ISA Co-Convenes PAMATI 2017 Theme: Listen to Bodies, Songs, Mountains

On July 1-8 2017 the Institute of Spirituality in Asia (ISA) co-convened PAMATI a second time.

The first PAMATI was held in 2014 at the initiative of ISA in partnership with a core group which has expanded in membership.  Aside from ISA, the convenors of PAMATI 2017 were Growth in Wholeness Wellbeing Associates (GINHAWA), Center for Babaylan Studies (CFBS), TAO Foundation and Carl Jung Circle Center (CJCC).

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Since pamati is a Visayan word which means “to listen” and “to feel”, like its antecedent, PAMATI 2017 was a venue that offered to bridge the gap between Indigenous People and other Elders/Culture Bearers from different parts of the Philippines, on the one hand, and the diaspora, on the other hand, referring to the participants who were passionate in reconnecting with their ancestors and lineage. 

In its different venues – namely, Sakahang Lilok in Tanay Rizal; Mt. Banahaw in Sta. Lucia, Dolores, Quezon Province; and Pugad Adarna and the Clubhouse of the Philippine High School for the Arts and National Arts Center in Mt. Makiling, Los Banos, Laguna Province which are under the Cultural Center of the Philipines (CCP)  – PAMATI 2017 became a space for listening, learning, engaging, sharing and building relationships.

Pamati is to listen to the seen and unseen, to what is heard and unheard, to spoken and  unspoken language, to what is perceived by our senses, to what is going on in our hearts, to our biases and prejudices.

To listen is not primarily to understand but to embrace and accept that indeed, being  connected is beyond comprehension. To listen with all our hearts, might, mind and body will lead us to solidarity with one another in repairing our world.

DAY ONE at Sakahang Lilok (July 01)

As soon as they arrived at Sakahang Lilok in Tanay, Rizal, the seventy participants were welcomed by the Dumagat tribe. They were requested to bite a rock and taste the earth to pay respect to the place that they had never been before.

In the afternoon the participants were welcomed by the PAMATI Co-Convenors and Ms.  Rachel Hauser, in behalf of Sakahang Lilok, an eco-friendly renewal center in Tanay, Rizal.

Here, they were treated to cultural presentations from different tribes of the Philippines from Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao. After the warm welcome and the joyful cultural event came the moment for the participants to get to know each other. 

DAY Two to DAY Five (July 2-5)

In the morning the Elders, Healers, Babaylan, Shaman and other Indigenous People gathered in a circle where the participants listened to their wisdom, experiences and  journeys to a special vocation of leading, healing and guiding their communities.

According to the Elders, there are processes and requirements before one can become a respected elder in the tribal community. These are:

  1. Good in administering conflict within the community
  2. Good in administering the justice system of customary laws
  3. Respectable, honourable
  4. Lineage

According to the Babaylan, Shaman, Mumbaki and other Healers, it is the spirits who will choose a candidate for a particular vocation after considering one’s clan, lineage and ancestors. Most of them said that it is a major sacrifice and responsibility to be chosen by the spirits.

In the afternoon, the Healers, Baylans, Shamans and other Culture Bearers imparted  their skills and wisdom to the participants. The Hilot, Herbal Healers, Teachers of Kuntao  and Kumintang, Chanters and Dancers of the tribe generously shared their experiences and skills to all who wanted to learn.

DAY Six (July 6)

The participants travelled to Mt. Banahaw, said to be a mystical place, where they were welcomed and oriented by one of the Healers who is well-known as “Sir Boy” shared his journey to becoming a healer and a resident in Mt. Banahaw.  

He called Mt. Banahaw a place of spiritual cleansing, purification, healing and prayer. He emphasized that the spirituality of Mt. Banahaw is goodness:  “Ang Kagandahang Loob ang siyang magbubuklod sa ating lahat. . . We will be united by goodness. Mt. Banahaw is a place of ritual, purification and prayer. . . It is a spiritual cleansing. If you are true to yourself and honest in all your relationships and dealings, you will know your relationship in nature.”

Sir Boy also pointed out, “When you start to climb Mt. Banahaw, you need to be aware of where you are coming from. Are you coming with respect to the unseen and seen spirits  around you? Are you coming from understanding? Are you coming from goodness? There are three imperatives that people who want to climb Mt. Banahaw should bring: One, being true to one’s self; two, honesty of motivations; and three, sincerity to self, to others, to the seen and unseen spirits.”

Lastly, Sir Boy shared the message of the Santong Boses (Holy Voice), in Mt. Banahaw: “Magpakabuti kayo. Kung hindi, kami ay magwawalis. Hanapin ninyo ang tunay na kayamanan sa inyong kalooban.” (Be good. Otherwise, we will do the cleaning-up. Look for the treasures in your deepest self.) 

He also clarified that the kalooban that the Santong Boses continuously refers to is the Godlike attitude of choosing to do good to one’s self, to others, to the unseen spirits and to Mother Earth.

DAY 7 (July 7)

The PAMATI 2017 participants were welcomed by the students and teachers of Philippines High School for the Arts in Mount Makiling, Los Banos, Laguna. In the morning they shared experiences, and  taught each other skills in the afternoon.

In the evening PAMATI participants celebrated the success of the gathering.

DAY 8 (July 8)

The PAMATI 2017 participants bade good-bye to one another and promised to be united in spirit as they continue to learn how to listen deeply to the waters, songs, mountains, bodies, ancestors, unseen spirits and the ONE who created us into being.

by: Sr. Lhen Casas, NDS.