Writing this quick note to process one of the many strange developments of the week, which included my being roped in last minute to present a study conducted by the World Bank and the International Organization for Migration on marginalization through land dispossession in the Bangsamoro region. Presentations are part of my usual day-to-days but this was unusual—it was a launch at Camp Darapanan, the present headquarters of the largest armed revolutionary group in the Philippines, the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (or MILF, read as M-I-L-F, not the lewd joke familiar to most westerners).

It just so happened that our lead author, Dr. Fermin Adriano, was unable to fly to Cotabato and our rather crazy and generous team leader, Matt, chose to gleefully task me with translating the key technical messages in a vernacular that would be understood by the larger audience, and not just the international actors and VIPs present in the room. And that entailed being the lost young female non-Muslim, non-Mindanawon pseudoacademic on the dais with Mindanao peace process heavy hitters such as Ishak Mastura, Guiamel Alim, Rufa Guiam, peace panel chairs Mohagher Iqbal and Irene Santiago, plus the amerul mujahid himself, Al-haj Murad Ebrahim. Kumbaga sa Tagalog, pinabili lang ng suka, napadpad na sa Darapanan. (Which actually describes a fair chunk of the seven years of this life, to be fair.)

Continue reading “Lupa”

Transformation –> Relationships. Or, stitching together our wounded world

Originally posted on Facebook on 26 May 2013.

I was asked to give a short talk yesterday for an event honoring volunteers working with Hands on Manila. I wasn’t even supposed to be there, but a friend had recommended me to her friend who happened to be one of the organizers and well, that was that. The talk and the slides were hastily assembled about two hours before the whole shebang and it was mostly pulled out of my ass (and the deepening conversations with friends just before that), so this is an attempt to get it out of my head and write it down in a more coherent form.

Transformation –> Relationships. Or, stitching together our wounded world.

Hi, my name is Ica. I won’t talk about the work I do, because I wear a lot of hats, and most importantly, because everyone here is a carrier or volunteer of some kind of awesome initiative anyway, and I don’t think my initiatives are more important than those of you kindness revolutionaries here. (I salute all of you.)

What I do want to talk about tonight though is something that I believe is at the core of any kind of work that aims towards “social transformation”–may it be classical development work, volunteerism, charity, whatever you want to call it. Everyone in this room knows this, on some level, but let me put it out there: at the end of the day, change making is all about relationships. Let me say it again. Relationships. And that entails the relationships we have with ourselves, with each other, and with our world/s.

Continue reading “Transformation –> Relationships. Or, stitching together our wounded world”