For the past few days I have been staying in Manila and staying with the Visayan Forum who do really great work helping victims of trafficking and abuse, as well as trying to prevent in a number of ways, such as intercepting, lobbying etc. So I wanted to give this group a heads up, big props and all that because the work they are doing is very powerful (here is their website http://www.visayanforum.org/portal/). On Monday Manny Pacquiao visited the office. Now, for those who don’t know he is unquestionably the biggest superstar in the Philippines, he is bigger than David Beckham was at the height of his fame in the UK, he is HUGE. He started out as a boxer and is now considered by far the best pound for pound boxer on the planet, holding 8 world title belts in different divisions. He recently became a congressman after being voted in by people from his province in the south. He is also a singer and big time advertiser of every product shown on tv. So, one of his pledges on entering government was to support anti trafficking agendas, hence his visit to Visayan Forum.
Now, certain aspects of Pacquiao aren’t appealing to me, he hangs around with a few nasty political figures (corrupt assholes) and he is against the recent Reproductive Health bill, which basically says that everyone should be allowed to have contraception, education on family planning, option of abortion etc. But the Catholic Church, of which Pacquiao is an ardent supporter, is against the RH bill, so therefore he is as well. But all that aside, when he started talking I found him very open and genuine and really seemed to care about the issue, so respect to that. Also, just being able to see someone widely regarded as the greatest boxer of all time, sweet!
I will be leaving Manila tomorrow in order to begin a Vipassana meditation. This is a 10 day silence (the ‘noble’ silence) whereby I will not be allowed to talk, read, write, play or listen to music, use computers, drink booze (!!), eat except at meal times (which are breakfast and lunch only, no dinner I think). Essentailly you have to pretend you are alone. Once a day there is a teacher who guides you in meditative practice. Then you just meditate, around 8 hours a day. So its just me, myself and I for the next 10 days! The purpose is, as far as I can tell thus far, to really get into understanding and contemplating a lot of the things you normally avoid, as distractions in our lives let us ignore them. We can passify our brains by feeding them rubbish. So, it is going to be very hard for sure, but everything I have read, specifically reviews of people who have done the course, suggest that for all the difficulty the rewards at the end are well worth it. So spare a thought for me sometime over the next 10 days, I’ll no doubt think of you at some point, there won’t be much else for me to be doing! And I’ll let you know if its worth it on the other side. http://www.dhamma.org/en/vipassana.shtml