What is Liwanag?

In the fall of 1896, the Philippine Revolution, the first uprising against western colonial rule in Asia, was fought and won. Its heroes understood the importance of creating a new nation on the basis of profound inner change, resulting in an encounter with the “true light” within—an encounter that set a nation free. In this context, “liwanag,” which means “light” in the Filipino language, can be interpreted to mean a profound form of awakening and creativity—individual and collective—that can address the most profound challenges that rule our world today. LIWANAG today is a world festival, an annual gathering initiated by the Movement of Imaginals for Sustainable Societies through Initiatives, Organizing and Networking or MISSION www.imaginalmission.net to shed light on what is top-most in our imaginal* hearts and minds so that we can celebrate, understand, share, explore, discover and evolve it together, and us, with it.

Liwanag 2015 – Co-creating a New Philippines

Today, thankfully, in spite of all the struggles that befall civil society, there are many social movements left standing and carrying on with the fight. Some are finding new ways in which to express their human values and altruistic ideas, not only in the cultural life but in the economic and political life as well. Business, for example,is expressing itself in social enterprise movements that include and empower the poor and marginalized communities of farmers, fisherfolk, street vendors, tricycle drivers into becoming participating owners and decision-makers in small and micro-business ventures. Meanwhile, there are alsoindividuals and organizations who have a vision of transformingthe current political system into one that is truly participatory and serving the greater community.The Puroksystem which was brought back into view as a viable option for true community-based self-governance by the municipality of San Francisco in Camotes Island, is spreading in other cities and municipalities. In the last Super Typhoon Haiyan, the purok—the smallest geographical unit composed of its own citizens—was instrumental in achieving the town’s zero casualty count. Liloan, a first class municipality just 17.7 km northeast of Cebu City and part of MetroCebu won prestigious award in the Our Cebu Programfor its use of the purok system in addressing local social issues., especially in governance and in cleanliness and greening of the town.Activators of new politics in towns and cities like Zarraga in Iloilo, Bayawan City in Negros Oriental and Alegria in Cebu embark on Sustainable Integrated Area Development (SIAD) journey where development plans and efforts are based on a shared and threefoldingcommunity vision of what a healthy and full human and societal development could be.

Aloysius L. Cañete, Executive Director of A2D Project (Research Group for Alternatives to Development, Inc.) wrote this about the importance of interdependence within fast growing cities like MetroCebu: “An emerging consciousness about the economic, political, and ecological interdependence of cities and municipalities comprising Metro Cebu has led various state, business and civil society actors to rethink the management of local governments as autonomous, discrete and disparate entities. Intercity cooperative governance is seen by various local stakeholders as a necessary and inevitable step forward if Metro Cebu is to adapt to the demands of rapid urbanization and globalization. Thus, the creation in 2011 of the Metro Cebu Development Coordinating Board (MCDCB) was designed to promote public-private partnerships and civil society participation in local government coordination in the efficient delivery of public services.”Networking ‘Mega Cebu’: Cooperative Metropolitan Governance

In The Central Philippines, Asia Research Institute Working Paper Series No. 193, 2014, www.nus.ari.edu.sg/pub/wps.htm.)

David Korten, publisher of YES Magazine, describes the unsinkable nature of social movements in his article “Every Great Social Movement” (July 25, 2011): “When ordinary people reject the cultural stories that limit their possibilities and bind them to servitude, the course of history turns. Every great social movement begins with a set of ideas validated, internalized, and then shared and amplified through media, grassroots organizations, and thousands, even millions, of conversations. A truth strikes a resonant chord, we hear it acknowledged by others, and we begin to discuss it with friends and associates. The new story spreads out in multiple ever-widening circles that begin to connect and intermingle. A story of unrealized possibility gradually replaces the falsified story that affirmed the status quo. The prevailing culture begins to shift, and the collective behavior of the society shifts with it.”


In a book called “The Cultural Creatives: How 50 Million People Are Changing the World” by social scientist Paul Ray and psychologist Sherry Ruth Anderson, first published in 2000, we are told about stories of Cultural Creative movementsthat have been successful in effecting change. Their values, as described by Ray and Anderson, converge with the same values that are articulated in Philippine Agenda21 which was summarized in Shaping Globalization as: “Ecological Sustainability,, Globalism, Women’s Issues, Altruism, Self-actualization, and Spirituality, and Social Conscience and Optimism.“

Cultural Creatives do not only go against status quo but also find and show ways of creating a new world. They go through a process or journey closely resembling an archetype of the hero’s journey. In MISSION, we call it the Lemniscate:

A pain, a wound, a discontentment, a call, a question, an itch—each one unrelenting—sends us in search for answers and meaning. An initial burst of energy and activity is set off, but without an immediate reward or solution at hand, many individuals and movements don’t get past the trial phase. Many fall away, tired of the struggle, resourced out; others go back offering the same set of responses that have not worked in the past thus perpetuating the systems they were trying to stop or change.

But there are those who persevere, who reach beyond their knowing, to enter a creative space where new ideas, new strength and new responses are born. They go back to the world renewed and courageous with the capacity to transcend the status quo and cast a new light and mindset on the old, setting a course towards the new. What do they, or what do you, need on the journey that the rest of us can offer? What is possible that can only be possible when we come together?