On Thursdays I meditate with David Montecillo and Claudine Mangasing at Sattva Space on Xavierville Avenue, Quezon City, a ten to fifteen minute walk from my house. David was trained in Tibetan Buddhist meditation. David and Claudine, both members of a healing group called Lily and Beyond, were organizers of the Heal-Om Festival United for a Higher Cause, which was held at Whitespace in Makati, Metro Manila, on October 14. I agreed to go and take pictures.
The banner at the top of the program reads: “Step into the future. Planet healed. People awakened. Life transformed.” When I arrived at 8:00, exhibitors and vendors were setting up their booths. These included sellers of natural, organic or earth-friendly products, groups offering healing services, religious and spiritual groups, and disaster relief for this frequently flooded country. Admission to the main hall was free, but donations were expected at the break-out sessions.
At 10:30 the opening ceremony began with a prayer followed by a hallelujah chorus by opera singers from the University of the Philippines. After the festival was declared open, the two hosts, Maribeth Nave and Carlos Aguilar, began making the rounds of the sixty-six booths and interviewing the exhibitors and vendors. The interviews were broadcast live on the video monitors on around the stage in the main hall. In the commissaries and the smaller rooms upstairs, participants had a choice of five break-out sessions: Qi Gong, Creative Self-Expression, Healing the Roots of Religious Conflict in the World, Meditation for the Soul and Eco Village and Disaster Preparedness.
At noon in the main hall we had two songs by Timmy Cruz, a fan dance by a group from the Mabuhay Temple, a Capoeria (Peruvian martial arts) demonstration and a Hare Krishna presentation which segued into a rollicking community dance on and off stage.
The afternoon started with a forum entitled “How can the different faiths unite to heal communities, nations and the planet?” Participants included clerics from Islam, Buddhism, Brahma Kumaris, Hare Krisna, and Catholicism.
The first afternoon breakout sessions included Capoiera, Wellness of Body and Mind, Guided Experience with Meditation, Bastika Breath & I Meditate Ph, and UFOs and Extra-Terrestrials in the Age of Enlightenment. Then came a choice of Chi Dance, Soul Collage, Spirituality in the Islamic Tradition, Healing Pavilion and the Marikina Watershed Initiative. The last sessions were called Yin Yoga, Healing Pavilion 2, Meditation and Healing of Self and Mother Earth, and Building Sustainable Bodies and its Impact on Daily Life.
In the main hall the afternoon featured Prophesies and Emergency Preparedness with demonstrations of two flood survival kits and a handbook on disaster survival.
Activities at the various booths continued throughout the day. The final item on the program was an intense drumming jam session which led to lively and free-spirited community dancing, then clapping for peace.
I’d call the Heal-om Festival an unqualified success. Frankly, I was surprised and delighted to find such a diverse and thriving counter-culture here. The drums were still going when I heard people talking about next year.
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