Saturday, November 20, 2010

Theosophical Society in the Philippines National Convention 2010 - Day 2

If yesterday was awesome, today was way awesomer!  I know there isn’t such a word, but I’m going to use it anyway.

So, here’s my account of the day:

I woke up to the sound of my phone’s alarm.  I had set it to go off at 6:45AM, but I kept putting it off until I allowed it to ring a final time at 6:55 before finally deciding to shut it off completely.  The cold air made me want to sleep more.  I have yet to discipline myself into obeying my set alarms.  At exactly 7:05, I woke up to the sound of my phone again.  This time, it was a text message.  It was from Ate Cora telling me to walk over to the teachers’ residence—where she’d spent the night—to grab breakfast with her.  It was just two blocks away, and I would have gone but I didn’t.  That was typical of me.  Anyway, she called me soon after and I picked up saying I was about to take a shower and that I was going to head there right after.  I dozed off dreaming I had actually gone down to do just that.  Has that ever happened to you?  Not very nice, is it?

The very thing that woke me up was the sound of my phone’s message alert consecutively screaming twice.  When I opened it, there were greetings from both my parents.  It was already 8:10.  In addition, I received another message from Ate Cora telling me that she was already downstairs.  I thought to myself, “If I don’t get cleaned up and dressed very quickly, I’m going to miss something,” so I headed to the shower room to take one freezing drizzle.  It took the heater time to heat the water so I didn’t wait for that.  I settled for the cold, flew upstairs, got dressed, and went down to greet everyone.  Thankfully enough, I didn’t miss anything.

We started the day with a meditation session and began the day with getting to know more members who weren’t there yesterday.  We had about 50% more in attendance today.  After which, each lodge was given the opportunity to give a progress report of the year’s events.  By the way, we use the term “lodge” to mean branches.  There are several in the country—typically one for each major city.

When it was our turn to present our report, Ate Cora called me up to share the joy of facing everyone on stage.  We figured since we were the only two delegates from our lodge that we would share the experience.  She wanted me to present it with her since she has been doing it for the last how many years.

After every lodge had their time, we had former Supreme Court Justice Flerie Romero introduce one of our guest speakers for the day.  I believe the man is her idol since her intro was practically as long as what he had to say.  From his achievements to his accolades to the things that made him tick, she said it all!  She held him in esteem so high that we just kept wowing the whole time she was on stage.  It was of proportions nothing short of epic.  True to word, the man really has achieved great things.  He was none other than fellow Theosophist and dad’s fellow mason, former Supreme Court Chief Justice Reynato S. Puno.

His talk was centered on the major social problems of the world.  I’m not going to delve into it very much right now since he left us to come up with our own solutions.  To be frank about his talk, it was inspiring but to such a miniscule degree compared to the next speaker who was a woman from Brazil.

Our dazzling South American speaker, Isis Resende, happens to be a member of the National Board of Trustees of the Theosophical Society in Brazil.  She comes from a family of Theosophists of which she is in the third generation.  Her family runs a beautiful 800+ hectare Theosophical institute which I so want to visit next year!  Forget going back to China!  I’m heading to Brasilia!
Isis came to the Philippines to stay for over a week before heading to the world headquarters in India.  During her lecture, she talked about how the society works in Brazil and their programs and how they are influencing a lot of people by employing mass media to convey their messages.  One particular note she made mention of that I liked was when she related her experience of how a prison warden had once come up to her and told her she had caused trouble among his inmates after having allowed them to watch her television program.  When she asked why, the warden told her that because he introduced them to Theosophy, they had now collectively been asking for a Yoga teacher and natural food in prison.  Her brand of humor in recounting the story cracked everyone up.  Not long after that, the TS in Brazil was made by their government a reference point for Human Rights and appropriate treatment of prisoners.  She ended her talk with a short forum where she addressed the queries of the likes of Ambassador Soliven.

The presence of such wonderful people and the idea of being in arms reach of such advanced souls is giving me spine chills.  All this, especially Isis’ talk, has made me realize that great aspirations aren’t as far-fetched as I used to believe.  And also, because of her talk, she is now fully-booked for the week.  Several lodges in Metro Manila have booked her to hold lectures and seminars.  We haven’t got such privilege yet, but I know one of these days something like that will come.  She is just such a shining flare of hope.

And, oh, she came here with her husband and it was very sweet to see him fetch her a glass of water even without her asking for it.  Can you say “love”?

So, after Isis, we had three symposiums.  Two delved on Mindanao’s peace-building process through inter-faith dialogue—which I found interesting because inter-faith dialogue is going to happen next week for me with the URI.  That’s a different story, though.  The final symposium was conducted by Rekha Nahar, a Bangladeshi Muslim woman whose ideas empowered the realization of the Golden Link College, which I’m to visit on Monday.  Rekha’s talk was the most striking among the three since it was a nurturing practical application of the principles of compassion and peace.  The Mindanao peace-building process topic talked about healing wounds and repairing damages, which is amazing in itself, but Rekha’s ideas talked about sowing seeds of peace tragedies would completely be avoided in the growth of today’s young.  I’m not saying I didn’t appreciate the Mindanao part.  I did and I still do—very much, in fact.  I just want to stress that Rekha’s visions comprised the biggest slice in the pie of solutions.

Towards dinner time, we headed over to Vic’s place to celebrate his 60th birthday.  No, it wasn’t today.  It’s on the 22nd.  He just wanted to celebrate early for us.  He took us to his palazzo of a house.  We were awestruck by his beautiful garden and the vast collection of Theosophical books in his library.  Come dinner time, to say that the food was absolutely splendid would be an understatement.  It was a vegan feast!  It was culinary heaven in there.  The food was perfect.  It was utterly perfect!  Gosh!  I don’t know what adjective surpasses perfect!  If there’s any I’m not aware of, it’s what should be used!  You could tell with every single bite that it was made with love.  Everything was also natural and organic and completely… family friendly.  There wasn’t a drop of alcohol anywhere near.  There wasn’t even a bar in the house.  What for, anyway?  Everything in that house had a smile on it.  There was nothing in sight that provoked anything negative.

When everybody had stuffed his/her stomach, then came the gleeful explosion.  Tita Norma sat on the bench and played the piano while everyone danced and sang.  We delved into nearly every sensible genre from pop anthems to ballroom tracks to Christmas carols to Philippine folk songs to musical theater.  After her, Dad Vic even showed us just why the piano existed in his home.  He graced our aural senses with his performance of Sarong Banggi, a famous Filipino folk song.  It was the perfect ending to a day that was beautiful beyond the mundane expressive capability of words.

I love this day!