So pleased to have such a great feature on TFC (The Filipino Channel) ‘Balitang America’, which was broadcast to millions across the world in the Philippines, Middle East, America & Europe!
Special thank-you to Don Tagala for piecing this together so nicely and focusing on the messages on PEACE and UNITY! <3
Thank-you White Cube for the cool interview & recording!
As part of new project ‘Metamorphiq’, had the opportunity a few weeks ago to create and produce a song and music video for a new TV show ‘Listen to this”, with a great Syrian singer called Zeina Aftimos.
We chose a traditional arabic song called ‘Tallou Hababna” by Wadi Al- Safi, a folk song about love with references to nature. and remixed it into a fusion of arabic and house music.
Talo hbabna talo, nasm ya hawa bladi
bayn rbo3na 7alo, dehkit zahrat el wade
bel fayat ghanyna w 3a el mayat tla2yna
w 3al aghsan ma 7alo ynsana el tayer el shadi
I added original verses as a response so a love/ a place that I missing. The metaphor of pining for this love is missing the home that you had to leave, and longing to be reunited, a theme that a lot of people in the Middle East can relate to.
Your shadow follows me every step I take
I see you in my dreams burning blue vivid green
Stuck inside this prison that I can’t escape
Until my soul is riding on your waves
I need to lay in your arms again
Drinkin your air sippin on the rain
Thinkin of you is the deepest pain
But memories and hope are all I have today
Yes there will come a day
That we will cry yes we will cry
And our tears will become rivers
You and I, you and I
Then we will dive and we will swim
And we’ll be free yes we can win
We will make it home one day
We will make it home one day
Please check out the interview and the video here–>
The song will be available soon on iTunes for download.
Stay tuned! :)
Better late than never!
An afterword on my 21 day vegan challenge..
Overall, I really enjoyed it. It was a fun challenge to try cooking new foods (using recipes online mostly and sourcing inspiration through Instagram). Eating out in Dubai was a bit hard in some places. Western food places and your typical cafes don’t tend to have any interesting non meat or cheese options, except for some like health conscious new spots in town like Bestro in Galleries Lafayette that is the only place specializing in raw vegan cuisine. Asian food is very vegan friendly. Japanese, Thai and Chinese cuisine have a lot of vegetable and tofu options.
Indian cuisine has a lot of flavorsome vegetarian curry dishes. Middle eastern food is great too of course, my husband is Lebanese, and my mother-in-law cooked up the delicious traditional salads along with cauliflower and a great wheat dish.
One helpful tip? Bring snacks like nuts, fruits and dark chocolate with you if you’re out and about and might feel peckish.
Also when at a restaurant, don’t mention the alien term ‘vegan’, either they won’t know what you mean, or there is shock and/or judgement on choosing a diet that denies meat, fish and dairy; much better to simply say that you are allergic. ;)
Via Instagram I posted a lot of my food pics, both food I grabbed outdoors, and things I’d cooked myself. I shocked myself by making a delicious ‘cheesecake inspired cashew cake’! It was surprisingly easy to make, and tasted delicious! (Meat and milk loving husband devoured it!)
I also enjoyed temporarily being a part of this ‘vegan online club’. It really helped to have advice, food inspiration pictures, and see others living a heathy, inspired life, eating delicious foods that are good for your insides and outside. Speaking of which..
Inner and Outer changes?
After 1 week I felt much lighter, and turned out I had lost quite a few pounds! Also, after eating you generally feel much more satisfied, not ‘stuffed’ like you do after a meal with cheese or meat in it.
Vegans and vegetarians do tend to be slim. It’s a low fat diet if you focus on plant based natural whole foods. You do get junk vegans, however, eating fried battered vegetables and chips probably won’t give you the desired effects you’re after.
That being said, the real appeal is an overall heathy shift, clearer skin, more energy, better sleep, healthier insides. I felt some of these changes for sure. Weird but somehow I felt more peaceful? That could’ve been a placebo effect, but in general when living healthily, I do feel calmer and happier, so it makes sense. 21 days is not a very long time, I imagine the real changes would set in after 3 months or so. The first few weeks your body is probably still adjusting.
So how about now? Vegan for life?!
After the 21 days I broke my fast with some fish, and gradually added some meat and dairy back into my diet. I decided not to go all the way yet, however it’s something I would consider doing again for a time period as I did this time, and at some point I could see myself making the full switch.
Regardless I have been avoiding dairy, just eating a little cheese here and there. I have still been cooking vegan dishes, especially at home. I avoid junk food altogether, and eat meat much less, opting for organic, free range and local where possible.
I think we should all take care with nourishing ourselves with wholesome food and ‘let food be thy medicine’. It’s important too that we look into the industry of meat, fish and dairy and challenge the cruel practice of factory farming. I personally don’t have issues with humans eating animals and fish, but I think we over- farm and that it should be done locally by independent farmers with a limit on the scale of production. It just becomes disgustingly greedy and unjust to both humans and animals when one huge corporation owns and produces all in terrible conditions. The impact on local farmers, communities and the environment are catastrophic, and I really admire plant-eaters that recognize this and choose to eat consciously as a result. I don’t however have much support or sympathy with moaning vegans or vegetarians that feel the need to constantly tell everyone how morally inferior everyone else is to them, and how cruel it is to kill and eat animals for food.. Even if you are right, there is no need to spite!
Oh- one more thing – check these links out if you are thinking of trying a plant based diet out and need a bit of ammunition:
Vegan BodyBuilder Frank Medrano : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RFPsvF3UOdo
I just watched and listened to a very interesting TED talk given by French biochemist turned Buddhist monk Matthieu Ricard, who speaks of the value of mind training to reach a truly fulfilling state of happiness.
Highly recommend giving it a listen:
(Thanks to my sister Marilyn for sending the link! :))
I found it very interesting to read the comments below the video, as people discussed their views on attaining happiness, some agreeing with the talk, and others maintaining that for them happiness derives from another purpose such as work or family, or from community.
What I find interesting is how much the Western model of happiness has been imprinted into our minds, and how transient the conditions are.
How many of us would deny the notion that having more money would make us feel more secure and therefore more happy?
Or that finding love would make us happy?
Or that being really successful at work would make us happy?
Of course those conditions would make us happy- so we strive and strive for it!
But, what if those things aren’t going to happen? or what if they do happen, and then we lose them? What kind of feeling are we left with then?
We would probably feel unfulfilled, depressed, unworthy, unconfident, unloved, unsuccessful.. we would probably feel a lot of ‘un’s!” and it’s no wonder really, when our inner state is dependent on conditions that we cannot always control.
[While in the state of trying to achieve those things, we also feel some of, or all of the above! Some of you might be feeling some of these feelings as you read these very words, I have also from time to time!]
We are also in the habit, it seems, of blaming ourselves when these outer conditions are not met. Negative mantras pervade such as ‘I didn’t find love because I am not attractive enough, I am not successful because I’m not good enough’. We need to work harder, look better, earn more money… be perfect somehow so that happiness can be ours.
The next question is, are we really happy once we get those things, or are we just onto the next condition to make us happy? Do we really need all that stuff to be happy?
When you get a new job or a promotion for example, what does that happiness taste and feel like? Is it permanent, or is it like a boost of energy that subsides with time? ;) Are we talking about happiness now, or are we talking about pleasure?
The next question is, could we be loveless, jobless and alone, and still feel fulfilled?
It seems, according to Ricard, by the off the radar results from the Buddhist monks, that indeed we could. And I agree too, knowing people with some far from perfect life events and conditions who are happy, and others with ‘perfect’ conditions, that are not.
These monks have practiced years and years worth of meditation for very long periods of time. Perhaps their example is an extreme one. In todays western society, it would be very hard to spend 12 hours a day meditating when one has a family to feed and/ or rent to pay. But could we spare 20-30 minutes a day? Or even simply practise mindfulness? (Read ‘The Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle to a very good guide to what that is ;))
I think we can, and I think we should. We practice to achieve other things in life and happiness is pretty important. It is not selfish to seek happiness. After all, if one feels truly happy and loved within, you will naturally extend that to the world around you. I strongly believe that a person who feels loved, happy, fulfilled, would not inflict pain onto another person, and will in fact act with kindness, compassion and love.
I agree with Ricard that we can train our minds to achieve a greater sense of fulfillment, as he suggests; by noticing feelings such as anger- watching them from a distance, and gradually letting them pass by.
It’s not about suppression or being emotionally immune to the circumstances in our lives, our emotions make us human. It’s about being able to detach, rather than fuel the feelings with more power. Anger comes, let it come- watch it, and then continue, and then expand, by aiming for it’s opposite- which is love. Let the fire of anger calm down, let love transpire, rather than fuel the fire with more heat and coal.
This is what I understand mind training to be. And eventually with training one becomes aware that emotions come and go, but you can be less deeply affected emotionally by each thing that happens to you. For our own sake and others, at some point we must accept, forgive and move on. For bitterness serves no one, but compassion and love serve us all.
Meditation is talked about a lot here, but for many meditation is an abstract concept. Indeed people have different opinions on what it is. Some depict it in a complex way and give it so many rules that it’s alike an elitist sport, not achievable by all people. I think the act is very simple and everyone can do it.
For me meditation is to simply be silent, in a quiet place (or with soft music), alone, or with others (as Quakers do), sitting or lying down (sitting better because when you lie you tend to sleep ;)) in simple quiet contemplation; waiting.
Waiting? What for?
Essentially I am waiting to sense the unity of all life and experience a profound sense of joy, connectedness and fulfillment, ;) This has happened occasionally during meditation but not always, in small to intense doses.
However, with practice at doing nothing but waiting, you will find your mind becoming less busy with mundane stresses and worries, or random thoughts.. and more in tune with ‘nothing’, and closer to ‘heaven’. ;-)
This happens over time generally, and with practise. Sometimes you give up out of boredom after 10 minutes. Sometimes you spend 20 minutes anxiously wondering how long it has been. Sometimes you listen to your own mind battle through all the things you need to do, or your worries, your pressures. It can be hell! Sometimes you fall asleep, which is nice and relaxing. But gradually, with practice at this sitting in silence doing nothing but waiting, your mind will calm down and you will be left with a tranquil space and a deep sense of peace. aka. happiness. ;)
I imagine that those that have achieved enlightenment (often through practicing meditation regularly) sense that feeling all of the time, and that it is truly heaven on earth! I think I have tasted that sense of unity, joy, inexpressible ecstasy, a handful of times in my life. It really is greater than any circumstantial feeling that you could feel otherwise in life. I could liken it to a great sense of inspiration or a feeling of wonder and awe from a great landscape in nature… or really any moment in which you seem to ‘lose yourself’ but ‘find yourself’ at the same time.
I imagine that some people we know, who are not buddhist monks, but every day people who seem to be happy all the time, have also achieved enlightenment, but may not be aware of it; those people that are not easily angered, feel compassionate always, and smile at the simplest things. They are the ones whose aura you simply want to bathe in.
I would agree that some societies are more conducive to this state of being; as somehow in the small villages in the Philippines and the mountain tops of Nepal where people live in tight knit communities with very little, people seem to radiate with more positive energy than most people in western culture or even those living in the cities of those same countries.
My guess is that the energy from nature (natural beauty, fresh food) as well as having more time to appreciate life and naturally meditate in your day to day life, gives that sense of fulfillment.
It’s of no consequence then, that Buddhist monks go to remote beautiful places in the wild to meditate. :)
Recently I caught up online with friend and fund raiser for Typhoon Yolanda victims- Coolie Dread. I’ve mentioned before the ‘Typhoon Yolanda vital relief and livelihood missions’ group before, comprised of locally based people from Cebu/ Leyte, doing great short term and long term relief work for the victims; Coolie Dread is one of those people involved.
I thought it would be interesting, having been to Leyte and seen the devastation first hand, for him to give us more information on what the group have been doing, and what it was like being there so soon after the storm.
Here is what he had to say…
After Typhoon Yolanda, you and a group of friends from Cebu went into Leyte to do your own relief work. Tell us about how you know each other and how this came about..
We were just a small group of 5 people who went to Leyte on relief mission. We’ve known each other for a long time, especially Ryan, the team leader and co-owner of DWLE (Driftwood Local Enterprises). Back in the day, we were part of this group of friends who would often go on skim boarding tours.
The rest of the guys–Epos, Dandoy, and Mikmik–are members of the GrupoNopo, a group of Professional Longboarders in Cebu. I’ve been working on a project with them recently shooting Grupo Nopo skaters’ profile videos.
The relief mission came about when a friend of mine from the U.S. Stephen Carpenter asked for my help in trying to contact his pregnant wife and daughter who live in Tacloban. He was in the US during the typhoon, so you can just imagine what a hard time that was, trying to comfort a friend who doesn’t know whether his family are still alive. All of Tacloban was shut down, so I was his only connection at that time, and we were just communicating through Skype. At that time I was fully focused on the internet, trying to look for survivors and making calls day and night.
Thankfully, they survived and were able to evacuate to Cebu. Unfortunately, the rest of the family were left in Tacloban and badly needed basic supplies. Since the Grupo Nopo and I have common friends in Tanuan, Leyte who we also wanted to check on, we finally decided to do a relief mission ourselves. I’ve also been doing aerial photo and video, so It was a chance for me as well to shoot my own aerial footage of the disaster.
You mentioned that you are involved in the skim boarding community. For those that are unaware- what is skim boarding, and can you tell us more about the skim boarding community in that part of the world?
Skimboarding is like surfing, except it’s done just on the shoreline and with much smaller boards. Basically, you glide the skimboard on the shoreline, then ride on incoming waves, or shore breaks.
I was fairly active in skimboarding from 2001 to 2006. DWLE founder, Juan Duazo, was a very close friend back then and he was very much into surfing and mountain climbing, so I was influenced as well. It was hard for us to afford surfing that time, since the boards and travelling to surf spots were pretty expensive. Luckily, we saw a feature in ESPN about skimboarding, which was the closest we could get to surfing.
After I got hooked, I self-studied making skimboards using plywood and fiberglass, and eventually I was able to commercially produce skimboards under my own line. After spending some time riding the flat beach shores of Mactan, we met Dave “the Wave” who’s a local from Tanauan, Leyte. Little did we know that there’s a small group there who had been skimboarding way way back since the early 90′s.
From then on, we started to organize skimboarding competitions around the country, but mostly in Tanauan, Leyte, which is the best skimboarding spot I’ve seen so far in the Philippines. A few years later, more and more locals have been getting into the sport, until it became a community. Thus, we named Tanauan the Skimboarding Capital of the Philippines.
That is why it was so personal for me seeing Tanauan so damaged after Yolanda. It was hard to believe it was the same place after the destruction of the typhoon.
Your videos show us some of the tragic destruction to Tanauan in Leyte … how long after the storm was this footage taken, and does it capture what it’s like being there, or is there more you can say to describe the devastation having been a first hand witness?
The footage was shot from November 19 to 22, 2013, more than a week after Yolanda struck. Before leaving for the relief mission, I actually tried to “condition” myself by looking at all the pictures and videos of the typhoon aftermath that I could find, and trying to somehow immerse myself in them and get used to the scenario. But I can tell you, it was no help at all. Actually being there and trying to shoot photos and videos when there is just massive destruction all around you, it was just so difficult. I had to stop filming at times just to catch my breath because I was literally holding back tears. It was overwhelming. The pictures and videos do not do justice to what you can really see and feel by being there.
Did you seen the evacuation centers? Are people still staying in them or have they been able to return to their homes?
I’ve seen some evacuation centers–schools and government offices–well what’s left of them anyway, but we didn’t have a chance to closely check them out. Majority of the places we went to, and also helped out at, were private groups that do their own relief work, turning their warehouses into feeding stations.
Though I’ve seen lots of people who were able to make do of the remains of their homes, using available resources to patch up their roofs and walls. Some were just camping out on makeshift shelters of tarpaulins and rubble, as you can see on the footage.
From your experience there and your friends that are there now, what is needed the most at this time?
Shelter and livelihood, most definitely. The people there were left with literally nothing. All the food and clothing relief are just temporary. What they ultimately need is the help to begin again by providing means to a livelihood.
What would your advise be for those wanting to help?
I would suggest getting in touch with private sectors or groups of independent volunteers. Some of these groups are even able and actually more intent in going to “unreachable” places that have barely seen help from the big, organized groups. Even a little help, may it be in cash or kind, would go a long way and you would even see results right away.
What are the next steps for you and your team?
For now, we plan to continue to give out hammocks and basic building materials. The crew went to Leyte again just before Christmas, and as far as their assessment goes, the victims still don’t have any means to rebuild their homes. That is why we think hammocks are a great help to at least alleviate their sleeping solutions.
But my thoughts still go out to their source of livelihood. Fishing is one the main sources of livelihood there, as it’s a coastal area. Donations of fishing tools for the fishermen there will be a great help.
A Skateboarding program for the kids is also in the works. Some International friends of ours are sending used skateboards and helmets so the kids will have some fun activities during the day.
As for long-term plans- solar lighting, bamboo shelters, and mangrove reforestation are being considered. We are currently working on an ironed-out proposal for these.
Thank-you! We look forward to hearing more.
You can check out Coolie Dread’s incredible aerial videos here:
Do sign up to his youtube channel for updates, as their work is ongoing.