Introducing Myself, Briefly....
I've graduated with a bachelor's in international studies with a focus on development and gender studies from Miriam College, Philippines. Aside from being raised by strong women, my mother and my maternal grandmother (my father has always worked abroad since I was young), my college served as fertile ground to hone my feminist and social consciousness. Since graduating in 2013, I've been mostly working within human rights and NGO work. I also had about two years abroad in between in order to experience the “overseas Filipino narrative” and be closer to my father, and also spent a breathtaking volunteer year in Tawi-Tawi, the southernmost province in Mindanao, Philippines, as a volunteer teacher at a “pilot madrasah,” an Islamic school that incorporates both Islamic and secular subjects in its curriculim.
Currently, I’m back in human rights as a fulltime networking and advocacy officer at a local alternative law group where my main role is to establish and nourish partnerships with human rights advocates of different backgrounds. On the other hand, I’m also a student for the Certificate in Integral Ecology of Loyola School of Theology, and a freelance worker for a social enterprise for community-based tree planting.
The biggest influence to my life is my mother-and-best-friend-in-one, Janet. Since her passing in August 2020, I have been more aware of my need to grow and serve, both due to my spiritual vocation as a lay feminist advocate, and in honor of her. As she said with such lucidity "my love will take you to places."
(A Personal Musing: I'm far from concrete understanding and taking part in mysticism, particularly Christian mysticism as I think there's just so much inclusive intellectual and loving ground there. But again, how would these all pan out? A particular option I'd be praying about - but I think is already an evident and relevant aspect of my life I'd want to explore - is learning about mental health first aid. There's a short course by Mental Health First Responder that I could take...so that I could remotely volunteer a listening ear to those who are aching and lonely. I don't know how it would fall "neatly" into my life and journey, but if one thing i'm current(ly being reaffirmed constantly in life, and one of the reasons why I considered applying for GMF, is that we need to learn to authentically engage in multiple levels: basic needs + systems, intellectual, visceral and emotional.)
Why Do I Want To Do This Course or Undertake this Learning Journey?
[...] I am writing in order to express my interest to be considered and hopefully admitted to the Gandhi-Mandela-Freire Fellowship (GMF) by growing through the Conscience and Compassion learning journey. Admittedly, looking through the programme’s components and goals, I find it both daunting, and inspiring yet necessary. Daunting primarily due to the timeline and the diverse learning methods; inspiring yet necessary because the program seems to highlight how we are indeed in a quandary within our current context. Truly, existential questioning and crises are not novel to humanity. However, despite the seeming sophistication of sciences and disciplines, we are unable to have these concepts take their liberating forms until we were to intentionally and actually learn to be fully human in this wounded yet beautiful world. To be direct about it, I am willing to do my best for the application, and hopefully for the programme if admitted, because I am impelled to grow in the “deep basics” of being human, and as a spiritual advocate for human rights and ecological justice.
As a fulltime human rights worker, currently dabbling in spirituality and ecology, and with a plan to take up master’s late next year, I believe the GMF has come at an opportune time for me. Growing through life until my current age of 29, I am certain we are more than the degrees and titles we boast (not that I have my fair share of these at all), simply because the deepest moments of joy, disturbance and steadfast dedication are brought about by everyday and intentional encounters. With how the GMF programme is outlined, I am certain that to take part in it with other 'thirsty' seekers would prove meaningful. I am glad that this learning journey is not for the “professional” aspect of growth, and I truly hope to find this learning journey coming from the visceral, yet able to translate itself to both creative and practical ways of engagement.
If only to share about my current context and the programme’s relevance, I am currently praying about finding ways to constructively, courageously yet humanely contribute within my nation’s current divisive yet highly crucial election season. The Philippines is groaning under a dictatorship that is being rightly challenged by a wounded yet determined civil society. Accountability must go beyond the retributive narrative, and we truly must enable others the space and audacity to care and love more. Though abstract still, I truly wish that GMF would enable me in my littleness, coupled with great social and environmental ambition – to find how I am being called now to be with my fellow Filipinos and in turn, for us to find ourselves as empowered agents of change in the global family.
A Note on My Encounter with the Online 'Tool', UNFOLD NEST
If in terms of how Unfold Nest "affected" me, I think it readies the mind and heart to seek ways to be vulnerable and to engage. It nicely converges with themes of my current ecology classes, most especially with my class on spirituality of ecology which hinges on the inclusivity of cosmic spirituality. I also believe the theme in the Nest as part and parcel of the sort of "good restlessness" associated with both the paradox of choice, and the fact that we intuitively know we’re all being called to live and love better. I'm yet to really find out, especially as this is just the beginning of the course. It's like I'm getting different glimpses into the world - like the "cosmic mountain scene" in Unfold Nest. And I'm yet to know how these would "stay within," and translate themselves into something meaningful in this world that is both awe-inspiring and really messy.
On another note, I enjoy the transitions which allow one to fondly dream about the destination, relish the journey, and rekindle our love for home. Still processing the passing of my mother and the transitoriness of life on this side of ether, I’m glad to have prompts to further grow in my gratitude for my past and foundations, look forward to a purposeful life despite so much uncertainty, yet remaining mindful and present in the here and now.
Lastly, if only to dwell on the form and routes found in Unfold Nest, it evokes both introspection and co-journeying. Through poignant illustrations, “curated supplies,” and the rekindling of deep and necessary questions we regularly try to dismiss for the sake of a fast-paced world – we’re able to dream better. Pressing challenges are presented along with known and everyday heroines and heroes, and more so, within the context of affirming the pilgrim that she/he/they is/are neither alone nor a hopeless case. We're all being called to journey home, and this adventure is called "life."