Over the course of the last two days, TIP has gained many names — all coined by Fr. Tito himself, our Fr. TIP-meister —
Thousand Island Project,
Transforming Islands of the Philippines,
Transforming Imaginals of the Philippines
As you can tell from the evolving titles, the “TIP Convergence of Stakeholders” workshop that happened at the Sto. Nino Spirituality Center in Tolotolo, Consolacion, Cebu took off, took flight, and reached new heights of awakening, imagining, believing — individually and collectively — to a new world.
For the first time in anyone’s history, different sectors of the society within and surrounding the forgotten islands of Bien Unido (8 islands, 16 barangays, 30 thousand people) converged in one place — we had the LGU led by the Mayor and Secretary & Human Resources head of Bien Unido; chief of staff of Senator Alan Cayetano in the Visayas; (visited by another mayor in a neighboring island of Leyte); the parish priest and two lay church leaders of Bien Unido; priests from the Colegio del Sto Nino; priests of the Sea Knights protecting the surrounding waters and reefs; leaders of NGOs working on improving lives of fisherfolk, protecting the coral reefs and sea life; small business entrepreneurs; lay board members of the Sto. Nino Augustinian Social Development Foundation (SNAF); four MISSION Cebu members & Nick. Laying down the old barriers and old stories and old weapons between government and church and NGOs, they/we came together, after many many years of “separately” working this set of problems in search of a new possibility for Bien Unido.
As Nick (GOD BLESS HIM!) and I looked upon the unfolding design, it became a hybrid of Workshop Courage and Appreciative Inquiry and Systems Mapping, Sensing and Designing. Ohhhhhh, it was Heaven on Earth. What started out as a tired group of hard, passionate change workers looking upon a landscape of problems leading to despair, very quickly transformed itself into a vibrant, light, hope-filled, excited, amazingly LOVE-ing community. Light, Laughter and Creativity lifting all our spirits into unforeseen heights of a new way of living. Church and State together at last! New-found friends working for a greater cause and with/through a greater power. As Fr. Tito says, we had truly walked on water….a miracle in our midst. In us.
The Integration piece from Workshop courage transformed into and emergent dialogue process of “what excites you the most about Bien Unido”, to share and then to DRAW as a group (not write) our imagination of what that would look like as a group. Juicy, giddy, yet also very seriously grounded and possible pictures of the Bien Unido we held in our hearts. We were on sacred territory.
I realize it may feel overly dramatic to some, but I am moved to express the emotions as we shared our new stories by adapting the lyrics from the song “Somewhere” from the musical West Side Story in dedication to the new place we came to and we hope to engender/awaken in the island communities:
There’s a place for us
Right here, a place for us
Peace and quiet and open air
Wait for us right here
There’s a time for us
Right now, a time for us
Time together with time to spare
Time to learn
Time to care
We’ve found a new way of living.
We’ve found a way of forgiving.
There’s a place for us.
Right here, a place for us.
Hold my hand and we’re half way there.
Hold my hand, and I’ll take you there.
I was riding home with some of the SNAF Board and volunteers and they all wanted to know how to stay in the realm of the Creative, the Possible…how to keep the new world right here, starting with us. It was a great conversation to be having softly swirling around me, as I slightly felt the exhaustion from holding the space and inquiry and working out logistics coming upon me. I felt, even in the tiredness, there is a safety among soul mates and a deep joy and gratitude. I mentioned MISSION somewhere in the mix — they all know of it and its members really well, as they had all been part of the Perlas Cebu Campaign but had not gotten to attend the Workshop yet — , spoke of personal mastery, etc. It will have to follow another time — more in our next meeting, set for Wednesday next week.
Expressions of Deep Gratitude and Awe go to:
Nick, you are truly the GEM in the rough. YOU…
Fr. Tito, you are my thinking/sparring/expanding/deepening partner and spirit keeper of the flame of TIP.
SNAF folks of William and Becky, especially for listening, believing and willing to put the “success” and “expert” of the past completely aside to start anew trusting in the gift that is their True and Creative Self.
Mayor Boniel for his very sincere passion to awaken the sleeping islands of Bien Unido….starting with awakening himself…and for his absolute faith and devotion to the Sto. Nino. Things are possible because you said and are saying YES.
Fr. Eddo, for holding a strong place and light to integrity and truth, and willing to see through that same light of integrity and truth to the new world possible.
My MISSION comrades — Mario, Rina, Fr. Tito, Nick — I couldn’t walk this without you, each of you ever willing to enter the unknown with me, to grow, to learn anew, to rise above the Day2Day for the journey of the Imaginal.
MISSION national and field, you too! Thank you for holding the field. For your own Faith and Vision and Courage.
My Creative Self for being so determined and courageous to walk the path of the Mystery with such joy and love.
Spirit, Universe, God, Love. Halleluia!
Ever touched and in awe,