Girlie and I have just returned home to Quezon City after a heart warming visit to Cagayan de Oro.
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 code.”
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 ibang tao.”
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 consultations.
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.
Daghang salamat, BMFI.