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, March 10, 2011

Interfaith Circles Help Inaugurate Peace Talks in the Philippines

It was only recently that I finally was able to work on a report on the peace art ritual! Hurray!
Normally posts on important events must be sent out immediately fresh from the event but I have been busy  making sure the fundraising gets through for all expenses covered from the peace art action and I had to catch up with work immediately for the past month. I have also been doing lots of inner work on finally integrating my artistic and peaceweaving path together.

You can view a feature post from the United Religions Initiative's website about this event on their website:

I worked with URI as Regional Programs Coordinator in 2009 and am now working with its member cooperation circles (or CCs) the Peacemakers' Circle and the Muslim Christian Peacemakers Association of Tala. Its wonderful to continue my interfaith work but this time with more creative processes involved.
February was a special month for the peace community in the Philippines as 2 important peace talks and some peace negotiations were resumed after years of being on hold. Under the leadership of President Aquino III, the GPH (Government of the Philippines) peace talks between the MILF (Moro Islamic Liberation Front) and the NDF (National Democratic Front) were back at the negotiating tables on Feb 9 for the MILF and Feb 15 for the NDF. Peace negotiations from other rebel groups were resumed as well.
During a roundtable of planning of an inaugural candle lighting ceremony for the resumption of the talks on February 8 with representatives from government agencies, civil society, the police, the armed forces, and universities, The Peacemakers' Circle Foundation inspired by the depth of meaning in rituals in traditional peacebuilding and the re-envisioning power of moral imagination by John Paul Lederach, offered to lead the sacred opening of interfaith prayers and a meaningful ritual to take place to close the ceremony. The sacred closing was designed to send leaders present more encouragement in their roles in making peace possible for the Philippines.

There was limited time available for the preparation of the closing ritual but using its rich resource of community partnerships and creative peacebuilding approaches, the Peacemakers Circle CC through Sarah Queblatin, engaged the Muslim-Christian Peacemakers Association of Tala CC, and its youth arm Muslim-Christian Peacemakers Youth Association of Tala in a collaborative action. Together they co-designed an art action with interfaith public school students in their area. The association leader Eric Tomarompong and youth leader Edmark del Mundo helped coordinate the activity with the NHC Elementary School Principal and mobilize volunteers and facilitators. The association leaders have been trained in several interfaith relationship capacity development workshops by the Peacemakers’ Circle for several years.

Co-creating peace with hands and hearts
In line with the candle lighting ceremony, the art action used art materials inspired by the issue at hand which is ancestral domain and land rights. Inspired by the Tri-People identity of Mindanao where there is armed struggle as a call for self-determination by the MILF, the art action used terra cotta clay, flowers, leaves, and candles. The Tri-people is composed of the Lumad (Indigenous tribes of Mindanao), Muslim, and the Christian groups. The art action intention was to craft candle and flower holders aligned with the theme of the inaugural ceremony to bring light to the darkness decades of conflict have brought to the people. The holders were made of terra - cotta clay to best represent the ancestral domain and land rights issue at hand. It is also symbolic of the Lumad pottery and earth based traditions. The flowers and leaves to be added in a ritual installation represent the nature based inspirations for Islamic arabesque patterns and the okir design of the Islamic Maranaos of Mindanao. The candles are used by the Christian faith. A beautiful contribution of using seeds and grain to design around the holders were added by Russell Maier of the 1Mandala project, a global art project inspired by the sacred circle Mandala. Although the conflict is not primarily religious in nature, the identities of the people involved in the peace process still play a role as these cultures interact in everyday life with their unique beliefs and customs. The Peacemakers Circle believes that religion is not the source of conflict but it can be a great resource for peace.

Figure 1 A work of art: terra cotta candle holder with seeds and grain. On the right, an installation of the works of 400 children

Figure 2Tala Women prepare lunch and snacks for more than 100 early in the morning

Figure 3 Tala youth perform a play about conflict and peace they  prepared overnight for the children

February 7 was a beautiful day of co-creation. The women leaders of the association woke up early to prepare the lunch and snacks of 100 children plus volunteers. The youth of the Tala community helped craft a program for the 100 Muslim and Christian children of the school involving interfaith prayers and a beautiful play about conflict and peace. Initiated by themselves, they insisted on performing a play so children can best understand why they were crafting the candle holders. It was an amazing overnight script design and practice inspired by a theater workshop they underwent before from a youth leadership program funded by the URI Bowes Award organized by Orlan de Guzman of the Peacemakers Circle. The play was a story within a story that shows the several dimensions of personal and historical story of conflict.

Instead of 100, the team ended up working with 400 children as the Public School teachers requested that some of students observe the artmaking. Instead of handling 4 children each, the 25 youth facilitators readily embraced the challenge of working with 16 students in their group. It was a beautiful sight seeing the young leaders bloom their potential for facilitating and sharing to the younger ones.

Figure 4 Tala youth preparing installation

Figure 5 The Tala Youth with ritual leaders from GINHAWA and the sector leaders with the President looking on

Art and Ritual as a Powerful Message for Peace
"It's an honor to be a bridge for peace between Christians and Muslims."
-Jafarri, Muslim-Christian Peacemakers’ Youth Association of Tala (a CC applicant)

The art action worked with children to send a powerful message to the President, the Peace Secretary, and the Peace Panel heads and members that the children want to end armed conflict in their generation now.

On February 8, 2 hours before the ceremony, the youth and the children participated in a beautiful co-creative process of preparing the ritual space as a mandala.

As soon as the President arrived, the Peacemakers Circle conducted the sacred opening of the ceremony with prayers from indigenous (pambungad/opening by SangHabi), Hindu, Buddhist, Christian, Islam, Bahai, and Shumei faiths.

The Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process Ging Deles and President of the Philippines Benigno Aquino the III  shared their visions and call for collective participation in the peace process to finally be able to end armed conflict all over the country. After the President rang the Peace Bell, the peace ritual took place.

Inspired by traditional peacemaking traditions, the ritual space and the ritual ceremony were created as a circle with flowers and candles and candle holders inside. The ritual connected the sacred to humanity, the personal to the collective and the divine. It called for light in the minds, hearts, and dreams of people. The ritual was led by Leah Tolentino and Mini Gavino of GINHAWA (Growth in Wholeness and Wellness Associates), a non-profit that integrates creativity, ritual, and spirituality in well - being work.

The entire ceremony closed with the sending off of spirit lanterns. It was interesting to note that even if the ceremony ended, the leaders came down to the ritual space lighting their own candles with the Tala children and their friends and families. This was a clear image of how art is such a universal language in inspiring transformation.

Figure 6 Tala youth representative Edmark gives a candle and holder to the Peace Secretary in behalf of the children in his generation

As the evening came to a close, the youth of Tala approached the Peace Secretary to give her one of the candles with candle holders reminding her that they represent the youth of the country who are calling for the end of armed conflict in their generation. The Peace Secretary, who lit a candle with the granddaughter of a presidential staff member earlier, apologized that the elders of the country have made so many mistakes and she will make sure the voices of the youth will be heard.  A candle was also given to an Armed Forces General reminding him to avoid skirmishes in the communities. More candle holders and more art action outputs will be sent off to the President and the peace panelists before March 29 when the next talks resume.

Figure 7 Peace Secretary Deles came down to the ritual space to light a candle with the granddaughter
of a presidential staff member. 

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