I’d like to think so, at least.

After 6 days, a 24-hour bus ride, and 2 days of lying in bed, I’m back from my mountain DIY pilgrimage. As I wrote to a friend, my primary goal was to sort my shit out, but five days into the trip, I felt that I wasn’t really accomplishing anything substantial (at least, not to my liking).

But just when I felt I wasn’t getting anything done, I had an extremely moving experience. It was on our fifth day when, by some fateful chance, we made our way to a sacred waterfall, the Falls of Bomod-ok.


Took this picture before I plunged in. Other beautiful pictures here (but not mine).

Usually the area is closed to tourists, but it opened a day before our departure. It was an hour trek down the valley, but it was all worth it. The moment I saw the waters, I felt a chill take me. As we got closer, I began to talk to it. Or him. Once I got my feet into the freezing water, even I was taken aback by the words of praise that wouldn’t stop pouring out of my mouth. I felt an urge to drink from the waters, so I did just that. Boy, did the Waters take me. I cried. I cried so much. It was as if the Spirit of the waters had touched me, lifted me up from my worries, and hugged me. I was laughing and crying, crying and laughing. It was truly divine. No wonder people still worship him!

Praises to the Grandfather of the Waters, Grandfather Bomod-ok, who unloosed my tears at last, mending my soul, healing me of my madness!

The next day, we met the sunrise, sang to the gracious gods and mighty spirits, and made offerings. I didn’t care if people were watching. It felt right to approach them again at that very hour at that very place.


Soul unhorcruxed. Miasma cleared. Cultus can now recommence.

Obviously, I am overjoyed to say that I did, in fact, find what I needed to find in my 7-day DIY retreat. Cost me 10 days of unpaid leaves from work, but it was well worth it. I had my doubts if I could even do it, but it happened, anyway. I know, I still have a long way to go, but I think it’s a good start.

Salamat, Apo Bomod-ok! Salamat, mga Ginuo, mga Diwatang kasamba-samba! Salamat, mga Ninunong kapuri-puri!



I’m heading for the mountains in a few hours and won’t be back until next Saturday. Wish me luck in getting the Spirits to help me in fixing my shit. May all our offerings be pleasing to the Gods.

For now, I leave you snapshots of the little offerings we’ve made these past three weeks, trying to set things straight between me and my soul, through the help of our Beloved Spirits:


Hail, Dionysos Sotêr, Dionysos Eleutherios! Hail, Hermês Diaktoros! Hail, our mighty and blessed Dead!

The Earth Always Takes Back What Is Hers

Out of curiosity, we paid visit to our backyard — the same farmland that, as I previously lamented, was recently purchased by filthy industrialist pigs.

Turns out, a lot of it is still intact. Hardly any farmland left, but the cows are still there. (Well, for the time being, at least.)

They dug up the earth to make their ugly plastic towns, but the Mother took back what is hers. Life is unstoppable.

They dug up the earth to make their ugly plastic towns, but the Mother took back what is hers. Life is unstoppable.

Something or someone with cloven feet has been enjoying a stroll.

Something or someone with cloven feet has been enjoying a stroll.

A merienda of spinach burgers, coconut water, eggs, and almond biscuits. It's good to be among the spirits of the wild once again.

A merienda of spinach burgers, coconut water, eggs, and almond biscuits. It was good to dine with the spirits of the wild once again.


A shot of the western sky as we made our way home just as the Sun King made his.

I will truly miss this place. I suspect the spirits are going to stay, no matter what. Maybe they can become guardians? Well, if the newcomers are going to be respectful enough, of course.

Saying Goodbye for Good Afterall

When I talked about saying goodbye to the nymphs and wights of my hometown, I didn’t mean for good. I mean, even if I am planning to start a new life in Maple Country, that doesn’t mean I can’t come to visit every now and then. Who wouldn’t want to see all this again?

But soon enough, I won’t be seeing the “lush, abundant greenery” anymore. The landlord has decided that it was to the best interests of everyone that matters (i.e. himself) to sell the greenwood. All of it; just as we feared. Every paddy, vine, and tree.

I knew this day would come. It was only a matter of time until some “land developer” took interest over the vast expanse of wilderness (ka-ching!) where the bourgeoisie can build their ugly, boring houses. Who needs to plant tomatoes and corn, anyway, yeah? Concrete is always much prettier than dirt. And who cares about the farmers? We could always import!


And so farewell to you, Great Green. You’ve been the prettiest I’ve seen. I’ll take these last pictures now, before you take your final bow.


From green to grey, this land will no longer pay, neither fruit nor grain, even if it rains all day.

We’re planning to hold a rite of honouring for the ‘soon-to-be-evicted’ nymphs and wights this weekend. Perhaps some of them would be willing to come with me? The House of the Two Trees is always open to kindly spirits.

Burigadang Pada Sinaklang Bulawan

I don’t usually engage with indigenous gods unless I really have to. There’s a certain ‘eerie’ feel to them that’s not quite Olympian in nature. I’m not quite used to it, to be honest. There’s also the unfortunate fact of not having a lot of pre-colonial information about them (except maybe for bigger deities), which is reason enough to be cautious.

If anything, I think they’re rather akin to the daimonai and nymphai than any of the theoi (there’s Dionysos for sure, but that’s stretching it a bit). In fact, it’s often hard to draw the line between god and landwight!

One stark difference, perhaps, is whilst they’re old and powerful like the Olympian gods, the majority of diwatàwhich is how they are collectively known to most Filipinos–do not seem to be ‘deathless’. There are many stories where they are portrayed as slaying or being slain by other divine beings, not unlike many gods of the Norse. They also don’t seem to govern more ‘cosmic’ matters. They feel very local.

Strange enough, there’s been one diwatà who I was bold(?) enough to approach beyond casual pleasantries. To our cousins in the South, she’s known as Burigadang Pada Sinaklang Bulawan.

She is one of the “Three Great Beauties”, a triad of sister-goddesses who descended from Maklium sa T’wan. She is portrayed in the stories, as a goddess who rose from the earth with beautiful golden skin, a seductive body clothed in rich golden fabrics and precious gems, with a face of perfection. It was said that her aura was also “golden”, that no man could resist her and her charms.

As a goddess of both [material] wealth and greed, her province is mostly alien to me. I don’t usually approach any of the gods I already worship for either of these reasons, so I don’t know why I felt that I needed to approach her. Perhaps she called me, who knows? Nevertheless, I praised her with these words*–first, in one of the languages of her ancient worshippers (Hiligaynon), and second, in my native Tagalog:

Maghimayà ka,
bulawanon nga diwatà,
Burigadang Pada Sinakláng Bulawan,
bugayan mo ang nagakinahanglan,
kag gaba-an mo ang mga dalók.

Abá, ginintuáng diwatà,
Burigadang Pada Sinakláng Bulawan,
basbasán mo ang mga nangángailángan,
at parusahan mo ang mga ganid.

Of course, I did this in the most polite way possible: with an introduction and an offering. I’ve found it wise to always approach the divine with the same hospitality one would give an honoured guest (perhaps even more so).

Burigadang Pada Sinaklang Bulawan as portrayed by Katrina Halili on GMA Network's INDIO, 2013 Photo Credit: Joanne Loya

Burigadang Pada Sinaklang Bulawan as portrayed by Katrina Halili on GMA Network’s INDIO, 2013
Photo Credit: Joanne Loya

Art by squeegool (squeegool.deviantart.com)

Art by squeegool (squeegool.deviantart.com)

*The prayer roughly translates to, “Hail thou, golden goddess, Burigadang Pada Sinaklang Bulawan, bless the needy, and punish the greedy”.