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I hope you won’t be able to sleep tonight

During the March training of The Climate Reality Project here in the Philippines, Al Gore had to insert to his presentation a very new slide stating how February was just found to be the hottest month on record. My worst fear that time is that March would beat February heat records. and now it is confirmed.

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Sharing my story at #CRinPH

shiela fro bec

Thanks to my dear friend and fellow climate warrior Dean Rebecca Barrios for taking this photo.

(I had the chance to briefly share my story at The Climate Reality Leadership Corps Training in Manila this afternoon. This is how I intended to share it, but the actual was a bit different. It was an honor to be introduced by Climate Reality Board Member Don Henry who I had the privilege of meeting in the Asia Pacific Climate Reality Leadership Congress in Melbourne in 2011. Meeting Climate Reality founder and chairman Al Gore at the back stage was so surreal, but that’s another story.)

I’m a farmer’s daughter. My father took pains to send us to school and not spend a day of work in the farm. But as a child I loved climbing trees and taking showers in the rain and daydreaming. However, my father’s dream for me was to set me out to make something of myself. And despite some detours, I found myself teaching in college and taking up a masters course. I was actually on my way. But I was burned out.

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Every Ekadashi


Today is Ekadashi, and to me, that means fasting day.  I follow the Ananda Marga fasting calendar which prescribes full, dry fast twice a month. Since 1996, when I became a vegetarian, I’ve struggled to fast, with no success. I couldn’t for the life of me go beyond lunch without food or drink. But it all changed when in 2007, my partner in grime guided me towards fasting using this strategy:

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How to invite me to dinner  (or what vegans eat)


Why not?

Unintentionally, I’ve been increasing the difficulty of relatives and friends to invite me for dinner or eating out. This started when in 1996 I became a vegetarian, and that’s a very long time ago, but take two prodigal years when I vacillated with my food.For a long time, I couldn’t understand why other people thought a vegetarian could set aside the meat from a vegetable dish and go on just fine. I later realized that this misgiving is not their fault, but mine, since I would have to give extra time and effort to explain to people my food preference. So I started explaining that I was lacto-vegetarian, eating dairy products but not egg, mushrooms, onion and garlic (although I got to eat them unconsciously a few times). People always argue that mushrooms, onions and garlic are vegetables but my diet is much like Jain food, vegetarian with more restrictions. And yes, no eggs. People sometimes couldn’t get that eggs become chickens, ergo, I couldn’t eat them.

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Welcome to the rest of my life

What’s so special for me about tomorrow, September 21? I can think of a number of things.
First, it’s the birthday of my best friend and imaginal collaborator Jags. He will be leaving for Liwanag Worldfest in Cebu so there will be no celebration.
Second, anniversary of Martial Law. I’m a Martial Law baby. It was simply a fact of my life. Maybe it’s the reason why the moment I went to college, long after Martial Law has been lifted, I immediately became an activist. But that was a long time ago. The country is still trying to heal the wounds it caused, while I have moved to another struggle, that of the environment.
Third, it’s the International Day of Peace, so there will be a global energy collectively ideating for peace.

Raw food breakfast, lovingly prepared by my soul brother Haresh Tanodra.
There is a fourth and final reason, which to me is the most personal one. I’ve decided to take the leap and become vegan. I’ve been wanting to be one for some years, but I always fall into the trap of giving up what I want most. Or maybe it’s an attachment to the programs that I grew up with, a lack of confidence in myself that I could pull it through, or a fear of getting out of the vegetarian comfort zone that I’ve been in for 17 years (became a vegetarian in 1996 but had a couple of vacillating years). I have become practically vegan for some time, about 95% (found out later this means plant-based). But then one is either vegan or not. And I feel I just have to be one.
I mentioned this desire in passing to a fellow participant in a training I attended in India recently. Her bewildered reply was, “But why?” And I can understand her reaction. I was like that before, and I had to really go deep into myself to realize the whys of it for me. There are so many reasons, but there will be other blog posts for it. I know it won’t be easy, but I’ve been through tougher times. I know that whatever I go through because of this change, my only enemy would be my weakness, my deeply-embedded programs, and my complacency. I’m facing this head-on knowing it will not be perfect. But at least I could tell myself that I did try.
Lunch at the office. Boiled green leaves and okra, fresh tomatoes, fried eggplant, and rice. With thanks to the lovely Lorna Batislaon.
Lunch at the office. Boiled green leaves and okra, fresh tomatoes, fried eggplant, and rice. With thanks to the lovely Lorna Batislaon.
So starting tomorrow, I will be vegan.

But I just have a small request.

Please help me pull it through. Help me become authentic to one of the deepest desires of my heart, and do not allow me to walk away from where I really want to be.
If I falter, please don’t judge me, lift me up.
If I forget, please don’t ridicule me, make me realize.
If I get tired, please don’t condone me, challenge me.
If I give up, please don’t laugh at me, make me remember.
If I am tempted, please don’t side with me, straighten me up.
It’s a terrifying yet exciting journey. Welcome to the rest of my life.