Step Up Sinulog 2014!

April 5-11 Edition

Paulo Coehlo
Sinulog 2014
Near-Death Experiences
Wayne Dyer

Paulo Coehlo

This is an excerpt from my story, Paulo Coehlo's "Journeys To Enlightenment"  which first appeared last October 2013 in Philippine Panorama, the Sunday magazine of The Manila Bulletin

The young wood craftsman Elijah is in mortal danger. King Ahab has declared that the entire Israel should worship Baal, the god of the Phoenicians. The idea came from his new wife, Jezebel, a princess from the Phoenician city of Tyre.

An Angel appears to Elijah to deliver an ultimatum. Jezebel tells the King to kill him. Elijah gets ready to face death but inexplicably survives the assassination. The Angel tells him to go the enemy town of Zerapath, which the locals call Akbar, where a widow will take him in until the Lord tells him to return.

Then the widow's young son dies, and the people are about to kill him, convinced that he has brought a curse. But Elijah brings the boy back to life, and they saw that his God is more powerful than Baal who lives in one of the mountains outside the city walls.

"Every man has the right to doubt his task," the Angel tells him in The Fifth Mountain. "But what he must not do is to forget it."

Sinulog 2014

January 27, 2014

I got up early morning on January 19, 2014 to shoot my film on the Sinulog, Cebu's world famous Sinulog street mardi gras.

That was also when I took my first footage of the historic Santo Niño Basilica since I last went there during the October 15 earthquake that demolished the sixteenth century tower. Then I went making suroy-suroy (going around) from downtown all the way to the Fuente Osmeña circular park to meet up with friends.

I got my shots by climbing on bleachers and concrete dividers, not to mention the footbridge. I try to be as proactive and resourceful as I can. The one thing that I find overwhelmingly appalling is the consistent disregard for the spectators shown by the marshals and accredited photographers. Most of my shots are ruined by somebody blocking my view. They're just doing their job, I know. Still, it says something about the local culture. But then again, it's worse in Manila. So I guess it's human nature.

I only learned after the event that my office colleague R was the lead dancer and choreographer of the Abellana High School contingent so I wasn't able to see him. But I'm glad that I've filmed their group's performance in front of the San Carlos University. (I tagged them as the Yellow Birds while editing.). It's also serendipity that I got a clear shot of the stunning performance of the troupe who bagged the championship two years in a row. They are really spectacular.

My 4GB memory card was almost full so I had to edit during the shoot. I had to delete a lot of scenes including Ironman, Loki and other costumed pop culture figures and corporate mascots. But I got the controversial 2Go float: that was fun. Naturally, I got Darth Vader, Darth Maul, the Emperor and the Storm Trooper. I'm a Jedi so how can I possibly miss Star Wars? May the Force be with you!

My favorite performance is the Pandanggo Sa Ilaw traditional dance which I made into my film's first major dance sequence. My favorite float is the Egyptian complete with a Masonic Great Pyramid, the Sphinx and the jackal-headed Underworld god Anubis.

Step Up Sinulog 2014! 
(A Short Film By Jonathan Aquino)

What makes my first Sinulog a bit poignant is that it's probably my last. I sincerely doubt I'd still in Cebu next year. I never even had any idea that I'll be here last year.

Near-Death Experiences

This is an excerpt from my story "What Happens At The Hour of Our Death?" It is a weekly winner in the 2009 My Favorite Book Contest of The Philippine Star

Now it's part of my book "Huggybear's Corner"

The pharaohs of Ancient Egypt were held as the incarnations of the myth-god Osiris. To prove worthy, they are sealed in a tomb deep inside the Great Pyramid. They suffocate, die and were revived.

The white-robed priests record their experiences.. All who went through this ceremony tell of the same journey. A pharaoh would leave his body and glide through a tunnel toward a light. There he will face a life review – and a being of pure radiance.

One of the most consistent and well-documented phenomena in the world are the stories of near-death experiences (NDEs).

The Egyptian Book of the Dead is a hieroglyphic description of an NDE. The Bardo Thödol, more popularly known as the Tibetan Book of the Dead, says the soul will meet “the Radiance of the Fundamental Clear Light of Reality.” The Aztec Song of the Dead is the poetic afterlife of the god-king Quetzalcoatl.

Plato describes the NDE of a Greek warrior named Er in Book X of The Republic. Harvard theologian Carol Zaleski compiled tales of NDEs from different cultures in Otherworldly Journeys: Accounts of Near-Death Experiences in Medieval and Modern Times (Oxford University Press).

St. Paul tells of a Christian who went to Paradise and “there he heard things which cannot be put into words,” in 2 Corinthians 12:1-4 (TEV). Swedish mystic Emanuel Swedenborg saw the “light of the Lord” during his NDE. Spiritual leaders who were transformed by their NDEs include Calvinist theologian Jonathan Edwards, Native American chief Black Elk, and Hindu guru Paramahansa Yogananda.

If these are just fantasies or hallucinations, then recorded history itself would need to be rewritten

Wayne Dyer

This is an excerpt from my story, "Insights From My Virtual Mentors," which first appeared last July 2013 in Philippine Panorama

Now it's part of my book, "Huggybear's Corner"

Wayne Dyer transformed my life through his bestselling classic Your Erroneous Zones. I admire him even more because he cites Jose Silva and Carlos Castañeda. You'll get orange juice and nothing else, he says, no matter how you squeeze an orange. Same with people: our reactions depend on what's inside us.

When we lose our keys inside the house, we don't look in the street, but we look outside ourselves for solutions like forcing other people to change. If we think we are inherently deficient, then we will spend the rest of our lives trying to fill a bottomless void.

Our reality is from our character: "When you change the way you look at things, the things that you at, changes." One who is without "erroneous zones" knows this is a friendly, not a hostile, universe. All creation is perfect, he says, "including you."

The Secret & The Law of Attraction 
with Wayne Dyer

A "No-Limit" person believes he already has everything within to find peace. "There is no way to happiness," he says. "Happiness is the way."


I'm running out of superlatives when people ask how my weekend was. I have same refrain: meaningful, productive, illuminating. I have no words to show how thankful I am. Blessings come pouring down.

"Sweet love flowing on us every night," sing Kenny Loggins and Stevie Nicks in Whenever I Call You Friend, one of my all-time favorite duets which was also performed by The Voice contenders Patrick Thompson and Kat Perkins which I happened to see just last Friday. "I've never seen such a beautiful sight...!"

See Huggybear's Favorite Songs From Kenny Loggins

=> April 1, 2014
8:34 a.m., Tuesday
Last Saturday morning after my graveyard shift where I'm currently working to save up for my next journey, I went to the office pantry to avoid the elevator crowds. I needed a moment of silence to focus my mind and gather strength for the things I planned to do over the weekend. The pantry TV was on StarMovies. The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey was just starting. So I watched it again.

I'm like Bilbo, a homebody who loves his garden and his books. But inside his heart lies the strength that takes you higher than what you have limited yourself, just like in mine. The little man with the big heart runs after the wizard and the elves: "I'm going off to an adventure!"
I first read The Pilgrimage when I used to spend the whole day everyday at the Cebu City Public Library for weeks. I love that time in my life. A lot have happened since then. Here is a passage:

" My own spiritual journey is like his trek along the mystical Road To Santiago de Compostela. In the end, you realize that what you're looking for has been there all along: within you..."

(See the full story on our September 14-20 2013 Edition of 2Rivers)
My quest for enlightenment is the heart and soul of my "Personal Legend," to use Paulo Coehlo's words to describe one's highest purpose on earth. I now live near Mabolo in Cebu City. When I read the Alchemist, I was then in Lahug, near I.T. Park. On Sundays I would be in the mall to find refuge from the demonic climate. I found it in National Bookstore in Ayala Mall in Cebu in 2013.

I put the book back on the shelf with a reverence for its insights and gratitude for showing me I'm on the right direction.

"I feel the same spirit that gave strength to the shepherd boy Santiago to cross the sea and the desert," as I write on my October 19, 2013 blog post. "I came on the verge of tears many times throughout his mystical adventures: the teachings of Melchizedek and the Alchemist are the very same lessons I learned in my own spiritual journey, long before the book found me."
One of my happiest times in Cebu was when I would be at the public library everyday for weeks around the middle of 2013, a couple of weeks after my arrival in the island and my self-imposed exile in a small town in the south beside the sea. That's when I re-read the books of Og Mandino which inspired my article "Og Mandino's Messages of Hope."

My tribute to the man whose short novels has uplifted the lives of millions was published in Philippine Panorama on October 20, 2013, and is now part of my first non-fiction anthology eBook Huggybear's Corner: The Amazing Articles of Jonathan Aquino

See my blog story about Og Mandino here on 2Rivers
"Be brave. Take risks. Nothing can substitute experience." ~ Paulo Coelho
Huggybear said…

"Happiness is the way..."