Living from the EartHeart


Thank you for visiting. This site holds space for insights about living from the Earth's Heart.We are mirrors of each other. Whatever brought you here and whatever brought my words to you is part of a sharing of presence; an affirmation that we both exist in embodying our own journeys side by side.. an affirmation that we are One.

The EartHeart Journey is a sharing of my experiences from earth, heart, and art. My reflections have evolved on so many levels since I started journal writing when I was 11. What used to be a blog for my art projects and some public musings is now becoming a portal for sharing about consciousness, creativity, sustainability… of light, life, and love. Everything here is part of a sacred journey to oneness within and everywhere. However you resonate, may it reveal to you you inspiration, intuition, or insight for your own life journey.

Note: My new blogs can be found on my Portfolio Site.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Reimagining Peace with Children: Part 1 - Inspirations and Gratitude

" We know you are not so blind or deaf that you do not see or hear the violence in this war... so many of us have died." - Excerpts from a 7 year old displaced child in Lanao, Mindanao
I am writing  this blog two weeks after co-creating a beautiful peace ritual and installation last February 7 and 8 with my partner, 400 children, an interfaith community, and the Philippine President. Right after the event, I had to catch up with my life-work lifelines (deadlines) in interfaith dialogue and work on recovering personal expenses I used for the project. I felt I also had to recover too from the intensity of the limited time in mobilizing and fundraising for the entire activity. Most importantly, I wanted to have a settled and clear mind as I share my reflections about the beautiful creative process and creations that came to be.

Two blogs ago I was reflecting about giving birth to a full out artistic path that I have been only conceiving and giving birth to through small art projects for the past ten years while working full time with non-profits. While I am still working and doing art at the same time, four days later, a beautiful gift from the universe was born through me and so many beings and spirits who believe in peace and oneness! I am still recovering from the overflow of creative energy from this recent activity. There is so much to share in words but I feel more can be said through images. 

Working with interfaith children and youth from Tala

Here's a link to the artmaking process with the Muslim-Christian Peacemakers Association of Tala and 400 children from the NHC Elementary School:  Children of the Stars and 162 Candle Holders for Peace

Here's a link to the photos of the candle lighting and peace ritual ceremony: Lights for Peace

See the video of the entire process and ceremony: 

The peace ritual intention started when I sat down at a meeting with government agency representatives, military officers, and NGO heads as we prepared for a candle lighting ceremony with President Aquino as 3 long awaited peace talks resume in Februrary between the Government of the Philippines (GRP) and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), National Democratic Front (NDF), and the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF).

Two polarized feelings usually come up to me when I feel something important needs to be spoken and manifested. I am excited because it is like tapping to a higher source and afraid at the same time because I oftentimes feel I might not do enough justice to what needs to be spoken. Sometimes, I am afraid my ego will get in the way. I was afraid too that there would be only 4 days to make this peace ritual happen. These are what I felt as I sat there in the meeting knowing this was going to be an important event that requires transpersonal even divine guidance and intervention. (You can read the story on my previous blog about how the peace ritual and installation came about here.) It eventually became a beautiful spiritual and artistic unfolding for me as the activity manifested.

I wish to share some reflections in segments as I feel there is so much I am learning and so much to share about this experience. First I want to honor the forces that have made this work: inspirations, mentors, lessons, people I am grateful for.


I am grateful to the Great Spirits and the ancestors of my land who have inspired the idea of a peace ritual and installation. It was a divine intervention that needed to be bridged to the country's leaders so they are reminded of the power behind their power. I am grateful to my mentors in the fields of indigenous wisdom, interfaith dialogue, peacebuilding, and transformative arts. These are many elders who are mostly women who have embodied life paths that bridge the sacred and the mundane, the inner and the outer, and the self with the other. I am grateful to my partner and co-arist Russell  as through co-creation with him I am learning the beauty of presence, conscious loving, soul shaping, and manifestation. He came at the right time for this project even at the last minute as it tripled in scale requiring his masculine and artistic energy that harmonized with mine. I am grateful to the Tala community who has enriched my learning and teaching path in community based and transformative art through this process. I am grateful for the innocent spirits of children who have died in decades of war who we wished to honor in this work and to the 4.5 million Filipino children who have been affected directly and indirectly by war since 1972.

Validating Interiority for Development

Indeed, it was important to have a ritual. The importance of this is becoming clearer now in my 3rd year in peace work. I have been working for peace in Mindanao through interfaith dialogue work with the Peacemakers' Circle Foundation and an awareness campaign and public consultation on the peace process between the government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) with the Mindanao Solidarity Network. Even if I do all the external skills of project management, coordination, communication, and funds management, I always push for the importance of reconnecting to the interior facets of development.
While it is true that the conflict in Mindanao is not religious but rather political - in my work in interfaith dialogue and communication for development, we believe that religion/ faith/ traditional values help weave relationships by honoring identities and differences. In honoring these, we reconnect people through their points of harmony that bridge them to cooperation, acceptance and oneness. Politics no matter how well defined in terminologies on white paper and documents will always be influenced by cultural identities, customs, ways of life, and beliefs. Because these are invisible, they are usually not honored as facts and tangible basis for development or social transformation. 

I believe this is now changing as interfaith dialogue becomes a valid form of peacebuilding around the world. One principle that inspires me deeply in my work is to honor the interior facets of development. Years ago I read about integral sustainable development and how the personal and collective and the interior and exterior are important dimensions to be mapped in personal, social, and global development. Gail Hochachka, one of the leading thinkers in this field adapted Ken Wilber's Integral Theory in development work and outlines the following as valid and effective in social change: fostering better understanding of psychological development, giving space for subjectivity, honouring local spiritual frameworks, and situating development in an evolutionary context.  

Creavity and the Moral Imagination 

The power of creativity and imagination as key figures in the peacebuilding John Paul Lederach and Johan Galtung promote affirmed my intention and belief that these seemingly intangible processes are important in peacemaking. 

I was privileged to take a short workshop with Johan Galtung, founder of peace studies, back in 2009 and was inspired by the simple formula of Peace = nonviolence + creativity. Of course I’m sure it took years of conflict mediation and study to come up with this. Much more probably in actually enfleshing it out on my own peacemaking process using creativity beyond artistic media.

Lederach's Moral Imagination and working with Marites Africa of the Peacemakers Circle significantly changed the way I see conflict resolution. Lederach uses the term conflict "transformation" instead and changed the way we see this aspect of peacebuilding. In his book The Moral Imagination, Lederach describes how peace is acquired by how we "how we move from destructive violence by fostering the capacity to imagine ourselves in a web of relationships that includes our enemies; the ability to sustain a paradoxical curiosity that embraces complexity without reliance on dualistic polarity; the fundamental belief in and pursuit of the creative act; and the acceptance of the inherent risk of stepping into the mystery of the unknown that lies beyond the far too familiar landscape of violence."

Indigenous Wisdom, Ritual and Peacekeeping

The Peace Ritual taking place with children at the forefront. The President looks on.

I was deeply inspired by the beauty of the traditional Filipino peacekeeping practices embedded in a way of life that integrated the arts in the social structure and customs. Last December I was asked by Binhi ng Kapayapaan Inc, a non-profit that conducts peace camps to interfaith youth from the Philippines and Europe, to document stories of the elders from the Teduray and Talaandig tribes in Mindanao who were present to share their wisdom. While listening to the traditional peace pacts and the principles of peacemaking of their people, I was in awe at the importance of reconnecting the country's conflict issues to our cultural values and customs. Angge Herrera, the NGO’s Executive Director always ensures this is part of the camp’s program. Peace talks on the negotiating table with papers, facilitators and observers have somehow disconnected our sense of peace through relationship building with each other and the sacred. 

Leah Tolentino of GINHAWA (Growth in Wholeness and Wellness Associates) who I asked to facilitate the ritual shared the importance of adding depth to the whole ceremony by deepening the commitment of leaders through the ritual to compliment the breadth and expanse of the participation (number of participants, media coverage, exclusivity of leaders present etc.). There was so much meaning added by the ritual that the leaders and the public themselves came to the circle and lit their own candles even after the ceremony ended.

In her book, Ritual and Symbol in Peacebuilding, Lisa Schrich describes how ritual re frames the issues at stake by allowing people to approach the problem in new ways by helping create, affirm, and heal identities in responding to the process of dehumanization and increasing the flexibility of identity. Because it relies on symbols, sensory cues, and emotional expression, it can allow people with vastly different worldviews to have shared experiences that are meaningful and transformative. 

The Power of Art in Transformation

Peace Secretary Deles with her Granddaughter lighting a candle on the ritual space
Lastly, I want to emphasize the transformative power of art as it is a universal language that transcends boundaries and identities. This was at the core of the inspired intention to work with children through artmaking. Even after doing art with children, communities, and leaders for the past 10 years I still continue to learn valuable lessons in artmaking and using creative processes for personal, social, and spiritual transformation. I have read and undergone trainings to master this field but my best experiences are through the artmaking process with people and I develop my modules inductively after every workshop with each community’s work uniquely based on the context of their his/her stories, geography, social problems, etc. I can write an entire blog about this topic! So watch out for that :-)

Thank you Donors!

I wish to thank so many people who have helped us fundraise for the expenses for the activity. It was an amazing 3-4 day fundraising marathon through facebook! It was such an honor to see so many people resonating with the idea. We are still fundraising to cover for the artist fees. If you know more people who believe in the powerful work of artists and who still wanted to be part of the energy generated to continue the work, please connect us with them. A little goes a long way!

See the list of donors and their pledges through this link: Donors and Pledges

The next GRP-MILF peace talks will be at the end of March. Together with 1Mandala project, SangHabi and some baybayin artists, I am currently designing another art action to continue bringing attention to the call of the Filipino children to end war in the Philippines. Watch out for our next peace art action!

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