Beauty, Colonization & Poverty: Reflections from My Trip to Philippines – Part I


Tropical humidity has a way of unleashing the wild sensuality of the feminine.



Woke up at 4:30 a.m. and saw the most spectacular sunrise on our last day in Bohol, Philippines. What a beautiful life this is! To be able to receive these magical gifts that surround us every day, no matter where we are.  I’ve had the gift of magical sunrises in San Diego, too.

I made a commitment to myself and Spirit a while back that I would be present in my life and walk with an open heart, so that I could always see the magic . . .  even in the midst of pain.

Yesterday as we were driving through the countryside, I saw huts made of bamboo rods and thatches, and sometimes cardboard, and corroded tin roofs lining the side of the road all along the route.  I saw what would be perceived as poverty by modern society standards. And then as we entered a valley of viridescent rice fields, I saw a couple of boys playfully running through the fields.  Their spirits and smiles as radiant as the mango-colored sun above.

Their aliveness was magical despite the lack of material wealth that surrounded them.  They seemed to be consumed by the freedom and wildness that nature evoked in them.  They were present for all the abundance of life that surrounded them, and in turn, were themselves the very expression of that life. All I could think is: May I one day be consumed by the freedom and wildness that I saw in those two little boys. 


This is the place where I sit in the mornings to meditate and give thanks to Yemaya, mother ocean, for gifts of wisdom, healing and strength. Yemaya is home – the beginning of all life.  She is cleansing, healing, purifying and nurturing.  Yemaya is the womb through which all life begins, and only she knows how to hold our grief when life ends.  She is who we intuitively go to when we experience loss because only home can fill the void of loss.

She brings forth life, protects it and changes it as needed. She reminds us to flow, adapt, release and transform so that we may constantly embrace a higher version of ourselves.  She takes grief and transforms it into life reminding us that loss is the breath through which life is expressed.

Yesterday during high tide, Yemaya was energetic and vibrant.  She danced, shaking her hips to the rhythms of the wind.  As I watched her dance, I was overtaken by my Tita Carmen’s presence.  Her image appeared powerfully and vividly in my mind and a complete sense of calm rushed through my whole body.  I felt her in every cell and I was consumed by love; so much so that it overflowed as tears. Then, I started to sing a song that I remember my grandmother singing: “En el mar la vida es mas sabrosa.  En el mar te quiero mucho mas.” That is the only part I remember from the song, but yesterday, all the lyrics flowed through me.  Yesterday . . . Yemaya, the wind, my Tita.  THANK YOU.



Poverty is a powerful source of shame. 

It’s very common for people who are quiet and hesitant to “come around” to be described as shy.  But shyness is just a cloak of fear.  Fear of not being accepted, not being worthy and not being as sacred as all life truly is.  On the one hand, people are described as shy, but on the other hand, they are often given the message they don’t belong at the table with the rest, literally.  Of course you are going to be shy when you receive very clear signals, day in and day out, that your place is beneath those who have more means and power.

Your time is not yours when you are the “shy one” around here.  Usually your time belongs to those you work for.  On call 24/7, especially those who work as “the help”in households.  “You are part of the family” they say, but only to serve as “the help.” Of course you are shy; you life hasn’t been dignified to mean anything more than the service and commodity you provide.  And that is the extent of the importance of your place.  As such, your disposable. From where you came from, there is a long line of people waiting to take a job.

Hiring someone as “the help” is a status symbol.  An opportunity to be a little more like those in power.  In my husband’s family, some people hire “the help”, others are “the help.”  One of my husband’s cousins has a wife who works as a maid in Manila.  She, along with three other women, work for a very wealthy family.  She wakes up at six in the morning and works non-stop until midnight, everyday.  She gets one day off a month.  Her pay: $ P4,000 a month.  In dollars: $80.00.

Unlike in the U.S., one doesn’t have to be rich to hire full-time help, here.  It’s a cheap commodity where people are desperate for any work and any pay.  These norms and structures of cheapening people’s lives occur all over the world.  They just manifest in different ways.  This is one way in which I have seen it manifested here.  There is a lot of beauty and pain all at once.

Many of the poorest families do not have potable nor running water in their homes.  The river ways serve as places where people wash themselves, dishes and clothes. 


If you stay in a place long enough, connect with its people deeply enough, walk with its land gently and slowly enough, and learn to see and hear it through your soul, it eventually will start to feel like home. Hoe is where we come from; where our roots are anchored and connected to our ancestors, their tradition and wisdom.  But home is also the place or places our soul longs for and feels that it most authentically belongs.  I suspect, the more our heart opens, the more easily it is to find home.

“Aspire for a home that enables your lifestyle, instead of dictating it.”

Find a place that feels like home.  Where your soul is captivated and freed all at once.  A home where time is eternal and life feels abundant.  A home that roots you, but also allows you to fly. Find a home that feels like a womb from which you are given life a million times! Dream homes cannot be found in magazines or real estate listings, but rather, in the deepest longings of our soul.


This is home for now.  Surrounded by mountains, ocean and sky.  This what I am.  this is where I come from.  This is to what I shall return.  I am not concrete nor asphalt.  I am loving, compassionate, light energy who came from the earth.  No matter what country or culture I’m in, nature is always home.



In those moments when you can see your soul reflected in your surroundings; when beauty and stillness are so abundant you can feel your soul, push it to speak its truth. Probe it, even if that shit hurts.  It is only in the intimacy of these moments that your soul will bare itself free from the chains of the mind.

I don’t know how to explain God, nor would I ever attempt to. But if I could come close to describing what God feels like, I’d show you this.  Yeah, here, I was in the presence of God.


It’s not that I don’t like to get-made-up, but there is something so freeing in not thinking about dying my hair, or wearing make-up, or waxing my eyebrows, or shaving my legs and armpits, and whatever else beauty norms dictate these days. The more I’m surrounded my untamed nature, the more I am called to explore my wildness and immerse myself in my sensuality.  To experience myself and the world around me, engaging all of my senses, including my intuition, feeling aroused not just from the pleasure of sex, but from life itself.

On one of the many beautiful days I’ve spent here in the Philippines, I sat under a tree, wearing my summer dress, covered in the salty humidity of the ocean, glistening under the intoxication heat. Legs, sticky and opened, coveting the afternoon breeze.  Biting into the succulent flesh of a mango, pulp smeared all over my chin and cheeks, juice dripped down my neck and hands, and I liked my fingers before taking the next bite. Bare feet in the sand. Hair wet with salt, seat and mango. The jungle pulsating like the heart beat of the earth. Every sense was aroused, and I felt wild and free.



“The wild is not a place to go.  It is a thing to be.  Follow your nature”  -Diego Huerta

This is one of the greatest lessons I learned in the Philippines. Her untamed wilderness evoked in me a sense of freedom, sensuality and wildness I had never experienced before.  She heightened my senses and incited me to feel both pleasure and pain, fiercely. I learned not to fear intensity, but to accept it as a part of being vigorously alive! She opened me up to parts of me that had been dormant, parts of me I had tamed into invisibility.  She inspired me to unleash my wildest desires into my dreams and my imagination, and to believe in their inevitable manifestation without any fear. I felt the power of creation, both, in her and me.  While I am once again surrounded by concrete and asphalt, inside me, there is a force of nature that can no longer be tamed.



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