Tacloban and the Art of Healing



(A report on the Connecting Communities through the Creative Arts Program together with the Apl.de. Ap Foundation. First leg – Tacloban, Leyte).

“Healing is a matter of time, but it is sometimes also a matter of opportunity.” –Hippocrates

I am extremely grateful and humbled to be part of a team where our minds and hearts resonate with each other, where nationalism has nothing to do with position but by serving the country and her people. Nothing is more fulfilling knowing than the soul dancing its way to its higher purpose and it is not alone.


The devastation of one of the strongest typhoons ever recorded, Haiyan (Yolanda), is still very much apparent in Tacloban 7 months after it hit the country. From the airport that is lacking walls to the tent city that is dirtied and muddied by random pouring of rain to downtown where even big houses and malls are still on its way to completion. The sight seems to have this invisible hand that clenches the heart and pokes the eyes to tears. Only faith, humour and creativity could make one live each day. We are convinced that art is the soul’s expression and one of the best ways to heal invisible wounds is through the creative art. As Georges Bragues put it, “art is a wound that turned into light.” We want to help them turn their wound into light.


We arrived on the 16th in Tacloban a day before our programme to iron out anything that needed our attention. Our team, although exhausted from the weeks of preparation, was nonetheless relaxed. We had faith in each other’s strength. We banked on our ability to do things independently. We had to make sure that our attitude should always be positive, no matter what. No. Matter. What.


On the 17th, we began our 3-day facilitators’ training on trauma healing through the creative arts. It started by contextualizing trauma and the use of creative arts as a holistic approach to healing, then followed by creative art workshops like puppetry, mandala, dream catcher, and theatre of the living, and ended on the 19th, where teachers and Baranggay Health Workers (BHW) learned how to use their breath to enliven the soul and synchornise with the whole, and to create music using plastic bottles.

The culminating activity was with the children of New Kawayan on the 20th. We brought the facilitators, the teachers and BHW, to apply what they had learned, to be the guiding light to the children and their communities. We sang and played with children. The smiles were pure and innocent. Happiness and hope echoed. Laughter was our prayer. Perhaps, God was laughing with us, too.10505015_10152115057425976_4924570792707702549_o

Because we did not come from that place, we will always be outsiders and we can never know the depths of their pain. We can only resonate with that common human pain of loss and death. We are all constantly healing.

Tacloban, thank you for opening your doors to us.


Special thanks to Leyte Normal University, Brandear and Operation Compassion.

(NB: Photos courtesy of Chael Santos, Anwedda Navarra, and Jenny Lind Elmaco)

By Kate Alyzon Ramil, Project Coordinator, Connecting Communities through the Creative Arts

YouthLeadPH Fellows Create their ‘Spark a Change’Projects

YouthLeadPH, a 3 day leadership and mentorship initiative,  created a strong, passionate cadre of young people with a soul for leadership and a heart for service. The camp followed a three-action mantra: Enable, Engage and Empower which guided the workshops, teambuilding activities, inspirational talks and fora. In the next 3 months, all of them will create projects in their own communities guided by their mentors who are members of the Erasmus Mundus Alumni (recipients of the prestigious European Commission scholarship) and the Ayala Young Leaders Alumni. 

Details of the projects will be posted here soon.  Should you wish to get involved or would like to help scale-up  these projects, please email Darren at sparkphilippines2013@gmail.com. 

Youth Lead PH

Connecting Communities through the Creative Arts

Connecting Communities


The Apl.d. Ap Foundation and Spark Philippines are both committed to the development of Filipinos by creating programs that aim to inspire, build competencies and empower citizens so they may become  full partners in national development.

Connecting Communities through the Creative Arts is an approach in achieving this goal through the use of the creative arts, theater and music as methodologies to provide psychosocial support, social inclusion, conflict transformation and resiliency especially in areas affected by disasters and conflict. Art is a universal language that transcends language barriers and cultural differences. Using  the creative arts as a way of communicating allows the work to become a springboard to begin conversations using images; to express feelings and thoughts, ideas and goals. It becomes a non-invasive and supportive way to work through issues and concerns.

In this connection, we will be conducting the Connecting Communities through the Creative Arts – Training for Educators (Skills Enhancement Project) which hopes to increase the knowledge and skills of educators/local teachers in community reconciliation and psychosocial healing through the creative arts. The competence-building initiative aims to equip educators and support children and youth in recovering from trauma. The program includes a Training of Facilitators from June 17-19 and a Creative Arts Session on June 20.

Should you have any questions, please contact Kate Alyzon Ramil, the Project Coordinator at sparkphilippines2013@gmail.com or mobile 09479959331.