By Ed dela Torre
[Republished with permission From his blog.]
Girlie and I have just
returned home to Quezon City after a heart warming visit to Cagayan
Ayi Hernandez and Kaloy
Manlupig had invited us to a two-day assessment and planning
workshop of Balay Mindanaw Foundation Inc. or BMFI. “But if you
can, come a day earlier,” they said, “so you can join us
in the fiesta celebrations.” BMFI’s office is in Barangay Bulua
of Cagayan de Oro, and its fiesta falls on December 8.
It’s always a special treat
when Girlie and I can travel together. In this case doubly so, since
the last time we traveled to Mindanao was in 2006, and we also
visited BMFI then. That was her first time to stay at BMFI’s Peace
Center, and meet some of the people of Balay Mindanaw.
I am more fortunate than
Girlie in having known the people of BMFI much earlier, and having
been invited to share important moments of their journey toward
their vision of Kaangayan, Kalambuan, Kalinaw sa Mindanaw,
sa Pilipinas, sa Kalibutan. Equity, Development, and Peace for
Mindanao, the Philippines, and the World.
I especially remember BMFI’s
10th anniversary, since I was asked to facilitate their preparatory
staff retreat and workshop . That was when I first got to hear its kwentong
buhay - the life history of BMFI, and better appreciate its “genetic
At the end of our visit to
BMFI, I expressed more than thanks for their hospitality. Girlie and
I really felt at home, since we were welcomed not only as visiting
friends, but invited deeper into the Balay Mindanaw family.
In Sikolohiyang Pilipino,
one key distinction in how we Filipinos relate to other Filipinos is
whether they are considered “ibang tao” or “di na
In relating to those who are ibang
tao, we are more formal and polite, even in our friendliness. We
meet them at the living room, and at the dining table, we fuss over
them and give them full attention.
But when visitors are those
we consider di na ibang tao, we do not keep them in the
living room, or expect them to wait to be served formally for
dining. We may even tell them casually, “Go straight to the
kitchen and look for whatever you want to eat there.”
In the subtle gradations of pakikipagkapwa,
we pass from ibang tao to di na ibang tao when our
relationship reaches the stage described as
pakikipagpalagayang-loob, loosely translated as having rapport.
Even deeper than that level is when the relationship extends up to pakikisangkot,
where we have license to “interfere in internal affairs,” ask
questions, and offer advice on matters that no ibang tao has
a right to meddle in without giving offense.
Girlie and I felt really “palagay
ang loob” at BMFI, and we were welcomed in different ways to
“makisangkot.” I did so in a more formal and structured
setting, as outside facilitator of the assessment and planning
workshop of the new BMFI. But throughout the process, I felt free to
comment, and challenge, and offer suggestions as a welcome companion
at this stage of their journey.
Girlie dared to makisangkot
even deeper. Though she didn’t join us at the opening sessions,
she did a remote scan of the participants, and shared what she
sensed about their many “aches.”
On the morning of the second
day, she led them in opening energizers, and then scanned them again
while we went through the Technology of Participation “practical
visioning” process. She wrote her observations and counsel for
each participant, and followed up with further individual
There was a lot that we
learned, and much more to tell about this visit to BMFI. A couple of
blogs wait to be posted.
But just now, feeling back at
home in our Quezon City apartment, I also have a feeling that I
have just returned from visiting another home. Truly, Balay
Mindanaw is what feels closest to being home in Mindanao.