ISA Hosts Pre-Pamati Conference Inter-faith Liturgy and Blessing

The Institute  of Spirituality in Asia (ISA) hosted an inter-faith Liturgy and Blessing on June 24, 2017, 9 am- 12 noon at the St. Teresa of Avila Chapel, # 28 Acacia St., New Manila, Quezon City. It was held a week before the actual “Pamati 2017: Listening to Bodies, Songs, and Waters” on July 1-8 at Sakahang Lilok, Tanay. Rizal.

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“In Bisaya, pamati means to listen and understand, “ said ISA Executive and Academic Director Fr. Rico Ponce, O. Carm., who comes from Siquijor,  a province of the Visayas.

“We  seek the wisdom of the babaylan among us,” he added, referring to workshop sessions with native priestesses-healers-diviners still extant in  many communities despite 500 years of Castillian Christianity starting 1521 when Ferdinand Magellan camo to the  Philippines. 

 Pamati 2107 will also listen to elders, priests and other Catholics, and spirituality-inclined individuals associated with ISA’s co-convenors and co-facilitators: the Center for Babaylan Studies, Tao Foundation for Culture and Arts, Inc. , Institute of Spirituality in Asia (ISA), GINHAWA (Growth in Wholeness and Wellbeing Associates, Inc.), and Carl Jung Circle Center.

Fr. Ponce welcomed 20 of the 72 expected participants of Pamati 2017 to an orientation-sharing  held on Saturday, June 24, at the chapel of the Teresa of Avila Building.

There was a self-introduction by the participants and staff of the seminar-workshop, Holy Mass, a blessing and laying of the hands, an orientation, a planning meeting and a working lunch.

In his homily Fr. Ponce noted that the pre-workshop activity was taking place on the feast day of St. John the Baptist, the precursor of Jesus Christ.

“He lived in great simplicity in the desert before baptizing people and urging them to repent before the coming of someone greater than him, and whose sandal he said he was not fit to touch,” said Fr. Ponce.

Fr. Gerry Sabado, O. Carm, amplified on the Gospel reading by referring to what he called the bibingka spirituality of the Carmelites, in which the bottom as well as the top of this well-loved rice cake are cooked by fire.

He said, “The bottom refers to the sambayanan – we the people – and the top refers to our collective action rising to the top and making a difference, including in our spiritual life.”

The first Pamati was held in 2015 at Balay Agusan, Barangay San Teodoro, Bunawan, Agusan del Norte in Mindanao.

The change of venue for Pamati 2017 stems from considerations for the safety of both local and foreign participants as armed conflict erupted in Marawi City, Mindanao on May 23, 2017 between government forces and the Maute group, said to be influenced by the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS).

The PAMATI gathering first conceived by  Grace Nono, Ph.D, acclaimed singer-researcher-lecturer-author whose book was published by ISA and won the National Book Award and the Cardinal Sin Catholic Book Award in 2014.    

 ISA has also published Indigenous Earth Wisdom: a documentation of the cosmologies of the indigenous peoples of the Cordillera and From Elders to Children: Stories of Wisdom from the Cordillera, Philippines with the Maryknoll Ecological Sanctuary of the Maryknoll Sisters.

Indigenous Earth Wisdom… won two awards from the 2016 Cardinal Sin Book Awards of the Catholic Mass Media Awards (CMMA):  Best in Spirituality and Best in Ministry.

Writing the preface to From Elders to Children, Fr. Ponce said, “ISA publishes and co-publishes books and other materials on spirituality which aim to help people get in touch with their spiritual journey, get connected with their roots and origins as a people, see the beauty and dynamics of a divine relationship, and develop a sense of social responsibility. 

“ISA is also committed to the search for and research on  lived spirituality- one which is dynamic, transformative and liberating towards inter-faith dialogue and collaboration.” #


Perla Aragon-Choudhury