Wednesday, 20 May 2009

three C-things to have when things go awry

Pansukian Resort in Siargao
As luck would have it, after spending Gai's wonderful birthday weekend at the famed Pansukian resort in Siargao, Surigao del Norte (northeastern-most tip of Mindanao -- yep, far far away), I was the only one who had to fly back to Manila.

The only way to go home on a Sunday is to catch the flight out from Surigao City, the provincial capital which is six hours and three modes of transport away. Cebu Pacific flies only 3x a week to Siargao from Cebu every Mon-Wed-Fri.

the habal-habal
I left the resort at 4:30 am on a Habal habal (right photo). This is the taxi service in Mindanao and seats five up to seven people max. I was told that Habal actually is the Visayan term for 'sexual intercourse' of animals and the taxi is referred to ‘habal-habal” because the driver and the passengers are in the “habal” position.

After a balancing act and dodging mosquitos on the habal habal, I arrived at Dapa pier at 5am. I remembered Gai insisting that I take the RORO - roll-on, roll-off boat because it’s huge. I opted for the tinier banca next to it called "Dapa Express", an outrigger boat which takes only 2 hours, or half the time of the RORO, to Surigao City. Luckily, the sea was calm and crossed safely to Surigao City.

The tricycle ride to the airport took only 20 minutes. The airport was still closed when i got there so passed the time in the restaurant next to it. When i checked in at 9:00, I immediately asked PAL if the flight at 11:00 is confirmed and the girl said it will take off early at 10:30am. Since i had time to burn, in the passenger terminal, I nestled myself on a seat against the wall and dozed off…which must have taken long because someone nudged me asking if i was a PAL passenger and handed me a jollibee burger. When I looked at the clock it was already noon. Then I wondered why everything was dark…there was a power outage and it was raining heavily.

The PAL flight was delayed. I inquired and the girl said that the aircraft was waiting in Manila for advise to take off. At around 130pm, PAL announced that the flight was canceled due to bad weather, zero visibility. Surigao is like Baguio -... I was sure the next day the PAL flight out of Surigao City would be full, and the only way out would be to catch the last flight out of Davao or the next day in Cagayan de Oro, both are equidistantly 5 hours away by land from Surigao.

So my first C tip is to make sure you have all contact numbers. Gai gave me contact numbers that morning- van rental and a hotel in Surigao. The estimated cost to either Davao or Cagayan de Oro is P6-8K by van. My second tip is to have CASH. I only had P2000 in my wallet. And there was no ATM machine because the whole city of Surigao didn’t have any electricity! I called my friend in Cagayan de Oro to inform him of my predicament. Fortunately one of the passengers overheard my call and invited me to join him and his wife to catch the last flight out of Davao for only P1500 per passenger.

My third tip is to keep your cool. There was no point in getting angry or blaming PAL. There was no aircraft and the best way out is to accept the situation and to think on your feet to get out of the place FAST. We left Surigao at 3pm. There were six of us - :the guy who invited me was a champion surfer from Surigao, his wife a PAL stewardess, a nurse with her Swiss husband and her brother, and myself. The roads were well paved, the sight--despite the rain--was good and there were lots of stories to share. I made it back to Manila after 18 hours of travel, five modes of travel and 3-Cs!

Monday, 4 May 2009

Inner Dance with Pi Villaraza

Pi Villaraza
"I am not a guru or a healer; I am just a mirror to allow you to see things as they truly are” says Pi Villaraza when asked what he does.

I joined Pi’s detox, healing and energy training program in Bahay Kalipay in Puerto Prinsesa, Palawan last Labor Day weekend. He said that "Bahay Kalipay is our home. Because of the nature of our work in healing and detoxification, people naturally come to us to visit, heal, train and to center themselves. Thus, we decided to open up our home… to accommodate others while retaining as much of the basic simplicity we find as effective conditions for the work that we do." This includes hand pumping water that apparently most foreigners find charming.

I first met Pi when Rosanna Escudero invited me to do “Inner Dance” last March. He struck me as someone stripped off Ego –very simple in a t-shirt, jeans and sandals and extremely articulate while making all these “crackling” sounds.

Pi learned the ancient Filipino healing modality of the Babaylans after undergoing a vision quest that took him to the States in 2002 where he met powerful teachers and spirit guides that eventually led him back to the Philippines to do a walking pilgrimage around Mindanao like a hermit without money or contacts; and ended holing up for two-years on a deserted beach in Palawan subsisting on coconuts. He said “I felt a powerful urge to detach myself from all external sources of energy – family, money, friends and the many distractions of the world.”

He later coined it “inner dance” because of the dance-like movement generated from the internal energy. After a powerful session that night at Rosanna’s which was cathartic, my left side - the piriformis and ITB injury from the marathon- that has been bothering me for the last six months somehow felt better.

Pi describes inner dance as “Those who undergo the experience will soon find that it is not a dance, really, but more of an inner work that unifies mind, body, and spirit. It is a meditation that allows one to access powerful forces that simultaneously silences the mind.” Anna, who neither dances or practice yoga, was trance-like, gracefully twirling her hands and arms, moving with the music even doing back bends! She kept going for almost two hours. Short clip here:

The program consists of raw food live enzyme diet with a one day coconut flush, eco-tourism (visit to the Hot Springs or if the weather is good, sailing), organic gardening, handicraft (how to make a dream catcher), and healing and energy workshops which included daily Inner Dance, massage, Inner Yoga, Meditation, and self-processing spirituality. The workshops are experiential and interactive. He said “At the end of the stay, the goal is to have made a healing difference in specific physical, emotional and spiritual blockages the participant wants to focus his release work on. The secondary goal is to teach self-healing and simultaneously how to heal others.”

His organic garden set-up is in a way similar to Peter Caddy's, the founder of Findhorn Community in Scotland. There is a compost heap, potash (lime) and some guidance with the garden deva (through Daniw) who introduced mulch from the coconut husks to insulate the soil and protect the seedling. I planted my first organic tomato plant (left photo) in a terrain of mostly rock and coral and mixed with compost and all the essentials.

The experience was worthwhile and to me, downright full of integrity --from the simplicity of the place down to the simplicity of our food intake.

I learned a lot from just being simple. Inner dance is really a journey inward. The raw food diet, inner dance exercises, quieting of the mind are all tools to release mind/body/spirit from so-called blockages. With this release, I have more energy and am now more mindful and aware---ready to listen and see the signs that will help me toward a healthy, happy life…filled with peace from within.

Pi has helped others with medical conditions such as glaucoma, cysts, migraines, psoriasis, depression etc. Perhaps with this new found learning and practice, I can start by healing myself (treat simple aches and pains) and maybe in the future, advance to helping others mirror themselves.

Pi and Danui will be traveling to Singapore and will be in Manila on May 20 for a one-day workshop. To find out more about inner dance visit

Also, to watch Pi in action, check out Epi Quizon's video "The Dancer Within":