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The Indigenous Way of the Circle

A Dap-Ay: a sacred space for the people of the Mountain Province. Dap-ay elements include member families, leaders, customary law, code of conduct, sanctions, and traditional ceremonies and rituals. To community members, it’s a place where male members gather for meetings and rituals. It consists of a hut and an open meeting place made of stone slabs.

A full day hosting a community mandala action planning workshop with Kankanaey tribal and local government leaders here in Sagada through the invitation of my friend Dom-An Macagne. It was inspiring to be reminded back of their beautiful indigenous wisdom of "ob-obbo," or community building (bayanihan) which I learned from 3 years ago through an initial project we worked on in Guina-Ang, Mountain Province. You can read about it here, here, and here.

As I was going for a reflective walk to process and rest, I visited their own mandala- the "dap-ay" (traditional communal and sacred space) to pay respects to the spirits of the land and the ancestors in gratitude for the experience. Then I realized that today, August 9 is World Indigenous Peoples day! I believe we are all indigenous but I also honor the gift of oneness with nature and everything the indigenous peoples embody in their way of life which we in the lowlands or in cities have forgotten... However, this too is a reality for many IPs themselves. I hope today we helped reaffirm the wisdom and beauty of their way of life. May their dap-ays never disappear.

Dom An - who as an artist herself believes in the power of art for deep inquiry and inspiring innovation invited me to do a mandala visioning and action mapping workshop with the tribal and local government leaders of Barangays Taluyong and Modongo of Sagada. Under the Shontoug Foundation's climate resilience project, these leaders are integrating indigenous knowing and practice in their ecosystems based climate resilience projects. It was amazing as it turned out to be World Indigenous Peoples Day. We did an action planning through the symbols of the parts of a tree instead of only having a linear planning system. We designed a mandala of what they feel are the things they value to make their community whole and resilient.

As narrated and translated by Dom An: The Tanulong community's mandala vision centers on the journey of a child - born in the community, nurtured and taught core values by the community, in the family, the "dap-ay," the school, the church... The child grows and goes out of the community to learn more...and comes back, to help sustain culture, develop agriculture for a happy community.

As narrated and translated by Dom An: "For the the Madongo community's Mandala, it centers on the community that values education, health, culture and tradition and spiritual life. An education that leads to employment and productivity; health for people to be strong, alert and progressive; culture and tradition based on "lawa n inayan," (Kankanaey value system) for unity and understanding; and a spiritual life based on love so the community will have peace n unity."

🌈Thank you to Dom An Macagne for co-facilitating and this invitation via Shontoug Foundation. Thank you Edouard Panciulo for your assistance. 🙏🏾

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