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Of mothers, love, and death


My mom in yellow. She is beautiful inside and out. Tonight she cooked me a simple birthday vegan meal. It made a world of difference to be with her and my dad during the quarantine and my 50th birthday. The photo was taken four years ago, during my dad’s 80th.

Dear friends, part of this post is a bit unsettling, and all of it is deeply personal. But I have decided to post about this to help me confront one of my oldest wounds that still shake me up to today and hope that someone reading this who is in the same space would realize that it is possible to rise out of dejection. If you feel in any way the same and need to talk to someone, please reach out to me through my Skype at Shiela R Castillo.

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Love in the time of Corona

Image result for covid 19

The world is being gripped by fear and anxiety over yet another zootonic disease, except that this seems worse than what we have seen before, what with people’s immediate access and ability to spread information, and the tendency to focus on everything that is not going right.

I thought maybe its time to post some thoughts about the virus that I don’t always articulate on social media. Pandemics are not the easiest subjects for a simple blogger like me. But I would like to be able to look and put out a bit of positivity despite the global doom and gloom scenario. My intention is not to gloss over a real global challenge, but to find meaning in a crisis, lessons, and maybe even inspiration if this post could ever succeed in doing that.

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You still know nothing ’bout me

I did say I will be braver, and would write as if I need to. This is one of those nights when I need to write. Forgive me if this offends your sensibilities. This is my most personal post yet.

I really had fun on my own tonight walking along the riverbanks of Ha Tien (Vietnam). But the night is ending on a sad note. Somebody who I have hurt so much, seemed to be on a revenge rampage and again went on a tirade, attacking who I am as a person. It started out innocently enough. When I sent an angel emoticon, they said that it had horns; then said I was never a good person; then about me with no purpose in life but my job, then about me not capable of thinking of anybody but myself; then about me not capable of loving anybody but myself. All of these in guise of jokes, with some ha-ha to make them palatable. Then more hurtful words with no more ha-has. It hurt me to my core, because they are a person who I still love and respect, despite what happened between us.

That I’m writing about this doesn’t mean how I feel for that person is already lost. It only means I need to do some self talk and finally speak out about who I am. Except that I cannot, because I don’t know myself yet. Everybody is on a journey to self discovery. How could people judge us that much, flatten our humanity into a single dimension, as if they really know us, when nobody has the capacity to really know one but oneself? It’s not easy either. Knowing oneself is an arduous journey, who knows if the destination is even reachable?

I am still trying to figure out who I am. But I don’t think that’s a crime. Everybody is a work in progress. That many people think I am a work in regress doesn’t make me so, unless I allow myself to be so. Everybody can tell me I failed in my life. But nobody can accuse me that I never tried. Because I did try. I do try evefuckingry day. I try to be more than what people think of me, I try to think of people, I try to love people. I try to love the animals and Mother Earth every single day. Sometimes I succeed, sometimes I fail. But please don’t tell me I am not capable of thinking of others or loving others but myself. That is a lie if there is ever a lie about me.

I never pretended to be a saint. That I speak out about my causes doesn’t mean I am perfect. That is just an aspect of my life. Do not equate the two. Whenever people praise me I feel uncomfortable and give a self-deprecating remark. I don’t want people to have a false idea of who I am. A few friends on social media praise me time and again. I always tell them that what they see on facebook is not who I am. I tell them if they praise me, people who know me will complain. I tell them I do not deserve any of their words because they don’t know who I am.

Despite what people see of me, or hear of me from people who love and hate me, they have no idea who I am. They haven’t had the misfortune of living my life and living in my head. How lucky they are that they don’t know me. To know me is to suffer with me, in the way that only I could suffer. If they are capable of looking at me as they think they know me now, they will be capable of really seeing me if they know who I really am. Or maybe knowing who I am is not important. Maybe the details don’t matter. Maybe people don’t need to know I suffered abuse as a child (not from family), have deep-seated self-esteem issues, thought of myself as ugly and never good enough, failed in relationships, went through the darkest of despair and fought hard to overcome all of these. Maybe we can just accept and love people as they are, despite their flaws, their present and their past; and despite who we are in their life.

I believe this is possible. Because I have been loving people this way, and many people have been loving me this way. My parents are not perfect but I never blamed them for my misfortunes or my suffering. I know they tried in the best way they can to be the best parents to me and my siblings. I love my siblings even If they don’t understand me. I know they accept me and do not love me any less every time I fail them. I love my kids even if I know they feel I fall short a lot of times. I know they love me in their fashion, which a lot of times I don’t understand. I’ve stood by my friends through thick and thin, even if we don’t like each other sometimes. I know they believe me when I say I tried, because they have seen how I tried. I’ve loved people who never loved me. It’s not their fault that they can’t love me, that is just who they are. I even love malzoists, even if I don’t like them.

As for my job being my only purpose in life, I sure hope they are not right. Even in my job I am not only an office worker. I am a mentor, coach, adviser, supporter, encourager, idea generator, number cruncher (sometimes!), disruptor, and doer. Imho, am more and I still try to be so much more than what I am, even when it hurts. I am a mother, daughter, sister, friend, colleague, volunteer, vegan and environmental activist, climate communicator, cultural creative, writer, futures student, social development worker, traveller, lover of life. I am all of these in all my good and bad facets of these. I am a warrior and a queen. My purpose in life is not only my job. In fact I am on my quest to find it. Maybe it’s about speaking out for the animals and Mother Earth. Maybe it’s about failing and trying again. Maybe my purpose in life is trying to find my purpose. I don’t know. I am yet to find out.

So thank you for listening to me here. Apologies if I made you feel uncomfortable. I think that is one of my talents, without even trying. Thank you for taking time to read this, although I feel I am writing this more for myself, than for anyone else. I will just leave this here, and will not share in social media as I always do to my other posts. If you happen to resonate with my ramblings, let me know how you feel.

And to you, if you feel this is for you, do not assume you know somebody. Whatever you think you know, see, or hear about them, you have no idea of their inner life, who is as much who they are as what you see. And to you my friend, if you feel this is for you, do not let anybody but yourself define who you are. You are only what they say you are if you accept it, and if you allow it. Stop playing small and dimming your own light. Do not let anybody make you feel like trash, or treat you like a doormat, whether you love them, or owe them. You are here and you matter, even if you are not perfect.

Lastly, thank you Maslow for asking us more than what we could deliver. I will try again in my next life. And Sting, for the song that I stole for the title of this post.


Tiny green island love


I’m generating renewable energy! No, actually, I was giving in to the orders of the photog.  Taken by my soul brother, prize-winning photographer Haresh Tanodra.









I love this tiny green island surrounded by the sea! That’s all I can say about Guimaras Island in Western Visayas, Philippines. It’s only a stone’s throw away from where I live, an hour away in fact, and another 20 minutes by boat. So my little family visited again after Christmas, and stayed at our friend’s Vegetarian Bed and Breakfast place called ‘Balay Bato’. We had collective meditation after a glorious kiirtan. Then we binged on their lovely indigenous vegan dishes and watched Play for Change videos. The kids played their Magic Cards and goofed around with the cat and dog who we befriended on our last visit.

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The persecution of love

slide6The other day, I received a text message from my staff Jhoann that had a lot of hearts and I Love You’s. It said Happy National I Love You Day. I thought it was cute. But I can name more than a handful of people who would scoff at it. Worse, maybe more than half the world thinks it is meaningless and petty. And maybe for many good reasons. I love you has become a fad, a meaningless phrase casually said with nary a thought.

I think we live in the time of the persecution of love. It has nothing to do with the dismissal of the National I Love You Day. I mean a real persecution of love and its very essence. Love has been relegated to the margins, looked down on in favour of material and professional success. Love has been shut out of many hearts. Proofs abound: wars, domestic violence, conflict at the workplace, destruction of the environment, factory farming, marginalization of basic sectors, climate change, religious intolerance, anger and cynicism. All of these and many others prove that love has been thrown out the door.

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