Mixed Masala

The masala is an essential spice in Indian cuisine.Mixed w/other flavors,it creates that extra zing in one's palette that awakens your senses&allows you to stop,savor&remember the moment.That moment becomes a memory which tells a story,like a recipe carried on through generations.Sometimes fresh mixtures are added giving birth to culinary masterpieces that hold stories w/in herstories,cultures w/in multicultures&new lines w/in ancestries.Mixed Masala is the unique blend of all these&much more.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Choosing to Live a Life that Matters~


by Michael Josephson

Ready or not, some day it
will all come to an end.
There will be no more sunrises, no days, no hours or minutes.
All the things you collected, whether treasured or forgotten,
will be passed to someone else.
Your wealth, fame and temporal power will shrivel to irrelevance.
It will not matter what you owned or what you were owed.
Your grudges, resentments, frustrations and jealousies will finally
So, too, your hopes, ambitions, plans and to-do lists will all expire.
The wins and losses that once seemed so important will fade away.
It won’t matter where you came from, or on what side of the tracks you lived.
It won’t matter whether you were beautiful or brilliant.
Your gender, skin color, ethnicity will be irrelevant.
So what will matter?
How will the value of your days be measured?
What will matter is not what you bought, but what you built;
not what you got, but what you gave.
What will matter is not your success, but your significance.
What will matter is not what you learned, but what you taught.
What will matter is every act of integrity, compassion, courage and sacrifice
that enriched, empowered or encouraged others to emulate your example.
What will matter is not your competence, but your character.
What will matter is not how many people you knew,
but how many will feel a lasting loss when you’re gone.
What will matter is not your memories, but the memories of those who loved you.
What will matter is how long you will be remembered, by whom and for what.
Living a life that matters doesn’t happen by accident.
It’s not a matter of circumstance but of choice.
Choose to live a life that matters.


Today was one of those days when I had to stop and say my piece.
My voice needed to be heard, I needed to hear myself and I did.
I am grateful for that. Despite the opposition, I am grateful for that voice.

For Sofia--When questions arise, remember your voice, my child. When all is gray,
remember your voice...and listen. When your heart knows the truth, when your Spirit
is strong and doesn't make you sleep until you listen, remember your voice. Remember who you are. Remember who is in you.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008


Thank you, daughter of my dreams, light of my heart, angel of my morning...it's been a year and eight months since I last wrote on this blog...it's taken so long for me to take up the courage to write again...to maintain this writing space that began with a story about Mama Rosie, your great grandmother. You see, 17 days before you were born, Mama passed away. Months before that I was struggling with my pregnancy and when you finally arrived I still couldn't bring myself to write about the most beautiful experience I've ever had my entire life because I kept thinking of Mama and how I was not able to fly to Samar to bid her farewell, one last time...like I said earlier, I couldn't bring myself to write about it publicly, not until today.

I still have one more email to compose for a client but it's already 11:11pm and after such a long day, all I really wanted to do was rest and pamper myself and yet I find that to even be very difficult to do right now...as if I needed to just get some thoughts down first before I could proceed to my nightly ritual...and then I remembered this blog. I was telling myself months ago that I should come up with a new one where I can write about less things from the heart, less about me, or my roots, but then I couldn't really find anything to write about as passionately...or as naturally, as this.

So here I am, wanting to write once more, about her stories and his stories...about the women and men who have shaped my life...about cultures and beliefs, about life, love and relationships, and more, all because now I have you and you, Sofia, have given me back something I thought I lost along the way, you've given me the will to live.

Thursday, March 08, 2007

With Gratitude~

Today is International Womyn's Day and I salute every woman in this Universe...living in the physical or spiritual realms...either way, I say, thank you. I say I am grateful, for the stories you tell, the lives you touch, the struggles you've overcome, the joy in your heart, the pain you've endured, and the choice to continue to believe in what is good.

Today I say thank you to God who has blessed me with courage, strength and freedom to speak, to choose, to believe, to love, to be...

Today I acknowledge the scars of my life: from wounds that have healed, to the new ones that are slowly closing up...and I am grateful...for each hurt, each truth I learned, each tear I cried because it means I am human.

Today I pay tribute to the people I love...I choose to love you...you don't have to love me back because no matter what, I will love you, regardless. I am who I love, what I love.

Today my Spirit whispers to the Little Star in my womb, who has known for the past 19 weeks of every smile, every sorrow, every thought, every feeling, every journey I have taken...you are the most precious one, my Love, you are my lullaby and you have taught me the greatest thing I have learned thus far in my life--love means freeing yourself and exploring the highs and lows of who you are, re-discovering yourself in a new way, overcoming the fear of knowing, in solitude, and being true to what your heart says, to who you are, living that truth, being that truth and holding all these as one whole being--body, mind, heart, spirit. I am complete, just as I am and I am free. I have always been free.

Closing Cycles by Paulo Coelho~

One always has to know when a stage comes to an end. If we insist on staying
longer than the necessary time, we lose the happiness and the meaning of the
other stages we have to go through. Closing cycles, shutting doors, ending
chapters - whatever name we give it, what matters is to leave in the past the
moments of life that have finished.
Did you lose your job? Has a loving relationship come to an end? Did you leave
your parents' house? Gone to live abroad? Has a long-lasting friendship ended
all of a sudden? You can spend a long time wondering why this has happened. You
can tell yourself you won't take another step until you find out why certain
things that were so important and so solid in your life have turned into dust,
just like that. But such an attitude will be awfully stressing for everyone
involved: your parents, your husband or wife, your friends, your children, your
sister, everyone will be finishing chapters, turning over new leaves, getting
on with life, and they will all feel bad seeing you at a standstill. None of us
can be in the present and the past at the same time, not even when we try to
understand the things that happen to us. What has passed will not return: we
cannot for ever be children, late adolescents, sons that feel guilt or rancor
towards our parents, lovers who day and night relive an affair with someone who
has gone away and has not the least intention of coming back. Things pass, and
the best we can do is to let them really go away.
That is why it is so important (however painful it may be!) to destroy
souvenirs, move, give lots of things away to orphanages, sell or donate the
books you have at home. Everything in this visible world is a manifestation of
the invisible world, of what is going on in our hearts - and getting rid of
certain memories also means making some room for other memories to take their
place.Let things go. Release them. Detach yourself from them. Nobody plays this
life with marked cards, so sometimes we win and sometimes we lose. Do not
expect anything in return, do not expect your efforts to be appreciated, your
genius to be discovered, your love to be understood. Stop turning on your
emotional television to watch the same program over and over again, the one
that shows how much you suffered from a certain loss: that is only poisoning
you, nothing else.
Nothing is more dangerous than not accepting love relationships that are broken
off, work that is promised but there is no starting date, decisions that are
always put off waiting for the "ideal moment." Before a new chapter is begun,
the old one has to be finished: tell yourself that what has passed will never
come back. Remember that there was a time when you could live without that
thing or that person - nothing is irreplaceable, a habit is not a need. This
may sound so obvious, it may even be difficult, but it is very important.
Closing cycles. Not because of pride, incapacity or arrogance, but simply
because that no longer fits your life. Shut the door, change the record, clean
the house, shake off the dust. Stop being who you were, and change into who you

"Love is a commitment of the heart that will stand the test of wavering
emotions, intellectual rationalizing, circumstantial allure, hormonal
infatuation, and even the wounds of your lover. Anything less is not true

Saturday, November 04, 2006

Dealing with the Givens~

Meredith: There are times when even the best of us have trouble with commitment, and we may be surprised at the commitments we're willing to let slip out of our grasp. Commitments are complicated. We may surprise ourselves by the commitments we're willing to make. True commitment, takes effort, and sacrifice. Which is why sometimes, we have to learn the hard way, to choose our commitments very carefully.
- Grey's Anatomy Season 3 Episode 6

Sunday, October 08, 2006


I welcome my birthday month with a catharsis of mind, body, heart, soul and spirit...
And as the full moon is out I know it is the perfect time to go through this personal ritual that happens naturally, for some reason, just as God is about to add another year to my life...

It began with the 12 days of being pure vegetarian as a sign of mourning and respect for my Grandaunt's soul, which ended Wednesday...but for some reason, I stayed veg till 7pm today...my body was feeling weak all throughout that time, add to that the brutal 230+kph storm, Milenyo, hitting us last week, which left thousands in Luzon homeless, hurt and hungry...to date, electricity still has not be restored in a lot of areas, I succumbed to a flu, to which, the only cure was, bed rest according to my doctor.

Within this past week as well, one of my best friends among the DLSU faculty, where i used to teach, was preparing to migrate to Australia today with her family. Throughout the week we talked, cried, and poured our hearts out...several goodbyes were needed and yet today as I said it one last time, I couldn't help but give in to the overflow of emotions...she was a sister to me and as I am her son's godmother, the attachment was hard to let go of...even her husband is a good friend whom I respect and whom I will never forget asked me to proofread his wedding vow days before their special day--which turned out to be truly a test of friendship as we braved the bomb attacks that happened that day in Manila.

And then my cousins had to go back to their daily lives across cities, provinces and continents, after being in touch for the past 12 days, since Amma's passing...we could not say our goodbyes as we knew the next day, sadness would overcome us and we would miss each other and our laughter, stories of Amma, our childhood, our dreams, our herstories and histories...many hugs were exchanged and memories were tucked into our souls where we could easily dig in anytime we needed them.

It has been pretty cathartic indeed. Add to that my innate desire to physically fix my surroundings when I am troubled...so I went through the task of cataloguing my research work the past few years including pictures and souvenirs for the scrapbooks I plan to create...it started yesterday as I could not stay in bed anymore...and well, today, I stumbled upon long lost letters of influential people in my life who have made me who I am today...and a diary of mine which I refused to read until today because I was scared to feel emotions I have set aside for decades....

'Tis truly my season for reflection, for looking back, for coming full circle, for gratefulness, for learning and noting the lessons I've learned and for looking towards the light, the next step God wants me to take and for trusting Him that as I walk with Him, He will continue to open windows of His love and faithfulness, filled with miracles, hope and the promise of magnificence. Here I am, Lord, use me and mold me.

Saturday, October 07, 2006

By The River Piedra I Sat Down & Wept ~ an excerpt

Chapter One

By the river Piedra I sat down and wept. There is a legend that everything that falls into the waters of this river -- leaves, insects, the feathers of birds -- is transformed into the rocks that make the riverbed. If only I could tear out my heart and hurl it into the current, then my pain and longing would be over, and I could finally forget.

By the River Piedra I sat down and wept. The winter air chills the tears on my cheeks, and my tears fall into the cold waters that course past me. Somewhere, this river joins another, then another, until -- far from my heart and sight -- all of them merge with the sea.

May my tears run just as far, that my love might never know that one day I cried for him. May my tears run just as far, that I might forget the River Piedra, the monastery, the church in the Pyrenees, the mists, and the paths we walked together.

I shall forget the roads, the mountains, and the fields of my dreams -- the dreams that will never come true.

I remember my "magic moment" -- that instant when a "yes" or a "no" can change one's life forever. It seems so long ago now. It is hard to believe that it was only last week that I had found my love once again, and then lost him.

I am writing this story on the bank of the River Piedra. My hands are freezing, my legs are numb, and every minute I want to stop.

"Seek to live. Remembrance is for the old," he said.

Perhaps love makes us old before our time -- or young, if youth has passed. But how can I not recall those moments? That is why I write -- to try to turn sadness into longing, solitude into remembrance. So that when I finish telling myself the story, I can toss it into the Piedra. That's what the woman who has given me shelter told me to do. Only then -- in the words of one of the saints -- will the water extinguish what the flames have written.

All love stories are the same.

We had been children together. Then he left, like so many young people who leave small towns. He said he was going to learn about the world, that his dreams lay beyond the fields of Soria.

Years passed with almost no news of him. Every now and then he would send me a letter, but he never returned to the paths and forests of our childhood.

When I finished school, I moved to Zaragoza, and there I found that he had been right. Soria was a small town, and as its only famous poet had said, roads are made to be traveled. I enrolled in the university and found a boyfriend. I began to study for a scholarship (I was working as a salesgirl to pay for my courses). But I lost the competition for the scholarship, and after that I left my boyfriend.

Then the letters from my childhood friend began to arrive more frequently -- and I was envious of the stamps from so many different places. He seemed to know everything; he had sprouted wings, and now he roamed the world. Meanwhile, I was simply trying to put down roots.

Some of his letters, all mailed from the same place in France, spoke of God. In one, he wrote about wanting to enter a seminary and dedicate his life to prayer. I wrote him back, asking him to wait a bit, urging him to experience more of his freedom before committing himself to something so serious.

But after I reread my letter, I tore it up. Who was I to speak about freedom or commitment? Compared to him, I knew nothing about such things.

One day I learned that he had begun to give lectures. This surprised me; I thought he was too young to be able to teach anything to anyone. And then he wrote to me that he was going to speak to a small group in Madrid -- and he asked me to come.

So I made the four-hour trip from Zaragoza to Madrid. I wanted to see him again; I wanted to hear his voice. I wanted to sit with him in a caf‚ and remember the old days, when we had thought the world was far too large for anyone ever to know it truly.

Saturday, December 4, 1993

The place where the conference was held was more formal than I had imagined it, and there were more people there than I had expected. How had all this come about?

He must be famous, I thought. He'd said nothing about this in his letters. I wanted to go up to the people in the audience and ask them why they were there, but I didn't have the nerve.

I was even more surprised when I saw him enter the room. He was quite different from the boy I had known -- but of course, it had been twelve years; people change. Tonight his eyes were shining -- he looked wonderful.

"He's giving us back what was ours," said a woman seated next to me.

A strange thing to say.

"What is he giving back?" I asked.

"What was stolen from us. Religion."

"No, no, he's not giving us anything back," said a younger woman seated on my right. "They can't return something that has always belonged to us."

"Well, then, what are you doing here?" the first woman asked, irritated.

"I want to listen to him. I want to see how they think; they've already burned us at the stake once, and they may want to do it again."

"He's just one voice," said the woman. "He's doing what he can."

The young woman smiled sarcastically and turned away, putting an end to the conversation.


The foregoing is excerpted from By the River Piedra I Sat Down and Wept by Paulo Coelho.

Going through a cathartic phase and found this piece of literature to be, once again, part of the healing process as I take on the next challenge that is part of my mission in life.

Sunday, September 24, 2006


Three nights ago I dreamt of Lachmibai and Jianbai...they were together Lachmi guiding Jian, showing her the way...Lachmi was my paternal grandmother who passed away when I was a young girl, but I still remember her face...and it was so clear in that dream. I call her Amma.

Jian was my grandmother's younger sister, whom my dad calls Masi. When my Amma died, it was Jianbai whom we all call Amma Assan (Amma means Grandmother, Assan was the name of her only son, my uncle), who remained... and we all looked up to her as our family's grandmother... others called her the Godmother of the Menghrajanis. And she truly was...

Married at the age of 9 to a 12 year old boy named Bheroomal, they took a ship to the Philippines and set-up a store in Baguio with Bheroomal's family. From the age of 13 to 18, Amma Assan had several miscarriages and bore one son, my Uncle Assanmal. At 18, she was widowed as Dada Bheroomal was killed by a Japanese soldier with a bayonet right after the war. In 1986, my Uncle Assan, her only child, died due to a lingering illness. He left a wife, three daughters, a son and a mother whose greatest grief was to have her only child die ahead of her. My own Amma was married at 12 to Bheroomal's brother, my Dada Chuharmal Menghrajani. Two daughters married two sons--those were the days of arranged marriages and the India-Pakistan partition. And Amma Assan is the reason why everyone else in my dad's family moved to the Philippines through the years.

Back to that dream, I woke up early the next morning with so many text messages--I told myself no, I was to visit her still...but she was gone...the final, fatal stroke...and I was sobbing uncontrollably...her face kept flashing in my mind...and her last words to me on my last visit as happy tears rolled down her cheeks, as she was cupping mine, "You are always happy, always smiling, good...good girl." I replied, "I love you, Amma, God bless you." She said, "God bless..." with such strength while her right hand was flailing a blessing, her eyes, focused on me, tears still rolling down her cheeks. I guess she knew it was the last time she'd see me--physically that is.

In Hindu tradition, the body is cremated within 24 hours, embalming is not needed. Amma Assan was peacefully resting with tulsi leaves around her face and a golden seed of some sort on her lips when we had the wake that evening and waited for my cousins who were flying in from HK and Canada...they were her direct grandchildren...I could only imagine their tears...and they did flow freely as each of us made our way, all in white, to pay our respects to the last living ancestor of their generation.

The prayers and rituals began and it was all new to me as I was always just a spectator. This time, I understood. The men played a major role in performing the final ceremonies and each one, son, brother, cousin, grandson, nephew, friend, had to wrap a piece of colorful cloth around her, spray some perfume on it, offer flowers and a coconut. It was a very long line...as the Queen was well-loved and respected.

The 4 great grandsons were chosen to carry out the significant task of playing the role of the son...they shared responsibilities, but Ryan, 16, the eldest was the main participant. Traditionally, he had to shave his head after and bring Amma's ashes to India to be thrown into the Ganges River. My nieces were asking me how come only the boys get to participate. My cousin behind me quickly replied, "In their time, they thought we were so weak, we could not do anything, our roles were different then." So to make them feel better, I had them collect the coconuts that were being offered to Amma for safekeeping as they will be used in the crematory rites later. At the same time, I was thinking to myself that later that day they will feel worse as traditionally, women are not allowed to go to the cremation.

And then it was time to carry Amma into the funeral car to make her way to the Hindu Temple in Manila...the fire which is called diya, had to be placed in that car and cannot be put out for the next 12 days. For the same length of time, all of us relatives especially the families of the sons, had to be pure vegetarian as part of our mourning, wearing white and attending prayers daily. It was said that the soul goes through 12 stages and prayers and stories were told throughout.

As our convoy approached the Temple, a huge crowd was waiting for to see her off...My Dad did the final rites of respect for his beloved Masi and the tears began to flow once more. I took one last look and kissed her forehead before my Dad, uncles, cousins and friends lifted her coffin while chanting a victorious mantra--loud--invigorating--to acknowledge and give reverence to this mother, wife, teacher, friend, sister, aunt, cousin, grandmother, great grandmother, devotee, woman...source of life and miracles.

I got into my dad's car with my sister and brother, and joined the procession to the South for the cremation. The rain started to pour and while in the car, Daddy shared with us how he wanted his funeral to be...morbid, yes...but valid and definitely, one of the most important conversations we ever had.

As we arrived, my dad and the rest of the men in our family carried her coffin once again, chanting in the rain, into the crematory...We knew it was taboo for women to be present but as we got out of our cars, and waited...we were given a signal, to enter the holiest of holies, so to speak. This was groundbreaking.

So I proceeded to go in with my sister, my cousin's wife, and our three cousins--Amma's grandchildren. They proceeded to cover her in white, with just her face seen, honey was poured all over her, and ghee (pure butter) was poured in the same way...flowers surrounded her and coconuts, and every man present had to bow at her feet...before finally putting her body in the crematory.

We were led out after, we were no longer allowed to witness the burning of her remains but at that moment I remembered a line from a prayer my friend sent me the day before..."Embrace her, O Lord, into your Eternal Light and Love."

You're finally free, Amma...thank you for inspiring all of us with your courage, unconditional love and undying faith in the human spirit. We love you and we will forever carry you in our hearts.