By Sana Mariam
“Sana Mariam, is a graduate in Social and Cultural Studies from University of the Punjab. She is a former member from IMCS Pakistan. Through this article she’s sharing her experience of spirituality of Indigenous people of Philippines.”
The mighty, the creator, the provider, the healer, all of these characteristics belongs of the God All things were made to glorify Him. The trees the mountains the lake all things are filled with Gods spirits. Each passing moment they are praising and glorifying Him. Living experience with Indigenous (AETA community) from 12 June to 25th June is a close encounter with God and His people. Experiencing” Yahweh” in all his majestic power. There, I felt a deep conversion inside me. Where my all fears turn into strength, my worries into victory, My anxieties into amusements. Climbing the mountain is a life living reflection in itself already. Some time we walk under the sun very happily without knowing the miseries of life on the way because it seems so beautiful from afar. When we start walking then we realize its tiring and it’s not that easy there are ups and downs. We stop in the journey of life, take a rest, sometimes we continue walking even though its hard.Sometimes we need a hand to push us up, sometimes even cry and think to give up. That time kind word from a companion can boost up the energies and make you continue and not to forget the mission and purpose of life.
We the so called Literary “literate world” claims all the intelligence and knowledge belong to us. The small world of indigenous peoples still holds the treasure of wisdom simplicity though mystical in nature. The beliefs in the spirit in that’s all the spirits are sacred and everything has a spirit is a way of respecting life (the breath of life from GOD)whereas this respect brings a question mark for the oneness of the GOD for the modern religion. Wherein the book of Genesis supports the idea where God sees everything and he said its good. Everything is good because it is filled with his spirit. God’s spirit is within all the creation therefore they are all sacred and must be respected with love and reverence. Therefore Pope Francis in His encyclical Laudato Si’ calls our attention toward the Care for creation where all things magnify God’s Holy name. Consequently I find nothing that can challenge the oneness of God. If we give respect to the water, the trees the mountains, the wind and mother earth. Actually they are all life giver. Without air there will be no life, without water there will be no life, without mother earth where shall human kind stand where we will grow and what will we eat. We just need to accept their presence that is essential for us.
I found the mightiness of God. The infiniteness of God. Owns the beauty of all of it. The indigenous peoples are the one holding the wisdom of God in all His purity and simplicity, All the majestic power. I find myself so limited. My teachings were God stay/live just in the defined places like churches and the blessed sacraments. Indigenous peoples experience God everywhere. Even in the simple Umpukan (group of people sitting together). Matthew 18:20 For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them.Due to our busy life we are forgetting those values, whereas those values are still being practiced by indigenous people.
They are still keeping their values of being together. They are still sharing the cup of joy which reminds me the breaking of bread and communion everyday. Which bring community together. Being a city girl at first it was hard to understand that I was surrounded by the ancestor’s spirit, living in the 21st century one could say its useless to talk about that Moreover: the stories being taught to us through horror movies and dramas, where spirits are bad, they take revenge and disturb Us but knowing all those facts I felt a sense of security among them. Sense of protection, guidance knowing some objects specifically represents those spirits. I was not afraid my faith grew deeper and deeper. I experience sitting under the trees which was specifically residence of ancestral spirits and they did guide our discussion. There I learnt the culture of Respect.
Visiting Mount Pinatubo The sacred mountain where the Apo Namalyari (Creator-God of the Aeta) resides the experience is very challenging to put into words. It cannot describe in words where someone find oneself so small under the majesty of God. The breeze over the deep blue water and the mighty mountains automatically brings me to the prayer mode when I want to praise and worship God, the vastness of the nature is so clear though deep that I want to be lost and be one with nature in her immense beauty. What If I die today and God ask me; how was Heaven?The beauty of the deep blue wavy sea surrounded by the majestic mountains towering into the blue sky bring me to the depth of the Mighty One where God dwell with all divine majesty and beauty and where frail humans like me can dive deep down in himself consequently finding inner peace.
We become so private nowadays so much so that everyone has created her/his own God. And religion is just trying to impose over other religion. This is my God and these are God’s characteristics.Moreover my God/Religion is more powerful than yours. At least among the Aeta’s they are practicing the universal God that is everywhere. The rituals and practices being practiced since centuries immemorial have been transforming of the “civilized” cultures, with the same sense of reverence of the spirits that makes the Aeta community unique. The uniqueness stands out first of all in the rituals of praying with songs and dancing around the fire, and second, the (Umpukan) brings about the strong community spirits among the Aeta. Caring for each one in the community adds life to the community. Respecting nature, the trees and the fire flies, mother earth, the sun the moon, the stars, the rain, the wind, the thunderstorm are part of their daily lives as they acknowledge the Spirit’s strong presence with them and in a way nature is also communicating with them. Therefore, the Aeta’s culture is respect and reverence of nature which they learn from their elders by communicating with the nature and they continue to experience the rhythm, sacredness, depth and limitation of the land and the mountains, the streams, the deep blue lake, the forests, the moon, sun, the stars, the milky ways and galaxies.
Unfortunately, I found myself so selfish and limited.The community is practicing great values like respecting elders, women and children. And having code of conduct of how to stay together since the time immemorial.
They do have female kapitan/village head. Where my religion my teaching teaches me only my God and my salvation, where in Indigenous Believes in communion, they stay and practice communion. Where there is great love and respect for the women. Which make me thinks and rethink A community practitioner of such a kind values. How comes followers of other than God. I can sense a strong sense of Merciful Father, the protecting brother and the guiding spirit as Holy spirit. Where the whole concept of Trinity meet.
Unfortunately,the Government of Philippines under the tourism department open this sacred place for tourism. Where people are not given proper orientation how to pay respect to this sacred Place. Secondly The Indigenous Peoples are losing their land because of some political interests and of course the money which serves as a “God/Idol” for some. Through the given exposure I wish and pray for Indigenous peoples for their strong hold on their ancestral land where they can live dignified life. Moreover, I hope and wish that they can grow in their faith in Apo Namalyari, the ninunu and anito through the gospel of creation and umpukan.
At the end I want to make a request to all the readers to pay respect if you are visiting those sacred places because God Is everywhere and you never know when will you encounter God and when God will encounter you.