(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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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

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