February was the month when I saw LIWANAG again. And I was really happy to learn that IMAGINAL VISIONING and, if I may, “INTUITIVE FORESIGHT” (to borrow the words of Oliver Markley) was emerging from the South.
It was my third trip to the Mindanao region this year and capping it with an arts, culture and consciousness fest as an academic year ender was awesome.
But let me reflect a little bit about my experiences as a participant and workshop facilitator at LIWANAG World Fest.
AS A PARTICIPANT
What I saw in LIWANAG was “practical imagination” and “transformative visioning” at work. There was so much openness, peering, sharing, acting and networking that happened there. The celebration showcased (a lot) the most brilliant and heart-centered sustainability initiatives from the business, government and civil society sectors.
Hats off to the MISSION group for having been able to externalize their “imaginings”. They articulated well their purpose:
“The philosophy and intention behind the Liwanag Festival is simple and straightforward. We externalize what we are inside…The Liwanag Festival therefore champions the celebration of genuine human, institutional, and societal achievements on the basis of creativity, vision, courage, and enthusiasm of the individuals who are creating this new reality. The Liwanag Festival chooses the kinds of successes that can ignite in citizens a visionary fire of enthusiasm to rise above and overcome the challenges that face them.”
AS A WORKSHOP FACILITATOR/FORESIGHT PRACTITIONER
As a foresight practitioner, I was able to spot a number of off the radar ideas, scenarios and was lucky to collect some “weak signals”, “emerging issues” and “trends” that matter and that might likely grow and impact Philippine society.
I penciled some of them:
- There is a “rage” over the destructive impact of mining in key biodiversity sites of the country. Gina Lopez, Executive Director of the ABS-CBN foundation, showed how “open pit mining” could ruin the lives (social, political, economic and health) of thousands if not millions of people and indigenous communities in the Philippines. The crowd roared “We Do Not Want Mining in our Islands” (the emerging issue) to affirm their commitment to support eco-tourism and agriculture as alternatives to mining. Gina’s group has been able to collect 7 – 8million signatures supporting the petition to ban mining in key biodiversity areas. Lopez explained “The 10 million signatures will be presented to President Aquino who has yet to decide on a comprehensive mining policy” She said that her advocacy is not entirely against mining but maintains that “island ecosystems”—areas which contain farmlands, coral reefs, mangroves and endemic species—should be off-limits to mining (Uy, 2012).
The following are her non-negotiable values and concerns:
- Biodiversity holds pre-eminent value. It is life. “The Philippines ranks No. 1 in endemicity per unit area – which means the flora and fauna found here cannot be found anywhere else in the world.” (Source: Gina Lopez, Rappler Article, 2012).
- Protect Island Ecolosystem. “This is an interweave of different ecological systems: forests, mountains, coral reefs, mangroves, farmlands – all intertwined in a specific location – where rivers and streams lead into the sea. Any kind of mining in these islands whether they be large scale or small scale is grossly irresponsible – especially since our country is hit by typhoons every year!” (Source: Gina Lopez, Rappler Article, 2012).
- Mining has a very poor track record in the country. The highest incidence of poverty is in the mining sector. The poorest areas in the country are mining areas : Samar, Surigao, Benguet, Zambaonga. (Source: Gina Lopez, Rappler Article, 2012).
- The national government earns very little from mining. 1.3% GDP and 0.36% employment. (MGB 2010 – 2011) There is a 5-year tax holiday – so operations are usually frontloaded during these years. We have no standard of evaluating what we are giving up. (Source: Gina Lopez, Rappler Article, 2012).
- There are good alternatives to mining. Ecotourism and Agriculture is the alternative.
- Mining threatens food security, and public health.
NO TO MINING IN OUR ISLANDS is an ALTERNATIVE Philippine future.
IMAGINE A PHILIPPINES WITHOUT MINING. IMAGINE A PHILIPPINES WITHOUT POVERTY. IMAGINE A VERDANT AND GREEN PHILIPPINES WITH ITS NATURAL RESOURCES PRESERVED AND PROVIDING JOBS AND WELL-BEING TO PEOPLE AND COMMUNITIES.
2. There is a way to end poverty in the Philippines – caring and sharing is the way. The “GK” (Gawad Kalinga meaning to give care), a Philippine based movement that aims to end poverty in the Philippines employs an integrated and wholistic approach to people empowerment. Founded by Tony Meloto in 1995, GK today currently works with over 2,000 communities all over the country. Their goal is to end poverty for 5 million families by 2024.
For GK poverty happens when:
“we forget to care for our fellowmen. Content with our own lives and our circle of family and friends, we tend to overlook the needs of others and fail to recognize that we are part of one big family. For poverty to end, love must overflow from our homes into the world.”
For Tony Meloto the vision of GK was “to restore the dignity of the poor through a culture of caring and sharing.” “By being our brother’s keeper, we will help one another by giving the Best for the Least, in the spirit of service and friendship.” (GK Official Website, 2012).
It’s multi-sectoral approach to resolve poverty emphasized the power of collaboration, generosity, leveraging, social entrepreneurship and corporate social responsibility.
Its development model includes child and youth development program, community building, environment, food sufficiency, health, infrastructure and the center for social innovation.
A Poverty Free Philippines is a plausible future. IMAGINE A PHILIPPINES WITH THE HIGHEST PER CAPITA INCOME IN ASIA. IMAGINE A PHILIPPINES WITHOUT POVERTY.
3. We should be out of our comfort zone to bring out the crazy ideas that champions freedom, justice and good governance. Mae Paner, an advertising-director and Youtube star known as “Juana Change” was the most provocative if not the most daunting of all LIWANAG’s plenary presenters. Juana Change skit on Youtube on the state of overseas Filipino workers and President Aquino’s purchase of 4.5 million peso worth of Porsche was a blunt reminder on government officials to lead modest lives. A political satirist, Juana Change uses entertainment and social media to engage the public on critical governance issues.
IMAGINE A PHILIPPINES WITHOUT CORRUPTION. IMAGINE A CORRUPT FREE PHILIPPINES. IMAGINE A COUNTRY GOVERNED BY ITS THOUGHT LEADERS.
4. Character First! Development model. The City of Bawayan Experience!
The City of Bayawan is an emerging issue. Its character first development model highlights good citizenship values and social artistry to local government leadership, community innovation and social change. The city uses story telling, poetry, dance and theater arts as a tool to raise public awareness on governance and sustainable development and to engage their citizens to end poverty and corruption in Bayawan. The city government integrates IMAGINATION and IMAGINEERING to stimulate creative thinking to design alternative forms of governance.
5. Movement for a Liveable Cebu! Engaging communities for a safer, healthier and happier Cebu City. The Movement for a Liveable Cebu! is a broad based multi-sectoral people’s initiative working to make Cebu a sustainable and liveable city. Their advocacy aims to ensure the adoption of a bottom-up approach to urban development. The group is pushing for an alternative Comprehensive Development Plan for Cebu with people, youth, children and local residents in mind. The group urged local governments to prioritize: True & Useable Sidewalks for Pedestrians, especially children, Road sharing & Dedicated lanes for bikers, PWD & alternative transport, Parks and Urban Green spaces for joggers, families, outdoor public events, Viable Mass Transit for the commuting public, Universal Access especially for PWD in designing local city futures.
Culture, Community, and Conversations
Here allow me to share some of my Aha! insights at LIWANAG:
Culture (Indigenous culture) is a healing technology. It is intimate. It is identity. It is a subtle expression of the creative human spirit. It is rejuvenating. It is fresh.
Culture is soul-full. It is the language of the self. It is the ritual of the spirit. It is a way of knowing life and society. It is transcendental. It is mind-blowing.
Culture is creative. It is a path, a means to decolonize the past, the present and the future. Culture is evolutionary. It is memory. It is vision. It is re-creation. It is re-vision (refreshing the vision – thanks to Sohail here).
Culture is peer to peer. It is inclusive. It encourages plurality, diversity and discourages singularity. It could re-define, enhance, and deepen the value of social media technologies.
Culture is the cult of nature (the ritual of nature). The myth of connecting and conversing with the unknown. It is prophetic. It is intuition at work.
Culture has a wisdom and a moral component (Perlas, 2012; Markley, 2012). It is epochal.
Culture is about inner and outer resilience. It is all about co-creative partnership.
Culture is macro-historical. Culture is a language of the multi-civilizational. It is communicative. It is universal (the culture of the heart). Culture is a conversation of the imaginative and the pscyho-spiritual real.
Culture is all about ‘real time’ social activism. Culture is deep. Culture is all about having authentic conversations.
Connection, Communication and Consciousness
I would like to thank Ms. Shiela Castillo, the Mission Group, Image Praxis, Kristina Suelto, Cecille Ferrer (her Lakbayani project was amazing. Didn’t realized how “future-inclined” the young people of Davao are today), Nicanor Perlas, the Project Samadhi, the Ananda Marga Organization of Davao for the wonderful and engaging conversations we had at LIWANAG. Indeed, LIWANAG is the festival of light!
(Photo credit/Source: Liwanag World Festival Official Facebook Page)
Wonderful chalk art photos of plenary speakers and guests
(Photo credits/source: Liwanag World Festival Official Facebook Page)
Artists response and performances
Photo credit/Source: Liwanag World Festival Official Facebook Page)