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Reflections from the 2012 CFBS Planning Retreat | Center for Babaylan Studies
Tahanan-Aralan Para sa Babaylan (CFBS)

Our annual planning retreats began in 2010 when we planned and organized the First International Babaylan Conference. In 2011, we  met to plan the August retreat/symposium, “Decolonization and Indigenization as a Path to the Sacred.” In 2012, the theme of our planning retreat was “Strengthening Our Foundation”; the choice of this theme reflects our growth as a community that is now having to think about sustainability and  how we want to move towards the future in this time of great turning.

This time of “great turning” refers to the transformation or shifts that we are experiencing at many levels: cosmic, planetary, climate, economic, cultural and social — shifts that we experience in our personal lives. We believe that we are a resource-rich people as we recover and remember our connection to our ancestors and to the indigenous core values we still know and live in our bodies. As a Filipino community in the diaspora, CFBS exists to study and research Indigenous Filipino Knowledge Systems and Practices (IKSP) as well as to provide a container for our indigenous/babaylan-inspired projects and to participate and collaborate with other communities who share our vision. We are a community that is drawn together by our love for our Kapwa and the calling to share these gifts with our communities and the world at large. Our vision is inspired by the wisdom and power of the ancient babaylan to bring about well-being and wholeness to the communities s/he serves.

At this year’s retreat, we were inspired to call forth new names for the various levels of engagements within CFBS:

Haligi ng Sinag/Pillars of Light — refers to the seven core group members that meet regularly via conference calls to make decisions about CFBS events and projects in consultation with …
Banaag/Ray of light — members who have worked closely with the core group for the past three years in organizing and implementing CFBS events and projects.
Alaya/New Dawn — members who volunteer their time and talent at various CFBS events and projects.

So we invite you, our readers, to join us at these various levels. Please talk to us.

During this weekend, we also worked on creating group norms that will guide us in our process of planning. We share them here as a work-in-progress:

  •  We commit to uphold the beauty of Kapwa through playfulness, openness, respect, honesty, appreciation and affection, patience, and trusting.
  • We commit to doing shadow work constructively and responsibly in service to ourselves and to our community.
  • We commit to the sustainability of the organization through financial independence, resource generation, legacy planning, and alliance building.
  • We commit to a process of indigenous-inspired decision-making that is based on modified consensus and is scalable. We commit to the centrality and importance of ritual.
  • We are mindful that we are Kasinag to each other; each an expression of the individual rays of light that shine from the core of our Loob.
  •  We commit to be discerning and wise regarding issues of information-sharing in the process of     decision making that impacts our community and our projects
  • We commit to the research and compilation of archival materials of IKSP.
We create a strong foundation by listening to each other’s ancestral stories: our roots in the Philippines and the routes we took to arrive at this continent; the stories we carry in our hearts and minds about our love for our people and our homeland; our immediate families and communities that nurture us in the present. We spent Saturday evening passing the talking bowl relishing these stories. Our cultural, personal and ritual nurturance comes from such deep work and sharing…all of which helps us translate these into our “CFBS programs.”

We also set up a mural wall that we put up on our pantry door. At the center are the baybayin scripts for Tahanan-Aralan Para sa Babaylan (CFBS) . Each one was given a piece of paper that contained a phrase from our vision and mission statement. We were asked to meditate on this phrase and then the following morning to draw a visual representation on the mural.  As we moved throughout the weekend, this mural was our visual reminder of why CFBS exists, why we are engaged with it, and why the calling is strong and clear in each one of us.

Some Alaya members joined us on Sunday for further planning of events for 2012-2013. Everyone was excited by the idea of having the second international babaylan conference in 2013. All roads lead to this conference from hereon. These are just some of the ideas that we are brewing together.  

       Music concerts: Grace Nono; Kulintang groups
       Healer/s-in-Residence project
       IKSP Healing Circles: Connecting to Filipino roots
       Healing Grief Rituals
       Kapwa Cafe and catering
       Book projects
      Video and media projects
      Advocacy Projects in support of IPS in the Philippines
      Weaving Threads, Weaving Tales: Indigenous Fashion and Folklore
Supporting Kapwa 3 conference in The Philippines

Please ask us how you might participate and join us.