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Goodbye Sagada Mar 4, 2009

Goodbye Sagada

It's been years since I left my teaching job at the University of the Philippines to answer the call of Sagada. I dropped everything, tied up all the loose ends, and headed north to start a new chapter in my life. In all that time, Sagada has been a Shangrila... a place of serenity, a place where I find balance, peace and equanimity. It's bitter-sweet that I now have to leave this enchanting place. As I finish packing and face the uncertainty ahead, I can only smile and feel grateful for all its nurturing embrace. Why leave Sagada?

Empath Yoga Teacher-Training Program
The Empath Yoga teacher-training program by Erica Bouchér just concluded. It was an intense 14-day program that started from 6am and lasted until 9pm...200 hours altogether with not much time to do anything else. The program was one continuous 2-week flow. What I went through caused me to look long and hard at myself to find bearing on this cosmic landscape I fondly call the collective universe.

Impending Life Change
By soaking-in everything like a dry sponge, and internalizing Empath Yoga's tenets within that 2-week time frame, I have invariably opened myself up to major changes in my life compliant to this new paradigm. These changes however are yet to reveal themselves. I just know they'll be huge and will be on my table and it's up to me to either embrace the transition with full abandon of my present lot, or simply say 'no thank you'.

Red Pill or No Pill?
Even before teacher-training was over, I could already feel something different in the air. And then a few things happened to me in Sagada that was clear in no uncertain terms that the offer was already on the table: leave Sagada to allow these changes to take place, or stay in Sagada and keep things at status-quo. Should I now take the red pill (read: Matrix)?

Taking the Red Pill
I hurt for the golden morsels life throws at me. It's not everyday I get those treats. This looming post-Empath Yoga transformation is one big nugget. Mindfully, I took the red pill and now brace myself for tectonic shifts that would subsequently take place.

Now, I realize that when I participated on this program, the die was already cast and all I had to do was stay real and allow the Flow to clear a path for energetic landscape reminiscent of Burning Man.


A Burning Man Background
Back in 2003 as I was marinating in the desert playa at the Burning Man event in Nevada, I came to an appreciation of a broader, much colorful horizon that lies beyond what's visible to me. I didn't see it, but I knew it was there. Imagine yourself standing so close to a molehill, that you don't see a mountain behind it. I knew that my desert experience would fundamentally morph my life....I just didn't know what would take place, and up to what extent. Whatever they were, I simply braced myself for its coming.

Choices in the Corporate World
Upon my return to the default world, I could no longer tolerate the inefficiencies surrounding my working environment. It was a half-measured approach to doing things which were no longer acceptable, given my desert epiphany. I wanted a smooth workflow efficiency. Management didn't take too kindly to my complaints and I was told to either shut up and keep my job, or get the pink slip if I don't comply. This might seem like a typical episode to a working stiff; and I'm sure this scenario repeats itself everyday in the workforce. I didn't realize it then, but that moment was really a decisive crux - a major fork on the road that defines how life makes a turn...the red pill moment. To continue clamoring for streamlined workflow meant getting fired and be a statistic in the unemployment force - a rather frightening specter. To shut up meant keeping the job and keep the security of food on the table and money to pay-off the mortgage. The choice might seem academic and a no-brainer.

I was conflicted. I was drowning in a $25K debt, and the prospect of losing my job was another sack of straw on my back. But the need to stay real weighed heavily. I chose the red pill - I insisted on change. Expectedly, I got the pink slip. At that point, the bottom lid fell from underneath me. Feeling scared was an understatement - I was petrified shitless. I seriously doubted the soundness of my decision then.

Life's Unexpected Curve Balls
Somewhere on my free fall, something interesting and unexpected happened. Since the company looked for dirt but couldn't find any, they couldn't fire me for cause. Thus they had to give me a severance pay. Guess how much? $25K, almost to the last dollar to pay my debt - which I paid, lumpsum. Overnight, I miraculously became debt-free. Guess what? Another interesting thing happened. Another company hired me within a week from my firing, at almost the same pay scale! I was no longer unemployed! It got better. Within a month, I received a pre-paid plane fare to Switzerland, board and lodging included! Of course I took it. In Switzerland, I got an invite to stay with someone in Paris for free! In Paris, I bumped into a Burning Man friend who asked me to travel south of France-Italy with her! It was the first of many magical turns that to this day adds color to my now, nomadic existence. I am so grateful I had the courage then to take the red pill...otherwise I'd still be in my cubicle, doing a 8-5 in a working environment I detest.

The Point Is...
My point in all this, is simply to blueprint a repeating pattern woven by this benevolent universe. That by ingesting the spirit of Burning Man, I opened myself up for change. But a few unpleasant things needed to happen first - like getting fired, for the changes to take place and for my desires to manifest! Now I understand...completely.


Back to leaving Sagada
After wholeheartedly absorbing the spirit of Empath Yoga, and sensing a fundamental shift in how I live my life, the universe made the same offer: take the red pill OR continue living in Sagada but forfeiting the coming change. My original plan was to backpack Mindanao after teacher-training, climb Mt. Kitanlad and swim with the whale-sharks in Donsol, then coming back to Sagada to resume a normal village life. Now, by taking the red pill, I continue my backpacking as scheduled, but upon my return to Manila, I'd be homeless and broke...with a very uncertain future ahead. I can't imagine exercising detachment any more than what I've done...if only to ensure that nothing stops the change from taking place.

Ending Thoughts
I can only be so grateful that the call for change was made clear in no uncertain terms. The change from pre-Burning Man to post-Burning Man has been nothing less than radical. From an 8-5 working stiff in some corporate cubicle, I now live(d) in an enchanting mountain hamlet, working when I want to, traveling when I want the life! So, if that same amount of change is forthcoming, my burning question is, how much better does it get? Tsunamic change in my life? My breath is on hold!

--- TheLoneRider

Reader Comments:

Haidee Hsu
(Mar 30, 2009) I first came across your blog in search of Manila-based kundalini yoga studios, and I was about to leave your site until I saw your pictures. Your showcase of different adventures resonated with me very much. What stood out was the one with you donned in a chef's attire, pizza on one hand, a glass of wine in another.

You see, this year I had initially set a goal for myself to go on 12 travels/tours in 12 months. However, as this proved to be stretching my budget, I had to be realistic and reassess the value of this goal for me. I realized that basically I just want to experience my spirit of adventure. Something that will make me feel alive (in contrast to being enslaved and "zombie-fied" in a multi-national corporation). So now, my interpretation of my adventures is not limited to just going to places I've never been to; it also includes learning new things, seeing new sights, doing new stuffs. Essentially, living life a bit more than what I have grown accustomed with.

So far, I've read only a few of your entries, like the one wherein you had to fight for what you believe in in your old workplace. And even if your situation initially seemed to bring uncertainty, everything worked out. It's as if a guiding hand has always been there supporting you.

I'm currently in a similar space as you were. And for months, I've been in a limbo, afraid to make a decision, afraid to act. Your experience reminded me to just trust the now, the future, that there's a guiding force telling me to trust myself. That I am enough, and what ever life throws at me, I'll be able to make it.

Your achievements, at least my interpretation of them, are what I want for myself: experiences that will make me say "if God decides to take me now, I'll die happy." I feel your sincerity and truth with your stories, how you are in tune with who you are, and sharing your life with the world shows me how giving a person you are. I hope I'll be able to be same: true to myself, and giving of myself. Thank you for inspiring me.

Jojo Monteza
(Mar 26, 2009) your blog. kudos on all your endeavors. will visit as frequent as i can. it's a journey that i should not miss.

(Mar 15, 2009) where are you headed now? Where's your new horizon? For a while, I didn't read your blog, and my friend just called me up asking why?

Carina Guevara
(Mar 6, 2009) ...just read your blog. Good luck dear friend. You really bring home the statement, "It's not the destination, but the journey".

Dennis Lopez
(Mar 6, 2009) ako naman mag eermitanyo sa Sagada. just you wait

(Mar 6, 2009) journey lang yan. adventure awaits! hope to see you soon! we miss you! ^_^

(Mar 6, 2009) good luck! miss ka na namin! =D

Jim Ward
(Mar 6, 2009) Well as long as you are still 'in country' Shanti and I are pleased. Haven't met Erica yet but Debbie has become a frequent guest when she finds herself in town. Baguio 'really' needs a decent yoga studio...and with a population of 350,000 with 150,000 of them being 17-22...perhaps the time is right ? Just food for thought.

PJ Villarta
(Mar 6, 2009) whoa! this came unexpected. di na talaga natuloy ang bisita ng batch sa lugar mo. good luck!

Bernz Varona
(Mar 6, 2009) Hay paalis ka na dyan di pa ako nakakapunta! :(

Erica Bouchér
(Mar 6, 2009) Great blog! I miss you already!!!! have a wonderful journey. Love...

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