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I. PROGRAMS

A. THE AGUSAN DEL SUR-SCHOOL OF LIVING TRADITIONS FINALLY OPENS

Seventeen years since the Tao Foundation began work in Agusan del Sur, and  three years since the Tao Foundation submitted its application to the National Commission for Culture and Arts for the establishment of the Agusan del Sur-School of Living Traditions, the ASLT finally opened its doors on August 5, 2017. A series of Indigenous Ceremonies, an Opening Program, and an Orientation conducted by the Local Coordinating Team, the Cultural Masters and Students marked the long-awaited event.

Three Manobo indigenous hinang-hinang (ceremonies) were mounted: sugnod dedicated to the umagad or souls of the departed; binangko dedicated to the diwata, often likened to angels or servants of the Creator; and uyagdok dedicated to the tabbanwa or dwellers of the land, waters, trees, mountains and other specific places. The three hinang-hinang were officiated by three baylan (ritualists): Datu Makalipay from Esperanza, Datu Hagupit from Bayugan, and Datu Mandonkuan from San Luis.

Following the Ceremonies, an Opening Program was held with representatives of various partner agencies expressing their support for the ASLT. Dr. Grace Nono, Founding-Director of the Tao Foundation for Culture and Arts, as well as Hon. Charlito Rensulat, Barangay Captain of San Teodoro offered their Welcome Remarks. Inspirational Messages were also given by Hon. Rico Pableo, Jr., Executive Director of the National Commission for Culture and Arts; Ms. Benilda R. Camba, Enterprise Development Coordinator of Non-Timber Forest Products-Philippines; Mrs. Elizabeth M. Ysulan, Department of Education Regional Indigenous Peoples Focal Person; and representatives of Living Asia, Panaghiusa Alang Sa Kaugalingnan Ug Kalingkawasan, Inc., and other organizations. Ten Cultural Masters from seven municipalities of Agusan del Sur then spoke to offer their support: Bae Lucy Rico, Bae Suyam Bae Katipunan, Datu Makalipay, Datu Malinog-Linog, Datu Madahuyog, Datu Kanimbaylan, Datu Lagnasan, Datu Hagupit, Datu Tuay. Finally, 20 students from eight municipalities of Agusan del Sur gave their responses, expressing their hopes, dreams and reasons for joining the Agusan del Sur-School of Living Traditions. This signaled the end of the Program and the beginning of the Orientation wherein the class curriculum, schedules, policies, and other details were discussed. An impromptu sharing of dances, instrumental performances and chants then ensued, followed by a communal supper.

The Agusan del Sur – School of Living Traditions is a non-formal learning space where Cultural Masters from both lumad (indigenous) and dagatnon (settler) communities in Agusan del Sur transmit to the young their knowledge of 1) language and performing arts (chant and storytelling, musical instruments-making and playing, and dance); 2) arts and crafts (weaving, embroidery, basketry, beadwork, grass-paper making, pottery, traditional house-building and boat-building); 3) health/ healing, environment, and spirituality; and 4) history, governance, gender, customary law, mediation and peace-making. The ASLT is headed by Dr. Rhodora Toyong, Bae Lucy Rico, Rose Toyong, JP Camino, Mark Jay Jamboy and Robilyn Floro.

The ASLT is located in Balay Agusan, Purok 7, Barangay San Teodoro, Bunawan, Agusan del Sur—Tao Foundation’s center in Mindanao—on land donated by the Director-Founder’s parents.

Feedback/Evaluation:
Datu Malinoglinog, Agusan del Sur Cultural Master for Language and Customary Law:

Ang kasaysayan sa lumad, sugod sa pag-abot sa magkalainlain nga mga tawo, tribo sa Mindanao, ang sinultihan pud sa mga lumad nagkalain-lain pud nga pagpractice sa ilang sinultihan, kay kung makasilingan kag Hilonggo, ang imong mga anak mag-HInilonggo na pud. Kung makasilingan kag Ilocano, ang imong anak, grabe pud mag-Inilocano kay grabe ka-adaptive sa huna-huna sa mga lumad labina sa sinultihan. Pero ang ikadaot lang kay ang mga imigrantes o kun mga langyaw, dili sila hilig sa Minanobo nga sinultihan kay maglisud pod ang ilang dila, talagsa ra nang maningkamot nga mga migrant nga magasulti sa Minanobo kun dili sa 95% ang wala gyud nila ibulag ang ilang pag-inistoryahay sa ilang sinultihan. So ang mga lumad karon, nahimo na pud nga 90% ang lumad nga nagbinisaya na. Ang us aka puntos mao na lang to ang nagsultig Minanobo. Una mga makuha diha (sa SLT), sinultihan. Ikaduha pud, ang mga tradisyon, ang mga kinaiyahan. Ibulag na man nila ang mga kinaraan nga mga sanina, kay kusog na silang mu-adapt sa mga bag-ong mga estilo. Ngano nga ang mga lumad nahimo nang magbInisaya tungod kay mahadlok na sila, maulaw, kay nakasinati na sila sa bullying mga bully nga pama-agi: “Ati, Manobo… E, Manobo man diay ni…” Kung imo ganing tan-awon unta, bagay sila nga magbully ang taga-diri magbiaybiay sa sinultihan nga lain… Kung imong tan-awon sa kasaysayan sa Judah o sa Jerusalem, pag lain gani nga sinultihan, ila tong gi-bully. Pero lain diri sa ato-a kay ang laing sinultian, ang tagadiri hinuon ang gibully sa mga immigrant. Mao diay na sila maulaw na magsulti’g minanobo kay grabe kayo… Mao na sila nga ila nang itago, ila nang ideny ang ilang pinulungan kay gibully man.

Kultura man ning atoa, balik sa  tradisyon ug pagtuki, so kun pananglitan ang uban imong itago, nagapasabot nga ang imong gitaguan sa kadugayan ana mawala kay…Nganong nakaingon ta ani nga mas pinakanindot nga nagkatagbo ang mga maestro ug mga lumad labina kun madayon kining School of Living Traditons nga atong padak-on ang nagaka-aup nga gikan sa mga sinultihan hangtud sa mga buhat sama sa suyam, nagapasabot nga kini karon kung atong masugdan ni, ingon pa sa kandila o sa suga, murag atong bwelo-bweluhan nga mudan-ag na ni siya kung pananglitan imong itago na gani, una diha, tay-an, ikaduha ana, mawala, ikatulo ana, kutkuton sa ilaga hangtod sa mawala. So ang pinakanindot didto nga ug magkadayon ni, magkonekta ta sa pinakanindot sa atong palibot nga ato nang ipagawas ang tanan para nga muanam pud ug kalambo hangtud mubalik sa una, Makita ang kinatibuk-an ang dagan gikan sa tradisyon ug customary…

Ang bawal. Ang rason nila- unsaon man nimo pagrespetar, pagkahibalo sa mga balaod sa Manobo nga wala man i-sagol didto sa local ug unsaon pagrespetar o unsaon paggamit, nga ang among naandan, bisan pa mag ako sa una, ang balaod sa local ug ang balaod sa Manobo (lain). Ako na lang ning gihalo sa akong kinabuhi hangtud sa pagka-karon. So—ug pangutan-on ko sa local, makatubag ko kay duna man pud koy dyutay kay sigi man pud kod seminar didto. Ug pangutan-on ko diri sa tradisyon, makatubagtubag ko dyutay kay naa man pud among kabilinbilin. Mao na siya nga ang pinakanindot didto, mas nindot nga makonek unta na nga kun unsay ipangutana sa imo o unsay ananyan kuhaon sa atong kabataan nga anayan nimong ipagawas makita pud sa nawong sa atong mga kabataan kay ang atong mga kabataan mao man toy saha nga sa sunod ana, human ta mubunga ingon pa sa saging, Malaya na man ta, ang mga bata kung walay ikabilin nimo didto nga talento, nga simbako, ug usa lang ang imong bilinan, kining usa maoy namatay simbako, kining wala nimo mabilini maoy nagpabilin, nagapasabot nga sibugdanan na to sa pagkawala. So ang nindot ana nga kung mapatay man ning unom, nagapabilin ang upat, magapadayon.

Datu Makalipay, Agusan del Sur Cultural Master for Ritual and Customary Law:

Ang pagbalhin sa atong nahibaw-an, duha ra man n aka klase: naa kadtong pinamilya ug naa kadtong sa eskwelahan. Atong sabutan kung unsa ang angayan lang nga itudlo. Sa ikaduha ka adlaw, nagsugyot na gyud ko nga kinahanglan ang kultura itudlo na sa majority Pilipino: mga Bisaya, mga settlers. Kita minority man ta kay kita ra may ang nagfocus sa atong pagtuong diwata. Ang uban, si Dagohoy nagrebelde unta batok sa iyang relihiyon batok ngadto sa mga Kastila so mao nga adunay pipila ka bol-anon nga nagpadayon pa gihapon sa ilang pag-tuo ug mga Hilonggo. Pero matud pa sa mga Hilonggo, tapulan na kuno sila. Mao na nga nakasugyot ko nga kanang pagtuo nato sa pamilya ra na. Kanang pagdiskubre kinsay baylan dili na pwede sa eskwelahan kay ang maestro dili man pud baylan. Pero naa gihapoy (basic), apan dili tanan na gyud nga ang angay itudlo. Ang angay ra itudlo kadto rang mga title pananglitan ang taephagan, kanang uyagdukan, pwede man na buhaton bisan dili baylan basta makamao manawagtawag unya serious lang dili yagayaga.

Bae Lucy, Agusan del Sur Cultural Master for Language, Mediation, Gender, and Customary Law:

Sa dugay na nga kapanahunan, kita nga tribo, atong nakita nga, gawas adtong gi-istorya ni (Bebero) nga nakapawala sa sinultihan tungod sa discrimination, dugangan sa eskwelahan nga wala gyud ingon nga nahatagan ug pagtagad ang kultura sa tribo, so mao na nga pasalamat ta aning agi nga tungod kang Luistro naay mga DepEd Order nga iyang gipirmahan nga nag-ila sa mga kultural sa tribo nga matudlo diha sa atong eskwelahan. Mao tong pag-open ni Grace sa ako niini nakabisita ko diri, mao to nga akong gikuan dayon sa iya nga kini siguro ang way kay sa among mga training sa mga titser, mismo sa pagdemo na nila sa ilang lesson plan nga indigenized, akong nakita nga diha gyud sila maglisud mahitungod sa, kay dili man sila makabalo sa kuan sa tribo, so maglisog sila. Kung mag-interview pa sila, madugay na, dili dayon madali, so mao na ang mga kalisdanan. So ingon ko nga kining SLT, hinaot nga makatabang niining mga problema sa mga maestra. Mao nga ingon ko kang Grace, unsa kaha kung aton istoryahan si Ma’am Isulan ang Regional IP Focal Person diri sa CARAGA Region. Dugay naman pud mi/ako nga naengage sa- gikan pa lang sap ag-draft sa DepEd Order, kami na, sa Davao, 2005, naggikan sa Davao ang consultation hangtod sa Tagaytay.. wa lang ko nagdahum nga napprobahan diay… Hangtud nahimo tulo na ang DepEd Order, kadtong sa Framework sa IP education, hangtod sa kana nang paggamit sa mga gamit sa tribo nga dili na siya basta-basta gamiton sa eskwelahan, kanang sa mga dances, mga instrument, kung walay sakto nga pagpasabot. Pareha anang mga pangutana sa amo nga unsaon man nang pareha anng kadayawan nga dako na kaayong mga drum, mao pa ba na, ang amo, wa man nay problema basta dili nga ingon nga kini, sayaw ni sa tribo kay dili na gyud na siya sa tribo. So kana ang akong nakita nga kini nga SLT maoy hinungdan nga nakaadto ko sa Butuan Regional Office. Maayo gani nga pag-send pa lang ni Grace sa iyang letter kang Ma’am Ysulan… ok kayo sa ila kay dakong ikatabang sa titser. Dako gyud ang ikatabang ang mahitungod niini sa ako lang paglantaw kay pananglitan, madugangan ang pagsabot sa mga titser. So kana palang ang status sa atong nagkadaiyang eskwelahan nga naa pud sila sa proseso nga ang ilang pagtudlo mahimong culture-sensitive, sensitibo sa mga nagkadaiyang kultura kung asa man kung asa man dapit ang eskwelahan. Pero nakafocus lang sila sa kadtong gitawag nga 100% nga mga eslwelahan, kadtong pulos gyud tribo, wala gyuy sagol. Kining atong mga eskwelahan diri, naa may mga 50%, nay 75%, wala pa na, uwahi pa, ang naka- kadtong mga pure pa gyud nga kasagaran ana kadtong tua sa mga lagyo, sa mga bukid nga mga eskwelahan, kay pila ra man ka barangay halos diri sa CARAGA ang pure sa gyud nga solid. Ang high school gani, murag upat o unum ka high school ra ang solid nga tribo pa, samut na sa elementary. Pasalamat ra pud ta nga niabot ta ani nga punto nga kanang pagtuon nga unsaon nato nga mahimong sensitibo ta, kita didto sa lain ng tribo, ug kini pud nga mga tribuha, mahimong sensitibo pud sa atong mga kultura tungod kay nasayod man sila. So kun dili pud nato ipasabot, dili nato ipasayod, unsaon nila pag maging sensitibo nga wa man lagi nakabalo.


B. PAMATI 2017 FINDS ADOPTIVE HOME AFTER DISPLACEMENT BY TERRORIST ATTACKS AND MARTIAL LAW IN MINDANAO

PAMATI (Cebuano-Visayan for “listen” [v.] and “feeling” [n.]) is an intergenerational, intersectional, transnational, intercultural and interfaith gathering of a small group of Philippine Elders—ritualists, healers, storytellers, musicians, dancers, martial artists, peacemakers and community leaders—and an equally small group of Philippine and Philippine descended younger generation scholars, artists, religious, holistic healing practitioners, peace advocates, sustainable agriculture advocates, gender activists, environment and social justice worker who are interested in reclaiming Philippine ancestral ways. PAMATI promotes mutual listening that privileges the voices of Elders, the socially-marginalized and the practitioners of indigenous spiritual traditions who are often not heard in society. PAMATI seeks to contribute to dialogue and the bridging of alienation between older and younger generations, the unschooled and the professionals, the indigenous and settler, rural and urban, homeland and diaspora, World Religions and Indigenous Traditions, and the various classes, genders, ethnicities, races, forms of education, and religious and political persuasions. PAMATI is also a venue for Philippine Elders to directly transmit specific embodied knowledges (that they are allowed to share with others) including the indigenous understandings of these knowledges to younger generation Filipinos and Filipino descendants. Related to this, the ethics, protocols, and appropriate methodologies of transmitting of ancestral knowledges across ethnicities and social locations are taken up in PAMATI.

PAMATI first took place in July 2015 in Balay Agusan, Bunawan, Agusan del Sur, immediately following the center’s rebuilding after its 2012 destruction by super-typhoon Pablo. PAMATI in 2015 began with the building of a Tinandasan (traditional house) by Manobo master house-builders followed by prayer, storytelling and chant circles; a visit to the sacred lake at the Agusan marsh, and engagement with local public school students and teachers. PAMATI 2015 was co-convened by the Tao Foundation for Culture and Arts, the Center for Babaylan Studies, GINHAWA, and the Institute of Spirituality in Asia.

Two years after the first PAMATI, the gathering was to be held again but was displaced at the last minute due to terrorist attacks in central Mindanao and the declaration of Martial Law in the whole island. After a frantic search for a new venue, PAMATI 2017: Listen to Songs, Bodies, Mountains found a host in Sakahang Lilok in Tanay, Rizal, Luzon where it could proceed as prayer, chant and storytelling circles, and venue for the transmission of embodied knowledges of gong music, chants, dances, martial arts, hilot and plant medicines. The participants also visited a lagoon in Rizal and the sacred mountains of Banahaw in Quezon and Makiling in Laguna. These further engaged with public school students and teachers at the Philippine High School for the Arts.  PAMATI 2017 was co-convened by the Tao Foundation, the Center for Babaylan Studies, GINHAWA, the Institute of Spirituality in Asia, and Jung Circle Center, in cooperation with Indigenous Facilitators.

Feedback/Evaluation:
ELORDIE MESAC, Tagbanua, Philippines

Pasasalamat sa panibagong pamilya, grupo at mga katribu,sa pamati at sa ideyang napakahalga para sa katulad kong katutubong nag aaral at ayaw mawalang kultura at sining,maraming salamat sa inyo maam grace sa tiwala at suporta,sa mga nag aaral gawin at isabuhay ang mahalin ang kanya kanyang kultura,kasabay ng pag unlad at teknoloheya pagyamanin natin ang ating kultura at sining.

LUCY RICO, Manobo, Philippines

Salamat sa pamati organizer, participants at mga elders marami akong natutunan. I learned the balance of listening "LISTENING TO OTHERS AND LISTENING TO OUR SELF."

ABRAHAM SAKILI, Tausug, Philippines

Maraming salamat din sa mga naibahagi na mga kaalaman at karanasan at bihirang pagkakataon na makasalamuha ang iba-ibang mga kapwang nagpapahalaga sa ugnayan ng kalikasan at sangkatauhan at sa pagkilala ng higit sa lahat na Kadakilaan ng Maylikha ng lahat na tinatawag sa iba-ibang pangalan. Truly ang pangungusap na 'diversity in unity' and/or unity in diversity' is both a challenge a motivation to make life in this world truly  inspiring and meaningful. Bilang isang Muslim lalo kong naisabuhay ang kahulugan ng salitang ASLAMA na 'to submit, vow or surrender to the Will of One and Only God. Salamat.

ARLENE NATOCYAD, Mt. Province, Philippines

Peace and all good to ALL! Yes! Words are not enough to express our profound PAMATI experiences. Only a word of gratitude (as most have expressed) can encapsulate those experiences - SALAM-AT. Ang pasasalamat na iyon ang siyang nag-uumapaw sa akin hanggang sa ngayon...

As we went back to our respective places the sacred space that held us together was widened; looking forward to coming together again for another PAMATI in the future to rekindle that Sacred Space again for growth, peace, happiness, health and well-being for the self, others and the rest of creation.

Salamat, salamat at salamat...
Bathala Nawa,
Arlene

GENEVIEVE BALANSE-KUPANG, Mt. Province, Philippines

Iyaman, iyaman, iyaman Grace! 2017 PAMATI has given me back the strength, peace, deep connecting to the spirit of Fransis espe our last ritual a while ago. Before we left PSHA, I saw a similar yellow butterfly same color that I saw two yrs before during his wake. Thanks for everything!

RICO PONCE, Visayan, Philippines

I wish to express my gratitude to each one of you for a wonderful and meaningful engagement with one another together with our Babaylan and Elders. For me, it was a moment of retrospection-reflection which led me to a lot of insights and realization as a person, as a priest and as a fellow pilgrim-seeker of this world. Daghang Salamat kaninyong tanan, Maraming Salamat Po.

SANDY EBRADA, Visayan, Philippines

1. What had been most important for you? And/or your most significant learning(s)?
• That I met them since I have only read about them especially in my Phil. Studies in UP
• They are such wonderful people full of wisdom, very grounded, with a great sense of humor and confidence, showing with great clarity what they truly value in life – a sense of great community amongst themselves, with the environment, and with higher and lower beings strengthened by rituals, dance, art, and music. They reminded me of how I should live life to the fullest.

2. What are you thankful/grateful for?
• For having the opportunity to be part of this gathering.
• For Grace and the others who worked so hard to make this a success.
• For the babaylans and elders’ generosity of knowledge and joy.
• The place was just right – the big kubo, the food, surrounded by nature.

3. What are your noticing(s)? What have you discovered?
• That even the youth should have the same week-long gathering with them to learn from them and discover their own calling in life
• The trips to Mt. Banahaw and Mt. Makiling were good for the babaylans and elders. I took it for granted that they travelled as much as we lowlanders do. But I realized that they do not necessarily go out of their place just like that. So trips to other sacred places for them to visit is a plus for them.

4. Which part/activity do you consider as most relevant and/or personally beneficial for you?
• Both the big group sessions and break outs. The only break out session I did not attend was of Mang Rodel’s.

5. A new awareness/major insight that changes or transforms you?
• I’ve dreamt of colors and forceful energies right after the gathering. I still have to find out what they mean.

6. Anything you would like to add or delete?

7. What aspect(s) was/were challenging for you?
• Since we lived out, I got to miss communing with them during the breakfasts and to join the informal gatherings in the evenings although I do appreciate staying in the retreat house.

8. Suggestions/Recommendations of what you would like to see in future PAMATI Gathering (general, committees, organizers, content, methodology, etc...)
• Just helpful logistics like First Aid kits, maps to different venues so as not to get lost. Have a car and driver always available during the gathering.
• Room assignments should have been done way before going to the venues.
• It would be helpful to have personnel solely for support and logistics. While this would entail added expense, this would allow fuller support.

9. Something you would like to share to the Facilitators/Volunteers/Organizers/Convenors

Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.

LILY MENDOZA, Kapampangan, US

How to capture in words seven days of glorious communing with indigenous elders (chanters, healers, storytellers, baylan/mang-anito/mumbaki, hilot, herbalist, dancers) and fellow urbanized participants and with the lush vegetation, waterfalls, springs, and mountains of Tanay, Rizal and the sacred mountains of Apo Banahaw, and Mariang Makiling? This is the longest time I've been away from my laptop and cellphone screens, thanks to the forbidding distance from civilization (and perhaps to the energies of the sacred mountains to which man-made electronic signals proved no match?).

Gratitude. Deep gratitude to our gracious PAMATI 2017 venue hosts--Sakahang Lilok, Nature Villa Banahaw (c/o traditional healing arts practitioner Boy Fajardo), and the Philippine National High School for the Arts at Mt. Makiling (courtesy of Director Vim Nadera whom I finally met in person for the first time). Thank you for partnering with us and allowing our bodies (and our minds) to be refreshed and nurtured by Inang Kalikasan (Mother Nature). Thank you especially to Sakahang Lilok tor teaching our bodies to fall in love again with the simple deliciousness of (mostly) plant-based slow-food cooking and the totally respectful and sensible concept of zero-waste living (where even our human waste becomes "ambag"/useful contribution for other earth beings). Grateful, too, for the permeable walls and bamboo structures of our sleeping quarters that allowed the elders' contagious laughter and loud uninhibited bantering to wake us up in the early morning, sometimes even before dawnbreak--the one thing I'd probably miss the most from this year's PAMATI!

I imagine this is how it must have been when we still lived embedded in the generosity of the natural world and in the face-to-face sociality of our indigenous villages: waking up to the first rays of Grandfather Sun whose westward trek is aided by the cacophonous voices and toothless laughter of elders (and the running about of happy children's feet); ordinary conversations spontaneously breaking into song or poetry at a moment's inspiration (Datu Makalipay and Manong Rodolfo, I will miss your mellifluous duets of love songs!!!!); work life spared of tedium by the rhythmic accompaniment of song to motion and/or the trading of tsismis; young people's bodies naturally synched up to the rhythms of nature's circadian clock, to the beat of gongs, drums, and other native instruments--the energy of dance and movement climbing up their spine and out their nimble limbs without so much as effort or trying. And when death, sickness, or conflict occurs, the gathering of the whole village to grieve, deliberate together, and perform rites of healing and/or reconciliation.

PAMATI 2017 gave us but a tiny taste (a "patikim") of that earth-based life that we all used to know (and perhaps, to a degree, still know in our bones) before a part of our species had the brilliant idea of breaking away and building a culture (purportedly) "more advanced" and unconstrained by the collective necessities of village- and land-based living. And indeed, given my overly civilized body, a part of me, like an addict in withdrawal, craved at Sakahang Lilok for the usual comforts of unhampered electricity, sanitized flushing toilets, and piped in water supply (that didn't constantly remind one of the preciousness of water and the deleterious effects of the water closet system, and the chloro- and hydro-chlorofluorocarbons and other greenhouse gases released by airconditioning and the energy-hungry operation of electricity on the ecosystem). So much so that by the 6th day, when we got to the imeldific structures (yes, designed by the famed "patroness of the arts" herself-- Imelda Marcos) of the executive suites of the Makiling Philippine National High School for the Arts where we were to close out our gathering, it was as though the drug-starved neurons of the ease-addicted civilized body instantly started firing--having finally found their "stash."

Alas, whatever pleasure the initial "hit" brought, it wasn't long before grief's reality check followed suit. Just like our (my hubby, James Perkinson and I) recent experience of a 5-star hotel stay in Bangkok (courtesy of a conference host), where, upon entering our luxury room and lighting a ritual candle to pay homage to the new place and taking time to praise the wood paneling, the stone, and metal that graced the tastefully designed interiors, and imagining what grandmother tree (or rock or iron) had to be sacrificed, forcibly taken from its wild abode to be tamed and reshaped for another purpose by human ingenuity, I wondered what sort of rituals of permission and honoring, if any, were performed in the building of these lavish structures that allowed one the glorious panoramic view of the mountain from the unalloyed convenience of one's individual veranda.

I cry now writing these reflections, realizing my body's patent domestication that causes it to flinch at the slightest bit of discomfort and revel, despite awareness of the cost to other beings and to life itself, at the invention of modern conveniences. When I heard one elder ruefully remark on what he thought was their mountain's "relative disadvantage and undesirability" in comparison to the sleekly paved Mt. Makiling foothills, I knew I wasn't alone in my discord. But as if to affirm the complex relations between human-tamed and wild places, another elder replied, "Pero mas malakas pa rito ang energy ng mountain namin" ["But the energy of our mountain is even stronger than this one"].

There have been many learnings for me. Despite the limitations of the framework of PAMATI (that artificially brings together in the span of eight days a roughly equal number of indigenous elders and indigenous root-seeking urbanized Filipinos both in the homeland and abroad for mutual listening, there is something powerful even in such brief of an encounter. For the younger urbanized participants, the copious tears and heartfelt expressions of gratitude to the elders for their unstinting generosity in sharing their gifts and stories and for the sense of community created is testament to the need for such initiatory opportunities for mutual encounter (as kapwatid Sobey Wing has aptly noted). For the elders, to find such openness of hearts and eagerness among the urbanized participants for a taste of what they had to offer was deep affirmation of their sense of self in contrast to the racialization and devaluing of their ways of being that is just their default experience living cheek by jowl with mainstream culture. The mirroring back to them by the younger participants of what they still have--the memory of how to live in a good way on the land--that the young ones have lost and are only now seeking to recover in a world of amnesia creates a fertile ground for mutual love and transformation. "I see you," they seem to say to each other--and in that deep seeing and affirmation of generations is the seed of wholeness, healing, and recovery of well-being.

I saw this in the eyes of the students of the Philippine National High School for the Arts, elite young scholars all, that we were privileged to engage on the last day of our gathering. Here were students schooled almost exclusively in the Western arts (apparently what were deemed "the real arts" worth learning, not the dubious so-called "arts" of primitive peoples like those with us at PAMATI). I saw during our time with them the hunger in these students as they listened to the testimonies of our own young participants. And as they joined the workshops conducted by the different groups of indigenous cultural masters, we saw them gamely try their hand at native instruments (kulintang, gong). We witnessed them move their bodies to the vigorous guitar rhythms and dance steps of the Ayta and to the graceful movements of the Maguindanaon kuntao. We saw their curiosity to learn about the indigenous healing arts (hilot, herbal/plant medicine) from the elder practitioners. Even after the formal plenary where each group reported on their learning experiences, a number of students persisted in playing the kulintang. One 15-year old came to me unable to hold back her tears, sharing her grief at being forcibly severed from what she recognized as her gift of third-eye seeing that she said she's had from a very young age, of being able to connect deeply with nature spirits and of being friends with unseen beings, until her parents, now Christian, performed a ritual to close up that third eye and effectively banish her spirit guides from her--what she now experiences as a deep loss for her. She said the testimony of one of the diasporic Filipinos who shared her story of being deemed "mentally ill" from her possession of a similar gift until she was able to find indigenous teachers who helped her make sense of her experience resonated deeply with her.

Such resonances were many during the recently concluded PAMATI. As well, questions and struggles of where now to go with this kind of learning and experience. A lot of our process in the co-convening group (Tao Foundation, Center for Babaylan Studies, GINHAWA, Institute for Spirituality Asia, Carl Jung Circle) has been "we make our way as we go" knowing the kinds of times we live in--dire times of climate change, species extinction, ecosystems collapse, war and more war.

I personally take my cue from the example of the Cuchumaquic village people of Guatemala who, when faced with the devastation of a 7.5 magnitude earthquake of 1976 thinking the end of the world has finally come upon them, determined to live their last moments even more beautifully, in Martin Prechtel's account:

"[T]hey had come to pass the world's end at the place all Mayans, every village and tribe, know as their rumuxux or the "umbilicus of the world." They wanted the symphony of their thousand years' struggle to live in the arms of the corn seed's earth to end here where it had begun: at the place of their mutual origins. In this way they themselves would become spiritual seeds and their passing become temporal humus from which the Divine could regrow a world beyond their own time. In their parallel understanding of vegetation and human culture, they wanted to be rooted in the Earth's memory of their having been there, even if they as humans had to disappear. After all, all the mythologies said that they as people had themselves sprouted from a time previous to any of our own presence, and like seeds had resprouted themseves from the compost of a world of previous human failures....

"The trick was not to seek the fantasized comfort or the falsely anchored dependability that civilization promises. Instead of the illusion of security, it's better to get good at riding out [Earth's] motion like a bone cell heaving in the ribs of Her breathing chest..." (from _The Unlikely Peace of Cuchumaquic: The Parallel Lives of People as Plants_)

I feel this is a time when, like the people of Cuchumaquic, we no longer come together "just to have a better chance at survival" but rather to learn to prepare for a time beyond our own. May we sow seeds of love for the Holy in nature that can resprout after the dying.

VERMA ZAPANTA, Visayan, US

This week, I had the privilege of learning and hearing about the experiences of babaylans, healers, leaders, chanters, and artists from various indigenous tribes in the Philippines through an intergenerational community gathering called PAMATI. At first, I felt shame in struggling to articulate my purpose of attending and how I found my way there. I traveled alone not knowing anyone in that space. It was terrifying. But I know my ancestors brought me there. As I continued to sit and listen to our elder's stories of struggle, survival, resistance and resilience, I realized that it was healing me in a way that I didn't know was possible. A sister that I met helped me to see that was exactly my purpose. To just be. To be present. To be open to receive and allow myself to hear spirit and my ancestors. This experience was the beginning of a journey that I needed to rejuvenate my soul and reconnect to a part of myself that had been stolen or forgotten in my ancestral lineage. 32 years of realizing that I didn't know how to listen. This was a beautiful experience of a lesson learned.

For the first five days, our group stayed at a sustainable, zero waste organic farm called Sakahang Lilok in Tanay, Rizal. We were greeted by a Dumagat chieftain who's ancestral land we were gathered in. We humbly asked for permission to hold space. Afterwards, the other tribal elders began to circle up and I had a feeling in my chest that is indescribable. So, I just cried silently, but knew that this is what it felt like to be truly connected to myself.

ASUNCION OJEDA, Bikolano, US

What had been most important for you?  And/or your most significant learning(s)?

As a musician, I came to Pamati with music as my main interest.  It was wonderful to see that Maguindanao kulintang, a tradition in which I have invested specialized study, was represented.  I also wanted to hear/see/experience/learn about music from other indigenous groups who were present.  The rhythms from the Aeta guitar and the Tagbanua gong and drum ensemble fed my hunger for these musics, and I was delightfully mesmerized by the Tausug folk song variations played by Prof. Sakili on the gabbang.

What I consider to be my most significant learning is a deeper understanding of the cultural context in which music is performed.  That context gives the art greater meaning.  The dances of the Aeta helped me realize just how profoundly connected they are to nature.  Although we did not witness any Maguindanao rituals, it was good to hear about them from Guro Aga and others who had previously experienced and participated in them.  As beautiful as the Panay Bukidnon and the B’laan chants are on their own, they are even more so when we hear them as part of their respective rituals.

What are you thankful/grateful for?

I am thankful for the opportunity to see Guro Aga, to learn about her teaching methods, and to hear from her what her music means to her.  It is good to know that she continues with her musical life amidst the restrictions of her Islamic faith.  Guro Aga was (Eleanor Academia’s) my U.S. kulintang teacher’s teacher, and connecting with her at Pamati was also an affirmation of the work that Eleanor has been doing.

I am also thankful for the overall Pamati gathering and how it was a profound way to get reacquainted with my homeland.

What are your noticing(s)? What have you discovered?

My travels to Bali (this year) and to Cambodia (last year), as well as the little bit that I am learning of their cultures and histories, influence my answer to this question.  I am noticing how much we are connected to our southeast Asian “cousins!”  Taking away the cloak of colonial influences reveals just how much we have in common in our customs, beliefs, and languages. Which part/activity do you consider as most relevant and/or personally beneficial for you?

Our venue(s) were certainly relevant, and I appreciate the organizers’ thoughtfulness in determining our gathering places.  The communal nature of our lodgings, the environmentally mindful limitations, our nature walks, excursions to the river/falls, and the simple (and delicious!) meals, especially at Sakahang Lilok, helped me adjust to an appropriate frame of mind for what was taking place.

Also, the rituals and prayers that were offered help me understand the indigenous communities’ outlook on life and the world around them.  That understanding, in turn, prompts me to examine my own attitudes and consider any necessary adjustments.

A new awareness/major insight that changes or transforms you?

My perception of the elders’ outlook, based on the commentary shared, and the prayers, and rituals offered, is that one’s intellect and talent take a back seat to guidance from the spirits.  This inspires me to re-establish my personal faith practice, and it helps me to minimize or work towards eliminating ego from my artistic endeavors.

I had never before thought about just how many indigenous communities there are in the Philippines… and only a few of them were represented at Pamati!  Upon hearing what they had to say and living with and among them for a few days, I realized my own insensitivities in my work environment in the US.  I work with students from Latin American families, some of whom are from Central American indigenous communities, and I have tended to consider them as merely part of this big Spanish-speaking Latin American fabric.  I realize that I need to be more thoughtful of the students’ and their families’ backgrounds, and behave accordingly when communicating with them.

Anything you would like to add or delete?

It might be easier to have only one base camp for the entire week.

What aspect(s) was/were challenging for you?

The concept of “de-colonization” was mentioned, several times by some of the Participants, as a necessary step in getting to know our indigenous identities.  What exactly is this “de-colonization?”  Does it, perhaps, mean something different for each individual?  And isn’t the “colonized” part of our identity just as important as any other part?  What about reconciliation of the colonized and the indigenous aspects of our identity…is that possible?

Suggestions/Recommendations of what you would like to see in future PAMATI Gathering (general, committees, organizers, content, methodology, etc...)

I don’t know how appropriate it would be, given the mission of Pamati, but should participation be offered to government officials?  I was thinking that in terms of fostering deeper familiarity with and sensitivity to the needs of the indigenous communities, would it not be beneficial to have the ears of those who are in a position to affect change?  (I am a foreigner, and I am ignorant of whatever corrupt tendencies might be pervasive in Philippine government.  Please forgive my naiveness.)

Something you would like to share to the Facilitators/Volunteers/Organizers/Convenors

THANK YOU for the opportunity and the experience!

What now?  In a nutshell—visit the Bicol region, especially Albay province where my family is from; continue studying with my kulintang group and plan for future classes teaching kulintang to young folks (using Guro Aga’s methods); apply for Philippine citizenship (I was born in the Philippines; I am eligible for dual citizenship!) in order to have a voice in the democratic process.  I plan to keep in touch with other Pamati participants, especially from Turtle Island, and continue the dialogue.

(You may add your own question and answer what you wish to share to everyone)

I would like to explore children’s songs and singing games from the many indigenous groups in the Philippines.  Does anyone know of any researchers who are working on this?  Any leads would be greatly appreciated!
Maraming salamat!!!

MAMERTO TINDONGAN, Ifugao, US

We need PAMATI 3!

ELLEN RAE CACHOLA, Ilocano, Hawaii

Just wanted to let you know that I have been very impacted by Pamati and I have learned very important lessons, and began to form healing relationships. Thank you for the artistry, vision and leadership Manang Grace. And of course, the whole Pamati collective.

Grace Caligtan and I will be doing talks in our community about our experiences at Pamati. 

My desire and hope is that we continue to stay in touch with Pamati and that Pamati can create direct relationship with Hawaii.  Grace and I are very keen in preparing people to apply for the next one.

RACHEL HAUSER, Tagalog-adoptee, Philippines

The PAMATI event with all its encounters still lingers positively with us. We are so grateful we were 'crazy enough to accept you crazy people' (as you once called yourselves). We regret nothing, rather we feel much rewarded with something none of us would have easily come across, even if we were looking for it. 

Significantly, one of our Nanay cooks said afterwards that when this group comes again, she will want to spend more time in the Octagon and witness that part of it. "If that group comes again..." yes, that is how we feel about it: we would probably welcome you again! Of course, who knows what will be next and with the reality that Sakahang Lilok is unlikely to expand, the same limitations will still be there. While, who knows, interest in PAMATI might increase, which would of course be a very good thing. But quite regardless of whether anyone is yet thinking of the future that far, I smiled to myself when I heard those comments. That is how positive it was for us. I also want to point out how we appreciated the great care everyone took for the place. We felt (and saw) a lot of consideration for the practical things. This is not taken for granted. We are very grateful for it and so feel a deep respect for the work we do.

Finally, thank you for all the gifts you left behind: The colours and textures of weavings and batiks, the wonderful and soulful music of Diwa and of the Kulintang  as well as the stories for children and for adults about the wise people in the Cordilleras and many smaller and even less tangible but very precious gifts. 

I for one have learnt so much that week and probably that is the most precious gift of all.

Warmly on behalf of "Barangay Sakahang Lilok",
Rachel


II. OPERATIONS

The Tao Foundation warmly welcomes Bae Lucy Rico as its newest Trustee. Bae Lucy is an Indigenous Agusan-Manobo woman leader who comes from a long line of panguyo (indigenous leaders) and baylan (ritualists). She is a community facilitator, a teghusadan or settler of conflicts, and a peace negotiator/advocate.

Bae Lucy holds a Bachelor of Science in Elementary Education degree from Fr. Urios, Butuan. She has worked with the Tribal Filipino Apostolate, as well as with Mindanaoan as head of scholarships, and as community organizer and as researcher. In the past few years, Bae Lucy has often been invited by the Urios Law School, the Department of Education, the Department of the Interior and Local Government, and the Mindanao Women’s Commission as Resource Person for Customary Law, the Indigenous Peoples Rights Act, and Gender.  She also serves as Tri-People Representative in the Mindanao-Sulu Pastoral Catholic Commission.

In addition to Bae Lucy, the Tao Foundation further welcomes to its Staff Ms. Dinda Paeste as Administrative Associate. A graduate of Bachelor of Arts major in Economics, Bachelor of Laws, and Masters in Business Administration, Ms. Paeste has served as Legal Researcher for private and religious organizations. Also joining the ranks of the Tao Foundation Volunteer-Staff is Yeyette San Luis, a Sound Healer and Accountant by profession. Ms. San Luis will be handling Tao Foundation’s books.

Tao Foundation’s Board now consists of the following:


Tao Foundation’s Staff now consists of:





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