Escaping to a Summer Day Near an Extinct Volcano

In an imaginary life, everyday is like this.


Escapism? One can hardly fault anyone for indulging in some escapism. Check out the recent popularity of superheroes in movies where they somehow save the day, or fantasies such as Lord of the Rings and Harry Potter where the good eventually triumphs over evil, or science fiction where the future gets secured in galaxies far away.

Maybe there’s a lot of reasons for wanting to escape reality in today’s world, but I won’t get into that All I know is that some dose of “mindful escapism” — including hobbies, sports, photography and (cough, for some) blogging — is good for our mental health.

And when we “escape” with friends and create happy memories with them then it’s one way to bring the good from the imaginary into reality. And maybe that can make this world a little better and there would be fewer reasons to escape from it.

(Photo taken at the foot of Mt. Makiling, an extinct volcano on the island of Luzon in the Philippines.)

Unmoored But Not Adrift in El Nido, Palawan

El Nido is a “managed resource protected area” in the province of Palawan in the Philippines. It is 420 kilometers or about an hour’s plane ride from Manila.

It has 45 islands and islets, each one a quiet corner to get unmoored from the hustle and bustle of city life.


One can while away the day on a boat, not to go adrift, but perhaps get back one’s bearings.


Or, when the day is done, simply enjoy the sunset, in a place where no one is in a hurry, not even the sea turtles that come to lay their eggs on the shore.


The day is long, as it should be, because when the days are long, then life is long too.

Natural Heritage

Not All Those Who Wander Are Lost


I saw the sun rising, an orb hovering above the lake, failing to push the mist away from the mountain. I took a detour.

Why do I wander? I sat there, wondering.

“Not all those who wander are lost.”
-JRR Tolkien, Lord of the Rings

But they were on a quest, mine was a detour.

I pushed my thoughts aside. I just wanted to enjoy my detour.
(Sunrise over Laguna Lake near Mt Makiling in Laguna province in the Philippines.)

Does the Earth Belong to Us?

When I watch a sunrise


Or the occasional moonrise


I sometimes wonder if the earth is a better place without us.

I’m not trying to be a tree hugger (nothing wrong with being one).


I am simply trying to ask a bigger question —

Is the earth a planet that belongs to our species, to use and exploit, and, when exhausted, move on and colonize Mars and other planets?

Or are we part of nature, homo sapiens another species on earth, another passenger on this planet?


“With great power comes great responsibility.”

This has been quoted through the centuries, including the French Revolution, the US Supreme Court, Winston Churchill, the Holy Bible, and yes, Spider Man movies.

That our species is preeminent confers it great opportunity, to shape the earth for its purpose, and enjoy its gifts.


But also great responsibility.
and Earth Day 2017

Photos from top: Sunrise at Mt Fuji, Moonrise over Laguna province in the Philippines, Todai-ji at Nara in Japan, Ho Chi Minh International Airport, Sunrise in Laguna province in the Philippines

May This Day Find You at Peace and Leave You with Hope

“May this day find you at peace and leave you with hope” is a traditional Drayan blessing (from a Star Trek Voyager episode).

This could as well be a blessing for Palm Sunday.

In the Philippines, young coconut leaves are woven into fronds.

People wave them during the mass for the Palm Sunday blessing.

Waving the fronds (locally called “palaspas”) welcomes the start of the Holy Week — for many in the Philippines, a time for healing the soul, finding peace and renewal through hope.

Is There an Antidote for a Meaningless Life?


A father says to his daughter, “Congratulations! I heard the school is giving you a medal for your very good grades! When is the awarding?”

The girl smiles and replies, “That’s on Monday.”

The dad says, “I see. Why didn’t tell you me? I heard parents of awardees are invited.”

The daughter says, “You’re always away on a business trip anyway, and you weren’t around last time I got a medal. Mommy can come. It’s alright, Daddy.”

To a father who loves his daughter, this hurts. In the gut. His child no longer expects him to be around on important events.

How can the father explain to his child that he had to be away at work so he could send her to a good school? Is there an easy answer?

I once read an article by a businessman who said his responsibility to his business includes not only his responsibility to his family but also to the families of the people working for him. That sometimes he had to make personal sacrifices for the greater good.

Yes, we all make trade-offs. But when put like this, it implies that the end justifies the means. So is one end more important than another? Who determines it, the father or the child?

These questions will become even more important in the future. Driverless cars may one day have to choose between two pedestrians, one of which it can’t avoid – an old person or a child – which one will it save? Are life decisions impersonal? What if it was your mother or your child?

Life is more than an optimization equation. Will we let computers make decisions for us? Can humans truly isolate their feelings from an objective world?

We cannot, and should not, escape the human condition. To be fully human we have to throw ourselves at life, fully and unconditionally, and take what it throws back, including the difficult choices, the pain and suffering, the joys and happy memories, and make them part of our reality.

In his popular book, “Man’s Search for Meaning”, Viktor Frankl wrote that one can find meaning and hope even in the most difficult circumstances, that this choice is the human freedom that cannot be taken away.

I wish I could simply wish a Hollywood ending for the father and his child, but life doesn’t give answers that easily. Yet as long as they stay engaged with life, there is hope. Sometimes the meaning of the dance hits us while we are dancing, and the picture emerges from the shadows when the light hits all the pieces of a stained glass window.

(Photo of the sculpture “Oblation” taken at the University of the Philippines.)

Oblation (n) – an offering, sacrifice.