to take care of her mother who was facing death at age 55.

Cebu Inner Dance Circle, Daisy vibrant in orange.
There were lots of group healings and things for Daisy, but eventually the Inner Dance healers boiled down to a core group that was constantly visiting her bedside. It consisted of Jakki the founder of the Cebu Inner Dance circle, Daisy's dear friend Michelle, Tony the Filipino-American I met in Baguio when I met Pi, and myself. I was always there because I really cared about this circle and Daisy, I had heaps of free time, and Tony offered to drive me from the city out to her house when there were events. Our Daisy support circle became very close, and our shared process with Daisy through the pain and possibility of death was deep and emotional for all of us. Many people in Daisy's family and very wide circle of friends were also very supportive, but eventually it boiled down to close family members, her allopathic doctors, and us, her Inner Dance healers.

Daisy's Creative Thespians Club Inc., Daisy in the middle
In the midst of if all, Tony's dad became very sick and was often in the hospital. So, between supporting Tony and his father, Sarah with her mother, and Daisy, I spent most of my time next to hospital beds or encouraging my dear friends. Even as the white sheep in every group I joined, every moment was very emotional for me.

Daisy and Michelle
Pi even came from Palawan to help in the healing for these three circumstances. Rapid transformation always surrounds Pi, but even for him, his one week in Cebu held a lifetime of transformation. We all learned and cried and laughed so much together. Sarah's mom died, so we shifted to supporting her in the letting go process.

Daisy started to get better. There were moments of ecstasy in our healing sessions, when energy erased the pain that had crippled her, when she could even dance and laugh. One time her sarcoma burst and ejected copious amounts of toxic fluid and gunk straight out through the skin in three places simultaneously, as if it couldn't wait to pass from her system using the normal channels. But her obviously powerful results in our sessions were at odds with the fearful language being used by her allopathic doctors, and often the methods actually contradicted each other.

Daisy had a stroke, and then we spent two weeks helping her transition from this form to the next in the most peaceful way possible. We knew the moment she was passing before we ever received a message from her family. She died the day before my birthday, only 9 months after finding her cancer.

A boy in Tony's pool
Tony and orphans swimming in the pool
Tony's father on the other hand, performed minor miracles and brought himself back to full health with the snappy turn of his head he just decided to get up and walk out. He was hilariously, stubbornly resilient. He chose every moment of his health and sickness, and accepted each moment with glee. He even brought food to the local orphanage and then had all 18 of them come back to swim in the pool.

For me, it was Healing 101, when I learned countless lessons on healing, self-maintenance, the processes of cancer and death, and the language of the universe through meditation, Sarah, Pi, Tony, Jakki, and the other Inner Dancers. It was a transformational time for every one of us.

"Dok" Mendoza, Tony, his sister, niece, and nephew at the orphanage
Orphans with attitude
In all of this, I was also talking a lot more with my family since I had more access to technology. I had learned of my Aunt Kathy's recent struggles with no job, a house that burned down, family issues, and breast cancer that had returned after 13 years in remission. I wrote textbooks worth of healing information and passed on all of the resources I knew to help her until only one path became clear - she had to come to the Philippines.

As I learned the depths of cancer and death with my friends, I was also prepared myself to hold space for my aunt's healing. Healing is always an individual struggle. It's not the doctor or the  drug or the dog or the family and friends who do the healing. In the end, it's always up to the individual. So, the role of a healer is more of a helper, a facilitator of self-healing in every "patient".

Culture Shock!
As my aunt began to transition to vegetarian and raw foods, I was transitioning away from Roselynne's and into Tony's. And thank the stars for Tony. Of Filipino descent, Tony was born and raised in Ohio, and after three and a half years in the Philippines helping his sick father and demented mother, he still only dabbles at the local languages. His heart is as big as an ocean. He was able to give so much support for each and every one of us in ways that were indescribably perfect. He welcomed me into his home when I left Roselynne's space, and then he welcomed Kathy when she finally arrived towards the end of June. Tony is also a huge foodie and I was more than happy to appreciate a wider palate of flavors than the limited Filipino options. All he asked was that I pay the love forward to some 25-year-old traveller who lands in my life when I'm in my 40s. Fair enough. I'm already giving away the love he bestowed upon me, and I'll probably never be able to stop because I had received so much.

Culture Shock!
In the weeks we talked before she came to the Philippines, Kathy and I had already become very close. I had no idea just how close we would become or how important she would be for my own journey. She arrived, and together Tony and I did our best to make her adjust to the major culture shock. This is a person who thought it a huge deal to fly from Seattle to Los Angeles to Christmas and all of a sudden she was across the ocean and away from nearly every comfort she ever knew. I brought her to all of the healing groups I knew in Cebu as a taste-test and warm-up for her final destination - the remote island of Palawan, home of Pi and Inner Dance.

Meditating with Tony's nephew and niece visiting their grandpa from Ohio