Philippine Contemporary Culture (Lit170)

Maine Mendoza and Alden Richards (left); and President Rodrigo Duterte (right)

The Filipinos are an odd species. What makes them tick is not always what foreign people usually think. They value entertainment so much that they take it seriously – even at the expense of national concerns. The Filipinos are as simple as monkeys: give them a boy with dimples named Alden Richards and they will shriek and squirm like they are being fried alive; give them a presidential candidate that curses, trash-talks, and makes people laugh and they will seriously make him their president even if it may mean that they will have another dictator in their Philippine history. That’s why it is more fun in the Philippines! Even the shallowest and stupidest things can make Pinoys happy, and I am one of those “shallow” and “stupid” Pinoys. Because I love Aldub and President Duterte! *swoon*

The Filipino contemporary culture is multifaceted; but I will focus on the Aldub love team and the presidential campaigning and election that recently happened. The horrible national incidents that happen like the Mamasapano incident and the Kidapawan Massacre can shock the Filipinos and evoke negative and violent reactions from them but they only have a three-year-old’s attention span for those things. What stays in their hearts and minds, however, are the things that can make them scream and fantasize like the many love teams that we have today (Kathniel, Jadine, Lizquen, and Aldub) and the public personalities that they can make fun of (Jojo Binay, Mar Roxas, Grace Poe, Miriam Defensor-Santiago, and Rody Duterte). Filipinos are happy-go-lucky like that; they somehow deny the existence of the more important things like national issues for they would rather focus their attention on funny or relaxing things instead. With this, I am somehow reminded of one scene in the Film “Heneral Luna”, wherein the Philippine forces badly needed the train for their fight against the Americans, while the “indios” or the common Filipinos back then rode the train that was reserved for the Filipino fighters, ironically looking serene despite the war, with only their roosters and farms on their minds.

Aldub has undeniably reached the peak in terms of touching the hearts of the Filipino masses and being iconic in the history of Philippine showbiz. Well, some people may still argue that Aldub is “mediocre” or something like that, but I deem it illogical to judge celebrities or love teams or shows just because of prejudices in TV channels. I can still see that in most Filipinos, especially the people around me. Some people would deny their love for Aldub because of the fear that they would be judged by the society since the said love team belongs to GMA. That reasoning is absolute BS. A good love team is a good love team, regardless of the TV channel that it belongs to. One evidence for this great achievement of Maine Mendoza and Alden Richards is that I know some couples who call each other, “Alden ko”, or “Yaya Dub ko”. I am also guilty of calling men with dimples as Alden Richards, and they would be flattered for having been compared to him. The Aldub phenomenon is so great that it has become a place for escapism in many ways – for example: single Pinoys, especially the women, would rather live their empty love lives through Aldub; stressed students would rather watch Aldub than study; Pinoys would rather watch Aldub than be overwhelmed by negative national incidents, etc.

A few months before the presidential elections, the five presidential candidates were the talk of the town. However, we cannot always expect so much from the Filipino masses. They criticize the candidates’ personalities and other trivial qualities other than their capability for public service and their possible evil connections for corruption! We can all find satirical memes and photos of them all over Facebook, the presidential candidates being compared to Dragon Balls Z characters, Philippine mountains, etc. The “mountain” post about these candidates is very interesting: Miriam is Mt. Mayon because of its perfection although sometimes it can erupt from rage; Duterte is Mt. Pinatubo because of the many lives it took in the past but now the view is very beautiful; Grace Poe is Mt. Jambo because it is a new mountain and the “Jambo” name is American; Mar Roxas is Mt. Batulao because it is for newbies and it can be easily reached; and finally, Binay is the Chocolate Hills because of his chocolate-brown skin, and the fact that it is expensive to get there as if Binay had stolen your money. Where are the criticisms of their public service? Why do they only see the rude mouth of Duterte? The American citizenship of Poe? The cancer of Defensor-Santiago? And the dark skin of Binay? From where else can you see voters like that? Only in the Philippines!

By just observing two of the recent phenomena that make up the Filipino contemporary culture, we can already see the Filipinos’ indifference regarding serious national issues. Most of us aren’t even aware of our Philippine history – take the instance, for example, of a person who watched “Heneral Luna” and asked why Apolinario Mabini was always seated. (During the first grade I am sure that most of us were told that he had polio and he is the "Dakilang Lumpo".) This is the manifestation of the Propagandists’ and the Katipuneros’ struggles for the freedom of our nation. Or is it? Is the contemporary Filipino culture far from what we used to be, or is it just a reflection of what we were before? If you would ask me, I’d say that our culture nowadays is just a reflection of our historical idleness regarding our country’s future. Until now, this archipelagic nation can’t still be united. The only things that probably unite us today are Aldub and the way we make fun of our presidential candidates. But seriously? Is this who we really are? 


One particular Youtube video about using white candles to connect to our guardian angels accidentally led me to candle magick. And candle magick led me to Wicca, obviously. And Wicca led me to the essential oils that I always use whenever I am stressed or feeling crazy from school or because of personal problems. In my mind, incense is also included, together with the essential oils, in the realm of aromatherapy. And having my moon just recently transit the sign of Taurus, nothing makes me happier now than relaxing and indulging my senses.

Several years earlier, I used to scoff at the idea of aromatherapy, thinking that it’s just a form of useless luxury. And yes, an ancient luxury it is, for it was already used by ancient Greeks, Romans, and Egyptians long ago – think Cleopatra. She was also probably addicted to this. This ancient knowledge of using essential oils for aromatherapy is better than the chemical-based fragrances that flood the market nowadays because (1) the essential oils are more natural and thus (2) they work better, and (3) they have healing properties that the chemical-based products do not have. Here are the essential oils that I currently have, and I will update the list whenever I get more:
Cherry Blossom [Prunus serrulata]: Aids in becoming cheerful and good-humored. Also always associated with love (not much reference for this one).

Jasmine [Jasminum grandiflorum]: An extremely useful oil for treating depression. It stimulates, uplifts, and boosts self-confidence. It should be avoided during pregnancy, but it can be used to speed delivery, once contractions have started. Further it can help with postnatal depression, while also help the mother bond with the baby. Also reputedly promotes lactation in nursing mothers too. A great beauty oil, healing all skin types, and dry skin in particular.

Lavender [Lavendula angustifolia]: This is the most used oil in aromatherapy. It has a soothing and sedative effect, thus helping with sleep difficulties. Further it has a balancing effect upon the central nervous system so it may help with bipolar disorder. Its sedative action also helps reduce blood pressure. Its pain relief properties make it a great oil for sprains or strains, especially in a blend with Marjoram. As it promotes the growth of new cells, it is suitable for all skin conditions. It has a very good effect upon burns and sunburn. Great for healing wounds and preventing infection.

Rose Otto [Rosa damascena]: This is a truly feminine oil. Its effect upon the mind is reputed to be more pronounced in women, and is said to make her feel more positive about herself. Said to increase production of dopamine. Further this oil is a useful tonic for reproductive problems, from aiding pre-menstrual syndrome to aiding vaginal secretions during intercourse. Yet it is also reputed to increase semen production in men.

(Source: Wiccan Together)

I do not apply them directly onto my skin, since I am not certain whether there would be irritation or whatever. The way I inhale them is by using a pink oil burner. Sometimes, when my stress levels are really over the top, I take a bath in warm water with drops of my floral essential oils. Afterwards I feel really refreshed, feminine, and beautiful like Cleopatra. And the negative energies are really washed away by the warm water and the strong energies of these essential oils. Try them out if you haven’t yet. Namaste!

My Disappointment after Reading Sarb Swan's "The Black Swan" Post (about Teal Swan)

For the past two years, the one dominant figure in my spiritual conquests had always been Teal Swan. I accidentally came across her video about the divine feminine and I have been enlightened since. I’ve stopped adhering to any religious institutions even before I’ve discovered any “New Age” stuff – so when I discovered her Youtube channel, I was bewitched. Firstly, because of her spiritual knowledge; and secondly, because of her supernatural beauty. She was really, really blessed. I really resonated with all of her teachings and I accepted everything that she said as truth, to the point that I have already unconsciously elevated her into an authority figure in my mind. I just realized by now that it was close to being in a cult wherein she is the leader. I am not accusing her of being a cult leader; she is just close to being one because of all these unrealistic adorations and putting her high up into the pedestal like an ancient goddess.

And aside from her Youtube channel, I also read her blog regularly. She has a pretty crazy life and she unashamedly posts about it online. Along with her confessions, she also has some amazing insights about life and spirituality. And among all of her blog posts, the one that has devastated me the most was when she posted that she and Sarbdeep (her ex-husband) had already separated. I really felt bad because I like Sarbdeep so much. He is not celebrity-handsome, but royally handsome like some kind of an Indian prince from the ancient times. I felt his gentle soul, and in some ways we are similar because I can sense his endurance and patience underneath his quiet demeanor. And although he is gentle, he is clearly not stupid. I felt bad about his divorce with Teal because it seems like they are the only ones that will perfectly match each other in the world. But maybe not. Maybe not, after I have read Sarb’s post about Teal, entitled “The Black Swan”. And I must admit that before Sarb posted anything, I didn’t think that the cause of their separation was very deep (how shallow of me lol). I have sided with Teal before because she was the only one who didn’t keep quiet regarding the situation.

The Black Swan post of Sarbdeep was very shocking. He, being Teal’s ex-husband, has painted her in a way that was not in line with my perfect idea of her. Yes, Teal always says in her interviews that she has lots of shadows and that she is crazier than she appears to be, but it did not prevent me from being surprised about Sarb’s opinion of her and their failed marriage. You can read the blog post here; but meanwhile, here are some excerpts from the blog post:

“It seems she has no concern or care for the feelings of others and their experience in this whole tawdry saga, only for a self-righteous crusade preaching ‘authenticity’, which is ironic when you know the truth of this situation. But here is the sting for her: The very ‘fame’ Black Swan uses to attack and vilify others will turn on her, it already is doing so…fame is a very disloyal friend.”
“Our marriage did not ‘unravel’ after 2 weeks due to incompatibility or my ‘emotional unavailability’, but because I saw an email Black Swan had sent to her ex just 2 weeks into our marriage talking about the sex she had with him and flirting with him. An ex she also vilified as a ‘sociopath’, months before on her blog. When I read this I felt something within me tear and I realised that I’d made a mistake in marrying her. She was not the person I had thought she was, and at the time we were in California to meet her publisher.”

My heart also breaks for Sarbdeep. But yes, as I was reading Teal’s blog months ago, it seems as if the two of them were just incompatible because Teal was emotionally showy while Sarbdeep was not. However, after reading this, Sarb seems to be really more vulnerable inside and just becomes cold as his defense mechanism. I knew Teal has a flirty side to her, being a Gemini (oops, just generalizing Geminis :p) and being made up of mostly air.
“She will do anything to achieve fame and an affair or infidelity (unless it happens to her) is insignificant.”

Teal is open about her desires for abundance and fame, but this is too much. I really feel bad for Sarbdeep.
“But of course when I flirted online with an old friend in London she was ‘devastated’. I did this sitting next to her, she ‘caught’ me and I wanted her to feel what it was like, perhaps this would make her understand the effect of this behaviour, but all it did was expose her selfishness and narcissism, as it was one rule for her and one for everyone else. There were many, many other instances.”
“I am not ‘emotionally unavailable’, as published on her blogs. I had closed off to Black Swan as to have been emotionally vulnerable with her would be suicide. I had committed to a woman I had expected to have been my wife for the rest of my life. I went in knowing she had many problems and issues and had made a conscious decision to be there for her, a rock in the storminess of life, and her life in particular. What I did not expect was a constant undermining of myself, both public and private, and using her ‘community members’ to interfere in our marriage. Trying to charm then manipulate, then abuse and then finally use victimhood to get her way. All this was while I was watching over her so she can deliver on her ‘mission’.”

I am sorry but this is just a personal opinion, but our spiritual teacher shows signs of narcissism (like some people that I know). Sarb, after exposing his side to the world, will now have lots of people who understand him. I also feel bad, not because of Sarbdeep again, but because I have also cheated on my ex-boyfriend although I love him – just because I felt understood and because I felt like my needs of love and care were not fully met. I also have this tendency to cheat because I have a very low self-esteem. Before, I thought that having lots of male attention meant that I was the most beautiful girl in the world. But I was wrong. Most of them just wanted to sexually take advantage of me. And while I was being constantly lured into their trap, I was hurting the man who loved me the most.
“Fast forward to mid June and it was clear that we were not going to work, as on a personal level I didn’t like her, I hated her ego and her narcissism, her self-obsession with her ‘emotions’ and ‘feelings’ as if nothing else mattered and no one else had emotions and feelings. I didn’t trust her anymore and I was rapidly losing respect for her.”  
“A close friend who had believed in our union had worked out that she was now seeing Gecko, he told her ‘you tell Sarb, or I will’. I racked my brains to think who she could be with and it felt cheap and tasteless that we hadn’t even filed for divorce let alone signed the paperwork and her legs had already flown open. But, sadly I can’t say I was surprised.”  
“The real problem in the context of this situation is that she loves attention and adoration from wherever it comes and I could not and did not want to do anything about that. I just had to make a decision whether this was what I wanted in my life, and as you have gathered the answer is a definitive No.”
“I had expected us to have been friends and remain on good terms for the rest of our lives and feel sad for her in her illness, but she has been so nasty and manipulative to me and others I have decided to step forward with this blog now, as it has been nearly a year since I left Utah and I am still being attacked, directly and indirectly. If she were just able to get on with her life without vilifying me I would not have written this blog, and the others that will follow. I’m also horrified how Gecko’s ex wife has been treated by him and Black Swan, why attack a mother of two kids who is rebuilding her life? That lady has been very dignified and noble in her silence. I think it is shameful to use a public platform, especially one intended to share spiritual teachings as a weapon to attack others.”

I wish I could comfort Sarb when he was crying, but he is in another country and is about twenty years older than me, I think. There is no way I could be chosen to be his next wife. Hahaha! Sarb is really attractive and I wish I had Teal’s luck to also marry a man like him.

After I have read Sarb’s blog, I was really confused and sad. I don’t know who to believe anymore. Because I got convinced that I have followed a narcissistic guru. And to confirm this, I watched Gigi Young’s video entitled “5 Signs YourSpiritual Teacher May Be a Narcissist”. And these are some Gigi notes that I have written down:
“For a narcissist, the spiritual community is the perfect place. It’s the perfect place to angle yourself to be. Why? Because of all the narcissistic supply that you can have.”  
“So, just because someone is able to talk about the eleventh dimensions of time and space, or of how to heal your heart, or spirit guides, or whatever spiritual concept it is, doesn’t mean that they’re actually spiritually connected at all.”

“The first [quality] is that they are special, and have more abilities than you. Or, they have more direct access to Source.”  
“If you feel like someone is a narcissistic person leading a cult or trying to form that, trying to form a very distinct spiritual circle for their own narcissistic supply, they will give you information and insight but there will be an air of being different or special. There will be something special about them that no one else can really do or can offer you. Even if they say that they’re all one, and that you can rise to be anything that you want and that you are free, there will always be an undertone no matter how subtle it is, that they have more access to spirit than you, or they were simply born different, and oftentimes they have a very direct mission that they have to do because they’re special. Because they’re born with this. And this is where you sense a narcissistic ego right there. It’s right there.” 
“They have to be the best. They have to be the one who has supreme knowledge. They will also accuse other people of copying them; they will think that somebody else who is talking about spirituality is copying them. Because again they have to be supreme and anybody who is talking about spirituality 'must be copying my work or me'. Which is ironic because actually many spiritual teachers who have NPD don’t use their own original material; much of the processes they use and material they use are actually taken from ancient religions, or other teachers, or other texts. So there is that mirroring again where they themselves don’t have that access to spirit to necessarily have their own perspective on things, so they take it from someone else and they assume that everybody else is copying.”  
“A narcissistic person will seek pity. And this is odd. As we think people with NPD are full of ego and would be beyond pity and pity would be embarrassing. But this is actually a very clever defense mechanism…Being a wounded baby bird allows you to not take responsibility for your actions…It keeps their inner circle and followers highly protective of them.”  

At the end of the day, I realized that something that we believe right now might be altered or proven false in the future, and that nobody should ever be put in a pedestal for their “special” qualities, because all living beings are equal. We all came from one Source, so we must not undermine ourselves or think that other beings who were blessed with sixth senses are better or more favored by the universe. And whether Teal is a narcissist or not doesn’t matter. That is her own issue to overcome. I have also had lots of narcissistic ex-friends and I just distanced myself from them because they’re starting to take advantage of my kindness – they were already purposely lowering my self-esteem in order to make themselves look bigger. These people are toxic. So Sarbdeep, my dear friend, if you feel like leaving Teal is the right choice for you, I support you for that. And Teal, thank you for being a catalyst for my spiritual enlightenment. I am not judging you. But although we are alike in many ways, my sympathy for now goes for Sarbdeep. I love you both. And I wish you both happiness. xoxo

Crying Womb

When my womb that is bloody
Is screaming in agony
Is it feeling the trauma
Stored in twenty years?
Crying for an egg denied by mama
To live a harsh earthly life?
Or is it a divine punishment for Eve
For being a beautiful wife?

When the pain gets too tough
And it’s more than enough
I try to feel numb
And get out of the body
But the strings from my womb
Wants my soul to feel badly
Those childhood memories
And lost friendships’ agonies
That once gave me joy
But now are destroyed.

Can I ask you miss womb
What I did do wrong?
Is it rejecting romances
That knock on my thongs,
Preserving my virginity
When I desire intimacy
Or getting conflicts with girls
Who hug me when
Life gives me curls?
Or should I just destroy you,
Womb of the heroine,
For letting me suffer
From my wounded feminine?

Now tell me my womb,
Why are you crying?
Are you tired of trying
To be pretty or sensual
Or intellectual
To see your worth as a woman?
For when you sob in your pain
I can feel the rain
And as I lay and writhe
For my crying womb
Resurfaces the memories
From a ten-year-old tomb –
My forgotten girlish dreams
Of the beauty and light beams
Around Shania Twain.
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