This retreat made me realize all of us can love all | Inspire: Surrender Your Fire in La Trinidad, Benguet

Earlier in May, I attended a creative retreat hosted by the brave women named Kitkat and Sofia. I came to discover the works of Sofia through her Instagram and blog. She amazes and ignites many with her daring art which are more than just pretty visuals. Her perspective on life laces into writing which taps into your creative urges and unites readers with a message that everyone can and should make art, no matter which form, and show it to the world.

That early morning of the retreat, I arrived at the wellness center and I saw her for the first time smiling and greeting me at the huge metal gate. We both exclaimed, “Finally! Finally!” We were walking together and I couldn’t believe this fate. Upon sitting on the floor donned with boho cushions and blankets while indie chill music plays on the background, I was looking at everyone’s faces and I instantly felt bottomless bliss. It was a melting pot of all kinds of artists. Some make videos and take photos, others were into fashion and create bohemian and tribal apparel. There were also those who blog, travel, surf, and organize events. It is a miracle being surrounded by all these beautiful strangers who mutually beat for art and commit to living art. My body was exploding with light and my heart was pounding with gratitude.

Bloodrush creative retreat. Photo by Sofia Cope
Bloodrush creative retreat. Photo by Sofia Cope

Ahhhh so she’s bursting in her bubble right now. She’s giddy, she’s in love for sure. With all these strangers dipping their blood into their paper. A gentle scratching of their soul. She. She is amazed at this interconnection at this moment, in this lifetime. She wants to go places through her body, through her spirit. She really really really wants to open up and be free as a child. And she wants to not care but only love, love in the purest. Lucky girl, she isn’t torn right now, she is floating in content and peace and the world needs this, needs her. She is wild in her quietness. There is power in her stillness. She’s mumbling random stuff I can’t understand. Her lover calls her hippie. Her brother calls her weird. And she’s okay being everything. Possibilities are all we need anyway. She’s bursting wide and weird and wild. She needs not answers, she is truly here. She’s out of the bubble and she can hear the machine, the cutlery, the voices of souls and pens, and she’s in love.

May, 2016 (Written for a 10-minute exercise during Bloodrush)

Days after the creative retreat, my voice was quivering with joy speaking the details of the event to two of my friends. Suddenly, Jamie blurted out, “You should organize your own retreat!”

I lighted up with the idea.

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Inspire: Surrender Your Fire started with a poem:

Love your pink, love your black
Love your feminine, love your masculine
It’s okay to love your many selves
Bridge the gap between your self and your being
Reveal love
In everything
Love wins
Love dances in our veins.

Sometime in July, I sent messages to my closest tribe and expressed how I badly wanted to hold an inspirational retreat – one which celebrates freedom, independence/interdependence, arts, love for oneself, and sharing inspiration. In Walt Whitman’s description of a poem but in this case a retreat – “a place to enter, and in which to feel”. I envisioned it to happen somewhere secluded where participants will get to speak out their struggles as well as name all the beautiful things that make them come alive. I began to write notes of Why. The next month arrived and as I was in the midst of all the preparations, flashbacks of where and how everything began landed on my lap as I was clutching my purple notebook. I remember the Blog Clarity Bootcamp I participated in last year which pushed me to act on things on a very motivated pace and, surprisingly, an organized flow of ideas. I spoke in my solitude while sipping my morning coffee. My face became wet with tears. I thought of my favorite online reading platforms such as Brain Pickings and Infinite Satori (whom I recently met in Siargao! <3) and The Travelling Light and writers such as Pico Iyer and Cheryl Strayed, of all the extraordinary humans I met and all the out-of-the-comfort-zone situations I encountered during all my travels teaching me the grandest life lessons, and the creatives who are so madly and deeply in love with their craft their admirable energies become infectious in all the right ways. They consistently inspire me until today.

Inspiration has always been my fuel, my oxygen, my vest, my guide, my wonderwall. They are everywhere and everyone that my heart melts for.

Then came the birth of the Art of Movement, which up to this very day, I believe, reached miles of magic to humans even outside my circle of familiarity.

So this gathering is a way of celebrating and saying thank you to the people who have been reading, following, and sending me words of appreciation along the journey. You inspire me to speak from authenticity and write beautiful stories of travels towards and within. I started to realize how writing has been loving me all along and it was just waiting for me to love it in return. This is the year I really mean it when I say “I love writing”. I have also come to understand that this magic of story telling, and everything in between, is a process of giving and receiving.

This is the greatest purpose of Inspire: Surrender Your Fire.

When our lives are affected by something/someone positively, in so many ways and levels, we become one with the inspiration. We are the inspiration. It is our being and we must let the rest of the world enjoy our inspired endeavors. Because we don’t know how, but someone out there relates and resonates with our authenticity.

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It had been a whirl. May the calm and the clarity arrive so I can give love and attention, rightful presence to these people whom I invited for the retreat. Please, Universe, be with me. May everything become smooth and dynamic and interactive and vibrant and complete and fun. May it be successful in its wonderful, inspirational many many ways.

This retreat will be magical.

(Journal entry: September 30, 2016)

Week before the actual date of the retreat came. I got caught up in a whirl of work, language exchange, last minute preparations, daydreaming, writing, flights, notes I wrote but couldn’t understand, and a bit of impatience in dislikeable behavior. It felt like the Universe had been testing me, big time. Mercury retrograde left its remnants. The external events fell down from the sky and strewed as sharp rocks across my path. Could these be signs telling me: “Is it wise to stop now?!” I had this notion that if things stream smoothly, then it must be that the cosmos completely agrees with your desires. It meant alignment. And so I came to doubt.

Two people weren’t able to join because of sickness, one had a family gathering, another had an exam that weekend. These were out of my control. It twisted my inside so much yet I was trying to chill (like I always do) in handling the unexpected. But then again, what I feel is out of my control too. On my way to the terminal to buy tickets for the midnight bus schedule, my tears descended like waterfall. I was crying as I walked. I sat down on a public bench and cried. I walked again but my tears won’t stop. I stopped at the foot of stairs and sat to rest the heaviness and untangle for the last time the wild strangle of emotions and wept quietly. I texted two of my friends in between the tears. Come nighttime, my body felt separated from my soul. It was as if I was trying to enter the comfort of a circle but I was only repelled, casted alone outside. I knew I wasn’t okay.

Yet, damn right, I chose to keep going.

I was reminded of these lovely people who said yes. People who I knew are a bit reluctant in sharing to a group of strangers but are surrendering their fires anyway. People who offered help and encouraging words along the journey. I remembered the notes of Why and thought to myself, after all these months of unparalleled happiness and anticipation about creating something so personal and deeply embedded in how I live, this is it: the day of the retreat had finally come. 

This is what I had been waiting for.

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That very morning, despite how tired and sleepless I was, I knew everything will be fine. In fact, I trusted with all my heart the retreat would be a success, no matter how clueless and cramming (don’t be surprised) I was. Somehow, I felt a kind of peace and strength filling me while we were on our way to Lily of the Valley Organic Farm.

We settled on the tables and ate the best omelette stuffed with cheese and vegetables we had no idea what kind it was and unlimited organic rice and drank coffee and tea. At last, we were here. They were exclaiming how lovely this farm was, tucked in the highlands away from the Baguio crowd, quiet and refreshing, and how the food tasted so good and healthy. We stepped outside and found ourselves comfortable on a banig (handwoven mat made from dried leaves) sprawled across a flat area near a bonfire and basked in the lushness of Benguet nature. The sun came out after days of consecutive rains and its light illuminated on everyone’s faces and I am enamored with their warm presence.

No speech was prepared. There were only writings that looked like doodles.

So I was nudged to reverse honesty hour and shamelessly spill out the emotional journey that led us on that very spot we were sitting on. The discussion then drifted into the subject of the highly-regarded and timeless way of thinking: do the things you love.

Some were skeptic of plunging into doing it as sometimes obligations to families and work are prioritized. There is also the fear of moving away from the convenient and starting all over again, as well as the judgmental voices in our surroundings when dignifying a passionate life besides career. The case for not really knowing their passions was also spoken. We melted into laughter as one related to another. On the other hand, some become all-consumed and juggle several interests all at once. Multi-potentialites as what they’re referred to by the speaker of this TED talk Why some of us don’t have one true calling.

Beneath the hesitancy of one came the brave utterance of another. An answer paved the way for more questions, more insights. It was music to my ears. I could describe the flow in one word, a favorite term: organic. Every eye contact; every question asked; every scratch of pen on the journal; every tone and pitch of voice, sometimes confident, sometimes trembling; every ounce of effort in keeping still and observance of breath during guided meditation; every tear wiped; every emotion released – the process depended on the little things and I let them be and that made it beautiful. Because of mutual vulnerability handed over and exchanged, we were in states of unbecoming and becoming. We spoke overdue sentiments among pine trees and northern mountains and chilly air.

We all lead different lives but it seems like we fall on the same drop, by the same gravitational force, then coming home at the underground, beneath piles of unknown dirt.

We were swallowed into the belly of one another’s stories.

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Tyrone was one of the people who reached out to me after putting up this blog. After a year of exchanging messages online, there was no better way to meet each other than through this retreat. He showed to everyone his barefoot shoes telling us of how it represents his growing openness and connection to the world. In his eyes it is bigger and brighter. Wearing barefoot shoes allowed him to become more sensitive of his environment. His feet could feel the ground directly. And so he became more aware of every mound of the soil or jaggedness of rocks and branches. In a way, he got deeper in touch with the physical beauty and spiritual realm of this world. After leaving Batanes to pursue his studies in Manila, he spotted and embraced a reality more patterned, more diverse than his hometown. He began immersing himself in inspirational works online. He discovered there are cheap ways to wander, one-click-away access to get inspired, and therefore, more generous spaces to create.

However, he refrains from showing his works online fearing it might reach folks from his hometown. He worries about gossips and misconceptions, and so these hold him back. I feel sad about it. I was taken back to the days a part of me was quite hesitant in story telling. All I could do was to remind, verbally expressing my wish for him to overcome intensive thinking of others’ opinions. I could tell he has the potential to write, and definitely the potential to be a professional photographer someday. Yet the way I see it, he is already a photographer, a good one, and therefore already living the dream.

Update: I am proud to share his Facebook page called Kavadag (Ivatan term for kite) is now up! Follow his adventures there._mg_8959hLea was born when Mt. Pinatubo exploded and she must have mysteriously absorbed all the talents that accompanied the explosion. She dances and paints. She can create a logo in two days, even a tattoo design if you ask her to. She draws in challenging mediums – tissue paper, iPad drawing apps, sometimes on skin too. Her voice is sexy and stunning, she can sing like The Cranberries or Lex Land or Shakira. Plus she can definitely dub and act. Who knows, someday, her voice can be heard on spoken poetry events.

I could go on and on.

She shared briefly and surrendered her pen. All her life she had been letting others (her fearful self) dictate her life story. Now she is willing to engage into a more daring and more self-loving reality by creating her own stories herself. I am very hopeful as she speaks. My face is already wetter than it was but I couldn’t help being touched.

When we returned from the mountains, she sent me a message saying she already started drawing on the notebook I gave her, and she would keep on doing so everyday. I felt relieved on the surface of things. When she dances deep into it, I look forward to the days the whole world finally witnesses her creations. I hope she finds bliss and content and love in all the ways she creates her story.

Reina has always been the listener of my confusions and ramblings and dreams and discoveries. Whenever we’re together, I always sense calmness, whether in the form of reminders or support. My friendship with her can be traced back when we were just six years old. It is history. And so I know everything about her, or so I thought.

She showed her eyeglasses and recounted its numerous benefits. She needed it to illuminate her path, to know where she’s heading. She went on saying there are people who will become the “eyeglasses” for her so that she can see clearly. This was the moment I wept so hard without precisely knowing why. It was not much because of the contents of what she’s saying, but more on the flash of eternity in her realization. To hear a sort of awakening coming out from her mouth was so deeply moving.

After the retreat, I received a message from Reina saying she was touched and realized a lot of things from the event – about herself, about the “process” she had not been going through and one she is willing to jump into. In her words, “It’s about not achieving the growth, say the effect of Law of Attraction because I don’t follow the process. The fact that I’m skeptical about the idea… I’m working on it, inducing more positive thinking from this day.” Something profound happens here. A discovery shows itself without really demanding it. It stirred my inside and I cried again. You see, I thought I know her beneath her skin. It is quite astonishing that figuring out life never really ends, even with friends you grew up with.

Kat is a blooming flower to me, fierce in her growth. I will always admire her persistence in recognizing what she wants, as many as they may be, and actually taking steps to achieve them. She has a curious heart and is wide-awake to the open skies and this has been allowing her to expand in full bloom.

Recently, she came back from Taiwan after spending six months there finishing her thesis for a Master’s degree in Energy Engineering. She also curated a blog called Love After Love. She mentioned she has been largely inspired by writings from Art of Movement and photography of our friend behind The Big Black Backpack.

For her, the people around meant a great deal of inspiration, as if a message is aimed at her directly. She showed a piece of paper where “To Kat” was scrawled. She then narrated the consecutive little large events on that recent Friday in the university. A security guard and a vendor from the canteen showed her random acts of kindness. Earlier that day, she also applied to become one of the ambassadors in a program called Renewable Energy Bootcamp for Young Engineers which combines applying the science behind chemical engineering and helping communities in the Philippines.

We sat side by side inside a cab heading to the bus terminal in Baguio. As she was recounting this program and its details, I had the strongest intuition she will be selected. It might be purely faith. Two days after, she sent a photo of an e-mail. She got accepted.

Before the retreat, Jamie and I went on a weekend adventure somewhere on a small island in Iba, Zambales. It was super chill and the rides and schedules had gone flawless. The Universe was showing off its conspiratorial magic. That trip made me truly saw her, mostly as a loving daughter. We were sitting in plastic chairs and watching the bright blue sea at noon. We talked about people we love, friends who seek support, strangers becoming reflections. I asked her questions I may not have asked before. She was so transparent, I love her even more.

Perhaps if she hadn’t approached me on our first year in the university, things would be wildly different from now. Perhaps if she hadn’t suggested to me to organize a retreat, none of the meaningful things occurred to those twelve souls. She became one of my lifemates. Ever since knowing her, I have always sensed a strength so natural and so palpable anybody near her will be boosted too. I have to thank her mom for that.

Her strength favored her to explore big things in career and in her personal life. Yet piling one endeavor on top of another and doing them all at once is never easy. During the retreat, she surrendered her watch which represents her relationship with time and how it’s as if it is chasing her. We are not so new to the consequences, how one becomes overwhelmed and tired and sometimes even numb. Despite the weight and the quantity, her strong spirit might just have bursted forth mightier. She lets go of how events will unfold. Of course she can do this, she is Jamie after all.

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Angela has one of the most beautiful faces and laughter. She is wrapped up in vibrancy and gives away sincere compliments in random moments you’d long for her company.

When we returned, the first message I read in the morning was from her saying she appreciated the good vibes of the retreat and the friendship created in the end. A month after that, she took me back again to the mountains saying days went by and she still continues to feel positive and lighter after the retreat. It seems like our lives were richer because of those first two October days.

That weekend, I discovered some poignant elements of Angela’s story. She showed us a beanie with a clash of colors and prints. Earlier, she mentioned she still doesn’t know that one passion she wants to do. But one thing she wanted to try for the longest time now is scuba diving. When she asked her parents about it, they didn’t seem to agree to its impracticality. Her dad suggested to take further studies instead – a far more reasonable option. And so it made her think too. She turned around the beanie so that now its inside was visible. It exposed a single print that looked like a cartoon character. The clash transforms into a single entity. For her, this signifies the emergence of a clear desire and a boldness to finally pursue something close to her heart and not get hindered by financial reasons or how it would be rational and useful for her career.

Joel surprised me the most.

I loved the way he engaged with everyone through his experiences. I know him to be a guitarist in a band and a wedding photographer. He tells us this, then enumerates a handful of things he would love to try in the future. He also shared the serious struggles of being a jack-of-all-trades. Consciously or unconsciously, he turned out to be engaging mostly with the uncertain parts of himself.

As we were huddled in the room while the rain softly falls outside, he showed us a paperboat while imparting not only to himself but to everyone perhaps the greatest message that is to flow. Doing whatever we intend to do, just do it. Listen to our guts and jump. Otherwise, ghosts of regret might sneak in and lay beside us while we try our hardest to sleep. Who knows we might not really love it, who knows it could ultimately change the course of our existence. We will never know unless we go.

And yes, it’s still surprising he actually reads my blog.

Yossy was somewhat a stranger. He comes from Indonesia and currently works in IBM here in the Philippines. These two facts were all I knew before interacting with him. Another thing, we have one mutual friend in Facebook who, apparently, is his officemate. This connection paved the way for him to join the retreat. I asked him why it bit his interest. Apart from hearing life stories of people, he also likes challenges. He replied, “Like this event, I want to know since I never attended stranger activities.” Those last two words had me burst out laughing. I couldn’t wait to meet him.

He started a bit quiet. But he always smiles, giving off that ball of light aura. As the voices mingled, his own emerged. During the time of surrender, he showed us a piece of plastic. Funny as it looks, he was able to delve into its deeper meaning. Previously, he took up dentistry in the Philippines. But as the years went by, he became unsure of his path. He decided to look for work and found his luck in IBM. He began not really knowing anything about the industry. When some of his colleagues would ask him about certain tasks, he didn’t know how to respond because he had no idea. He then worked hard to learn all about his craft. He got better and better. As he was telling us this story, he said that we can lead to a greater version of ourselves, someone who we might not have imagined formerly to become. We are just being recycled, like plastics, allowing the challenges to optimize our abilities to the fullest. This sentence was then more luminous than the rest of what he revealed. It was so hopeful it’s a sin not to cling to it. My tears were starting to well up. Yossy may not know it, but at that time, I appreciated his presence so much. His light was a gift.

Guin mesmerizes me with her focus. She has been consistent in her achievements. I reminisce the times we would invite her to join for drinks but her Nos would be consistent too. It could be tiring when you’re a friend and sincerely asks for her company. Yet something changed, recently. She started getting involved again. In a sleepover, she would arrive even though it’s already 3 in the morning. She would enthusiastically invite us to go to a museum, or ask about details of traveling solo in Sagada. It felt both weird and good.

She held a shot glass in front of us, an even weirder thing to surrender. If you’d meet Guin for the first time, you can sense her independence and the way she properly brings herself. But deep inside is an easygoing self which comes out when she throws strange, corny jokes. Amidst all the titles accumulated and family and relatives taking pride in her achievements, there is the void that the external almost always causes and I guess she sees it too. One time, she went to a party with her officemates and highly enjoyed dancing and drinking too much alcohol to the point she vomited. But obviously, she had fun. The next day there sprouted murmurs in the office and she was saddened by this. She said it is difficult not showing a more playful and lighter version of Guin. She then vowed to not really care about what other people would say and go on being the person she truly longs to become – freer, more in touch with her childlike self, destined to flow with the world while overcoming inhibitions.

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Charles was also, technically, a stranger. He was invited by Guin. Then that’s it. So before meeting in the flesh, I reached out and sent him a message. When he mentioned that he thinks maybe he hasn’t inspired anyone yet and wants to figure out how based on what will be shared in the retreat, I asked him what he is usually inspired by, something that makes him kilig (giddy). He answered, “Being appreciated, by whoever and whatever. Because when you’re appreciated, everything becomes natural.” He also added he finds fulfilment when accomplishing difficult tasks in work. Yes, he is really friends with Guin.

When finally meeting him, I find Charles to be a sincere person. I remember him mentioning the difficulties of being obligated by family and being tied to work – outside forces fulfilling us but also breaking our inside. When he said being appreciated by others makes him happy, I could see again the void that the external almost always cause. This is a sad truth of the Filipino culture. Family plays a major role in our lives sometimes to the point of preventing (directly or indirectly) us to venture into a path quite unknown but our core is aching for us to explore. Charles also touched on the fear of jumping into something totally different from our current career and starting from scratch.

Later in the afternoon, he showed us his phone. He pointed out who would have thought years ago we would be able to enjoy something so valuable and almost inseparable in our lives. Now almost everyone uses this device. He compared himself to that. He has no idea how everything would unfold. But in the coming months and years, he is positive he will be able to carve his potential into something he finds more value in and makes good use of his skills and passion all rolled into one.

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Daphne was the revelation who brought everyone to tears.

I met her once during a solo trip to Sagada last year. Together with his friend Komang, we watched the sun rise behind hills and mountains spilling its light over the thin sea of clouds. Getting to know continued over oranges and cups of coffee and rice meals in an orange farm. Then we separated. It was a sweet memory of the Christmas holidays. Since then, we connected through Facebook and here we are reuniting in the north again. It felt good to see her.

We sat beside each other on the way to Benguet. We chatted in detail our common inspirations, the seemingly impenetrable IELTS exam, her postponed travel to Mt. Pulag, about Komang and recollections of that Sagada trip. More was confessed the next day.

She held the fabric of her jacket as a symbol of her surrender. On that dim afternoon light, she unveiled formerly subdued and deep-to-the-bones stories. It began with her frustrations as a nurse. A piercing story was spoken about a patient and an unintended mistake she committed. The doctor confronted her and some of her colleagues targeted her with degrading comments. She was removed from the neurology department and transferred to another. The words stupid and failure kept resounding and they hung thick and sharp in the air. The only job she knows seemed to reject her. There was also a point she condemned her parents for letting her take up the Nursing degree. Sometimes she hikes mountains and travels to different places to explore a life beyond the hospital. Her dad would disagree. I wanted to hug her. I wanted her to stop saying she’s stupid. Towards the end, she had found acceptance in embracing her work of taking care of people and a relief in sharing to strangers the ugly and heavy parts she kept.

The thinking comes to a halt and I forget my monkey mind and my self and I’m blast open feeling everything. All the curves and pokes of everyone’s emotions.

I am drunk from all the raw energy that is moving to and fro each body. How do I carve the feeling into words? I am sitting still and my within is set in motion and there is nothing else that matters. And I love everyone. A love so big and full I respond to it in tears.

And a very strange feeling came over me, something I had never dreamed of: It was as if electricity was running through my body, and the audience and I had become one. A single organism. The sense of danger in the room had united the onlookers and me in that moment: the here and now, and nowhere else.

…you are acting from a higher self, and it’s not you anymore. It’s not the you that you know. It’s something else… it was as if I had become, at the same time, a receiver and transmitter of huge, Tesla-like energy. –Marina Abramović, Walk Through Walls

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On a rainy weekend in August, I visited the farm for the first time to feel its rightness. Entering into that space bathed me a kind of energy that slows down and heals. Right then and there, I knew. This is where fires must be surrendered. I browsed a photo I posted two months ago narrating what occurred and how I felt and how I envisioned the retreat to be. I melted while reading each word which, in essence, came true. Just like a dream.

And so when someone describes it as so far the best thing 2016 gave him, how would you feel?

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This is the space where perhaps decades (when in fact it was only two days) happened and soft memories were uttered while the rain, and cushions and blankets of all colors and patterns, and organic food which tasted a lot like love, and books, and chilly air day and night accompanied us. I could hear my own voice quiver and calm. This is the space where questions were asked, answers were given, sometimes hesitantly and sometimes freely. The mountains could hear the stories we shared. I might have heard Aldous Huxley whisper, “Yes, feel lightly even though you’re feeling deeply.” And those stories, luminous and lucid amidst the dark, hazy weather, they poured steadily. This is what this same space was, is, and will be about. A shelter of openness to pour, to heal, to remember, to listen, to love. All your wild words and silences in between and goosebumps in your skin and flow will be received with sacred attention, with intimacy and tender love, with understanding. I have always loved the word “space/s”. I want to bring that available to you: empty spaces – shared – where we can speak our truths and inspire each other and ponder and make music with our sentences. Yet we don’t have to be perfectly targetting those “goals”. A simple release will do. We will learn to do everything lightly. #ArtofMovementRetreat Merci pour la photo @kcabby

A photo posted by Lovey Marquez (@artofmovementdotnet) on

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All food and drinks served are organic
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Tita Lisa and her husband are the owners of Lily of the Valley in La Trinidad, Benguet
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Journaling time

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Marshmallows and hotdogs and rice wine by the fireplace
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Giveaway and group photo sessions

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While inside the bus back to the city, Reina told me she never imagined me holding a public (yet intimate) event such as this. I’m an introvert after all. I smiled at the thought, for I didn’t imagine it either. Yet all my life I have been doing exactly this – listening to people; holding their griefs as if they’re mine and equally pained; asking without the assurance of clear or final answers; giving advice almost always; comforting in the form of presence and attention. The retreat now confirmed for the both of us: anybody has that mysterious capacity – whatever it is you set your heart into.

It was as if everything fell into place and I curled into the warm and pulsating reality of it.

Though none of the tinge of pride and achievement came over me. I am elated because there emerged in these lovely humans discoveries within themselves, in their own pace and timing. I am merely a guide in the mountains to help them see the light and their right to letting it in. My heart swells and heaves for whatever this heavenly sensation is.

This is perhaps the most incredible thing I am most awakened to after the retreat: Everybody can love everybody. If all of us listen (the kind that removes our self while the other speaks, the kind which understands) to another person’s stories, we can love anyone and everyone. Despite their flaws and sorrows and misunderstandings. There are no individual perplexities, only a simple whole. It will always be hard to explain. If we learn to ask the right questions, this inexplicable thing will reveal. For some, it will sound ideal and poetic and false, but it is a reality I will always hold on to and attest to be true.

Here are other few things I unearthed and wrote in my journal after the surrender:

  • People have deeply embedded stories, no matter what they do in life. Because who they are is kind of different
  • Society is a trap by the way it “normalizes” our lives
  • Take time to get to know what you want – none of us figures out life at any point in our lives, we all just think we do. One day you know, the next day you don’t – endless dance
  • Accept the light and dark parts of your whole. Love all of them so you love all of you

Moments can be fleeting. But when I think about it, the more and more I believe how a single day and night can ultimately change the course of the collective and how the world works, how each life can truly be better, be genuine and belonging to a person in the coming years of his existence. Perhaps, before I die, this is one of the periods of my life I will look back to (if I am still able to remember) and be moved by the thought of it. I almost always ask to people, “What is the one thing you would like to see before you die?” I would consistently answer a sky full of stars – so deep in its darkness, so infinite in its pool of lights, and fully unencumbered. Now I can say, before I die, I would love to gaze into people’s eyes. In locking gazes in silence, I feel like I can melt with their stories and they will be gone and all that is left is love. I read somewhere they are like windows to the soul, just like stars.

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Thank you everyone who flowed in Art of Movement’s first ever inspirational travel retreat, both in bodily and in spiritual presence. Thank you for rediscovering what was unknown yet inexplicably, has been there all along. Thank you for letting me see the light of organizing this retreat as “an idea whose time had come.” Thank you for helping me fulfill the vision of allowing this gathering to be more about you and less about me. Again and again, I thank you for your stories. It seemed to me that the fires we had surrendered are definitely more than the passions we pursue.

I hope to see you for the Part 2 in 2017. Somewhere on a beach? 😉


All photos were taken by Tyrone Daroca. More on his photography here.

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