Building a future together!

In a night filled with love and inspiration, people from different walks of life gathered together to hear stories of hope from the Ata tribal leaders during the Pag-inambitay sa Bulan sa Gugma. Pag-inambitay was a dinner for a cause event co-organized by iEmergence, Swito Designs and Balik Bukid Farm and Kitchen, in partnership with the Ata Community in Paquibato, Philippines. Pag-inambitay, the Cebuano word for “sharing” was conceived out of the desire of iEmergence and its partners to create a space where people can freely share their stories, while contributing to a great cause.

Screen Shot 2017-03-23 at 1.55.49 PM
Our venue was perfect. Balik Bukid, literally "going back to the mountains," was teeming with the beauty of life in the mountains. Surrounded by a diverse set of upcycled interior decorations and furnitures, it was not hard to feel that you were indeed in the rural areas of Mindanao and sharing a feast of native organic food with the Indigenous people. Not only were we visually engaged, we also felt the kindness and thoughtfulness of the people behind Balik Bukid. It made the space even more open for conversations and interaction.

Three Indigenous youth leaders performed tribal songs and dances to fill the room with more life. The Ali siblings, clad in full Indigenous regalia, entertained the guests with their kuglung, agong and flute. Rhyan Casiño, artist and musician from Northern Mindanao, also played different types of Indigenous musical instruments for the crowd. Their beautiful music gave us a glimpse of the richness of the cultures of the Indigenous people in Mindanao.

The highlight of the night was the elders of the Ata tribe sharing their stories and dream of a cultural regeneration among their people. Their openness made the gathering all the more meaningful. One of the guests shared that it was "great to personally see and hear their stories, and feel their passion for their tribe." Their vision was then brought to life through a 3-D animation by the team from Swito Designs. The team took us all on a visual tour of 'what would be'. It was amazing to see Panuluanan so close to reality like that.

At the end of the gathering, it was evident how, at that moment, people shared one goal. Our collective commitment with Panuluanan was artfully depicted by Rhyan when he drew a sketch of a traditional Ata house on a white canvas. This image represented our commitment to work together to build a life-giving future with the Ata people through Panuluanan.

Truly, despite the cold February air, our hearts were warmed by the stories and hopes we shared.