July 1, 2022

Workshop Courage: Pangandoy Kong Sugbo

The question is the call.

The movement that was once Stop Cebu Flyovers has every reason to go beyond stopping the construction of flyovers within the heart of the city and grow to have become the strong Movement for a Livable Cebu that it is now. What concerns it most about Cebu is a vicious cycle of living a program that kills the heart of creativity—old patterns, old templates and right answers to the wrong questions. It took only questions for one to realize the “imaginal” spirit within—to see the fire that burns.

The independent-mindedness of Cebu is being threatened. Somebody says he is worried that we are closely following Manila. Another adds that Manila is closely following Los Angeles. The thing with the flyover issue, for example, is that sustainably progressive cities had been tearing their flyovers down because they do not solve the traffic issue and cause more problems than solutions. “They are on their way back and we still want to go there,” one asserts. Do we want a city of cars or a city of people? One group says it cannot allow itself not to participate in the decision-making process—that it is not just for the government to decide.

Something is emerging in Cebu—“opening the fabric of history.” This is the place where Lapu-lapu killed Magellan, remember? “I refuse to accept the status quo,” someone says. “We want a sustainable and livable Cebu,” another says. “What are we willing to do? What are we willing to sacrifice?” he asks.

The Workshop Courage called “Pangandoy Kong Sugbo” that was facilitated by MISSION or the Movement of Imaginals for Sustainable Societies through Initiatives, Organizing and Networking (www.imaginalmission.net) more than a month ago was like a frame that provided a context in which to view the magnanimity of the movement’s dreams (mga pangandoy) for Cebu. Where it is now, MLC has been spreading across every institution—past the young and the old, past the so-called “elite” and the marginalized, past the cool and the uncool, past the artistic and the structured, past every other differences and limitations, with the realization that there are common dreams that are shared between every Cebuano and those who have acquired the Cebuano way of life. If it is of any inspiration and encouragement, one says Cebu is small enough to change but big enough to influence. This is the place where Christianity was born, remember?

Creativity is central to the process. Somebody describes it as marching to the call of creation—marching to the call of God. I think that one of the most beautiful experiences of being at the Workshop Courage is being one with someone who breaks into tears as he articulates what truly makes him happy: answering the call and making a difference to the lives of others. It makes you think what truly makes you happy—what you really care about. The purpose of life, says the great Emerson, is not to be happy. It is to be useful, to be honorable, to be compassionate, to have it make some difference that you have lived and lived well.

“What is the definition of Cebuano pride?” someone asks. He says we are warlike when our turfs are invaded, but only when our own individual spaces are invaded. Notwithstanding that, a lot of things are inspiring about Cebu. The different groups agree that everything here is “close by”—like the way the city is to the mountains or to the beaches, the way one is to his neighbor and the way Cebu is to its neighboring provinces. It is beautiful how we can laugh at our weaknesses and build on our strengths.

Workshop Courage teaches us that turfing is a sense of separation and that our default consciousness is separation. It lets us see that making change happen is about allowing the diversity to come together and having a deep sense of oneness with others and the society. There is no separation in the journey of the imaginal. No duality.

As I try to relive the spirit of the workshop, what I vividly remember is how each participant was amazed by his “most creative moment.” Someone says he can’t believe that it is him in the creative state therefore thinking that creativity is an entity in itself, dynamic and moving. He says that he had the feeling that God was on his side. Jagat says that we are like a funnel and that the creative ideas are just floating up there, somewhere, in some dimension.

“How do we keep our creative levels high?” somebody asks. It is tempting to remain in the cloud of creativity, see new cells emerge and give birth to a new way of thinking. But, Workshop Courage teaches us that creativity does not complete without action and that the action has to be repeated. The consciousness of the movement says that there is plenty to fix, that the problems are complex and interconnected. Understanding the relationship and the interactions between the self and the society grants us the wisdom that we are bound to re-enter the society while still in the cocoon of creativity—where old cells get killed. “But, as long as the ego is there, it will always come out,” Tressa warns.

The movement has resolved that the day-to-day self is in a tension when in the creative self. The programmed self pulls you to an opposite direction. Some writers call it taking the high road; others, the road less traveled. Workshop Courage teaches us that the heart becomes less-turbulent when we answer the call, when we accept the challenge, when we mobilize our creative self. “When less turbulent, the wisdom of the heart comes in,” Nick assures. It is the role of MISSION to bring courage and creativity, and MLC is a beautiful example of collective creativity.

Nick says that the key central act to civil society is to reframe—that it is not about stopping something but creating something.

I cannot give justice to what MLC and MISSION have been co-creating. It is beyond words. But, perhaps, a movement can be defined as something that keeps moving, with boundless energy, or a fire you can’t seem to put out.