Breathing with Honey


Last Sunday, we celebrated eight years of an organization (MLAC) dedicated to the well-being of children and families, over five decades of an individual life committed to this pursuit and seventy five years of Dr. Honey Carandang’s existence spent loving, mentoring, serving, being and breathing.  The afternoon was a joyous tapestry woven with care and attention, rhapsodized with singing, flute-playing, guitar-strumming and grandchildren running and dancing on stage, sharing their grandmother with her many admirers and collaborators.

MLAC is an acronym for Tita Honey’s full name but it also stands for Mindfulness, Love and Compassion — what Tita Honey and a team of psychologists want to continuously and tirelessly nurture among families and communities.  It’s their contribution to nation-building as well, especially in this age where hate, disrespect and violence pervades social media, the news and is sadly even exacerbated by leaders who are meant to protect the people.

During her talk, Tita Honey mentioned things that perfectly describe the kind of environment that we want to create in Abot Tala, an alternative to mainstream high school.

  1. When people are treated with reverence, they became conscious of their own sacred worth.
  2. Celebrating together, working together, playing together, singing together — These are the ways in which discipline of community can be practiced.  This is mindfulness.
  3. In this listening together, a true creative silence can grow.
  4. In a true community, we are windows constantly offering each other views of the mystery of presence of the spirit in our lives.
  5. Solitude and community are the discipline of which the space becomes free for us to listen to the presence and the Spirit to respond fearlessly and generously.
  6. Mindfulness, or total presence and attention has a magical aspect that gives VITALITY.  Total presence, attention, no judgement, being available, caring, listening.
  7. Attention is a form of kindness and lack of attention is a form of rudeness.
  8. Inattention is cold and hard.  Attention is warm and caring.  It makes our best possibilities flower.
  9. Never forget our inherent dignity and capacity for kindness and compassion.  It is our birth right.

Often in traditional schools where there are around 40 or more people in a class or even in schools where there are only 20 in a class, there are students who are not given enough attention, who fall between the cracks, who are not thriving and who are looking for options out.  We’d like to provide an alternative to those kids and to those who yearn for more freedom to direct their own education.  When I asked Tita Honey, if this type of space can exist in the Philippines, she replied that their team at MLAC can help prepare the mentors of Abot Tala to be able to provide an environment where mindfulness and care are practiced.

I wouldn’t have been able to attend this event had it not been for a Chilean psychologist whom my sister met in an event at the Chilean ambassador’s place.   Daniela and I linked up on Facebook and tried to set up a meeting.  Since she’s based in Cavite, I asked when she’ll be in Manila next and serendipitously, she mentioned she’ll be attending Tita Honey’s talk.  Here is how Daniela introduces herself on her FB page:

I’m Daniela, a Chilean registered Psychologist in the Philippines interested in mental health, community service, and learning.

I have created this space to connect with other mental health professionals, organizations and individuals invested in the overall well-being of Filipino children and youth. This, out of a desire to better understand mental health and wellness within your cultural context, learn about the work you do, and share what I discover in the process.

If you would like to know more about me and my motivations, check out the “LET’S TALK CHILD & YOUTH MENTAL HEALTH” section under the “About” tab.

I look forward to connecting with you! Help me understand your culture and the state of mental health for young Filipinos!


Check out Daniela’s Facebook page.

Following are photos of slides from Dr. Honey Carandang’s talk:


From the talk, I also got a number of Tita Honey’s books including the newest one which includes this beautiful passage about family being a school of compassion and kindness:

Tita Honey requested for kindness when she sang her breathing song and when she played the flute.  I just wish I could’ve recorded her singing this because it would be great to hear and exercise this several times a day.


Read more about Dr. Honey Carandang here.

Read more about Abot Tala here.


2 thoughts on “Breathing with Honey

  1. among other things, your honey carandang studied street children who left their homes because of abuse etc – and yet their deepest wishes and fervent prayers were still about family, according to a friend (she died last year) in her book MOVING ON (alegria abellon javier-obien), which i edited. somehow, your school non-school must include family


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