I went to Art School at the Museum of Fine Arts Boston. The art school experience was really awesome! The degrees were issued through TUFTS, so the academic portion of my education was at Tufts University and the Art portion happened at the museum, which was an incredible space to use as a class and a lab, I think it has the 2nd largest holdings of art on the East Coast, not sure if that’s true now, but that was the fact 8 years ago when I did go to that school. It’s incredible to have learned from the masters.
I’ve always been a seeker, always been spiritual. I grew up Catholic, and what’s funny is that it was my grandma who kick started my spiritual journey. I was somewhere between 7 or 10 and she got a book called ‘Ask Your Angels.’ Without reading it beforehand, she just kind of got it for me and it turned out to be a meditation visualization book. It wasn’t an angel guide, but it definitely wasn’t a dogma Christianity book, in fact it must’ve been Christian mysticism. Here I am in my room awakening my chakras and basically meditating, which is especially weird being a Filipino child. I do remember those meditations being very pure, and a lot more powerful than what I can do now. There was so much less mental stuff to go through, and now it takes so much longer to get there. I’m lucky to know people in the consciousness community to where I go to these groups and meetups. I think we all kind of started to think about it and talk about around the same time so it was half a decade ago, when we encountered ‘The Power of Now.’ Nothing had impacted me like The Power of Now did. I think what it does, is it makes the greatest case to be urgently present. It gives you this feeling that you have no time to waste. And that’s what I needed when I needed it.
Our consciousness, even things like with the coffee community, which is actually where a lot of recovery people go to, it’s a place where we get an emergence of different pathways, there’s the cultural experience, the communal experience in coffee, and then there’s definitely a gourmand taste in coffee – especially with specialty coffee, and it’s all propelling this wonderful demanding voice of love and understanding right now. We’re getting that this is the solution, which is what makes the coffee community so special. It’s the most democratic drink. It’s all over the world, it’s associated with culture, it’s also associated with us getting up in the morning and being awake. It’s relatively low cost and even in the fanciest place, it’s still not the cost of a cocktail. When you support specialty coffee, you’re also supporting farmers at origin and a lot of these farmers are women. There’s a feminist empowerment angle to this where you’re saving their lives, because depending on the culture, these women don’t have a livelihood.
Coffee creates consciousness around it. It’s the fair trade, direct trade, produced organically aspect. Anything that’s important to people in regards to food ethics, coffee is one of the most conscious products. I think for that reason is why I’ve always made room on my plate for coffee projects. I’m currently doing contract work for Global Coffee Trading, and it’s been awesome, they have a test kitchen and cafe. But beyond that, they’re a great green coffee importer. So it’s interesting seeing the conversation where what we’re saying on the cafe end, the people we serve, the roasters, and giving the feedback of this bean and how that translates back to best practices on the farm. It’s really amazing, seeing the synergy, because when it’s good, it’s good!
I haven’t been fortunate enough to go on an origin trip yet, but many of my colleagues have. And they say that it hits home so fast, that it improves live, and we need to do this and we need to give these opportunities. And the coffee is superb, it’s what you want to drink!
When I finished art school, I was unemployed for a year and a half. I graduated in 2008 and the bubble had just burst, it was horrendous to look for a job, even entry level. I was looking for anything administrative, and I was drawn to non profits naturally because I came from a higher institution background and had interned professionally at the museum. I was fortunate after a year and half the curse was broken and I was an administrative assistant at UCSD for development, which is fundraising. When I was in fundraising, I steadily climbed the ranks. In my mind, it flew by. And it was suddenly 4 years later already. By then I was at the assistant director level in health sciences development, fundraising for all of the diseases, research, bench to bedsides, and my specific role was really stressful because I wore a lot of hats. I was technically in events but there was a considerable amount of writing, and I was plugged into a lot of other projects.
I started freelancing in 2013. I was saying yes to everything. I was fortunate enough to have a strong network of friends and mentors and able to get work from other research institutions and other universities and international nonprofits. I did a lot of writing and even event work, because that’s what I was known for. Things like ABA, gala events, and anything I’ve done at a volunteer level yielded itself to a paid opportunity. Now I’m at a point in my career when I’m not saying yes to everything. And I’m really trying to find a higher vibrational job, I’m accepting things that have a lot of integrity to my principals. And it’s not always easy. There’s a lot of easy money type things I can take on that are well within my skillset, and sometimes I’ll say yes if it fits but for some of the longer term stuff I’m not taking on because I like to keep my plate clear for other projects. And I’d regret it so much if I couldn’t take something on I really wanted because I was already committed, which has happened so many times before. That is where I’m at in my life professionally, and that’s the technical side of my story.
My spiritual story is following bliss and learning when you deny yourself and learning the hard way. Recently I had a realization about joy, and how we think we can control where we can get it. Joy is actually always relentlessly trying to enter your life. But it’s not entering it wherever you want it to come through, and you may be ignoring the call to joy because you’re only focusing on a limited range of situations – like this person, these friends, this job, whatever. But if you stop and take a look around, you’ll actually see that there’s much joy. It’s coming from unexpected places sometimes, and if you’re lucky it’s coming from exactly where you want it. But it also moves around on you so you have to challenge yourself to be agile and flexible, and follow the joy somewhat. And I don’t think we do that enough, I think we’re really scared of it. I think when we see our joy situation change, we think it’s ended. But it hasn’t ended, it’s just moved on and it wants you to follow it.
I think the universe loves us so much, and that’s why it keeps giving us these lessons. I’ve learned it the hard way. It’ll keep giving you that lesson, that suffering, until you learn. That’s actually so loving. And when I reprogrammed myself to understand it that way, I felt so grateful for everything that had happened. It’s hard to hear when you’re in the middle of a crisis. And whether you think you deserve it or not, it’s more of thinking of it in a different way saying “I’m entitled to this lesson” and understanding on a higher level why it’s serving you.
I’m constantly defending millennials. I’m all for hard work, biting the bullet, and proving your medal. A lot of that school of thought comes from a fear of scarcity, and that there’s not enough to go around and you have to fight for it to keep it. I operate from a place where I feel there is enough for everyone and you can’t do something that will take something away from someone else. From our world of bloggers and influencers, there is enough room for all of these voices. And I think this competition is really ridiculous. I kind of miss when livejournal and xanga were a thing because there was no such thing as brand identity when writing what you wanted or sharing what you wanted.
The novelty of having a voice is beautiful and sad. And it’s sad when people say ‘oh, you have a voice’ when in reality we all have a voice. It’s really fascinating when people think it’s a calling only for some. It’s democratic. We all have a share and we all have a duty to speak. It’s strange to me that so many people would think ‘that’s someone else’s job’ or ‘that’s not for me to say.’ We should all feel really charged to share our voice.
I think it really hit home for me because I have one grandmother left, my maternal grandmother. I learned a lot of lessons when my grandparents started to pass away one by one. Fastforwarding to my grandmother alone, I became really sad of how little I knew about them. They took care of me but of course, especially when you’re younger, you’re not having in depth life conversations about their experiences. These people were old enough to where their experiences included world war 2 and the depression and a lot of that stuff. I was ashamed at a point in my early 20s that I didn’t know any of these stories. So I remember giving my grandmother a journal. And I told her to write whatever she wanted so I can know her better. She wrote one sad story and that’s all she wanted to write, and shared that she didn’t wish to relive the rest. I was grateful for what she wrote, because it was something I didn’t know and it was so personal to her. It made me more interested in writing for myself and encouraging others to write and share their story, and also this idea and concept of voice. I saw in my grandmother that she would’ve benefitted if she had found her voice and utilized it as an empowered person. She devoted her strengths to domestic stuff, but she could’ve been so much more. Which made me think of my mom and my aunts and that line of women who have used their strengths to keep their families afloat, which is great. But who knows how much further that strength would’ve taken anyone if they had found that as an option.
I’m not a woman. I do have the benefits of being a man in this patriarchal world. But I am still gay, so I do have that sense of otherness that has tormented me all my life. I just started to see the value of us speaking up and us having a voice. I think the world would benefit from a gay Filipino man’s story. Why not? And even James who is white, and southern, has a very profound story that the world would benefit from knowing. I just saw in a beautiful way that everyone has value. So when I think of equality, that’s where I go. No one should feel like their lives are mediocre or in anyway diminished by comparison. I think that our lives are extraordinary. And I really feel strongly about that.
Creativity is going to save the world. And in reality, creativity has been the only thing that’s saved the world. Whether it’s a scientific innovation or spiritual innovation, it’s funny how we don’t recognize that faculty in daily life, but we should. I feel like we don’t even know how to talk about creativity. Like in a parent child context if creativity were to be brought up, they would give their child macaroni to play with. And that’s a part of it, but there’s also a way to talk about it where it would solve a problem for them. And I think that’s where it’s profound. I think we need to show kids a mess and say ‘make this beautiful’ and see what they do. Some may organize it in a beautiful system that is really separated and show that elegance, or some may mush it around and say ‘done!’ Actually, I think I just described what James and I would do differently, he would separate each piece to see what it was, and I think I would be the one to mush it all together.
Trust the universe. And no matter what, no matter how many things go wrong in your day, trust that it’s still the best case scenario. That this is the best version of reality, while in the alternate reality, you die-or under a pile of rubble. But that’s the kind of trust we need. We have to trust that good forces are guiding us to good outcomes. Touching on what I had mentioned about joy earlier, If you don’t see the good outcome in front of you, just turn around. It might be happen in another part of your life you’re not looking at.
We had the pleasure of connecting with Marcel, the marketing minx (his words, but words we can totally get behind), over a cup of coffee at James Coffee Co. Much like we do, he considers the space home with it’s welcoming vibes and great taste for coffee. He gushed about how he got recently married to his husband James, his professional career as a freelance consultant alongside his spiritual journey, and shared about his love for coffee and electronic music and how they both cultivate community.
Revisiting this conversation left us with more of an open mind to welcome joy in our lives and to be more aware. He’s such an awesome person to sit down and have a conversation with where you can easily delve into different topics and learn something new about. With that being said, don’t be a stranger! Check him out, creep on his fabulous wedding photos, and get immersed into the world of his writing that’ll keep you captivated all day long!