May 19, 2022

THE NEXT HOLY PLACE: A sacred discovery along conscious efforts on farm tourism

In Negros Oriental, an agricultural city is instituting change, not only in its political structure, but also in the spiritual lives of its people.

In Negros Oriental, an agricultural city is instituting change, not only in its political structure, but also in the spiritual lives of its people. Bayawan is a successful character city, and stories of its various initiatives are a source of inspiration, not only for us in MISSION, but also for every individual that meets a Bayawanon.

I’ve been fascinated by several emerging discussions on new sciences especially in the field of quantum physics and quantum mechanics. Although I don’t have the chance to have a deeper study on it I was privileged to meet people sharing a lot of materials on the subject that inspired me work for a prototype Consciousness Project in the City Government of Bayawan.

My early fascination later led me to wonder on a bigger reality that has been there that in one sudden-ness woke me up to the biggest surprise of my life. It is my initial discovery of a hidden road, I believed, only few have traversed my home-city – Bayawan.

In Search for the Holy Place: My thoughts about Bayawan as a Pilgrimage Site

Bayawan is derived from the visayan word “Bayaw” which means “to hoist or to offer”. It also means “to consecrate”. It appeared to me that true to its sacred name, Bayawan presents itself as a place of consecration; and every Bayawanon for that matter are consecrators. Reflecting with the words, the terms I mentioned are carrying sacredness and divinity.

Geographically, Bayawan is located at the heart of the country – Central Visayas. In her quest to become the Top Farm Tourism destination in the country, Bayawan is in a way evolving on a higher calling to serve as a big sense organ for the Philippines – the heart.

“In Bayawan, people in a special way are connected. People feel everybody and this is much observed in city streets. Although there’s no traffic lights with just few traffic signs people have a sense of one another – “pakiramdamaman”. They manage to adjust themselves in every intersection.” Says Greg Ruggiero, Peace Corps Volunteer assigned in Bayawan.

In the advent of “science of consciousness”, heart (associated with feelings) is emerging as an essential element in the consciousness transformation.

Positioning on this development in science, Bayawan is emerging as a center serving as a special place to purify one’s dreams and intensions; a sanctuary of one’s true nature where a Filipino or a foreign pilgrim renew his/her spiritual nationality and global citizenship.

“Bayaw” also means Glory! And such meaning has a lot to resonate with in Bayawan because for many instances Bayawan is the hub of excellence emerging as trailblazer to various agriculture, environment, education and governance best practices. (You can see them for yourself). That’s the reason why may people and LGUs from Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao come to Bayawan to learn from our best practices. More than the relayed information, gaining first-hand knowledge and experience is somehow the summit in visiting the city.

Having a great sense of this sacredness, one of our church leaders said, “If there is a change in the country, it will start in Bayawan.”

The thought has also inspired me that if one wanted to scale up an initiative for sustainable development and sustainable Philippines, he/she has to consecrate and plant its seed here in Bayawan.”

The Bayawanihan Way of Life

It calls for a certain level of consciousness to see and appreciate the inherent value. As Oscar Wilde would say, “To live is rarest thing in the world. Many people exist, and that is all.”

To do this in Bayawan, a visitor or a tourist has to shift to a pilgrim to experience the sacred reality. Only then one can see the essence of the following:

  • BAY – Experience peer and friendship that is distinct as Bayawanon.
  • BAYANI – Reflect how realities affect one’s life; re-align oneself to higher purpose and intensions and re-enkindle the hero that dwells in each one of us;
  • BANAY – Re-discover Sanctuary that has made us as a Filipinos, regaining inherent strength we lost, and commune in a new way of being together;
  • BAYAW – Re-connections in a deeper way from affinity and consanguinity to spirituality. Encountering soulmates. Discovering soul and spiritual families.
  • BAYAN – Recall our dream for a “Better Philippines”; and a better world; revisiting and counting once again the initiatives we offer in shaping sustainable societies, grounding them thru community building activities in Bayawan;
  • BAYAW – Render advocacies, causes and ministries to a sacred engagement; consecrating initiative for national and global healing;

“Aspire! Inspire! Conspire!”

How Do We Do This?

Visiting Bayawan can be similar to doing tours in some places in the country. And not all these will assure the sacred experience. As I said, it is a hidden road that only few have traversed Bayawan. One can have a chance to experience it when he/she will do the pilgrimage in the city.

And because of this inspiration, we have developed Pilgrimage Encampment and design the flow of activities that would also facilitate and help capture the sacred experience.

Why a pilgrimage?

Character (hero/imaginality) is a journey inward; so with the dream for the vibrant sustainable community – new reality; new world. The pilgrimage brings one to a larger dimension to a communal scale where Bayawan City opens a sacred space with initiatives and best practices as portal to renewal and transformation.

It is a unique role Bayawan will play to be more of service to the country embracing a task of providing platforms and programs for renewal, purification and enlightenment where visitors and tourists find themselves in a fiery pilgrim experience.

As one pilgrim leader in Bayawan puts it, “When a person comes to Bayawan, he/she will leave the city as different person.”

Here, consciousness plays essential part of the entire pilgrimage program. For this reason, we want to intensify Consciousness and Meditation in the exercise of moving from one point to another. Bringing visitors and tourists to a deeper learning experience of our initiatives.

Pilgrimage brings tourist-pilgrim to a journey where every step is like a drum beat. Like drumming that elevates one to a higher state, we wish pilgrims will also reach a higher state and see the essentials of life and the world, where walking & pedaling becomes a new life heart beat.

Niludhan Falls in Bayawan
Image by Priel Santillan

Why an encampment?

The activity experience should be outside the usual venues to bring us back to our bigger community with nature. Enlarging fellowship; expanding our communion. One with the universe.

Session and sharing will take place in different sites selected, best practice locations, and potential initiatives of individual Bayawanons. The idea will provide a pilgrim a feel (more conscious engagement of an initiative than mere lecture presentation), and at the same time their presence activates the actual grounds with loving intensions making firm its transformative energy center in the locality for the world.

This is also to consciously consecrate/offer/bayaw the “pilgrimage” areas identified like in a way doing acupuncture to have a sense that we are consecrating Bayawan with the Danapa Watershed (sanctuary) and Omod Shrine at the pinnacle of it all along with our commitment for a non-local sustainable development initiatives in Bayawan and in different parts of the country and the world.

The Emerging Cultural Framework: Significant Test Learnings

  • Experience Rite of Passage – a ritual or activity has to dispose participants to the pilgrimage and not of the usual tour. The rite of passage will set the context for the pilgrimage experience. This will also help facilitate self-assessment for pilgrimage worthiness.
  • Pilgrimages were design along with the wisdom of the initiatives & sites – weaving life in the stories of initiatives to the pilgrimage process. A coherent framework for pilgrimage experience is necessary. And since every government site, project site or tourism site have its own distinct story, the pilgrimage routes were designed not as how the road connects the initiatives but by the pilgrimage progression thru the initiatives.
  • The city has rich metaphors of its various sites (Bayaw, Milagrosa, Garbage Unloading, Segregation to Spiritual 4Rs, Buli-buli, etc.) dreams on overnight encampments all fires up one to powerful reflections.
  • Sacred stories are told to few by a visiting elder from the community during evening Bon Fires.
  • Health, Wellness and Spiritual Exercises were integrated in the pilgrimage process like Mindfulness, Meditations, Prayers, Tai Chi, Qi Gong, Rieke, Yoga, etc; Diet (if meat is eaten, prayer of respect for animal included), Vegetarianism & Fasting, Lectures on Basic Science and Spirituality Integration, awake meditations, star gazing (meteor showers during December-January), forest bathing (the powerful cyber detox)
Bayawan City
Drone shot of Bayawan City, Negros Oriental

Search for the Hidden Road

The Ibayaw Spirituality – the sacred dynamics of “Magahat” spirituality. Understanding the powerful cultural spirituality along with the emerging science of consciousness.
Experience collective discussions on “Our Sacred Awareness”What do we truly understand about spirituality, God, and Creation & Cosmos? Where does science fit into the whole picture? Is it the opposite of spirituality, or can it help us understand the nature of creation? Do we see science as opposite of spirit, or, as a discipline within it?
Circuit that would culminate to Omod Shrine.
The Search for the “Bukidnon” – our sacred nature. Understanding personality vs. character, reclaiming our beloved-ness and attaining enlightenment.
Appreciation of cultural uniqueness along Christianity/humanity leading to sacred renewal/rebirth of spiritual national and global citizenship.
Experience collective discussions on “Our Sacred SELF”
Where do we fit into the big picture? What is our divine purpose, and how do we fulfill it? Why are we here? What does it mean to be enlightened? How do I get enlightened?
Circuit involving Napo Ancestral Domain & Kweba in Sampong.
 Another circuit would be on Sta. Catalina-Bayawan-Basay Mountains  Ridges
The Search for the “Bangkaw” (sacred spear) – the sacred gift given to a worthy warrior. The walking that will lead to “Bangkaw” will build on the understanding the call, purifying one’s passions and desire towards birthing of genuine individual initiative. An initiation that will enlist one to join the war of becoming part of the solution.

Consecration of the warrior and his/her dreams and visions for a better city, country and world.
Re-introduction to the community.
Finding inspiration on these pilgrimage reflection guides:
What does “bangkaw” has to say to me? (On the way to the site)
What does the pilgrimage is calling me to leave behind? What have I gained or harvested in this pilgrimage? (On the way to the site)
What does the place wanted to speak to me, to my family, my hometown, my country and my world? (At the site after some given sessions)
Suggested discussions: Our Sacred BATTLE
Brahma, Vishnu & Shiva = Holy Trinity in Christianity
What do we need to “destroy” like in Hinduism, Shiva is the DESTROYER of illusions, sin, ego, etc., much like Christ was when he fought against our demise by saving us. How do we fight for the light – become a soldier of Christ? How do we battle our own darkness, karma? How do we fight against outer, communal, national, global darkness?
Circuit that would culminate to Bugtong Bato – the place said to have many Bukidnon artifacts.

Bayawan City’s Sacred Keep Secret

One starts to experience sacredness in government-owned sites, to initiative sites owned and steward by conscious Bayawanons, up to various cultural and natural sites Bayawan City is endowed with.

See life in a different perspective! Discover this for yourself along with the role Bayawan will serve for the country and for the world embedded in its sacred name – a holy place for purification and consecration, now emerging as a center of great importance.

The next holy place.