Letter from the Philippines

Dear Friends,

As some of you might know, many of us here have been more than a bit engaged since the typhoon struck my country, devastating homes, affecting millions.  It has provided a meaningful avenue for my community to come into service. It has been an easy and difficult task, and on the principles we all share, crises always create openings for changing the way we do, think and say things.

 

For now, we have quite a few things on our plate on post-disaster rehabilitation work in Leyte. We’re slowly gearing up to work with 45 villages in one of the worst-hit areas in the Philippines, a municipality called Dulag where almost 95% of infrastructure were destroyed.

 

Right now, we’re in the process of helping rebuild homes, plant food, heal sickness and emotional trauma and for them to self-organize.  We will not succeed in doing this if we think we will do it alone for altruistic purposes.  The work is all inclusive, and we acknowledge co-ownership with all those who understand the principles and energy that sponsors these.

 

The One Village

The over-arching goal for everything we do here is to generate energy from within.  Where most aid often creates all kinds of dependency on external sources of food, materials and trainings, our passion is to find the best ways to unleash the creative potency of the land, the people and those who choose to help them.  The ecovillage and permaculture design processes are some of the most evolved frameworks that heal the land, as it regenerates culture and society in unity.

 

Since we started Maia Earth Village, we knew that our work extended towards helping the Philippines regenerate culture from a spiritual and ecological place, through the ways that we live.  This event is changing us rapidly, and those we have been working with, are also changing too.

 

The Earth School Project

One of the most important openings to work on in any community at anytime is always the School.  In Batug town, Leyte, life goes on in the classroom, despite that the roof of the entire building has blown away.

 

If I’m going to ask any interested friend, especially those involved with children, to get involved or help in any productive way, the Batug Earth School project and those to follow it might be the most impactful and interesting.  I’m not necessarily asking for funds right now, just sharing this organic project might open up avenues that brings people to my beautiful country to learn from the simple folk’s indigenous wisdom, which I’ve been learning to appreciate in the most unexpected ways. And vice versa – that people might learn from your wisdom.

 

Over the years, Maia has been creating outdoor classroom systems in the shape of a seven-layered mandala, that brings teachers and students outside of the 4 walls of the school box, and back to nature, where they might learn math through counting seeds, where they may learn art through permaculture gardening, or science through composting, recycling or alternative power like solar and wind.  In a way, one of the quickest ways of changing a society is through the children and an earth school concept in the backdrop of this recent disaster is a powerful model that could easily spread through the far reaches of progressive education.

 

In the next months, we will quickly see the birthing of the Earth School Projects throughout the 45 barangays of Dulag Municipality, where outdoor classroom gardens alongside some natural adobe or wattle and cob mud buildings (library, study area, art room) help to reinvent the average kinds of schooling that we went through in our childhood.  The project is inclusive in design, which means you may be one of its teachers sooner or later if you are able to visit once the rebuilding efforts have paved for the ecovillage transformation of our adopted town, municipality and province.

 

There are many ways to help this town and in a sense, the whole province 

If you feel drawn by this, and would see your energy contributing to the makings of integrative Earth-based classroom systems in one of our adopted villages, through the purchase of books, art materials, volunteering, the creation of an integrated curriculum, documentation, seeds or seedlings, spiritual or healing workshops, etc. then write me directly as I work with our team in working with organizations such as ABS-CBN Foundation, Save the Children, Earthship Biotecture, IDV on the many different dimensions of ecovillage restoration, in this case, education.

 

For now, I am simply inviting anyone in my own personal network who might be interested in these in any way, or would like to forward this email to friends who can assist us in so many ways. As I ask people in my community if they have personal networks that would get excited at some of these.

 

In the last weeks, a small handful of friends have spontaneously done some fundraising efforts in different parts of the world through their friends, school or company. We haven’t really started asking for help as we’ve been on simple means, living out of our pockets. That has helped us with the stages we are in, but as we expand into sustainable community, a few more friends doing a few more things might help us.

 

Our general fundraising efforts will be done through Andrea Roa, a member of Maia Earth Village who grew up in Batug Town, Leyte. Her heroic efforts have put up the Batug school after the old one collapsed years ago because of another typhoon and soil erosion. Her NGO, One Block for Batug is registered as a non-profit. I can ask her to send details on this, upon request and all other interests in school rehabilitation.

 

The Philippines Windship 

The Earthship design is considered the epitome of sustainable architecture.  It incorporates natural building methods, waste conversion, thermal heating and cooling, passive lighting and ventilation, water catchment, sewage, all into one structure.  They are world leaders in sustainable building, made popular by an award-winning biographical movie made about its founder, visionary architect Michael Reynolds. You may have seen it, its called Garbage Warrior.

 

In disasters such as Haiti, the Indian Ocean tsunami, Hurrican Katrina, the Earthship team were some of the first responders to rebuild, especially in this way.  They use things just strewn around the area, including garbage, the result is a beautiful orchestra of green architecture.  Mike has made a design specific to the Philippine typhoon and will be flying in with a team of 50 people from around the world to our site in Batug in order to construct several structures that offers green architecture technology to the Filipino people.

 

The Earthship guys have managed to raise most of the money for their flights and for materials, our obligation will just be to host them in homestay programs where we convert a few small houses to have extra rooms for cultural immersion with the indigenous folk of Leyte. In the last week, we have started to introduce simple natural building technology to the locals and we are slowly on the way to seeing a new way of reinforcing local housing in beautiful, cheap, energy efficient and typhoon resistant ways.

 

These are just some of the few things that are happening here.  I can’t really relay even a small fraction as it is too much to take in.

 

For now, I am sharing two videos to share what is happening on the ground:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t0G50FDzZTE

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IzcurrdXkLY

 

And on the Philippines Windship design:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9AdxkRtY_5E

 

Feel free to share this email, change it according to your efforts, and post any of the videos we share with you.  We will be creating a mandala work structure to help us with the growing communications and logistical demands to figure people into harmonious flow.  I hope to see you soon.

 

In love,

 

Pi Villaraza

Philippine Ambassador

Global Ecovillage Network

 

If you would like to donate some money to support this cause – any amount is welcome – then details are below.

PAYPAL: iamdaniw@gmail.com.
 
BANK TRANSFER:
 
CHINABANK or China Banking Corporation in the Philippines

Emerald Avenue, Ortigas Center
Pasig City  Branch
Account no: 2460049010
Account name: Lisette G. Salazar
Swift code: CHBKPHMM.

Thank you.