Saturday, September 30, 2017

The Art of Letting Go

Saturday Stories
September 30, 2017


My best friend R. has just built his own design studio after years in management in the BPO industry. I sent him my worst photo while hoping for the best. It was taken by J., my best friend here in Cebu, after one of our mountain explorations by motorcycle.

It was a starry, starry and silent night. I've been trying to remember the chords of "A Love Song" because I love Kenny Rogers, both his songs and his roasted chicken and mashed potatoes and macaroni and cheese.

The result is Wow, especially for those who have seen the original. Wayne Dyer said it best in the title of one of his books, inspired by the classic song by Jimmy Cliff: "I can see clearly now."

It is also symbolical – out of the dark and into the light.


'Tis the season for more exciting landmarks along the road. Here is what I've written on my cellphone last Sunday:

I'm sitting on a doorstep in an alley beside the newly-opened laundromat. I can hear the sweet sound of a piano from the house across. The sun is out yet it's cool where I am, and I also mean that as metaphor.

Then a couple of elderly women came by. We smiled at each in the way polite strangers do. They opened the screen door, and I caught a glimpse of their family on the sofa watching my unseen piano player. I'm touched by that glimpse of harmony and togetherness.

Right now I have ice-cold Mountain Dew, last night was my first session at the newly-opened Anytime nearest here, in a couple of minutes my clothes will finish spinning dry, and later I'll be with my life partner on the phone during their lunch break. Yet I feel timeless because I'm so at peace.


I call this my Wonder Week. I have found myself in many serendipitous moments that I have no idea where to start if I try to tell them all.

The most amazing is when an old friend appeared again in my life – at the precise moment I needed something only he can give.

It was totally out of the blue – like all answered prayers.

Truth be told, he had broken a promise he had made, and it hurt me because we have been through a lot together. Yet I never, ever, held a grudge. I just prayed about it. Now he is back, and finally doing what he was meant to do, which means so much to me.

This time will be sweeter. The timing is of exquisite perfection, and I'm grateful to give him what everyone deserves – a second chance.

This is the beauty and the power and the glory of letting go and letting God.


I made some poetry recordings last week, one of which is "Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night" by Dylan Thomas. This classic poem has crossed over to modern-day pop culture when it was heard in Christopher Nolan's Interstellar, read by no less than Michael Caine, an icon on both film and theater. By coincidence (and my life is full of those), my fellow author and childhood friend, E., made a special request for it and I'm playing it now. 

The poem has deep roots for me. It inspired the title for "Do Not Go Gentle," the autobiography of Herbert Howe, a Harvard student and a Peace Corps volunteer, in his battle against fibrosarcoma, a rare form of malignant cancer. I still remember how I found myself in tears when I read his detailed accounts of the brutal effects of chemotherapy.

His story is my inspiration for "Dream! Believe! Survive!" which is one of my earliest magazine stories, published in Philippine Panorama in 2005. That time was also when the TV talent show "StarStruck" first aired and became so popular, with the slogan "Dream, believe survive!"     

"Survivors conquering insurmountable odds awakes our noblest ideals and remind us of who we really are – and what we’re still capable of becoming," I wrote in my story. "Here are some true-to-life stories celebrating the triumph of the human spirit."

Letting Go
Gary Valenciano

A Love Song
Kenny Rogers

Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night
Dylan Thomas

Saturday, September 23, 2017

The Sound of Life

Saturday Stories
September 23, 2017


The weather was sublime at the beginning of the past week. I woke up early morning Monday and I wrote on my cellphone:

It is a perfect day to go out. It is also a perfect day to stay home. But whether I stay or go, this is a perfect day. This day is a miracle.


Then the weather turned a lighter shade of pale as the days went by. On Thursday I wrote:

I never saw a storm this strong. I'm looking down at an entire city that seems covered in fog because of the relentless rain. I feel my whole being wanting to be out with the elements. I see myself running across fields of gold, with the rain soaking my body, and if I get hit by lightning and turn to ash, then so be it. I would love that.


I really enjoyed what happened last Thursday night. It was around seven, and most of the other offices in the building were already closed. A friend at work and I were walking along the empty corridor.

"Did you hear that?" he asked as we entered the elevator.

"Heard what?" I asked.

"Sounds like children laughing."

"Really?" I said. "I didn't know you were psychic."

"You don't hear anything?" he asked anxiously.

I was trying to keep a straight face, but couldn't.

"Bro, you heard it too!" he exclaimed with relief, and then began laughing too. "I can tell!"

I did hear children's laughter, which I think is one of the most beautiful melodies in the world – it's the sound of life.

I was teasing him because it’s very interesting to watch people when they encounter things outside of their frame of reference. But really, I think those kids were from the insurance firm around the corner down the hall.

I can be too transparent sometimes. What a coincidence: I just told the same thing to another friend just a couple of days ago. I even mentioned being see-though like Casper who, in another coincidence, is also a child that most people cannot see.

I guess it also means I can't be in politics.


As for the rest of the week, I made couple of recordings at moments when I found myself alone at the office. The first is a poem by W.B. Yeats, Aedh Wishes for the Cloths of Heaven, inspired by the movie 88 Charing Cross Road where my beloved Anthony Hopkins breathed life into it and made it something divine.

Also, I've just been asked me if I believe in Forever. I said, and these are my exact words: 

You're asking a guy who believes that the soul is immortal and that the universe is infinite; of course I believe in Forever – and that's why I found it.

The Sound of Life
Jose Maric Chan

Photo courtesy of

Saturday, September 16, 2017

Somebody Warm Like Me

Saturday Stories
September 16, 2017

A friend is requesting for my latest photo. So, here it is, with me on the far left, although it has nothing to do with the story. Then again, nothing is not connected.


If there is one thing in life I can take pride in, it is that I have never, ever, betrayed anyone's trust. My head is full of other people's deepest secrets, and I shall take them all with my ashes into my beloved sea.

That was what I told a friend earlier this morning as we were talking about life, relationships and the need to be able to confide to someone.

I had some really neat conversations this past week. I like to share some of them here. 


I've been asked how I would react to somebody who is just like me in terms of attitude. I tossed the question back. She said they will clash with because they are both dominant. Then she tossed it again. I sang a little of the song "Somebody Warm Like Me," and my answer is the complete reverse.

I said: I feel that, all my life, I have been searching for a person who is exactly like me. If I have a friend whose character is like a clone of mine, then I'll have someone whom I can trust with my very life, someone who will never betray me or speak ill of me behind my back, someone who will take a bullet for me.


Everything is subjective, I told another friend as we talked about how people perceive their even own lives.

I said: We can only see what through our own filters. We have a set of beliefs at various stages of our lives. These came from our experiences and the different environments we have been in. This is why you can have ten people watching the exact same thing, yet you can have ten different points of view.

A person's perception is uniquely his own, like his fingerprint, voice, mannerisms, metabolism, DNA. Each of us is a unique individual, and there never has been anyone like you, or like me, in all of history.


I was with my partner over the phone last night, as we do every morning, every lunch time and every night, and we were talking about, among the countless topics we've had, the paranormal.

I said I feel myself surrounded by millions and millions of spirits all day everyday, so why I should I be afraid of a ghost or two?


I feel comfortable talking about the so-called supernatural, but I really have to remind myself that most people are not.

About a week ago, I said something about it in passing to another friend as we were talking about a recent funeral. I think it made him see me as "weird."

When a person dies, I told him, he experiences a sense of pure joy that he cannot find words to describe it. His most powerful emotion is the bliss of freedom in being out of his body. He is not even concerned about his mortal remains. He may find it amusing that people are making such a big fuss because he is still there, just vibrating on a different frequency – but still on the same airwaves.

Somebody Warm Like Me
The 5th Dimension

Saturday, September 09, 2017

A World Of Heroes

Saturday Stories
September 9, 2017

There is such pure positive energy in the world. I have been seeing and feeling it all around me since I began to look through new eyes. I feel inspired and uplifted when I see my fellowmen emerge victorious against seemingly insurmountable odds. I think those who say that there are no more heroes and role models are looking at the wrong places.

I found an article last night about Filipinos who showed that, with faith and courage, nothing is impossible. I have known and admired some of them even before, like Grace Padaca, Roselle Ambubuyog, singer Fatima Soriano and actor Rome Mallari.

I was touched by the stories of those whom I am learning about for the first time, like the artist Jovy Sasutona who paints by holding the brush in his mouth because he is paralyzed from the neck down, the artist Fernando Cabigting who learned to paint using his left hand after a stroke blinded his left eye and paralyzed his right, the athlete Raymond Martin who won multiple gold medals and hailed as Sportsman of The Year at the 2012 Paralympics in London despite suffering from Freeman Sheldon Syndrome. 

And there are two individuals, both athletes, whose lives touched mine in a most profound way.

Jomar Maalam, 20, was born without legs. Yet he is a finisher at the grueling Cobra Energy Drink Ironman 70.3 Asia-Pacific Championship in Cebu, the first Ironman event outside of Australia, and at the Mt. Mayon Triathlon in Legaspi, both in 2016. When he was only 16, Jomar made a name for himself when, using only his arms, he won three gold medals for swimming at the 2013 Palarong Pambansa national games.

Arnold Balais, 41, lost his right leg when he was fifteen. Yet he won the gold medal for power-lifting in the Malaysian Paralympics in 2002 and still holds the record in the 60-kilogram category. He has also won silver and bronze for the 100-meter butterfly and freestyle relay swimming at the 2008 ASEAN Paralympic Games in Thailand. With an artificial leg, he has scaled the peak of Mt. Apo, the highest mountain in the Philippines, and is featured in the inspiring Alaxan FR ad "Power Over Pain."

This is a world filled with wonderful human beings. "Many people strive for high ideals," as Max Ehrmann wrote in Desiderata, "and everywhere, life is full of heroism."

Jomar Maalam

Arnold Balais

Power Over Pain

Photo courtesy of

Saturday, September 02, 2017

We Are Complete

Saturday Stories
September 2, 2017

The most significant event that happened to me in the past week is that, after all is said and done, this is the first time when I can say that my life is finally complete.

I have found what I have always been searching for all my life. If I die right now, this would be the perfect moment. Then again, I've never been afraid of death especially since my own near-death experience in 2010 which I've mentioned to very few people, two of whom have already crossed over; not to mention my encounters with the nonphysical in my dreams, and lately, even when I'm awake. But then again, I could die from sheer happiness right now anyway.

It's funny that I'm saying this without any intention of sharing my private life with the public. I can, however, tell stories about how the universe is constantly responding to my intentions by showing the little signs I've asked for: rainbows, bubbles, butterflies, feathers and repeating numbers. I'm writing this as I'm using one of our software tools at work, and I just got "444." Sweet. 

Here's something little more down-to-earth, but not really. I was on the verge of buying an air conditioner a few days back because the position of the sun seemed to have changed in the sky and our room has become uncomfortable. Then, lo and behold, I just got the news that I now have a new schedule, just like what I've wanted. That means I don't have to buy it since I won't be at home at noon anymore.

That was awesome, seeing all the bits and pieces coming together in perfect timing. It is always breathtaking how the universe moves in harmony with our desires if we are in alignment with it, and the highest frequency is vibrates in love, gratitude and joy.

I have been thinking precisely the same thoughts while I was at the mall the other day. I was feeling so lucky and blessed because, with the ongoing sale and the in-house plan they are offering, I could literally buy anything. That alone is a great revelation for me about how I have come to this point after all that I've been through. I've seen so many things that brought me so much agony, with some too painful to even think about, and yet I survived all the vicissitudes of existence because I believe in something that is bigger than my own understanding.

My sense of gratitude is just boundless, as infinite as the wisdom, the benevolence and the grace of the Source of my being. If the life I'm living now is a song, it go like this:

"God gave you to show me what's real,
there's more to life with just how I feel,
and all that I'm worth is right before my eyes,
and all that I live for, though I didn't know why,
now I do, 'cause God gave me you..."

God Gave Me You
Bryan White

Photo courtesy of