Consumption on Christmas

Christmas is the time of the year when I have to exercise the most discipline in resisting the temptation to consume, consume, and consume.  In light of our current global recession and burgeoning environmental challenge, is it really holy-religious-spiritual to spend money (you may or may not have) on stuff that will eventually end up in a landfill? My unsolicited advice this year for Christmas shoppers:

            1. Don’t give. Instead, spend some quality time with those you want to honor. Do something special for them. Serve them.

            2. If you must give, choose gifts that keep on giving:

                        a) Donate to charitable organization on behalf of your loved one.

                        b  Choose biodegradeable goods

                         c) Choose art

i.Treat loved ones to a live music experience,

ii.Give books – they will eventually biodegrade; better yet, get                                                 them used

iii.Give music

            3. Don’t spend money on swaddling your gift in luxurious wrappers and ribbons. Improvise. Use whatever you can at home. Recyle bags, papers, ribbons. Use old cloth for wrapping, or colorful magazines.

Don’t just “go with the flow.” There are more satisfying and loving ways to show people your love than offering another wrapped box. 


A Reminder

 I spent much of the day driving in heavy rain and heavy traffic from one birthday party to another one 35 miles apart. As most of you know by now, I don’t like using my car. In addition to my usual environmental concerns, saftey issues (compounded by driving during a pouring rain) added to my concern and frustration. But then I arrived at the birthday parties! One was a double celebration for two very old friends who knew me before I became a full-fledged singer, and the other was for a new friend that I’ve become very fond of, someone I’m looking forward to knowing more. My spirit lifted.  I was able to reconnect with a long time friend I hadn’t seen in years. Though I was frustrated and concerned about harming our Mother Earth by adding to the destruction of our ozone layer, I was reminded today that sometimes,  in a few  rare instances, using my car to make human connections feels less oblivious and unconscious than using it to merely get from one errand to another. Today my soul was caressed by the beauty of friendship. But I remain aware that all my actions, even a 35 mile drive, have consequences.


The Burden of Owning a Car


As I write another check for my car insurance I wonder why I keep my car.

Surely I know many people in Los Angeles where public transportation is

not as accessible as other major cities in the U.S. survive quite happily without one.

Then I thought of the other burdens involved with owning a car. 


Here is my short list:

1. Increasing gasoline prices

2. Annual maintenance

3. Parking fees in addition to frustrations in finding parking

4. Flat tires

5. Accidents

6. Getting stuck in traffic

7. Supporting oil companies

8. Contributing to the destruction of our ozone layer and consequently, our planet

9. Another thing to clean or pay someone to do so


Bicycling in Los Angeles

Our family has one car, which we use only when necessary. Our reason? To decrease the use of oil, to protect our environment, for exercise, and to commune with society and nature. Though the advantages of bicycling clearly outweigh the use of an automobile, I must admit I don’t enjoy it as much as my counterparts in Europe. Los Angeles is not a bike-friendly city; it can be very dangerous. I’m seemingly invisible to most drivers, despite the width of my backside! I have many times been close to accidents and the only reason it was prevented was because I’m extremely cautious. Car drivers are not. Our city promised to make L.A. more friendly for bikers. I can’t wait for this to happen. In the interim, a plea for drivers: please look both ways!


The Problem with Water Persists


The World Water Week in Stockholm is happening now until Sept 11th. Leaders, experts from all over the world meet to develop ways to solve the global issue of water. There are three critical issues at the moment:


1)The spreading of water borne diseases

Bad water kills more people than Malaria, AIDS and wars combined. Every year 1.8 million people die from diarrheal disease attributed to unsafe water, mostly children under five.


2)Increased spreading of chemicals in our water

Increased chemicals in agriculture, business development and household,  pharmaceutical residues eventually end up in our waterways. According to a recent U.S. study, newborn babies have on average 230 man-made substances in their blood.


3)Consumers’ role in environmental problems

As consumers we should consider our role in promoting destruction of our environment, of our waterways.


The problem with water is not as far away from our home as we think. It is just not in developing countries such as India, Africa, Bolivia. It is right here, at home. In California, we have drought. Most of our beaches have become unsafe. Tuna is not safe to eat due to mercury. The bottled water we purchase in bulk from Costco continues to pollute our beaches, our landfills and other landfills in developing countries. 


We can change and there is hope. There are tons of information out there on how to make small changes.  I invite you to visit some of my favorite organizations:


Tell me what you think: 

The Pursuit of Life

 It is 4th of July, Independence Day. Most people would say that I am accomplishing a lot, living a dream. I gave up physical therapy to pursue a career in music. And I am doing well, of course not without challenges. However, there are still some yearnings in my heart that I want to pursue such as travel to places I’ve never seen, learn more, actively do more toward the environment, toward the global issue of water, learn more about indigenous music and instruments from my country and document them, write, teach. Oh, so much more! And today, on Independence Day, as an immigrant to this country, I am reminded that I have the freedom to pursue my passions! I am in a country that not only allow the pursuit of life but encourages it.

It is never too late.

“My Funny Brown Pinay” 3 years after its release

I’m inspired and gratified to see how "My Funny Brown Pinay" has touched so many women (and men!) of color.  Three years after its release the song continues to uplift and empower women of color. Here’s a recent example from an expressive and intelligent kayumangging Pinay: