Views of Our Planets stamps

Ever since I ordered ten, and I mean ten, total sheets of the “Views of Our Planets” stamps from the United States Postal Service (USPS) middle of last year, I’ve been one happy camper. Planetary aficionado that I am. I pay my bills with a song in my heart, knowing that I’ll be using my stamps to send them on their way. Too bad it’s not de rigueur anymore to send letters and cards by postal mail. Anyway, if you’ve heard of the old-fashioned adage, “collect, select, then reject,” pertaining to suitors, then may I just interject that when it comes to these USPS stamps, I’d rather collect, collect, collect all the way! In solidarity with Science and Earth Day.

“And all roads lead to Tranquility Base…” in this week’s issue of the MANILA MAIL (July 15-21, 2015; page A5)

Pilipinasblitz Forever
A column by Bles Carmona
For the week of July 15-21, 2015

“And all roads lead to Tranquility Base…”

I wonder if you’re familiar with a 1980s era song called “Boat on the River” by the rock group Styx (Tommy Shaw, Dennis DeYoung, etc.). This column’s title is part of the lyrics of that iconic hit song. While there are a lot of theories proposed out there about what exactly that song meant – Was Tommy Shaw high on something? Is it about dying and passing through the River “Styx?” et cetera – I would like to mention at this point that “Tranquility Base” is actually a place on our very own natural satellite: the Moon. “And all roads lead to Tranquility Base/ where the frown on my face disappears, ooohhh/ Take me back to my boat on the river/ and I won’t cry out anymore.”

Why are we mentioning the Moon? Two things: first, there’s a New Moon on July 15 so it’s time to sign those New Moon Abundance Checks again. Fast-track your way to prosperity with this ritual. Simply enter “abundance checks” on your search engine to find sites with instructions on how to sign one (or more). Personally, the last New Moon was my second month of doing this ritual, and the blessings I have received so far have been really blowing my mind! The second reason why I’m mentioning the Moon is that there’s actually a “Moon Day” and it’s celebrated every July 20. Let’s free-associate here: Tranquility Base… on the Moon… Apollo 11 … July 20, 1969… “The Eagle has landed,” as declared by Commander Neil Armstrong… “That’s one small step for a man, one giant leap for mankind.” Is this beginning to make sense? I sure hope so, because “Moon Day” is commemorated every July 20 precisely in honor of the historic landing of the Apollo 11 mission on the Moon, on an area in its surface called Tranquility Base. The Apollo Space program, begun by President John F. Kennedy, was created to put the first man on the moon. Apollo 11 fulfilled that dream, carrying astronauts Neil Armstrong, Michael Collins, and Edwin Aldrin, Jr. to the Moon on July 20, 1969 – that’s 46 years ago now, folks. The original magic and amazement of that epic event may have lost some of its luster, but to diehard aficionados of astronomy, the wonder of space never ends.

Aside from the Sun, the Moon is the brightest object we see in the sky when it’s up and sometimes also during daylight when it’s clear enough. According to Peterson’s First Guides: Astronomy, “The moon, which is more than one-fourth the Earth’s diameter, orbits the Earth at an average distance of 238,000 miles. With respect to the stars, the moon takes 27 days, 7 hours, and 43 minutes to complete each orbit. The Earth has moved in that time, so it takes 29 ½ days for the moon to come back to the same place in our sky (Pasachoff, J., 104).” In those 29 ½ days, we observe the Moon going through its successive phases. This Moon cycle, from new to waxing to full to waning and back again, depends on where the relative positions of the Earth, Moon, and Sun are.

I’ll share a Moon-gazing tip with you peeps: How do we know for sure if the Moon is waxing (going to be Full) or waning (going to be New)? First of all, let’s all agree that the term “new moon” actually refers to the period when there’s no visible moon in the sky. It’s also called the “dark moon.” A few days later, you’ll see this crescent moon up there. So when you see that the lighted side of the moon is on your right-hand side, then you’ll know that this moon is waxing and is going to be full in two weeks. A few more nights of observation, and you’ll now notice that the lighted side of the moon is on your left-hand side. This means that in a few more days, this moon will get smaller and smaller until it goes completely dark – and the whole cycle begins again. These distinctions do actually continue to be of practical importance to farmers, sailors, and fishermen, for instance. “Galileo, in 1609, discovered craters and flat areas called maria (mar’ ee-ya; singular: mare, pronounced mar’ay, from the Latin for “seas”).You can see with your naked eyes that some parts of the moon are darker than others. Binoculars or a telescope will reveal the craters and maria (Pasachoff, 106).”

Astrologically speaking, it’s also quite appropriate to celebrate Moon Day on such a day, July 20, since it belongs to the zodiac sign Cancer (June 21-July 22), which astrology students like me know is ruled by the Moon. In fact, some astrology books poetically refer to a Cancerian as a “Moon Child.” The perfect international example I could think of that exemplified the caring, emotionality, maternal instincts, and tenacity of a Cancerian was the late Princess Diana. Bucking royal tradition, she went out there and lent her popular presence so that the causes close to her heart (AIDS, land mines, hunger, etc.) could get media coverage and more financial support. She sent her sons to public schools instead of those tony boarding schools for those with royal blood because she wanted her sons to know how the other half lived. Because she mingled freely with the sick and poor, she was called “The People’s Princess.” With all that she stood for, she captured the imagination of the English populace and was deeply mourned with her passing despite her personal troubles. As the late astrologer Linda Goodman put it, “Cancer cares.”

Linda Goodman was the author of “Sun Signs,” and for many astrologers in my generation, she had been influential and inspirational. Well, she certainly inspired me, and knowing that she’s a fellow Aries added to my excitement when I was still learning my craft. Now you know your Sun Sign as your zodiac sign based on the date of your birth, and truly, those 12 signs have distinct characteristics indeed that could distinguish one from the other. But what if you read a description of… let’s say you’re a Virgo, but when you read the description, you’re shaking your head and going, “No, no, and no… I’m not nitpicky, not a perfectionist, not analytical. This stuff is wrong.”

But wait. Before you throw out that astrology book, I want to explain why you’re not exactly how your sign is described. You see, you’re not only your Sun Sign. You also have a so-called Moon Sign and a Rising Sign (which is also called your Ascendant). Let’s leave the Rising Sign discussion for another day. Since July 20 is Moon Day, let’s talk briefly about Moon Signs. While your Sun Sign describes your basic character, your Moon Sign is your “default” emotional mode. The Moon in your chart describes your “feelings.” For us to know with certainty which Moon Sign (and Rising Sign) you have, we need to know your date, time, and city of birth. There are free resources on the web, and I highly recommend Astrodienst ( so that you can input your own data and get your free natal chart, brief interpretation, short forecast – oh! There are simply lots of free educational stuff there! If you’re interested, why don’t you try to discover these other aspects of your persona? Know thyself, get thee to thy boat on the river, and maybe you won’t cry out anymore.

Find advisor Blesilda44 at, 1-800-ASK-KEEN (1-800-275-5336), extension 05226567 either by phone or chat: Mon-Fri 7-10 pm, Sat-Sun 7-11 pm Pacific. I speak English, Tagalog, and some Spanish. For personal readings (fee required), email me here:

“Giving the earth a wide berth on Earth Day” in this week’s issue of the MANILA MAIL (April 15-21. 2015; page A5)

Pilipinasblitz Forever
A column by Bles Carmona
For the week of April 15-21, 2015


Gangway, gangway! Here comes the star – or should I say planet? – of the show: Mother Earth! Hurray! Happy Earth Day on April 22! Other cities are even celebrating Earth for an entire week, so good luck and have fun with that! There’s also Earth Hour, which was first celebrated on March 28, 2009 from 8:30-9:30 pm local time.

What are some things we can do in honor of Earth Day? Well, if you visit Earth Day Network (, you can sign the climate petition by telling officials to phase out carbon, you can support environmental education, and you may reduce your energy consumption at home. There could be many more Earth-friendly acts we can do on a sustained basis. For instance, I’ve told you about my Mom’s water recycling here at home, in which she uses the water from dish- and clothes-washing for watering the plants in our front and back yards. is urging people to help them reach 2 billion “acts of green,” like pledging to eat less meat, to buy local produce, to start composting, and to stop using disposable plastic, among others. If you run out of creative ideas on how to help Mother Earth along, do your Goodsearch and just type in “Earth Day 2015.”

According to my Jim Maynard’s Astrologer’s Datebook 2015, there will be an April Lyrids shower on April 22. The April Lyrids are a meteor shower lasting from April 16 to April 26 each year, with its peak typically happening around April 22. The radiant of the meteor shower is located in the constellation Lyra, near this constellation’s brightest star, Vega. The Lyrids have been observed for the past 2600 years, which means, if we’re now on the Chinese Lunar Year of the Goat/Ram 4713, that for more than half the length of human existence here on earth, records of the Lyrids sightings have been preserved. How wonderful for us that our Earth is uniquely situated in the heavens so that we can view such precious sights like meteor showers and comets! I’ll also take this opportunity to mention that for so many years, up until the 16th century, the majority of astronomers believed in the geocentric or earth-centered model of the cosmos. It fit in with the observations of the Greeks and it made scriptural sense for the earth to be at the center. However, with Copernicus’ heliocentric or sun-centered model combined with Kepler’s elliptical orbits and Galileo’s telescope observations, the geocentric model slowly lost adherents.

Nevertheless, among us astrologers, our symbolic cosmology is still geocentric. Why? First of all, astrology is a language of symbolic meanings. It makes sense to us to adapt the movement of the planets to the one who is at the center of the chart: our client, the person standing on top of the earth. Second, in the calculations we use to construct a natal chart, our system of placing the planets in their respective parts of the chart (based on the person’s date/time/city of birth) is still accurate. Third, using this natal chart, we astrologers are able to correctly describe the person’s nature and what cycles and transitions he/she may be going through nowadays or in the near future. Fourth, in mundane astrology, if you ever want to research that subject, you’ll find that even countries and cities, based on their date of founding or incorporation, have unique characteristics as well. It’s well worth exploring, but I’m more of a natal chart astrologer myself, exploring psychological issues with an individual client, sometimes with the help of Tarot, angel oracle, and fairy oracle cards. Make sure to shoot me an email if you feel that I could help you that way, OK?

Now, since we’re celebrating Earth Day: Do any of you still remember the poem “Trees” by Joyce Kilmer (a guy, actually)?

By Joyce Kilmer
I think that I shall never see
A poem lovely as a tree.
A tree whose hungry mouth is prest
Against the earth’s sweet flowing breast;
A tree that looks at God all day,
And lifts her leafy arms to pray;
A tree that may in Summer wear
A nest of robins in her hair;
Upon whose bosom snow has lain;
Who intimately lives with rain.
Poems are made by fools like me,
But only God can make a tree.
Source: Poetry (August 1913).

There is such a diversity among the trees of the earth! Let me just mention some of them. Among the many ornamental trees, there’s the “arbol del fuego” or flame tree (Delonix regia) with its blood-red flowers blooming in the Philippines in April-May. I remember hushed tales from my childhood about mountain natives beheading lowlanders so that they can present the heads as gifts to their lady love. I’ve seen cherry blossom trees in bloom in Tokyo a long time ago, and yet the image of those flowers from light-to-deep pink were so singular in beauty. At least we have the same such tree in our backyard. Another ornamental tree is the maple with its palette of leaf colors from orange to mauve. One recent discovery in our household is the kumquat tree. Apparently, our neighbor has such a tree in their front yard, and Ate Salome told my Mom that a brew of kumquat leaves is very effective in lowering blood sugar readings. One can also eat the fruit including the skin. Disclaimer: Please consult your medical professional before making any changes to your overall health regimen.

I merely touched on trees, which is just one component of the incredible biodiversity of Mother Earth. Throw in the geocentric model talk, and the Lyrids meteor shower, and Earth Day activities you could do. In all of these, I’m working on restating what I first heard when the great folk singer Joey Ayala sang these lines about the earth and the environment more than 20 years ago: “Ang lahat ng bagay ay magkaugnay/ Magkaugnay ang lahat.” (All things are connected.) Give Mother Earth her due! Celebrate her day! This earth is the only home we have in our lifetime.

For personal readings (fee required), email me here:

“Making Mercury Retrograde Periods Work for You” in this week’s issue of the MANILA MAIL (Jan. 28-Feb. 3, 2015; page A7) (Photo credit:

Pilipinasblitz Forever
A column by Bles Carmona
For the week of Jan. 28-Feb. 3, 2015


Yes, you are correct in supposing that we are in the midst of one of those tricky Mercury Retrograde periods again. Just what is this period, which we astrologers abbreviate as “Mercury Rx?” Mercury Retrograde (Rx) is the apparent backward motion of that planet as seen from the earth, occurring for 21 days three to four times a year. This year, Mercury Rx will occur on the following dates and degrees: January 21-February 11 (1-17 degrees Aquarius); May 18-June 11 (4-13 degrees Gemini); and September 17-October 9 (0-15 degrees Libra). Here is what “Jim Maynard’s Astrologer’s Datebook 2015” says about this:

When Mercury is retrograde, we can expect indecision and changes in plans. Retrograde periods for Mercury require much caution and orderly thinking. It is a good time for research, planning, examination of resources, and completion of projects already begun. During this period we might consider waylaid projects from the past or go back to old ideas or plans. Avoid beginning new projects.

If you listen to conventional wisdom about Mercury Rx, you’ll find yourself unusually hampered by a lot of warnings: don’t sign contracts, don’t buy anything electronic, don’t get married, don’t travel – among others. However, hiding yourself for three weeks every time Mercury Rx periods hit is neither productive nor desirable. True, the apparent backtracking of this quicksilver planet does symbolize and urge a slowing down of some sort, but surely not a grinding halt. Life does go on, right? There are contracts to be signed, electronics to be bought, destinations to travel – although I personally draw the line at getting married during a Mercury Rx period. Here is what famed astrologer Linda Goodman said about this in her “Linda Goodman’s Relationship Signs”:

Mercury rules language, our intellect, and all things contractual. The planet’s motion, when retrograde, can cause delays and misinformation since its movement is contrary to best astrological results. Things become complicated and confusing. When I think of Mercury Retrograde I think of Re. Re-do, re-organize, re-figure, re-write, etc. Yes becomes no. Reservations, correspondence, and travel get fouled up. Who wants this for a wedding date? Or a move-in date? Thankfully, Mercury is Retrograde a few times a year. Avoid it if you can. Work around Mercury Retrograde and your important days will be memorable for the right reasons. Why fight it? (Goodman, L. “Linda Goodman’s Relationship Signs,” p. 441)

Anyway, the point is, Mercury Retrograde may not be the right period to do certain things, but it is ideal to accomplish others. If you read the more upbeat astrology blogs, you will be directed to tend to deeper things during this period like: restore, replenish, rethink, reinvent. We are exhorted to do some introspection to figure out where we can improve our lives. A clue to what area in our life needs a bit more attention is determining which house in your natal chart the current Mercury Rx is traversing. For example, this current Mercury Rx from Jan. 21-Feb. 11 at 1-17 degrees Aquarius is in my 6th house, and this house rules job and health matters. During these three weeks, I can use my “down time” to improve my health regimen and rework my resume, for example. This could be my preparation for when Mercury goes direct again and it becomes favorable for communication, travel, and contracts again.

The next Mercury Rx period, May 18-June 11, will be on the 4-13 degrees of Gemini. In my chart, those degrees will be in my 10th house, which rules career and reputation. When that period comes, maybe I could work on a restatement of my career goals, reviewing the lessons I’ve learned from the past so that I can start on a clean slate. The last Mercury Rx period on September 17-October 9 on the 0-15 degrees Libra falls on my 2nd house which rules possessions and values, among others. I may use this period to rethink my values and prioritize what I truly deem important in my life.

The foregoing was just an example of how the energy of Mercury Rx can be useful to you personally. If you have access to your natal chart, then you can pinpoint which houses in your chart will be affected by Mercury Rx. This is the house where you may do all the “re” activities recommended during these introspective periods. Re-do, re-think, re-write, re-build, re-configure, re-trace, re-make, re-emphasize, re-invent. Come to think of it, our spirits may actually need such a respite, since we are fast-forwarding through our lives during the other 302 days when Mercury is spinning direct as seen from the earth. I believe that we could make these Mercury Rx periods work for us. Instead of viewing these periods negatively, we need to welcome them in our lives like a spiritual inhale-exhale cycle – a time to rest and regroup for renewed energy for the challenges ahead.

We are living in the midst of cycles in our lives – cycles within cycles – of seasons, age, planetary cycles, birth-death-rebirth, among others. My prayer for all of us is that as we grow older in age, we also develop wisdom, a sensitivity to the cycles, seasons, and recurring patterns in our lives, and then have the courage not to fight where the cycles lead us but to go with the flow.


“The Old Farmer’s Almanac: Virtually Unchanged In 222 Years” in this week’s issue of the Manila Mail (July 30-August 5, 2014)

Pilipinasblitz Forever
A column by Bles Carmona
For the week of July 30-Aug. 2, 2014


Nowadays when people need information on a certain subject, the tendency is to Google the inquiry or use an electronic application (app). The information obtained is as close as one’s computer or cell phone screen at the snap of the fingers. But what if certain types of information were grouped together into one hard-copy publication so that you can find a multitude of useful data all in one place?

Such is the unique and continuing appeal of the Old Farmer’s Almanac (OFA) which first went into publication in the year 1792, sixteen years after the signing of the USA Declaration of Independence. An “almanac,” according to the Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary, is “a publication containing astronomical and meteorological data for a given year, and often including a miscellany of other information.” The OFA, being such a reference book, contains highly practical information on many topics which are directed toward its primary intended audience: farmers, especially those in Dublin, New Hampshire, the city where OFA was founded. Hence, it was a compendium of organized facts like weather forecasts, planting charts, tide tables, astronomical data, recipes, and other useful articles in astronomy, gardening, sports, and farming. The Almanac has been in print without any yearly gap since 1792, thereby making it the oldest continuously published periodical in North America.The Old Farmer’s Almanac was founded, edited, and published by Robert B. Thomas of Massachusetts. From an initial distribution of 3,000 in the first year, circulation tripled to 9,000 in the following year, 1793. At that time, a copy of the book was sixpence or about four cents.

There were other competing almanacs during that time but the OFA enjoyed enduring success, surviving longer than similarly named contenders, thanks in the most part to Thomas’ being at the editorial helm for more than 50 years (1792-1846). In 1832, with his almanac having outlasted others of its kind, Thomas added the word “Old” in the title but he dropped the word four years later in 1836. When John Henry Jenks was appointed editor with Thomas’ passing, the book’s name was permanently and officially revised to “The Old Farmer’s Almanac.”

The editors-in-chief of the Almanac, are counted from the founder, Robert B. Thomas in 1792 up to the current, 13th, first and only female so far, Janice Stillman, who took the reins in 2000 and is still serving at present. With regard to the succession of editors throughout the centuries, it can be said that some regimes introduced significant changes to the look and content of the Almanac, while some were content to merely keep the operations afloat with no intention to change anything. If we go back to the “ruling period” of John Henry Jenks (he was the editor from 1847-1860), it was then that the word “Old” was inserted into the publication’s title. Another change that Jenks initiated was the inclusion of the photo-engraving titled “Four Seasons” as the main cover illustration. This artwork was by Boston artist Hammatt Billings, engraved by Henry Nichols. Jenks dropped this cover for three years and then reinstated it permanently in 1855. This trademarked design is still in use today.

In the year 1858, President Abraham Lincoln may have used the Moon tables of the OFA to help his client, William “Duff” Armstrong, get acquitted. Armstrong was on trial for murder in Beardstown, Illinois (Illinois Historic Preservation Society). Apparently, the testimony of one eyewitness, Charles Allen, stated that he saw the crime happen by the light of the moon on August 29, 1857 (University of Illinois Library). However, the OFA stated that not only was the Moon in the first quarter (just waxing, definitely not full), but that it was also riding “low” on the horizon and about to set. However, since the actual hard copy of the almanac used by Lincoln in that trial was not retained for posterity, there still exists a bit of a controversy as to which almanac was actually used. In 2007, a competing almanac, the “Farmer’s Almanac,” based in Lewiston, Maine, ran an article claiming that the almanac in contention may have been one of theirs. Roger Scaife, if one was to go along with the historians at themselves, is definitely the “worst” editor that the OFA ever had. He took the reins in 1936 and for the first time in the Almanac’s history, circulation was down from previous years and the book’s financial status was questioned. His term coincided with the only time in the history of the Almanac that it declined precipitously in circulation and financial stability. (The 1938 edition had a circulation of only 88,000, compared with 225,000 in 1863!) Scaife also committed the greatest of all Almanac blunders: He dropped the weather forecasts! In their place, he substituted temperature and precipitation averages. The public outcry was so great that he reinstated the forecasts in the next year’s edition, but it was too late to save his reputation.

Relevance in the 21st century
Knowledge, entertainment, and instruction can be found in the pages of the Old Farmer’s Almanac. In fact, when one examines the Almanac, one finds that the pages are “busy” or crowded with all sorts of information. This was how the founder, publisher, and first editor Robert B. Thomas implemented the look he wanted for the publication; hence it has become a tradition. In my opinion, it is this hewing to tradition that contributes to the relevance of the Almanac to our current time. The retention of the Almanac’s essential look and purpose actually contributes to its relevance in the 21st century because its subscribers long for “the good old days.” There is comfort in knowing that some things will never change if those in charge can help it, and as proof, four million subscribers and counting as of the early 1990s when the publication hit its 200th year cannot all be wrong.

Edward Parks, in his article for the Smithsonian Magazine, writes that “One subtle reason for the Almanac’s present success may be the site of its editorial offices.” It appears that Dublin, New Hampshire, lies close enough to Monadnock, a great big mountain, “a favorite of Emerson’s, Thoreau’s and thousands of other New Englanders.” Monadnock, with its majestic size, eternal presence, and seasonal changes in foliage, reminds the editorial staff of “the nearness of nature and all its rhythms.” This mountain serves as a daily inspiration to these New Englanders, whose work ethic and conscientiousness are legendary among the various regions of our country. In effect, Parks is saying that the editorial staff of the Almanac is being imbued with energy to churn out an edition year after year with the mighty Monadnock as backdrop and the circulation among loyal subscribers who think the same way about the cycles of nature.
There is an undeniable sense of timelessness when considering the appeal of the Almanac. With each edition, one holds a piece of living history in one’s hands. Surely, to a sizeable portion of the North American population, history and tradition count for values that should be cherished, maintained, and supported in whatever form it appears, even in print. And why not in print? With the OFA’s unbroken history of publication for 222 years now, with only minimal changes in formatting and content, and with the ongoing mystique of arcana like astronomical tables and weather predictions which approach “80% accuracy,” these are the powerful elements that attracted the circulation of 3,000 way back in 1792 and the continuing patronage of more than 4 million subscribers now. As a reference, the USA population as of the beginning of July 2014 is 318 million (, meaning that 1.26% of the population read the OFA. Is this the other 1% – the future farmers going back to the cycles of nature?

The OFA’s content usually spans astronomy, gardening, how-to, calendar, folklore, home remedies, recipes, fun facts, history, and weather forecast updates. We posed the question at the beginning about the continuing visceral appeal of having all sorts of information available as something tangible right in our hands, and we are approaching the answer to the continuing relevance of the Old Farmer’s Almanac in this day and age. This writer thinks that there is a part of us that is longing for a simple life with minimal intrusions from electronic devices. This writer would go as far as to say that when our generation hits the extreme of too much dependence on technology, then cultural trends will gradually swing back the other way: toward simplicity, face-to-face communication, eye-to-eye contact, and other rare flora and fauna of “archaic” communication. Books and magazines will be in vogue again and people will actually read from a hard-copy source again instead of from their cell phones or tablets. That is this writer’s attempt at a fearless forecast, much like the Almanac’s forecasting staff makes weather predictions every year.

References: 2014. webpage. 27 July 2014.
David Guralnik, editor-in-chief. Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary. New York: Simon & Schuster, 1980.
Lamb, David. “”Almanac begins third century of know-and-tell”.” LA Times 1 February 1993: 5. print.
Library, University of Illinois. “Lincoln Room – Lincoln Collections .” n.d. 24 July 2014.
Parks, Edward. “”Weathering every season with one canny compendium”.” Smithsonian Magazine November 1992: 91-101. Print.
Rao, Joe. “A 100% guarantee and how we ‘may’ have helped a former US President.” Farmer’s Almanac 2007: 142-144. print.
Society, Illinois Historic Preservation. n.d. internet. 24 July 2014.
The Old Farmer’s Almanac. 1996. internet. 24 July 2014.
Thomas, Robert B. “To our patrons”. Dublin, New Hampshire: Old Farmer’s Almanac, 1829. print.
White, Martha. “Farming by the moon”. 2014. internet. 2014. internet. 24 July 2014. 2014. internet. 27 July 2014.

Find advisor Blesilda44 at, 1-800-ASK-KEEN (1-800-275-5336), extension 05226567 either by phone or chat: Mon-Fri 7-10 pm, Sat-Sun 7-11 pm Pacific. I speak English, Tagalog, and some Spanish. For personal readings, email me here:

A Meditation on Beauty: The New Moon/Solar Eclipse in Taurus – in this week’s issue of the MANILA MAIL (April 30-May 6, 2014)


So many celestial events have recently been writing their scripts across the heavens. We had the Full Moon and Total Lunar Eclipse in Aries-Libra last April 15, which basically highlights the polarity between issues of individuality versus partnerships. We then had the Cardinal Grand Cross exact at 13 degrees last April 22-23, so imagine a cross with the following planets and signs at 90 degrees apart from each other: Uranus in Aries, Jupiter in Cancer, Mars in Libra, and Pluto in Capricorn. This is one powerful transit. Almost every other astrologer of note had something to say about this Grand Cross, usually on the dire gloomy side. The most lenient interpretations basically say that individuals will be making a lot of major changes in their lives, so we’d better consciously make them now rather than being forced to do so later. However, I like how Margaret Gray, MSW, D. Psych. Astrol. explained it during her lecture for the San Francisco Astrological Society (SFAS) last April 24: This configuration is that of a crucible where we can burn the non-essentials in order to get into the very heart of ourselves, our inner essence, our inner beauty. In effect, it is about loving and taking care of ourselves.

Even if we are no longer under the period when all these aspects are exact, we can expect to feel the effects of these transits for months to come, depending of course on the layout of our own individual birth charts. Some people are more sensitive to these planetary movements than others, but even the most oblivious of us can feel some sort of unrest: either excitement or lethargy, during these major heavenly happenings. Being familiar with your natal chart with the help of a professional astrologer could be an option that you may consider so that these transits don’t simply blindside you. Alternately, you can self-study astrology and discover the riches and utility of this metaphysical language. Simply put, astrology is one option or tool you can use to delve into the workings of your psyche.

By the time this issue comes out, depending on where we are situated in the world, we would already have witnessed the Annular Solar Eclipse on April 28, 2014. “Annular” refers to the “ring of fire” that forms around the outline of the Moon since by position, it cannot fully cover the bigger luminary from our point of view here on Earth. Another useful fact to remember, according to the most recent blog entry (“In the Stars April 27-May 4, 2014…shining light on the astrology of the week”) of Cathy Coleman, Ph.D., our East-West astrologer and Education Director of the National Council for Geocosmic Research-San Francisco chapter (NCGR-SF), quoting Lynda Hill (, “Solar eclipses always happen on a new moon, lunar eclipses on a full moon.” Dr. Coleman further says that the message of this Annular Solar Eclipse is “to look inward and adapt to changing circumstances. Eclipses can deliver surprises – and within a 3-month period on either side, not necessarily on the day of the eclipse.”

Ms. Nora Jean Stone, publicity director of SFAS, regularly shares her astrological blog finds on the group page. One such precious resource she found was, in which Leah Whitehorse also shares her thoughts about the annular solar eclipse. She reasons out that since this new moon is in fertile, creative earth sign Taurus, whose ruler is Venus, then this period is about meditating on what you value. However, contrary to what we perceive as our “valuables,” like money and possessions, Whitehorse writes, “What is truly valuable is you. You are a flower of creation. It’s not about what we own or think of as ‘ours.’ The eclipse may reveal that nothing truly belongs to us – except for ourselves and within that is true beauty.”

So on that meditation on true beauty, let me segue to an event I attended with Edna and Joe at 130 Wheeler Hall in UC Berkeley: the MAGANDA MAGAZINE launch reception and open mic. “Maganda,” as we Fil-Ams know, means “beautiful” in Tagalog. This magazine is the labor of love of a dedicated group of Pilipino-American UC Berkeley students (they prefer to spell it as ‘Pilipino’ rather than ‘Filipino’). It comes out once a year, so this launch is for Maganda Magazine’s 27th issue which is about “Community.” My writer-activist friend from Napa, Ms. Glynda Velasco, was the one who forwarded the call for submissions to me early this year but by March, I assumed that what I submitted was not accepted for publication since I haven’t heard from them at all. However, I did hear from the Maganda literary editor Nicole Arca by early April, and the piece to be published was my very first column here on this newspaper but adapted to Maganda’s “community” theme. The title of my feature article is: “So What’s Your Pilipino Lightworker Name?” Like I told my San Pedro (Laguna) Elementary School classmate Joon P. Domanais on Facebook, I invented this system of Lightworker names so that we can get in touch with that part of us who are instruments of the gods in our Pilipino pantheon, and thus empowered to be miracle workers in our world. In this current world of X-Men and other beings with superpowers, I want us Pilipinos to be reminded that we are powerful, too, as long as we use that power for doing good.

annular-solareclipse2014During that Maganda Magazine launch, talented UC Berkeley students and other community members performed slam poetry, danced, sang, projected multimedia presentations, read parts of their novels-in-progress – all proudly reveling in our common heritage of a borrowed language but original sentiments – yes, straight from their young vulnerable hearts! These young people are so invigorating to watch because they are the future of the brilliant, assertive, and empowered Pilipino-American community in our adopted country. Padayon!

(photo credit: via Google Images)

My column in the MANILA MAIL for the week of Jan. 22-28, 2014


Stars. Lots of stars.

The Hayward Promise Neighborhood (HPN) “Chabot Promise” Program at Chabot College began in 2010 with President Barack Obama’s Federal Promise Neighborhoods initiative and is funded by the U.S. Department of Education. The goal of HPN is to improve academic outcomes and increase student success for Hayward students, especially for students who live in or attend school somewhere within the Jackson Triangle. The target schools for this area are Harder Elementary, Park Elementary, Winton Middle School, Cesar Chavez Middle School, Hayward High School, and Tennyson High School. This area, bounded by Jackson Street, Harder Road, and Whitman Street in South Hayward, is considered to be the poorest and most dangerous section of Hayward, with underperforming students, families with a lot of health issues, and a high crime rate. (I live in this very Triangle – now does that give me street cred?)

Despite these difficult challenges, the residents of the Jackson Triangle are renowned for their ethnic diversity and their willingness to do everything it takes to improve conditions for their families and the entire neighborhood. Considered as a gateway community for new immigrants whose desire is to realize the American Dream, Hayward and the students and families with ties to the Jackson Triangle are the real stars of the HPN/Chabot Promise Program.

CSU East Bay is the lead agency for this initiative in collaboration with many community-based partners like government agencies, businesses, educators, and nonprofit organizations, all working to ensure that the children and residents of the HPN are supported and assisted. So the leaders for the HPN are stars in their own right, too.

At Chabot College, the executive stars are Ms. Marie C. DeLeon, the HPN Grant Project Coordinator together with her hardworking and friendly staff. The Chabot Promise Program has many wrap-around services such as: tutoring and academic support, individual advising, career and financial aid workshops, field trips to cultural event sites and university campuses, access to faculty mentors, a $100 voucher to the Chabot College Bookstore, enrollment into PSCN 20 (The College Experience, a 2-unit transferable course), and participation in the 3-day HPN Winter Retreat.

Now the 3-day HPN Winter Retreat already happened last week at Chabot College from January 15-17. I and my fellow program participants got to know each other through some group dynamics activities and attended orientations geared toward introducing us to the many academic support programs in the campus, like Puente, TAACCCT/Career and Transfer Center, Aspire/Excel, and others. On our last day, Ms. Marie guided us through the crafting of our personal “30-second elevator speech” and then we took turns speaking and giving feedback. My fellow participant Obyed, who wants to be a firefighter and criminal justice major, particularly did pretty well with his speech. This mini-workshop, I think, was a fitting ending to our retreat since one of the goals of the entire program is to help us with our academics so that we can transition into careers. Ergo, we must start feeling confident in presenting ourselves to a potential employer even if we theoretically only have 30 seconds with which to do it.

However, for me, another experience during the HPN Winter Retreat that I will never forget happened during Day 2. In the mid-afternoon, we students were asked to attend a presentation at Building 1900 which houses the Science Lecture Rooms and – wait for it – the Planetarium! Prof. Scott Hildreth, who has been teaching Physics and Astronomy at Chabot College for 25 years now, is a very cool, low-key guy but he was obviously proud of his planetarium gadgets with which he can perform magic with the music of the spheres. We were ooohing and aaahing as we looked up to behold a very all-encompassing view of the sky/the Milky Way/the panoramic view of Chabot alternately as projected onto the dome above us. What galactic magic! How fantastic! It was all so beautiful that it almost moved me to tears. The good professor asked us to look for a couple of things that night: the full moon and Jupiter. I told him that I already saw Jupiter the night before, and he agreed when I said that it was a wonderful sight. When he projected a certain constellation onto the dome, I correctly identified it as Orion with his three-star belt. When we were filing out of the planetarium, my fellow student-participant Wobo asked me if I have already taken Astronomy before. I said no, but then I told him that I was an astrologer so part of my learning is to study the heavens, too.

So we have stars above via the Chabot College Planetarium, and we have stars here below in the form of all the people involved as administrators and participants of the Hayward Promise Neighborhood/Chabot Promise Program.

The prime Hermetic Principle is: As above, so below. One is a reflection of the other. If it’s turbulent above, you can bet that there’s also unrest going on below. As a corollary, if all is well in the heavens, then we on earth are in a good place, too. This is a fluid, not static, truth. Everything is in a state of flux, but there is a certain point at which all the forces are in blessed balance.

I’m on a roll now, so I’d just casually quote something from one of my favorite British bands, Coldplay, “Look at the stars/See how they shine for you/and everything that you do.” (This is from their song, “Yellow,” in their 2000 debut album, “Parachutes.”)

Then may the stars continue to shine above for those of us here below. Any which way I look at it, the outlook is spectacularly stellar!

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