So this is happening

I haven’t been posting on this blog as much as I should, but this is actually happening. Five years after a priest-friend gently reminded me that one cannot give what one doesn’t have, and that I must try to educate myself as much as I can, here comes an opportunity to train in one of the top universities in the world. Grateful beyond belief.

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Embracing Community-Managed Primary Healthcare

Spent a few weeks with Dr. Moon Maglana to help document the wonderful work that AKKAP (Alternatibong Katilingbanong Kalambo-ang Panglawas) has been doing in a fair chunk of North Cotabato, Compostela Valley, Bukidnon and the Davao Peninsula since 1997. The attached PDF was written in order to be shared with partners at an anthroposophic medical conference in Dornach, Switzerland, but all this material could easily be turned into a book or manual of the amazing things they’ve been doing sans external funding, without fanfare. English is a necessary evil for external readers, but we need more materials in Tagalog and Cebuano for community users. I wish I could have more time to work with them.

Someday.

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Recapitulation: Baguio

Today is July 1–officially the start of the second half of the Aquino Administration, and my first official day as a former government employee. Happily, I am spending it in the rainy mountains of Baguio with my crazy Cordillera-loving friend Shei, where I have been drinking, talking, reading and eating my way into the ranks of the FUNemployed. Hooray!

Beyond a vacation, Baguio has been the perfect place for crossing this kind of Rubicon. Somehow, the last twenty-four hours have had representatives of all my past lives thus far: government, the arts and academe, PAGASA, the lovers, dreamers and the drunks. And so it has been an act of recapitulation–going back from everything that has been in order to move forward to what can become.

As always, the written word is the constant touchstone. I’ve spent a sizeable amount (at least, for a person with zero income on the horizon) on books at the glorious Mt Cloud, and they have kept me good company, alongside Shei’s chirpy patter and the calm Baguio vibe. Not reading fiction this time around, as much as I’d like to go back to the dreamtime. Instead, we have precious Cordillera Studies Center monographs of June Prill-Brett’s on resource management and autonomy, the ones I’ve only seen in the UP Library; the ADMU special series “Agenda for Hope”, looking at ISD and preserving Philippine Identity at the cusp of the GMA-era darkness and 2010 light; various odds and ends.

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What has hit me the most though is the jolly wit of old William Henry Scott. The back blurb describes his 1987 collection of essays, Chips, as “short on words but long on meaning”, and “might just lead to self-analysis”. And indeed they have. One particular essay, a riff on so-called “rice Christians”, has old Scotty quoting former President Nyerere of Tanzania:

“Men are shaped by the true circumstances in which they live. Suppose it is true that if they are treated like animals, they will act like animals. If they are denied dignity, they will act without dignity. If they are treated solely as a dispensable means of production, they will become soul-less “hands” to whom life is a matter of doing as little work as possible and then escaping into the illusion of happiness and pride through vice.”

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There’s a bunch of crisp, gently barbed shorts on research, ethnography, ethnicity and politics that I wish I had known about when I was still teaching English 10, and I wish I were coherent enough right now to write more about these things. I’m not.

For now, though, it’s enough to stay and revel in this feeling of clean lines, scathing honesty, and funny, yet earnestly spiritual thought. The words are clear, the air is cold and crisp, and the future is a blank space stretching before me. I’m typing this now on an old wooden desk with nothing but a phone and a battered Bluetooth keyboard, and half of me doesn’t want to go back to Manila just yet. Half of me wants nothing better. And for now–dinner.

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Wellspring of Hope

This was originally written for posting on the LILIPOH Magazine Facebook account, thanks to social media editor Willa Maglalang’s call for stories on non-Manila anthroposophic initiatives in the Philippines. Final posting–25 June 2013.

It was pretty easy, cobbling this together, as Shei and I had already mucked around on the topic for the ImagePraxis exhibition at the Liwanag Festival in Davao last January. What I do hope though is to be able to write more about these amazing local projects and initiatives (with ImagePraxis, Do-Good.PH, and other platforms), and maybe, even make it sustainable for everyone involved, somehow.

Abangan.

WELLSPRING OF HOPE: FOCUS ON TUBURAN INSTITUTE

In a tiny vegetarian eco-village in the outskirts of Davao City, the largest metropolitan center in the war-torn island of Mindanao, stands the very first Steiner/Waldorf-inspired school in Southern Philippines.

Founded in 2012 by young university instructors Kate Estember and Maya Vandenbroek, Tuburan Institute aims to make Steiner Education accessible to all Mindanawons–regardless of cultural background, or religious and political beliefs–especially those who cannot afford it.

Tuburan Institute started with a kindergarten class of nine children, which has since grown to eighteen enrollees for the 2013-2014 school year. Half of these children come from urban poor communities. Thanks to a system of sliding school fees, families of factory workers and tricycle drivers are able to get support from families with more resources, and from benefactors with big hearts.

The base tuition at Tuburan Institute is 40,000 pesos per year (approx. 800 USD), but some families are able to pay only as low as 2,500 pesos (50 USD) per year. All these differences fade as the kids happily learn and play side-by-side: a crucial step in healing a society that has suffered decades of conflict driven by culture and class.

Tuburan Institute (which means “wellspring” in the Cebuano language) has grown steadily despite the odds, with some help from the local and international community. In 2014, Tuburan Institute will expand to Class 1, and will transfer to a donated 1-hectare plot in another part of Davao.

Teachers and green architects have volunteered their skills in transforming the future space, but Tuburan Institute needs more support. It takes only 344 pesos per day (or 7 USD) to give a child a Waldorf education at Tuburan; any help, whether in cash or in kind, will go a long way.

For more information, go to http://www.tuburaninstituteinc.com, their Facebook Page (http://www.facebook.com/TuburanInstitute), or contact Maya and Kate at tuburaninstituteinc@gmail.com.

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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”