Healing through Arts

November of 2015, iE Philippines organized an Appreciative Artherapy Workshop with 30 children from the Indigenous community in Kapalong, Davao del Norte who are currently encamped in a refugee site in the city of Davao, Philippines. The workshop was the first of a series of sessions aimed at providing a space for children from four Indigenous communities in Kapalong, Talaingod, San Fernando and Kitaotao to express their visions of a safe community.

Currently, there are about 900 tribal people, mostly from the Manobo tribe in Davao del Norte and Bukidnon, seeking refuge in a sanctuary within the city because of increasing un-peace and injustice in their lands. These waves of migration began May of this year but, historically, the struggle in their ancestral domains dates back to the 1990's when extractive companies started to encroach into their domains. Many of those who were affected by the violence were women and children.

The workshop was developed through several conversations with the Indigenous leaders of the communities and the Psychosocial team working with these communities. The session gave the children an opportunity to share good cultural experiences in the past, and create a shared positive experience with others in their tribe in the present.

By visualizing community experiences in which they felt they were most peaceful and culturally thriving, the kids were able to creatively tap into their past and determine spaces in their communities where they are enriched. These images also gave life to their collective vision of hope for their future.

Recognizing the role of cultural resources in peacebuilding

“It is not easy, but it is not impossible” this is one of the reflections articulated by one of the participants of the second phase of the Bangsamoro Cultural Advocacy Project (BCAP) as a response to the input on Appreciative Inquiry Process. Elias Macarandas Jr. a peace advocate working in Lanao Province of Mindanao expressed this thought in recognition of the process that was used.

In 2013, iEmergence received a funding grant from the National Commission on the Culture and the Arts to initiate a program that would integrate a cultural agenda in peacebuilding in Mindanao. During the first phase, key cultural and peace advocates engaged in a discovery and dreaming session, reflecting on “culture” as a resource for peace. Building on the output of the conversations, the second phase of BCAP was conceptualized and taken into the next level of the Appreciative Inquiry process – that of Design. In October 2-3, 2015, the second phase gathered a total of 17 participants from different parts of Mindanao who are experienced in working with local communities for peacebuilding in the region. The participants were engaged in a discussion and resource mapping that also allowed them to envision and design a community where local resources are used for peace and development.

In the end, the process allowed the participants to build a “story village”, a 3D visualization that shows how local resources including local cultural practices and traditions play out in peacebuilding. This is one of the many positive images that inspired everyone in the forum to develop a more culture-sensitive and more inclusive pathway for peace.

For more information, watch this video of the whole project.