Mental Health Fair @ Warehouse 8


My niece, Gianna did these beautiful art works above.  My sister sent them to our family Viber group and not long after, I landed on the Mental Health Fair and saw art works that I wish Gianna was there with me to ogle and enjoy the explosion of creativity.  Artists painted on notebooks, bookmarks, postcards, had their works printed on bags. There were a lot of stickers which I wanted to purchase but didn’t know where I’d place them but it would be great to have, so never mind if their only use would be to remind me of one day at an art fair meeting people with interesting stories to tell.

I lingered the longest and most repeatedly at the table of an artist couple – Marius Black and Guada Funtilar.  I got a wordless story booklet by Ica Felipe because the girl in the book reminded me of Gianna.  I found a postcard by Micah Sulit that’s perfect for Abot Tala because it said, “Your path doesn’t have to look like anyone else’s,” plus much needed encouragement that proclaimed, “Watch what happens when you don’t give up.” Issel de Leon’s illustrations came with a mini-story at the back.

People from the Philippine Mental Health Association explained to me that they’re not a government agency but a non-profit organization that has been operating for many years helping people sort out their issues.  People from the Youth for Mental Health Coalition also spoke about their advocacy.

My happy loot from the Mental Health Fair at Warehouse 8 (September 29, 2018):

Artist and teacher Denden, drew my niece, Gianna on the spot after I showed her Gianna’s photo on Viber.  I always thought washi tapes were these overpriced cutesy non-essentials that are oh so lovely to look at and covet, but I never knew how they’re used specifically except for crafts in general.  I watched Denden cut the colorfully patterned, glorified scotch tapes into the clothes of people she drew.




Reaching Jack Ma



I googled how to reach Jack Ma to invite him to speak in Manila.  Long shot — you don’t have to tell me and he’s been here but I’d like him to open Abot Tala.  So I sent emails and messages to the great ether out there to see if anyone would answer back.  So far none but keeping fingers crossed and hopes up because some days you subsist on that alone.

The search for space for Abot Tala continues.  The search for people who might have space to offer Abot Tala continues.  Hurdling a problem of a potential space still continues.

Last month, I met up with Carl and Samantha in Tianjin.  Partners in Hero’s Journey camp, we planned and mapped out what we want to happen during the Spring Festival holiday next year.  Inevitably, the conversation wanders into our dreams of alternative education, creating our dream school or “unschool” or “worldschool,” and it further wanders into the territory of how the heck can we reach Jack Ma because he’s the one who can probably make this happen in China.

Donna and I always imagined that it’s harder to put up an alternative to school in China than in the Philippines because of the gaokao.  Carl, Samantha and I were also stumped when it came to the gaokao.  What can you do when up against a monolithic system like the gaokao?  Well-off Chinese families have the privilege and ready option of sending their children to study abroad and escape the scourge of gaokao but what about those without the means to do so?

If Jack Ma was on board, would he have the clout to make a dent in the system?  He may be able to finance alternative education centers in China and even in other countries (hopefully the Philippines and ahem, Abot Tala), but what happens when the child needs to go the university and there’s the gaokao?  Anyway, Carl, Samantha and I throw ideas around on how we could possibly reach Jack Ma.  We laugh at our silliness and revert back to talking about our English immersion camp for Chinese students visiting the Philippines.

Back in Manila, the dream in my heart does not allow me to remain still.  I’m thinking bringing Jack Ma would attract not only the public but Jack Ma himself could invest in a network of self-directed centers in the city.

Yeah, right!  Dream on!


Samantha was pregnant with Xavier in these photos and now Xavier is out!  What’s in store for this family who dreams of worldschooling and rocking the education world? Will Jack Ma ever be in the picture?


Jack Ma: If we do not change the way we teach . . . .

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In the Name of Research


It was a lucky day for our troop getting the research assignment to visit places on our must-see list in Baguio plus sample the food.  First stop was Kidlat Tahimik’s outpouring of love and creativity at the Ili-Likha Artist Village where every corner of the labyrinth was a feast for the eye and soul.  Our favorite was the 7-hour smoked chicken and the smokey bacon that came with it.  If a drive to traffic-choked Session Road is dreadful, perhaps a jaunt to this out-of-place but needed madness will restore our faith in humanity.

Next we went to Arca’s yard whose owner-collector displayed her affinity for all things Baguio to the hilt in a cozy space with a view.   Baguio has a number of these treasures to be discovered, created by people who have made it homier for us who are visiting for a while.  My childhood memories of Baguio have been overshadowed by the unwillingness to drive that long to get to a place far, far from how it was in it’s less-raped state back then.  Good people will always find a way to rescue and restore something that we keep losing.