Wednesday, July 28, 2010

One Year!

I never noticed it... It's been a year since I started blogging. And that was supposed to be last June...I was lost in some other space for Being...would like to share with you my very first blog, and I quote...

"fresh flowers. a leaf bud appearing. freshly cut grass. signs of newness indeed. take a deep breath. life is good, isn't it? welcome to a new beginning as i am starting a life anew! today is a day for sacred space. as all of creation is, you are a special one. join me on a healing path as we journey through life. you may have gone through a labyrinthine walk in your life, a deep downspiral journey into darkness where you've never been before. i have gone through the same experience, and is still going through a lot in my life right now. some people call it depression. whatever it is, what matters is we are able to gather the wisdom we so need and the grace to embrace us."

I am indeed grateful to all you who have followed me, my "kamanlalakbay", my fellow journeyers...

I am grateful for all the blessings in life I have received. As a gift, here's a feature article I wrote that was published in a magazine. It features my friend and his group of very unique people...who love our culture, and who are doing their best to preserve it...

SANGHABI: Weaving Wellness through Sound and Dance

"Keep an open mind and try to eliminate assumptions. Not everyone in a given culture is the same. Treat people as you would like to be treated. Learn more about unfamiliar cultures. Become familiar with your own ethnic background. Ask your grandparents or other family members about your family history. Move from dualistic thinking to a multi-cultural way of thinking. Interact with others about their traditions and cultures. Reconnect with people of different cultures to collaborate on mutual goals." ( These are just some of the ways we can encourage one another towards cultural wellness. How is cultural wellness different from the "wellness" we all understand to be connected to "health"? In fact, it has a lot to say about "health", and may be just the key to a certain well-being we all need to embrace.

When I first got acquainted with this unique collective of talents, I felt a different aura around them. The group's language is peace. I was introduced to them by the Sisters of the Good Shepherd in an Indigenous Music event. Soon, I was instantly transported to someplace I can't even say where. When I listened to a story of the Mountain People of the Cordilleras through the soothing sound of the Tongali (Kalinga nose flute) all at once I understood what was going on inside me. I had a craving for where I came from...for the roots of who I am...for the home of my mother and father ancestors...for the high places where my spirit leaps...

Indigenous peoples are fast vanishing because of the layers of Western influences overpowering this "original blessing". We have long been disconnected from the past that have nourished who we are now. Many of us have come from "forgotten origins on a mission we no longer recall". And we now find ourselves "disconnected from our real roots and alienated from our true nature." We have somehow wandered away from the "earlier times when human beings felt they belonged". There is a need to awaken us to a true and forgotten identity, and return to our "home". Everyday, when I leave my workplace in the heart of Manila, I'd encounter a multitude of students heading for home from the congestion of the University Belt. I immediately feel that somehow there seems to be disconnectedness, with no time to enjoy the sky displaying a breathtaking spray of colors deep orange, a sentimental blue and a delicious blend of purple and pink. Missing something like that is indeed disheartening. We have allowed our minds to be trained to forget and dismiss the beauty of nature, nowhere else to be found. But looking deep into our honest selves, we crave for life-giving spaces...

Thus, we find ourselves in a great adventure to return to our origins. Where our ancestors flourished in a simplistic way of life. Where our original mothers, fathers, sisters and brothers danced and sang as it was part of everyday life. Where music was not studied, but embraced as Life. This is the message of Sanghabi...

The word is translated as "one weave". The name serves as a metaphor for the culmination of years of development of ideas and concepts after ten years of facilitating workshops, doing performances as well as conducting its own research on Philippine culture. As it is a newly-organized non-profit organization, Sanghabi is a natural offshoot of Hibla (which means, fiber or thread). It continues to build on the work it started with Hibla from way back 1998 and has expanded its core membership to include individuals interested in Philippine Culture. Because it envisions moving towards one Filipino consciousness ("one weave") rooted in the Indigenous arts of music and movement, Sanghabi hopes to contribute to education of the FIlipino of the diversity and richness of Filipino culture. As it helps its participants discover this diversity through learning the cultural context of Indigenous musical instruments and movement in celebration of community, Sanghabi hopes to accompany participants in reclaiming the Filipino heritage, and thus recover, what was for many centuries hidden and buried underneath layers of cultural conditioning. Ultimately Sanghabi aims to reach its goal of being a way to healing conflicting ways of life as it educates the Filipino of the diversity and richness of Philippine culture. In this sense, cultural wellness is an awareness of one's own cultural background, as well as the diversity and richness present in other cultural backgrounds. It involves interacting well with people of both genders, different backgrounds, lifestyles, abilities, ethnicities, and ages.

By providing space and a process to create experience, Sanghabi teaches that through the pintig (the beat or pulse that Indigenous music is made of), participants discover how a community comes together by way of sound and movement. Community is not organized around geography, race, or ethnicity. Community is about a way of thinking that builds relationships, togetherness, and cohesion. Community is created by the weaving of the processes of talents, skills, and inner wisdom. Sanghabi achieves this by allowing people to enter through the avenues of workshops, lectures, events, specific initiatives, support groups and doing performances. Engagement then, is the primary success indicator.

Looking into its future initiatives, Sanghabi believes that a knowledge and engagement in life-giving culture is the beginning of a truly healthy way of living. Healing happens when people recognize and accept the wisdom within themselves and their ancestors, and taps their practices, disciplines, and traditions. It believes that wellness is hinged on the engagement in self-assessment and personal goal attainment connected to family and kinship, community and culture. Reconciliation among cultures contributes to healing in the cultural dimension, which, in turn, affects community and personal health. Health happens because the space and the activities open up the person. When the person is opened, they are educated and prepared to take ownership of their health. Sanghabi hopes to weave a colorful tapestry of happy and healthy life-giving and life-bearing individuals.

For now, its focus is clear: " Pagtibayin ang pagka-Pilipino ng bawa't isa sa pamamagitan ng pag-uugat sa katutubong tunog at galaw at pahalagahan ang katutubong tradisyon " (to strengthen being Pilipino through rootedness in Indigenous sound and movement and in giving value to Indigenous tradition).

Sanghabi invites all, beginner or non-beginner, to be part of this adventure of weaving, this variegated interlacing of sound and movement to realize cultural wellness in a collective pursuit. Its humble center, Balay ng Hibla, located in 8 N.Domingo St., San Juan, Metro Manila, houses its interesting collection of Indigenous instruments from North to South of the Philippines. Here, one may meet cultural worker and bamboo instrument maker Leo Emmanuel Castro at work. He would be happy to tell you stories of indigenous peoples and their lifeways!

See you there… or perhaps in one of their performances?...may we all be well...go gently...


  1. Very interesting. I truly enjoyed reading your words.
    Thank you for sharing.
    Have a wonderful day.

  2. thank you for dropping by Choices! i've gone away too long...but i'm glad i'm back to blogging again. thanks again for the visit.appreciate it much! smiles from these islands... :)

  3. i find your writings very deep and yet ,so spiritually cleansing.i'm from Sarawak,Malaysia and there's many ethic groups in Sarawak.

  4. Welcome to my blog, Ah Ngao! yes i did hear about that. Malaysia is very near the Philippine islands, and we would trace our peoples' origins from the Malays! so very grateful to have met you through this space...nothing is accidental, everything is designed by the Universe..go gently...smiles!

  5. How are You doing? I have heard about some terrible weather over the Philippines!


  6. Hi Ate Weena. I'm so blessed to have been touched by a soul like yours. I'm happy you still have your blog. You're the warmth of a hearth when I feel lonely. I love your expression, "go gently". May God continue to bless you.

    I hope to have more info on Balay ng Hibla, esp. when they have performances.

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